It’s not a lot to ask is it, a decent shower when you get up on a Saturday morning, a bit bleary eyed after your Friday night excesses? Well, apparently it is and there is precisely nothing you can do about it if one week your shower is working just tickety boo and then the next week it doesn’t work at all!
Work by United Utilities has been going on in our area of M20 for the last few months and a couple of tenants have said they were having problems with their showers, mainly on a weekend. I (wrongly) assumed it was due to that work, and we monitored the situation, which didn’t get better. One tenant in particular on the 2nd floor of a high Victorian block was the worst affected and this week we’ve replaced her regular electric shower with a low pressure one which has an internal pump, nearly £300 worth of kit plus labour. I could also tell that the pressure was lower to the ground floor garden tap and having dealt with tenants there for almost ten years, this was definitely a new problem.
So I contacted United Utilities and asked if there had been any changed in pressure in the M20 area both generally and as a result of recent works, but was told expressly and explicitly “No”. I was also told that it was a problem ‘internal’ to my buildings and that I needed to get a plumber out, at my cost. This just didn’t wash (sorry) and I didn’t believe that nothing had changed yet there was such a difference in pressure. They don’t advertise but your property water pressure is a problem, you can request an engineer to visit & check and they have all the info on your area at the touch of a button. My appointment was this morning and he was a very nice chap with a lovely little machine whose screen told me quite clearly that on one day last October, United Utilities lowered the pressure in my area from approx 27metres head to 22metres head.
Plain English please! He was very helpful and my understanding is that this is the case:
Water pressure is deemed acceptable by UU if it’s over 15m head and is generally between 15m and 60m head which equates to 1.5bar and 6bar (most domestic showers for example need between 1.5 and 3 bar of water pressure to properly work.
Prior to October 2012, our water pressure coming into the building on a single mains (how it was when I bought the block and pretty much unchangeable without massive works) was 27m head, just under 3 bar and perfectly adequate to service all apartments with no previous problems, even at times of high use like a Saturday morning when everyone is in & active, having showers and using washing machines.
However United Utilities, without any warning or notice, decided to drop this, or as they say “optimise the pressure”, dropping it by 5m head or approx 0.5bar. Now in itself this still means the pressure is above their acceptable figure of 15m head (a pretty crap 1.5bar) and they judge it to be a minor change. In reality what does it mean to the people paying water bills and expecting a decent service and supply?
Well, broadly speaking, it means if you don’t live in a standard height, two floor property, stuff you.
It means if you live in a top floor flat, as many people in this area do, stuff you.
It means if you live in a converted building with a single mains supply feeding all flats, as many people in this area do, stuff you.
It means if you want to have a shower on a Saturday morning, and anyone else in your building does, stuff you.
It means if you’re a landlord who previously had perfectly working showers for your lovely tenants, rip them off the walls, buy new low pressure ones and stuff you!
I just paid over £5000 in water bills to United Utilities. Not best pleased.