Low Pressure of water due to Water Softener

Can Water Softener Cause Low Pressure? [FIXED]

Can your water softener cause low water pressure?

How to check if your water softener is indeed causing low pressure?

With the above questions, I will also answer how to fix the low pressure caused by your water softener and much more in this article.

Stick till the end to grab all the information.

Let’s dive in!

Does Water Softener Reduce the Water Pressure? 

Installing a water softener is the most efficient way to deal with hard water. You recently installed a water softener and noticed a decrease in water pressure after enjoying a “hard water”-free home. Not only you but a lot of people are experiencing this!

Lack of water pressure can be very frustrating but can also foreshadow more serious problems. Your water softener is one thing to consider before investing in a complicated or expensive solution. The problem may be caused by your water softener, your whole-house water filtration system, or even corrosion in your pipes. 

Water softeners shouldn’t adversely affect water pressure unless it is missized or installed incorrectly. You might have had a defective water softener or an incorrect installation if your water pressure dropped immediately after you installed a water softener.

How Much Pressure do you Lose with a Water Softener? 

Control valves and media beds are the main factors contributing to water softener pressure drops. When designing water softener systems, manufacturers consider the pressure drop caused by these features. To reduce pressure loss, they may include gravel or other larger particles in the media bed to provide a more efficient flow path. 

Additionally, the control valve flow path can be designed so that water flows in the shortest possible direction and at the largest diameter possible, reducing pressure drop. 

Pressure drop is also a concern for water treatment professionals. During the installation process, they ensure that the equipment is sized correctly so they don’t have complaints about low water pressure. 

Pressure drop according to NSF/ANSI 44

NSF/ANSI 44 covers the following factors when considering equipment design and construction in terms of pressure drop:

  • Confirming water softener systems are limited in their pressure drop
  • Measurement of pressure drop using a test method
  • Calculation of pressure drop for water softeners containing different amounts of media than those being tested

Water softeners must not have a pressure drop exceeding 15 psi at their manufacturer’s rated service flow, which must be at least 4 GPM. Keeping the pressure drop within this value ensures acceptable line pressure in the building where the softener is installed. 

When the softener is installed appropriately, and the rest of the plumbing system complies with the code, there shouldn’t be any problems (like low water pressure in a shower in an upstairs bathroom).

The test apparatus used is fairly simple. It consists of a valve that regulates the flow, a pressure regulator, a pressure gauge for the inlet pressure, and an outlet pressure gauge. 

An easy way to test the pressure drop of a water softener is to run a pressure drop test. To test the softener’s cation exchange resin, it must first be connected to the test apparatus, then conditioned. 

The softener is conditioned by running water of 20 grains per gallon (gpg) hardness at a four-gpm rate per cubic foot of resin until the cation exchange resin is exhausted. Exhaustion occurs when the treated water reaches 10 grams per gallon of hardness. 

After that, the softener is regenerated according to manufacturer instructions using the minimum amount of salt recommended. By doing this, the cation exchange resin assumes a defined and known state, which can affect pressure drop results if the beads swell or shrink during regeneration.

Using the regulator on the test apparatus, the water is delivered to the softener at an approximate temperature of 18°C + or – 5°C at a pressure of 35 psi + or – 5 psi.

Initially, the flow rate is set at 20 percent of the manufacturer’s recommended service flow; the inlet and outlet pressures and the water temperature are recorded. The pressure drop is defined as the difference between the inlet and outlet pressures at this flow rate. 

In this case, if the inlet pressure is 34 psi and the outlet pressure is 30 psi, the pressure drop will be four psi (calculated). This procedure is repeated at 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, and 140 percent of the manufacturer’s recommended flow rate. 

As the flow rate increases, the friction of the water through the softener will also increase; therefore, the pressure drop will improve (even if the pressure at the inlet stays the same, the downstream pressure will decrease). In the next step, a mathematical correction factor is applied to the results to make them equivalent to 60°F.

It is possible to determine the pressure drop of similar softeners with different amounts and/or bed depths of cation exchange resin. 

This is done by repeating the procedure with softeners that contain no resin but are identical to those tested for pressure drop. There is no cation exchange resin in this unit, so it does not need to be preconditioned before testing.

How to Check if My Water Softener Causing a Low Pressure? 

You can check and verify whether or not your water softener is causing low pressure in various ways. 

They are – 

Check the Water Softener Size 

Your water softener size can affect your home’s water pressure. If you install a small water softener in a place with high water demand, there will be low water pressure. This is because a small water softener cannot produce enough water. In the absence of correct sizing, your water softener may not be able to meet your household’s consumption demands.

Tip –  Read our detailed guide to determine the size of the water softener your family needs. 

Sediment Filter Clogged 

Water softeners can include filters that capture particulates in the water before they reach the rest of the system. 

This reduces the possibility of contamination. In the same way as all other filters, these also need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. 

If they become clogged, they will restrict the flow of water, resulting in low water pressure.

Resin Bed Clogged 

If sediment does escape the filters, it can accumulate in the supply pipes or the resin bed, restricting the water flow. 

There is also a possibility that iron or scale can clog the pipes or the bed as well, causing the same problem. 

There is a simple solution to this problem, and that is to clean the tank. You can add the mineral cleaner to the bed to remove iron buildup or set the water softener to regenerate more frequently if the iron buildup is an issue.

How do I fix Low Pressure in My Water Softener? 

Once you’ve determined that your water softener is responsible for your low water pressure and identified how it occurs, you can perform any required processes to improve it. 

Below I have written the fixes on low pressure generated by your water softener. Among them are:

Break Salt Bridges

Salt bridges should be broken, and salt mushing should be removed.

Salt Bridge caused low pressure in Water Softener
Salt Bridge in Water Softener

Clogged water softeners result from the formation of salt bridges. Bridging occurs when a hard crust separates salt and water in the brine tank. The salt is prevented from dissolving into the water to form brine by forming a crust on top of the water. 

As a result of seasonal weather changes and high humidity conditions around the brine tank, clumping occurs, and a salt bridge forms. It is also possible for your water softener to build up salt due to poor-quality salt. Your water softener’s performance can also be affected by salt mushing. 

Brine tank bottoms are filled with recrystallized salt. Instead of forming a crusty layer, it forms salty sludge. Salt mushing and bridges can be fixed by a professional. 

Here is how you can fix your clogged water softener:

Clean the Valve Injectors

Ensure that the injector valve is clean by removing debris

Over time, debris clogs the valve injector, compromising your water softener’s ability to support the brine cycle suction. Water softeners don’t regenerate correctly because of this, so they don’t soften your water. In the brine tank, a high water level indicates a clogged injector. 

The injector can be removed for inspection with needle-nose pliers. You can determine the cause of a clogged water softener by looking through the small hole in the injector. 

If you cannot see through the hole, you may have to use a safety pin or needle to push out the debris that clogs your water softener.

Valve Injector Blockage cause low pressure of water softener
Valve Injector Blockage

Replace Resins & Reset your Water Softener 

Resins need to be replaced, and the water softener drain needs to be reset regularly to regenerate

Using ion exchange technology, water softener resins trap minerals in hard water to soften them. Water softener resin degradation decreases the capacity of a clogged water softener. 

You should regularly clean the clogged water softener drain to get soft water continuously. When your water softener’s resin tank contains sand-like particles, it must be replaced. Particles may damage your entire system if you wait to replace them. 

Resins indeed have a two-decade shelf life, but chlorine shortens it. You can achieve a short-term solution by regenerating your water softener regularly. 

You may have to hire a professional to replace the resins for a more lasting solution to your water softener clogged issue.

Cleaning Brine Line

Make sure your clogged water softener’s brine line is cleaned by a professional

Deposits can also clog valve and brine lines. Look for visible deposits in the brine line that could cause your water softener to clog. Water softeners usually last 15 years if they are maintained regularly. 

Keep your water softener in efficient working order by fixing problems as soon as they arise. Some problems can be easily solved with DIY fixes. It is, however, necessary to hire a professional to fix others. 

Experts can assist you with any of the above solutions if you are uncomfortable performing them yourself.