I used to be a huge fan of the show Seinfeld back in the ‘90s. In fact, I don’t think I missed a single episode. My friends and family all knew how much I loved the show so they started to buy me the seasons on DVD as they came out in boxed sets. The reason I love Seinfeld is that, of all the sitcoms I’ve watched in my lifetime, it’s the one show that’s done an episode near and dear to my heart as a plumber.
The premise of the episode was simple. The landlord of the building where Jerry and Kramer lived installed these new low-flow showerheads because he wanted to cut down on his water costs. Well, all the tenants hated it; they were all frustrated because their hair kept drying weird and do strange things due to the low-flow showers. I love this episode because, in my time as a professional plumber, I’ve seen how passionate people tend to get about their showers—and how much they hate it when they have to battle low water pressure.
One common trend I’ve been noticing in my work lately is that homeowners are experiencing low water pressure caused by water softener—and they want to know why. Just like Jerry and Kramer in my favorite episode of Seinfeld, I’ve got a lot of homeowners frustrated about low-flow showers and they want answers. Let’s dig in together about this idea of low water pressure caused by water softener, whether this is a homeowner myth or fact, and, if true, why water softener may be the cause of your unpleasant morning showers.
Myth or Fact: Low Water Pressure Caused by Water Softener
In that old Seinfeld episode, Jerry and Kramer knew exactly why they had low water pressure. Homeowners here in the Sacramento area, however, don’t have a thrifty landlord to blame for switching up their showerhead. In fact, many of them end up having lower water pressure without making any changes at all, to their showerhead or otherwise.
Homeowners tend to come to me, a residential plumbing expert, to test their theories about why their low-flow showers are causing them chaos in the morning. Many of these folks have had water softeners installed at their fixtures and, for whatever reason, they tend to think this is the likeliest reason for a drop in water pressure, even if it’s been several years since they had it installed.
Low water pressure caused by a water softener, however, is largely a myth.
Low water pressure caused by a water softener, however, is largely a myth. Simply put, a water softener shouldn’t noticeably reduce the pressure of a shower unless it is undersized or installed incorrectly If your water pressure did drop immediately after you installed a water softener, then chances are you’re looking at an incorrect installation or a defective water softener. The good news in this scenario is that any plumbing expert worth their salt will be able to easily clear these issues up for you.
If, however, you had good pressure when the water softener was first installed and then years later it slowly started to drop over time, you need to make sure that your softener is regenerating correctly. Many water softener units use salt, so a smart thing to do is check how much salt your softener is cycling through each month. If this sounds confusing to you, I would once again suggest you have a professional plumbing expert out to take a look.
Other Causes of Low Water Pressure, Other Than a Softener
If a water softener is not the cause of your low water pressure, the natural question is to then ask what is at the root of your pipe problem? I’ve talked in the past about how to troubleshoot low water pressure, but I think it’s useful to review the reasons it happens.
There are two common reasons for low water pressure that have nothing to do with water softeners, including:
- Pipe blockage or buildup: If your pressure has been getting less and less powerful over time, you might be dealing with some sort of pipe blockage or buildup. We’ve talked in the past about hard water in our area, and that’s a big cause of buildup in pipes, also known as “scaling.” As mineral-filled water courses through plumbing, minerals in the water get stuck on the insides of the pipes. They can slow the flow of water—or even cut it off over time if left unchecked. Corrosion on non-copper pipes can also have a similar effect. We’ve talked in the past about the cost of replacing galvanized pipes, which may be relevant info for you if a plumber does diagnose your plumbing with buildup or a blockage.
- Leaks: If, on the other hand, there’s been a sudden drop in pressure, that can be the sign of a recent, and potentially serious, plumbing issue. A leak somewhere in the pipe system might cause this sudden drop in water pressure. This means that the water that should be delivered to the faucet is instead leaking somewhere. It’s important to deal with leaks as soon as you can as they can cause lots of damage to your plumbing and to your house.
The simple truth is that experiencing a drop in water pressure in your own shower at home is nowhere near as funny as when it happens to the characters on Seinfeld. It’s an annoying problem on a daily basis, but also one that could indicate a much larger and more serious problem, like pipe blockage or even a leak.
I strongly advise you to have a plumbing expert out ASAP to take a look if you are experiencing low water pressure, whether or not you have a water softener installed.
I strongly advise you to have a plumbing expert out ASAP to take a look if you are experiencing low water pressure, whether or not you have a water softener installed. Here at Bell Brothers, we have all the plumbing experience and expertise you need to make sure your low pressure issue is handled quickly and professionally. As I said, it’s not all that funny, but, hey, maybe if you get it fixed fast enough, you’ll be able to look back at it and laugh someday soon!
At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would be happy to come have a look at your shower and other plumbing fixtures to assess what’s causing your low water pressure and why. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.
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