Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Lessons from Electric Showers

Just one of the more specialist jobs Silver Saints undertakes is the repair and replacement of faulty electric showers. Many people have electric showers and when they fail they are not sure whether they should call an electrician or a plumber. (In fact most plumbing firms themselves will tell you to call an electrician). But since all our London handymen are experts in both plumbing and electrical repairs, fixing electric showers is right up our street.

Recently however all our knowledge and skills have been put to the test by a customer who had a 25 year old electric shower which had completely died. On inspection we found that it had developed an internal leak which had shorted out a number of electrical components. Given the age of the shower it was definitely time for an upgrade.

The handyman checked the electrical set up and decided that a 9.5kW or 10.5KW shower would be most suitable. Our normal procedure is to order a replacement shower from our own suppliers and return on another day to fit it. However the customer was desperate to get a working shower installed that day and asked if he would just go down to the closest Homebase and buy the cheapest suitable shower they had. The handyman agreed and set off.

On his return from Homebase our handyman fitted the replacement shower, a Triton Opal II 10.5KW shower. He commissioned it and tested it. All appeared to be working perfectly.

The following morning we received an email from the customer to say that the new shower was not working properly. It was not maintaining a steady temperature and was cycling between scolding hot and freezing cold. We were a bit flummoxed as we have never had a new shower we had fitted malfunction before. We immediately assumed that the unit must be faulty. After a number of conversations with Tritons own technical team we managed to narrow the possible fault down to two options. Either a filter within the shower was blocked or the water inlet pressure was high enough for the shower to operate correctly.

As the customer lived on the top floor of a very large block of flats we suspected that it was indeed a problem with the water pressure in her flat. As we had fitted the shower in the afternoon, not many people were probably using the buildings water, which was mains and not coming from a communal storage tank, so when we tested it we were getting enough flow and pressure for it to operate correctly. However when the customer had a shower that evening, most of the other occupants of the building were home from work and her pressure and flow were reduced below the required operating pressure as others drew off water.

A bit of further investigation revealed that the minimum operating pressure for a Triton Opal II 10.5 kw shower was 1.5 BAR. However other brands and more expensive models can operate on a minimum pressure of less than half of this, 0.6 BAR. We therefore returned to the property the following day armed with a Mira Sport 9.8KW shower, a more expensive model which could operate at a much lower inlet pressure.

We fitted the replacement shower and tested it, the customer has been using it for two weeks now and reports that it works perfectly.

The two lessons we learnt on this job were:

1.) Always check that the inlet water pressure before specifying a shower
2.) Buy cheap buy twice!

No comments: