Can Your Water Softener Affect Your Water Pressure? (Find Out Now!)

We use water so much in our daily lives, and it’s easy to take it for granted. A lot of the time, we don’t think about it at all until there is a problem with it.

For instance, getting into the shower only to find that the water pressure has reduced to a trickle is not only frustrating, it’s alarming. What could possibly be the reason? 

Problems with your water softener can cause low water pressure. The most common problems are blockages in the supply lines or resin beds and clogged filters. Undersized systems and external problems like leaky pipes can also cause low water pressure.

Here, we will go over the possible reasons behind your low water pressure, how to detect these problems, and what to do about them.

Can a Water Softener Cause Low Water Pressure?

Low water pressure can be caused by a variety of problems. The pressure of your incoming water supply could be low, there could be pipe corrosion, a problem with the water filtration system, or an issue with your water softener.

Since these other issues can be difficult and expensive to test for, it might be best to troubleshoot your water softener first. If the underlying cause for low water pressure is in your water softener, this is actually a good thing.

A water softener shouldn’t change the water pressure in your house, but it can if it is malfunctioning, installed incorrectly, or doesn’t have the capacity to service your house. If you notice a drop in water pressure right after a water softener is installed, the system was probably installed incorrectly or isn’t big enough for your house.

Are There Easy Ways to Rule Out External Problems First?

In some cases, problems causing low water pressure aren’t in the house at all, or they occur before the water reaches the water softener. There are easy ways to check for these problems, and this might save you from some unnecessary troubleshooting.

Check accessible pipes for leaks, especially the main water line and the one supplying the water softener. It is possible that there is a water pressure problem before it even gets to your water softener. 

Ask neighbors if they have also noticed a drop in their water pressure. There might be a problem with the local water supply, and that is out of your control. If this turns out to be the case, you and your neighbors could inform your water supplier of the low water pressure. 

Reasons Why Your Water Softener Affects Your Water Pressure

Once you’ve checked to see that it isn’t an external problem causing your low water pressure, it’s time to see if your water softener is causing the issue. These are the most common problems with water softener systems that cause low water pressure.

The Capacity of the Water Softener System

As with all appliances, it’s very important to select the appropriate size and design for your home. This is especially true for water softener systems. If you use a lot of water, you will need a water softener that will keep up with your usage. The water softening process takes time, and if you deplete the softened water quickly, the system will not be able to keep up with demand.

Some water softener systems are even designed to allow water to bypass the softening process once demand exceeds a certain amount. This totally defeats the purpose of installing a water softener system, and can be very frustrating.

An undersized system will also require more maintenance, since it is constantly in use. Parts will wear out faster, and salt and resin will need to be replaced more frequently.

Calculating what capacity you need for your water softener system requires that you analyze your water. There are test strips available, you can send your water to a lab, or ask your water supplier for the prevailing average water hardness in your area. 

Once you determine the water hardness, you can figure out what your system’s capacity should be. The formula for determining how much capacity you need is as such:

  • Number of people x 75 (average daily usage in gallons) x water hardness

The resulting number will give you the ‘grains’, or amount of particulates that need to be removed from your daily water supply. Different size water softeners are identified by these grains.

Compare your result with the grain capacity of your current water softener. If there is a big discrepancy between your result and the capacity of your water softener, consult a professional about replacement.


Since the purpose of a water softener is to remove heavy minerals, it makes sense that they can lead to buildup in the system. This mineral buildup can restrict supply lines, resulting in low water pressure. 

Inspect your supply lines for buildup. Mineral buildup will be fairly obvious, as it looks like limescale.  

To clean out these clogs, flush the lines with a mineral cleaner. If the buildup is too extensive and the mineral cleaner is ineffective, you may need to replace the lines. Before you attempt this, be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Another source of clogs is deteriorated resin. When resin breaks apart, it can get into the plumbing system and clog fixtures like shower heads and faucets. 

The easiest way to check for this is to check the condition of your resin. If the beads are falling apart, simply replace them per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Leaky Pipes

There is always the possibility of leaky pipes in the house, even if you’ve already checked and haven’t found any leaks. Most of the pipes are concealed from view-either in walls or under the floor. Because of this, it’s possible for a leak to go unnoticed.  

First, inspect all of the exposed pipes in the house. If you see a leak, that may be the source of your low water pressure.

If you don’t see any leaks, check and compare your water bills for fluctuations in usage. This is the easiest way to detect a possible leak from a concealed pipe.

Leaks of this kind are best repaired by a professional plumber, as their repairs will generally last longer and their work will not further damage your plumbing system. 

Blocked resin bed

The main components of a water softener system are a resin tank and a brine tank. A water softener works by running water through the resin tank, where there is a resin bed that is enriched with sodium ions. Here, the sodium ions are exchanged for the calcium and magnesium ions contributing to the hardness of the water. 

Periodically, the brine tank flushes a salt solution, or brine, through the resin tank to replenish the salt. This is known as the regeneration cycle.

While the water softener system is capable of recharging the resin, it is still possible for the resin bed to become blocked by excessive mineral buildup. Over time, resin begins to deteriorate and doesn’t function properly. 

Periodically check your resin bed for mineral buildup. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to replace the resin on a regular basis. 

If you do suspect that your resin bed is blocked, it is best to replace the resin and rinse out the tank. 

To do this, first turn off the power and water supply to the water softener. Now remove the lid on the resin tank.

Remove all of the resin from the tank, and rinse the entire tank with clean water. Now pour in the new resin, replace the lid to the tank, and reestablish water and power supply.

Blocked filter

Like all other filters, those installed in water softener systems have the capability to get blocked as dirt and  particulates build up. Unfortunately, there is nowhere for these particulates to go.

As particles accumulate on the filter, a partial or complete blockage can occur. To check for a blocked filter, you will have to inspect it.  

To check your filter, turn off the water supply to the water softener, and place a bucket under the filter’s housing to catch any spills. 

Press down on the repressurizing button on the housing, and open the housing with a clockwise motion. Remove the filter, and inspect it. If it is visibly clogged, you will need to replace it.

Make sure you get the correct replacement filter, seat it in the filter housing, and close the housing with a counterclockwise motion. 

Reestablish the water supply, and check for any difference in the water pressure. It is best to open and let the water run for a few minutes before checking the pressure, as it doesn’t immediately normalize. 


While it is very convenient to have a water softener in your home, it can be frustrating when it doesn’t function properly. Issues with the water softener can cause problems that don’t even seem related to water hardness or softness, making it a challenge to troubleshoot.

As we have seen here, it is possible for a water softener system to be the culprit behind low water pressure. There are several working components in these systems, and all it takes is for one of these to fail in order to impact the water pressure in the house.

Luckily, these systems are designed to be repaired easily. Most of these repairs can be done without a professional, but if there is ever any doubt or concern for safety, it is best to consult a plumber. 

Hopefully this has given you the information you need to diagnose and fix the issue behind your low water pressure, so you can quickly solve the problem and eliminate it from your to-do list.

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