The high cost of purchasing and installing a water softener system can bring many benefits to your pipes, fixtures, and appliances. But do softeners reduce pressure or what are the likely cause of the issue?
Softeners use resin-based filters that catch sediment and minerals like calcium and magnesium. Normally water softener systems should not affect the pressure significantly. Still, when these filters are not maintained, it may cause the system to back up with the net effect being lower water pressure over time.
I will give you all the details on how your water softener system works. Besides, guiding you in diagnosing the problem and provide some solutions that will get the water pressure back up again.
But before diving into diagnosing the source of the problem, let’s first outline briefly how a water softening system works. This will give you get a clear picture moving forward that will make diagnosing the issue much easier.
Understanding Your Water Softener System
Water softeners are a filtration system that removes minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water through a process called ion exchange.
As the hard water enters into the mineral tank, it flows through a filter composed of spherical resin beads made from polystyrene. These beads have a negative charge which attracts the positively-charged calcium and magnesium minerals. After this process completes, the soft water then flows into your house free of these minerals.
Is It Truly a Softener What Lowers Water Pressure?
Lowered water pressure can have many causes. So before reading any further, I would like to recommend that you do an initial check to see if the softener is the issue. This will save you a lot of time in determining the cause of the problem.
Every water softening system has an entry valve and switch. Try switching the bypass valve to the position that diverts water away from the system.
What Causes Water Pressure Drops
If the water pressure is still an issue after this check, then the problem could be something else, such as:
- Clogged/eroded entrance pipes to the house
- Leaks from pipes leading to the water softener
- Issues with the municipal water supply that affect the entire neighborhood
If, however, the water pressure returns to normal after diverting the water flow, then the water softener is likely the issue.
4 Causes of Pressure Drops and How to Fix Them
Issues with water softener mechanics may be affecting water pressure over time. Here are four ways your water softener may be lowering water pressure:
1. Clogged Sediment Filters
As mentioned above, water softening systems use a filter that captures sediment from water before it reaches the resin bed that catch minerals. Over time this filter can get clogged, reducing the flow of water into your house and reducing pressure.
Solution: Perform regular maintenance on the filters and either clean or replace them periodically to maintain adequate flow and water pressure.
2. Clogged Resin Bed
Sometimes sediment escapes the filters. This can cause accumulation in supply pipes that restricts water flow. Another issue can be iron or scale blocking the pipes, causing the same problem that reduces flow and lowers pressure.
Solution: Regular tank maintenance is essential to remove any accumulation caused by iron, scale, or sediment. Adding a mineral cleaner solution to the bed also helps by setting the water softener to regenerate more often, and maintaining water flow.
3. Clogged fixtures
Failure to perform maintenance on your water softening system may cause it to deteriorate. The end result could be the clogging of the endpoints of your plumbing system, like faucets and showerheads.
This is evident when low water pressure is experienced in some, but not all, places in the home.
Solution: The overall solution is to perform maintenance on the entire water softener system, and then to clean all the fixtures and flush the pipes.
To read my article with actionable tips to increase the low pressure in your house, click here.
4. Water softener system too small for home size
Besides chronically low pressure, an inadequately sized system will create problems with water flow in the house.
This is especially true if the drop in pressure is felt immediately after installation. Another cause may be a gradual drop in water pressure through increased usage as the family grows.
Solution: In both cases, a system upgrade is essential to maintain optimal water pressure over time. A professional can help determine the optimal size based on the number of household members, water hardness, and usage.
Water Softener Maintenance Tips
Regular maintenance of your water softener will keep it working optimally and save money in the long run. Here are six steps for keeping your water softener running smoothly for the long term:
1. Don’t skimp on the salt
Instead of using standard rock salt, use pure salt that contains iron remover. This is actually cheaper in the long run and worth the expense because rock salt will cause sediment to build up in the brine tank that can clog the control valve and injector.
2. Wait until existing salt is used up
In order to limit any sediment build-up, it is important to add extra salt only when the existing salt is used up. Refill the tank to a level of two-thirds to maintain optimum function and circulation.
3. Clean the brine tank yearly
Although sediment and contaminants from pure salt are low, the brine tank still needs maintenance through yearly cleaning.
4. Clean the resin bed and control valve once a year
Sediment accumulation in the resin bed can seriously affect the performance of your softener. Ensure its optimum function by using an iron-reducing product to clean the filter and control valve.
5. Have a specialist check it out
Before replacing your water softener it may be worth the expense to spend a little bit of money to have a professional look at it. Most repairs are a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire unit.
6. Install sediment pre-filter
Sediment filters are a great way to extend the lifespan of your softener. These are called a spin down filters, and they use a mesh to capture all the sediments that could potentially clog up the softener.
Water softening systems offer a lot of benefits to homeowners, such as decreased scaling on their appliances, softer skin and hair, and reduced pipe corrosion.
The issue of low water pressure can take away these gains, and cause you to stress about the overall health of your plumbing system.
Performing regular maintenance on your will help take care of these issues and ensure that your system stays in top working order with full pressure.
My guide on both salt and non-salt based water softeners gives you all the information you need to choose and maintain a system with confidence and minimal stress. That way, you and your family can enjoy the benefits of soft water for many years to come.
So now I am going to turn it over to you:
I’d love to hear your stories and share some insights, so feel free to leave a comment below!