Electric shower stops working: why does it stop & how can it be fixed?

Does your electric shower suddenly stop working? Does it suddenly cut out and leave you with no way to rinse yourself off? This situation is perhaps more irritating than a shower which doesn’t work at all. In this article, we’ll explain why your electric shower stops working, and what you can do about it.

Electric showers are basically instantaneous water heaters. They have a single supply of cold water which is heated on demand via an electric element. Over time, calcium deposits form on the element, just like in your kettle – particularly if you live in an area with hard water.

Eventually, there is so much limescale on the element that the heat doesn’t transfer to the water properly. A sensor inside the shower detects that the element is getting too hot – and consequently turns the shower off. This is a safety mechanism which prevents the shower from overheating. You may also find that you cannot turn it back on for a few minutes. Once again, this is the shower’s safety mechanism preventing the shower from operating until the excess heat has dissipated.

In some cases, you may also detect a burning smell. Even if the safety cut-out is working, that’s not to say the excess heat isn’t damaging the shower somehow. If you do smell burning, it’s probably a bad idea to use the shower again.

Electric shower stops working – how can it be fixed?

There are several things you can try in order to get your shower going again. Take the shower head off, and run the shower on cold on its highest water flow setting for a couple of minutes. Doing this 3-4 times per year may may help to dislodge any limescale inside.  You should also make sure that the shower head is thoroughly free from limescale.

Unfortunately, this won’t be a permanent fix – the shower will still eventually scale up again. In hard water areas, electric showers may only last 1 – 2 years. The only guaranteed way to solve this issue is to replace the electric shower with a shower which doesn’t heat the water itself – i.e., a mixer shower which is supplied by a combi boiler or from a hot water cylinder.

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