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Electric Shower Faults

There are a significant number of potential faults that can arise with an electric shower. Several are common, so we’ll highlight these issues here. Many are due to faulty plumbing. Check that your shower is correctly installed before you use it.

A loose shower fitting could result in disruption of the water supply. If you do make an attempt to fix any problems for yourself, make sure that you disconnect the electricity at the mains.

What are the most common faults with electric showers? 

Limescale

In hard water areas, limescale (mineral deposits) can build up on the pressure handle or taps. If you don’t remove the build-up, it can cause the tap or valve to break when you try to turn it. A replacement tap can cost around £60.

You can deal with this yourself by using a simple de-scaling product like Cillit Bang. Apply the product to the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes, then clean up with a brush or a cloth (wear rubber washing-up gloves or similar).

Lukewarm Water

Getting only lukewarm water is a common problem with electric showers. It can be due to a lack of power getting through the micro switch. This can happen when the switch is burned out or otherwise faulty. Or, it could be due to a failing heating element which would also mean that your water is not heating up like it should. While a switch isn’t expensive to replace, a new element will cost more.

Oscillating Temperature

If the water is constantly going from boiling hot to cold and back again, there could be a problem with the water flow. In this instance, if you know where your mains water valve is, you can check that it is fully open.

Also, check the cut-off tap to the appliance itself. If both are fully open, it could be a problem with your shower’s flow valve, which is actually within the unit. If you find a problem with any of these valves, call in a plumber, as replacement might be the best option.

Cold Water Only

If you are only getting cold water from the shower, the thermal safety cut-out (TCO) could be operating. When a shower overheats, this safety device cuts the power so that no one gets scalded. If this is happening often, you will need to get an electrician to replace the safety cut-out. It can cost about £100.

Low Water Pressure

Unfortunately, there is no simple shower repair that will deal with low water pressure. Low pressure can lead to lukewarm water. An electric shower requires a minimum pressure to operate successfully and you’ll need a plumber to advise you about the best place to position the shower so that the pressure is high enough to provide better performance. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to re-plumb the pipe work or incorporate a pump to improve water pressure.

A leaking inlet pipe can also cause loss of water pressure to the shower. This can be corrected by replacing the plastic connectors or by fitting a new water pipe to the shower unit.

Too Much Pressure

A build up of pressure can cause water to leak from the bottom of the shower unit. If the shower hose is blocked, it can cause the unwanted increase in pressure. Showers incorporate a pressure relief device (PRD), so that when the pressure gets too high, the device activates. Finding and clearing the blockage is the way forward in this case. Check that the showerhead isn’t blocked and that the shower hose isn’t kinked.

All shower manufacturers incorporate PRDs, but the implementation may be slightly different.

No Flow

If you are getting no water at all, or it stops when you are showering, the problem might be the solenoid valve, which is operated by an electrical coil. When working (electrical current flowing OK), the coil lifts a plunger inside the solenoid valve, allowing water into the shower. When the coil breaks, no electricity flows, the plunger stays down, the water flow is blocked and that’s what causes the problem. Replacing the coil is the solution to this issue.

Electrical Faults

If your shower has any electrical fault, switch it off and DO NOT use it. If you smell burning when you turn on the shower, this almost certainly indicates an electrical problem. If the electricity cuts out every time you turn on the shower, it may be because water is coming into contact with the wiring. This is potentially extremely dangerous. Call a qualified electrician right away.

If you know that there is power going to the shower appliance, but it will not turn on, this also points to an electrical fault. The probability is that there is not sufficient contact between the electrical points.

Replacing a pull cord switch costs around £50. A new shower circuit can cost up to £150 (as a rough guide).