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Pressure Drop or Flow Rate reductions through a Water Softener / Filter System - Things to Consider
Last Updated: 01/04/2015

Pressure or Flow Rate Problems

# 1 REASON is the RESINS in the water softener need to be changed.. and this is discussed at the end of this article ( and several other places on our website ), but here are some other things to Consider / Know about pressure / flow rate through a water system ( assumes average 9 x 48, 32,000 grains, One Cu.Ft. Softener ), as discussed with a customer who has a Fleck Valve, and tenants complaining about flow rate in the shower.

Customer Writes:

The house has fairly new 1” CPVC to the from the ¾” softener and serves multiple showers. A fair amount of pressure loss is measured across the softener when several showers are in use causing complaints by the tenant. (I am a mechanical engineer so I analyze and measure everything to death) The flow rating of the Fleck is good but I suspect the bypass valve maybe causing some of the pressure loss. I am considering the use of a direct connection to softener and utilize balls valves to bypass if needed. I can assure the best flow from a full port ball valve.
1. What is your experience with the Fleck bypass valve and potential pressure loss?
*** Under normal use ( single family home ), it's adequate.
Assumes incoming pressure of 55 psi or above ( city water and not a well pump which usually has 30 - 50 psi ).
Not meant for more than one shower... I don't expect "good pressure" if some one else in my house is taking a shower at the same time. That is "nuts".
2. Can I use the 1”Yoke P/N 18706 to connect to my 5600 head to minimize all possible flow losses?
** Yes, the 1" YOKE would provide larger "port", and you could then use the matching Fleck plastic By Pass 60049 ( also larger internal "ports", than the metal Fleck By Pass ).
3. Do you have any additional recommendations to reduce pressure loss through the softener?
*** Factors that effect flow / pressure.
1 ) What pressure you start with ( source ) AND any other "restrictions" ( other filters, or old galvanized feed pipe / old water meters... I've seen those reduce pressure / flow ).
2 ) Size of pipes ( 1 inch is plenty large, but piping in house drops to 1/2" and 3/8" for fixtures ).
3 ) Size / Diameter of the TANK...... 9 inch is good size for average home. To increase flow rate THROUGH the TANK, a larger diameter would be needed.... 12" x 52" ( 2 cu.ft. resin ) would make a noticeable difference.
4 ) The By Pass is only 3/4" internal port, so changing to YOKE ( and plastic by pass ) is an improvement.
5 ) * And one last idea.. make sure the Shower Heads are modern "water saver" heads, that only require 1 - 2 gpm, and not "old" style heads that would dump 3 - 4 gpm... AND make sure the Shower Heads are "Clean" of hardness or any "sediments".. I've solved MANY pressure complaints by cleaning or replacing the FIXTURES ( shower heads or faucet screens ).

The softener was dumped out by an uninformed helper so I need to start fresh unfortunately. In that case I need under bedding and resin. Please confirm your recommend the under bedding.
I will be ordering the resin, under bed and part above when I hear from you.
** Normally we don't think you need Gravel Under Bedding for residential water softener, but in your case... it might help a little with your Flow Rate / Pressure Drop concerns.
And the amount of gravel to use for size of tank is listed in our Resin Replacement Guide ( as optional amount - lbs to use ) and is based on tank diameter.

More about RESIN replacement, as the Primary Cause / Solution

1. The average water softener will not need it's resins replaced in it's life time ( 20 + years ).

2. Water softening resins need to be replaced if the unit has developed a high level of bacteria that does not respond to a cleaning with chlorine. Odors from units left in a not working mode with no water flowing through them for months at a time can develop this problem. Also, units in direct sunlight ( Florida ) can develop a layer of algae that requires complete resin replacement.

3. An excessive amount of sand in resin tank, due to a well starting to collapse, can necessitate resin replacement.
For more Info:
Check out the Resin Replacement Guide

Can the softener cause pressure loss, if so what do I look for, and what do I need to fix it?

Yes, a softener can cause pressure loss in the home due to resistance from the resin bed caused by one of the following.
1. On well water, this is usually due to fine sand coming from the well.
2. On softeners installed in the open sunlight ( mostly in Florida ), a layer of algae can grow and thick pieces of this growth clog the lower distributor tube screen when they start peeling off the inside of the resin tank.
3. On chlorinated water supplies, sand can get into the tank from new construction or work on water lines in the area. All of these situations are rare.
4. The most common cause of pressure loss occurs on chlorinated water.
The resins can be damaged by high chlorine levels and turn to mush. This has the same effect as having fine sand at the bottom of the resin tank. Chlorine can DESTROY Resins in as little as 5 years ( I'm seeing 5 - 10 years average )

The solution for all of the above problems is to dump the resin tank, clean and rebed with new resins. One cubic foot of softening resins is enough to properly fill the average residential softener. We can calculate the amount for you, if you provide exact resin tank dimensions.

One other possible reason ( VERY RARE ) for pressure loss occurs something gets clogs or breaks in the control valves.
On Autotrol Valves, the flapper valve discs swell up when used on chlorinated water. This causes the holes in the valve to become block, resulting in pressure loss at high flow rates.
On Fleck Valves, the Main Piston can break off and get stuck ( always results in constant water flow coming out the drain hose ).
On Rotary Valves ( like Kenmore made by Ecowater, and the Erie Rotary Valve ), it is possible for the Rotor Disc to break off during regeneration, and again you would expect water to be constantly coming out the drain hose, if this was the problem.

99.5% of the time the pressure loss is the media ( resin ) in the Tank and not the Valve.

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