Can A Water Softener Cause Low Water Pressure?

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Low water pressure affects the performance of your appliances and significantly reduces the volume of water that flows out of your faucets and showers.

If you’re experiencing low water pressure, you might be wondering whether your water softener is responsible.

In this guide, we’ve answered the common question, “Can water softeners cause low water pressure?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Under normal operating conditions, a water softener won’t cause low water pressure.
  • However, it’s normal for a water softener system to reduce water pressure slightly.
  • There are a few reasons why water softeners might cause low water pressure, including an undersized softener tank, a clogged resin bed or sediment filter, escaped resin, and clogged pipes in or out of the softener.

🤔 Does A Water Softener Cause Low Water Pressure?

No, a water softener doesn’t cause low water pressure. What we mean by that is that you should never experience slow flowing water from your faucets or issues with appliance performance due to low water pressure after installing a water softener.

A water softener may affect your water pressure, meaning that the flow of water in your home might reduce by around 2-5 GPM. That’s because water meets a certain resistance when it’s sent through the softener.

However, this slight reduction in water pressure shouldn’t be noticeable, and you certainly shouldn’t have low water pressure after installing a water softener.

If you are experiencing low water pressure issues and you think your water softener is to blame, it suggests an underlying problem with your softening system.

Using water while regeneration takes place

📉 5 Reasons Why A Water Softener Might Cause Low Water Pressure & What To Do About It

Let’s take a look at the 5 most likely reasons that your water softener is causing low water pressure:

Cause 1: Normal Softener Pressure Reduction

It’s normal for a water softener to reduce your water pressure to a certain extent.

Even if the softener is ideally sized for your home, it won’t allow water flow straight into your house at the pre-softening speed.

Water must flow through a sediment filter and a resin tank, creating low water pressure – but pressure should only drop by around 7 PSI.

The Solution: Increase Your Incoming Pressure

If your water softener is properly sized but you’re still not happy with the pressure output, and there are no other causes you can detect, you might be able to resolve the issue by simply increasing the pressure of the water entering your home.

You can only do this if you have a pressure regulator, which should be located somewhere along your main water supply line (upstream of the softener). Adjusting your incoming water pressure should also increase the softener’s output pressure by the same amount.

Cause 2: Undersized Water Softener

Another cause of reduced pressure in your pipes is an undersized water softening system. If the water flow from your faucets and shower heads has dropped significantly, an undersized softener might be to blame.

Correctly sized water softeners shouldn’t cause a pressure drop of any more than 15 PSI at the manufacturer’s rated service flow (at least 4 GPM).

If your softener is too small for your home’s size and water needs, it might reduce your water flow to the extent that appliances and fixtures can’t perform as they should.

Taking measurements for whole house water softener install

The Solution: Buy The Right Sized Softener

Unfortunately, the only way to properly address this issue is to buy a new water softening system.

Not sure what sized softener you need for your home? Use this formula:

Number of people in the household x average amount of water used per person per day (in gallons) x grains of water hardness

If you’ve just installed the softener, reach out to the manufacturer. You might be able to return your softener and exchange it (at an extra expense) for an upgrade.

Cause 3: Clogged Resin Bed or Sediment Filter

Another super common cause of low pressure from a softener is a clogged sediment pre-filter.

This filter is installed upstream of the softener tank and prevents sediment, rust, and other large particles from clogging the resin bed. If the filter isn’t replaced regularly, it’ll become clogged, reducing the pressure in your home.

Sediment and iron build-up in the resin bed will also eventually clog the resin, causing a noticeable pressure drop and restricting the flow of water through the tank.

The Solution: Replace The Pre-Filter & Consider Additional Filtration

The easiest way to prevent a clogged sediment pre-filter from reducing pressure is to replace the filter as recommended in the water softener manual.

To address a clogged resin issue, you may need to clean the resin with a mineral cleaner.

If you have a major issue with iron that’s overwhelming the sediment pre-filter and your softener, consider installing a whole house water filtration system to address this contaminant upstream of the softener.

Cause 4: Escaped Resin

In a very old or defective water softener, the resin beads will eventually degrade to the point where they might start to break off and get into your water supply pipes, clogging areas of your pipe system or fixtures.

A fixture or pipe blockage will cause an isolated water pressure issue in the specific clogging area.

If escaped resin is to blame, you’ll probably also notice that your softener’s ability to soften water is reduced.

Water softener ion exchange resin

The Solution: Replace The Resin

Depending on the type of resin you have, it should last 10-20 years.

Make sure to replace the resin when it reaches the end of its predicted lifespan to enjoy constant access to soft water and to avoid the effects of resin degradation.

Cause 5: Clogged Pipes In or Out of The Softener

Finally, clogged water pipes leading to or from the softener could cause a pressure drop in your home.

Check the tubing that connects your softener to your main water line. A clog could restrict water flow, resulting in low pressure.

The Solution: Unclog The Pipes

You can easily resolve an issue with clogged pipes by flushing the pipes in question. Activate your main water supply shut-off lever to prevent water from entering your plumbing, then remove the pipes and flush them under cold running water. Massage the pipe to free the blockage.

If the blockage is severe or a pipe is damaged, replace it with a new one.

📖 How To Know If A Water Softener Is Causing Low Water Pressure

The easiest way to know whether or not your softener is causing low pressure is to test your pressure when the softener isn’t in use.

Engage the bypass valve to divert water around the system. If your pressure remains low even when water is flowing straight through your pipes, you probably have an issue that’s unrelated to the softener, such as pipe corrosion or temporarily/chronically low pressure in your water supply pipe. Your local water department may be able to help.

🔎 What To Do If Your Water Softener Isn’t To Blame

In some cases, the low pressure in your pipes might not be caused by your water softener. It’s possible that the water flowing into your home simply isn’t sufficient, especially if you have an older home with small pipes that can only supply a certain volume of water at a time.

If your water pressure issue lies outside of your water softener use, consider installing a water pressure regulator. Or, if you have one already, you might have a water pressure regulator set too low, which can be fixed by adjusting the settings.

If you’re unsure what the issue is, contact your plumber. In a worst-case scenario, you might have corroded pipes that have caused pipe narrowing, restricting the flow of water through your home. This will require a major plumbing repair, but it can be done fairly quickly and cheaply nowadays.

Your provider’s water pressure might be temporarily down, so it’s also worth asking your neighbors if they’ve noticed a dip in water pressure.

Plumber replacing under sink pipe

❔ Water Softener Low Water Pressure: FAQ

How do I increase water pressure after water softener?

You can increase the water pressure after your water softener by increasing the pressure of the water entering your home (this is only possible if you have a pressure regulator installed). By increasing your incoming water pressure by several PSI, you should also increase the water softener’s output pressure by the same amount. So, if your original pressure was 45 PSI and your water softener drops it down to 35 PSI, boosting your pressure to 50 PSI will mean your softener will reduce the pressure to 40 PSI.

Can a water softener cause low pressure?

Yes, a water softener can cause low pressure, but it’s only likely to do so if there’s an underlying issue. For instance, the softener size might be too small for your home’s water pressure, or the sediment pre-filter might be clogged, restricting water flow. In normal circumstances, a water softener may reduce your water pressure slightly, but it won’t cause a significant decrease in water flow.

How do I know if my water softener is clogged?

You’ll know if your water softener is clogged because you’ll experience reduced water pressure and your water will likely not be softened, meaning that you begin to notice limescale and other hard water effects again.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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