Low water pressure from water softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Mark Mehlberger, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. Mark Mehlberger

    Mark Mehlberger New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I purchased and installed a Fleck 5600sxt 48,000 grain water softener in Mid-2017. In the last several months the pressure at all fixtures down stream of the softener would drop significantly, even to the point of no water coming out. At a relatives suggestion, they recommended bypassing the softener to see if there was pressure when bypassed. I waited until a time when the pressure was low and immediately flipped the bypass valve on the softener to let the water from the street right through, and the pressure returned to full force instantly. Opening the bypass valves to the Softener immediately dropped the pressure back down.

    I have ran the water directly from the street for about 5 days now with NO pressure loss events. I have forced regens on the softener, but have not saw improvement. The pressure drops are periodic (although more frequent and severe lately). I can't imagine that the Resin media could become that clogged in 2 years.

    I'm curious if anyone has experienced this on a newer unit and could provide suggestions or solutions as to what I might look at to alleviate this issue. I am fairly handy, but would prefer to have a plan before I start taking it apart, as at certain point I would have to replace the resin media to get at all the plumbing within the resin tank. I don't want to go down that path unless the resin itself or a component buried in the resin is the culprit.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The conditions you describe is the usual indication of damaged resin. Damaged resin will require replacement.

    Continuous chlorine exposure will negatively impact the lifespan any softener resin but higher cross-link resin will better tolerate chlorine compared to resin with lower crosslinking.

    The usual recommendation when a softener will soften chlorinated municipal water is to utilize quality 10% crosslink resin as opposed to standard 8% C-L resin. Unfortunately, many online dealers sell systems equipped with low quality resin with less than 8% crosslinking so as to sell their systems at lower prices compared to other online dealers.

    You said your system is a 48K grain unit which indicates it contains 1.5 cubic feet of resin. For this size system, the usual tank dimensions are 10" diameter X 54" high which will provide the appropriate tank volume for 1.5 ft3 of resin + 15 lbs of gravel under bedding.
     
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  4. old

    old Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2016
    Location:
    NE
    I agree with Bannerman, your resin has gone bad. Unfortunately whoever built your system probably used low quality resin. On city water in my area typically a high quality 8% lasts 8-12yrs.
     
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  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Could bad resin explain the intermittent nature of the pressure drops?
     
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  6. EAJ

    EAJ New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2020
    Location:
    Florida
    If you use 8% c/l resin, I would recommend a pre carbon filter. Catalytic carbon will remove chloramines from municipal water, which is even more destructive to resin than chlorine. Plus, you have the added benefit of the chlorine/chloramines being removed from the water you use daily.
     
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  7. Mark Mehlberger

    Mark Mehlberger New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Looks like the consensus is confirming bad resin. I guess I have a new project on the list.

    Bannerman is spot-on for the size of the tank.

    I have read a few things on the gravel base, and many suggest it's not needed in tanks less than 12" in diameter. Any thoughts? If so, is the appropriate gravel usually sold alongside the resin? Also, best place to get quality resin (on-line or local to San Antonio)?

    I guess I'll know more when I drain it and remove the old resin.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I have my doubts. Bad resin can cause pressure drop, but intermittently? However, it is not as if I have another theory as to what could cause intermittant pressure drop.
    You could sample the resin without draining. See if the beads are damaged/mushy.
     
  9. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The amount of flow restriction resulting in pressure drop will vary depending on numerous factors including flow rate, water temperature, when the last regen occurred, etc.

    For sampling, the most damaged resin will rise to the top so it is best to obtain a sample from the top few inches. To see where you are obtaining the sample from, syphon water from within the tank's riser tube until the water level is low enough to see the resin in the tank.

    Damaged resin will typically feel mushy when squeezed between two fingers whereas undamaged will feel firm and granular, similar to beach sand.

    Degradation does not typically occur consistently throughout the entire tank at the same rate so a sample obtained from below the top few inches may continue to remain firm. Once damage occurs, the entire bed has been compromised and will need to be replaced.

    Resin is sold in 1 ft3 bags and often 0.5 ft3 depending on the seller. The old media will need to be dumped, flushed or vacuumed from your existing tank.

    While gravel under bedding is not mandatory, there are benefits to using it, and there are no drawbacks.

    Claims against gravel are common from online dealers. Because shipping costs are included in system prices advertised by online dealers, shipping a system that is 15 lbs lighter by excluding gravel, results in less expense for the seller.

    Some online dealers that exclude gravel, will also equip their 1.5 ft3 systems with a shorter 10" media tank to further reduce their tank and shipping costs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  10. skyjumper

    skyjumper Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    Location:
    Midwest
    go bears.

    I'd suggest buying a new 10x54 tank and a new bottom distributor (along with the resin) and build the replacement system first before you take the old one out of service. you can get a new tank for <150 shipped. then you can just swap the tanks real quick and keep the old one as a spare for future rebeds, which by the sounds of it you might need. Getting all the media out of a 10x54 tank is not exactly easy and may take you a while, during which you will not have soft water.
     
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    It is common for most of the online companies to source the lowest priced components from the lowest bidder without any regard for quality. Resin is a particularly easy area to go cheap on. We have seen companies offer resin at 1/3 of what we pay for highly certified, quality resin, and we buy 30-50 containers a year of resin so needless to say, we have buying power to get the best priced. A quality resin can last for decades, garbage resin has a typical life expectancy of just a couple years. The quest to have the lowest price at all cost will always force a sacrifice in quality.
     
  12. EAJ

    EAJ New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2020
    Location:
    Florida
    Gravel underbedding helps with dispersion, and helps reduce channeling in the resin. Prevents "clumps" in the bed.
     
  13. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Gravel underbedding has nothing to do with this issue, with or without a gravel underbed, bad resin is bad resin. The finer resin particles migrate to the top of the tank during the regeneration cycle. These fine broken resin beads will typically crush with ease. I will do a quick picture of good vs mush shortly and post a picture.
     
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