Is the water pressure at your HDB or high rise condo quite low? Have you bought a rainshower that does not work? Does your “quick shower” take 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes? Here are 4 things you must know about water pressure in Singapore.
#1 Where You Stay DOES Matter
The water pressure available around different parts of Singapore varies depending on the elevation of the land. The Water Supply Department maintains a minimum water pressure for apartments not exceeding 25 meters above mean sea level. Because private houses seldom go above 25m in height, the water pressure supply is quite stable.
However, if you live in a high rise apartment or HDB… these buildings are likely above 25m and you are likely to face a variation in water pressure as you go up/down the levels.
For apartments above 25 meters, apartments are supplied indirectly through a high level water storage tank. Those below the 25 meter range will experience higher water pressure at the lower levels in comparison to those around the 25-meter mark.
Those living above the 25-meter mark will get their water supplied through a water tank. The water pressure for owners just above the 25-meter mark will be higher than those living on the top floor.
If you are staying in a HDB apartment or condominium, your incoming water pressure is usually around 8 to 12 lit/min. If you have private housing, your incoming water pressure is around 12 to 18 lit/min.
#2 Your Heater DOES Affect Water Pressure
There are two types of water heating systems. The way each system heats water affects your water pressure.
1. Pressure reducing system
- electric instant heaters
- gas heaters
- multipoint heaters
2. Non-pressure reducing system
- electric storage heaters
- solar heaters
- heat pump heaters
What is a Flow Reducer/Restrictor?
In a pressure reducing system, a flow reducer is installed in the water heater to restrict the water flow rate. This explains the reduced water pressure. The flow rate must be reduced so that water can be heated instantly while it flows through the system. When you increase the temperature, the flow rate will decrease accordingly. The flow rate from these systems are around 3 to 4 lit/min at around 38°C.
In a non-pressure reducing system, water flows into a closed tank and is heated over a period of time and stored for future use. When needed, hot water is ‘pushed’ out of the heater at the same pressure as the incoming cold water pressure. The hot water is then mixed with cold water using a mixer tap to achieve the desired temperature (usually 38°C to 40°C). The shower flow rate is the same as the incoming cold water pressure – around 10 to 12 lit/min.
Water Pressure for Shared Bathrooms
In Singapore, it is common for two bathrooms to share a single heater. Understandably, when a hot water source is shared, hot water pressure will drop.
In a pressure reducing system, you can expect the drop to be about 50%. This means that if you are already getting 4 lit/min for a single bathroom, you will get 2 lit/min if two showers are used at the same time. 2 lit/min is insufficient for a shower.
In a non pressure reducing system, the drop will be only about 20%. This is because the very hot water from the stored system must be mixed with cold water. The two channels of water contribute to a higher water pressure.
#3 Your Shower Head Type Matters
Different shower head types paired with different water pressures will give you varying results. It is good to understand what type of water pressure you have at home before selecting a shower. Below is a brief guide on the flow rates for each type of shower.
From here, you can gauge which showers you can or cannot use. For instance, if you are staying in a HDB apartment and the water flow rate from your heater is around 12 lit/min, you will not be investing in the pricey waterfall rain shower because you will only get a trickle of water.
Instant Heater Users: If Your Flow Rate is Only 4 lit/min, What Type of Shower Head Should You Use?
The good news is that every instant heater comes with a free shower head set. There is a reason for this. Instant heater shower heads have smaller-than-average hole sizes and they are spaced further apart. This will allow the water pressure coming from your shower head to feel stronger.
A Tip on Getting “Better” Water Pressure
Are you are using a non-pressure reducing water heater and still feel like you’re not getting the right pressure from your shower? A simple fix will be to change your shower head to one with smaller holes. Most home owners make the common mistake of buying a branded shower head thinking it will ‘feel more powerful’. In actual fact, what you are really looking out for is not the brand but the design. One of the more popular shower heads in the market with very small holes are from Tuscani Tapware. Featured in the image below is their Rombusto range. Notice the very tiny holes on the shower head surface?
Water Saving Devices
Some faucets or showerheads come with water saving areators. These water saving devices limit the flow rate of your faucets or hand showers. Every faucet sold in Singapore comes with the WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme) label; this is the blue water droplet sticker as shown below. The more ticks you have on the sticker, the more water you save.
More ticks means a faucet has better water efficiency rating and a lower flow rate. Some home owners still prefer a more powerful spray of water and are disappointed at the pathetic flow rate of their newly purchased faucets! Misunderstanding water efficiency ratings among homeowners is very common. After all, many only start reading about WELS labels and flow rates after installing their faucets and finding they are not up to their standard.
#4 Pressure Pumps are ILLEGAL
The topic of increasing hot water pressure often leads to the dicey subject of installing a pressure pump. Yes, installing a pressure pump in your home will certainly increase your water pressure but this is not legal in Singapore. This is because a pressure pump serves to draw water pressure away from your neighbours.
If all your neighbours are experiencing water pressure problems, you can contact your Town Council or MCST for a solution.