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Water Softener Problems
If you have city water and your water pressure has dropped and your
showerheads are clogging, you may be wondering if the problems are caused by your water
To troubleshoot, first check with your city’s
water department to see if
there’s been a change in water
pressure. However, since your showerheads
are clogging, either mineral deposits broke
free inside your pipes or the resins in your
water softener need to be replaced. Remove
your showerhead and turn on the water. If
the water is clear, the problem was mineral
deposits. Clean the showerhead and any
clogged faucet screens. If, however, you see
any sand-like particles in the water, most
likely you need to replace the resins.
Don’t confuse the resins with the salt you
put in the tank; see Figures A and B. Resins
break down over time and get into the water
line, clogging showerheads and faucet
screens. Once this starts, don’t wait. Fragmented
resins (called “fines”) can damage
water heaters and plumbing fixtures.
Close the valves to the water softener
and open the bypass valve. Then ask a
water softener service company to
inspect the resins and replace them if
necessary. Some companies install a
new resin tank ($200 to $250).Others
clean and refill yours with new resins.
You won’t save much if you try to do
it yourself, so let the pros handle this.
Resins can last 20 years (the lifespan
for most water softeners), but
chlorinated city water can damage
resins in fewer than 10 years.
How a standard water softener works.
Figure A: Water Softening
Resins remove various minerals from water and replace them with sodium.
How the backwash and recharge function works.
Figure B: Backwash and Recharge
First, water washes the resins (1). Then a salt
solution from the brine tank recharges the resin
bed with sodium (2).