Plumbing problem: low flow inside

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  • Plumbing problem: low flow inside

    I've got a plumbing problem that started recently. I have good flow (garden hose fills 2-1/2 gallon bucket in 20 seconds) and pressure (about 65 psi, by my gauge) outside. Inside is a different story . . . but different conditions as well, so I need help in interpreting and debugging.

    At my kitchen sink, where the faucet is at the end of a narrow spray hose, I get one quarter the flow rate available outside. Upstairs, running the tub faucet wide open, I also get about one quarter the rate. Result is that the shower dribbles rather than sprays.

    I first noticed the problem at the same time as I noticed my water softener not working properly. It was stuck in a mode that had the water running a lot; turned out the little motor that advanced cycles wasn't working properly. On replacing the motor, I still have problems with the device, and hope that a bunch of gaskets and impellers and so forth that arrived yesterday in the mail will fix things. But, while debugging the softener, I had to toggle the softener bypass valve so water went directly to my house and water heater instead of through the softener. Don't know whether this is related, except that I noticed the problem with flow after my fussing with the water softener.

    So, any of you plumbing sleuths have ideas/suggestions/comments? I hope so . . . dribble showers just are not as gratifying as the real deal!
    - David

    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. -- Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    Low Flow Problem


    I'm not a plumber, but I build apartments for a living. You may have low flow plumbing fixtures in your house, as plumbing codes changes......I don't remember 5 to 10 years ago, and all fixtures are now restricted or low flow fixtures. Commodes, shower heads, and most faucets are now regulated to I think 2.1 gal a minute. If your water softener wasn't working properly, and the salt pellets or tablets weren't broken down properly, maybe a small piece of debris, or even salt may be plugging the washers that they put in these low flow fixtures. When I had a water softener in my house, depending on which bags of salt I bought, I would have to flush the bottom of my tank about every 3 months. Seems like the Morton's salt pellets were the worse for excess trash in the plastic bags. Hope that might help.


    • #3
      Originally posted by dlminehart View Post
      So, any of you plumbing sleuths have ideas/suggestions/comments? I hope so . . . dribble showers just are not as gratifying as the real deal!
      Question time:

      1. City or well water?

      2. Do you have a drain valve anyplace before the water softner to test the pressure?

      3. What kind of piping is used in the house? Copper, iron or both?

      4. I assume the outside hose bib is before the water softner?


      • #4
        We have old plumbing at work and I installed a new faucet this week. When I was done I was flabbergasted that no water came out. After much wonderment I finally unscrewed the strainer and it was full of rust. You might want to check yours.
        Sometimes the old man passed out and left the am radio on so I got to hear the oldie songs and current event kind of things


        • #5
          Since you have a water softener I going to say that you have hard water. When you toggled the valve to bypass the water softener you loosened some of the calcium, magnesium, etc that makes up hard water. This is now plugging something somewhere. Or you could have loosened some rust somewhere. Your have to isolate where the problem is.

          Your outside water is normally attached to the hard water line, water line BEFORE it goes near the softener, no sense in wasting soft water when hard water will do fine.

          You will have to figure out how the water flows, and where it is good and bad, and figure out what is the common denominator. Chances are it's not in a straight pipe run. Screens (faucets, shower heads, toilets, etc), where it reduces to a smaller pipe, goes thru a valve, splits, elbows (pretty much in that order) would be where the problem is.

          Pull the screen off and take a look at them. It does not take much to restrict the flow. Clean off the screen and try again.

          If the problem is in the piping you might be able to loosen it by turning off / on (several times) the water supply going to that section. The high low pressure might dislodge the problem. Have something open (running) while you do this. The problem will then flow in that direction. Pick something close, and easy to get at, or with nothing to stop it.

          Note: I mentioned the screen in the toilet, but the chances are the toilet is hooked up to your hard water line.

          Plan for the worst, hope for the best!


          • #6
            While I don't have a water softener system, I had similar flow problems. Mine was due to my water heater anode coming apart and clogging all of the fixture screens. My washing machine, kitchen sink and shower were clogged the worst. I had to clean them out every week to keep them flowing until I replaced the water heater. Your softener system might be causing similar problems.