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Water Softener Loop Problem

Posted by cansari (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 16, 10 at 10:29

I recently had a water softener loop installed (which runs from my water meter that is outside near the sidewalk to inside a closet in my house). I have a 1" water supply line (gooseneck) running from the water meter to supply the house. When the water softener loop was installed, the plumber used 3/4" line. Thus, the water now comes from the water meter, goes into the new 3/4" loop, which loop ties back into the 1" water supply line (goosneck) that supplies the house.

After the loop was installed, I noticed that my sprinkler system is not working properly (the sprinkler heads are not popping up all the way and they are putting out much less water). I'm not 100% sure whether it was related to the loop installation, but it seems likely.

Also, now that I now that 3/4" line was used for the loop, I am concerned that it has reduced the volume of water available to my house, and after my new shower with multiple shower heads and body sprays is finished, that I won't have sufficient water flow.

Does anyone have any opinions on the plumber's use of the 3/4" line (which the water supply line is 1") and whether my concerns are valid?

Thanks a bunch.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

I AM NOT A PLUMBER but there are on this forum and I'm sure they will chime in.

AFAIK, and I may be wrong, it is a code violation to reduce the size of the service from the meter to the house.

Did your plumber pull a permit? Was there an inspection?

If your plumber is in error and should have constructed the loop with 1" then you should have recourse if he is a licensed plumber. He should redo the job with the correct size.

You'll also want to make sure your softener has a control valve and bypass that is at least 1", like a Fleck 7000, instead of the common 3/4" size.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem


He did not obtain a permit or an inspection. Now that I am pretty sure than he made a mistake with 3/4", I will ask them to redo it with the correct size. Thanks for your feedback.


RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

Don't forget to get a correctly sized control valve on the softener and also install a 3 ball valve bypass along with the softener bypass in case the softener bypass leaks and needs to be repaired you'll still have water (although untreated) to the house.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

A 3/4" line has approximately 1/2 the cross sectional area of a 1" line.

The volume will remain the same, but in order to deliver the volume the velocity of flow has to double. That creates a two fold problem.

1. Code limits velocity of flow in copper to a maximum of 8feet per second. Excessive velocity results in pipe wall erosion and premature failure of the pipe.

2. As the velocity of flow increases there is an exponential increase in friction, which results in pressure loss.

Supply lines are sized by the demand load of the structure and the plumber knew good and well that if you have a 1" line he was obligated to use 1" pipe.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

That's what I thought... thanks lazypup.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

Another question is, Why would you soften ALL the water in the system, when only the heated water is usually the problem. You will now be putting softened water on the yard. Isn't this wasteful?


RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

after further investigation, apparently the line running out of the meter is initially 3/4", and then before it reaches the house it increases to 1" (I have no explanation for this since the house was built 12 years ago before I owned it). since the plumber was tapping into the line running out of the meter, he used 3/4" b/c that is what he saw at the meter. he says that using a 1" loop would provide no benefit since the water volume can't increase beyond the size of the line from the meter (3/4"). I think this makes sense to me, but I'm not sure.

also, the water for yard is supposed to tee off BEFORE it reaches the water loop, and therefore the softened water should not reach the yard.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

"Why would you soften ALL the water in the system, when only the heated water is usually the problem?"

A common question and often asked...

Back in the day when homes were rarely, if ever, plumbed for a softener retrofits were installed at the water heater because it was easy, quick, and cheaper than interrupting the water service. When door-to-door water treatment hucksters prowled the neighborhoods an easy install was an effective close.

When new homes began to include softener loops some had the kitchen and hose bibs plumbed pre-loop so soft water wasn't servicing the kitchen sink and outside.

As time went by it seems that excluding the kitchen and hose bibs from water treatment was lost in the shuffle and new construction provided a softener loop for the entire house, if they provided a loop at all.

Softener retrofits continued to be whole house, except for those old-timers who learned one way and that's all they knew and in cases where it would be very expensive or not easily done other than to soften only the water heater.

People also discovered that washing their cars with soft water was a good thing... just like the car washes have been doing for decades and decades and decades.

If the water entering the home is hard and you only treat the water heater then everywhere there is cold water the water is hard. Every faucet, appliance, pipe, and fixture. Everywhere in the house the hot and cold mix the water will be less hard, but not soft. You won't get the advantage of soft water.

With today's efficient water softeners it really isn't much more costly to treat the entire house than exclude the kitchen and hose bibs if you factor in the accelerated wear and tear and more frequent repairs to faucets, appliances, pipes, and fixtures that hard hard water will bring not to mention the savings from using less soaps and detergents.

Why would anyone want to pay for soft water and then not get it?

RE: Softener Loop Problem


Then the plumber is correct.

With 3/4 being the correct size then you can shop for softeners using the Fleck 5600 3/4" valve or equivalent.

Don't forget to add the 3 ball valve bypass when you install the softener.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

For those of us who have taken our eye off the ball, Cy said:

"After the loop was installed, I noticed that my sprinkler system is not working properly (the sprinkler heads are not popping up all the way and they are putting out much less water). I'm not 100% sure whether it was related to the loop installation, but it seems likely."

PPP now adds: If the pop-ups worked before this modification, but they don't work now, that would seem to be related, no?!! Find out how the plumbing is connected--all the "goes-into's" and all the "come's-out-of's". If the sprinklers are ahead of the water softener, than it is unlikely that adding the water softener would affect the sprinklers, but stranger things have happened.

Cy continued: "Also, now that I [k]now that 3/4" line was used for the loop, I am concerned that it has reduced the volume of water available to my house, and after my new shower with multiple shower heads and body sprays is finished, that I won't have sufficient water flow.

PPP says: The best you can hope for from a 3/4" service is 3 gallons per minute of water (can't wait to get the corrections here!), so: add up all the instantaneous uses of water in your residence: all the sprays, the rain-forest shower head, somebody else like OJ's house guest flushes, You can get the number? How many gallons per minute will you be using at any given instant? IF that number is less than about 5 gallons per minute (I fudged a bit on the 3 gpm number above-apologies to lurker!) you should be okay! Especially if the fixtures are fitted with the nifty temperature compensating safety features.


Proud Pug Parent (PPP), PE, PMP

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem


Thanks for your input. I have some new and better information. Prior to the loop installation, I had a 3/4" water meter on city water, which connected to a 1" water supply line that ran from the meter to the house (about 35 feet). The 1" water supply line was interrupted (close to the meter, not close the house), and the 3/4" loop was installed (about a 150 foot total run which tied back in near the meter where it was interrupted).

Amazingly, I discovered the plumber plumbed the loop so that the water would run through the loop BEFORE reaching the irrigation line. This explains the sprinkler issue - the 3/4" loop was obviously reducing the water volume to such an extent that the sprinklers stopped working properly. When the plumber moved the loop to after the irrigation line, the sprinklers immediately began working.

Now, here is my current dillema: I have a 4,000 SF house with high water demands (especially in the showers, but I don't know the total GPM). Before the loop, I had a 1" supply of water to the house. Now, I have a 3/4" supply to the house b/c of the 3/4" loop, correct? I have been told that a 3/4" line has about half the volume of a 1" line. Therefore, I think my house is being deprived of the water flow it previously had. I called a local water softener company and they suggested that the loop be replaced with a 1 1/4" inch loop (they suggested that I go bigger than the 1" water supply line to the house to offset the added friction caused by the 150 foot loop run). Do you think this is good advice? thanks

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem


Yours is not a question of advice but rather getting a competent plumber to come in, do the math, and give you the answer.

You need to know the SFR and the flow requirements of the fixtures and appliances along with the size of the supply lines.

The correct answer is calculable with relatively straightforward arithmetic and licensed plumbers are supposed to be able to do exactly that. A competent plumber will (can) tell you exactly what the restriction is, where the restriction is, and exactly how it needs to be corrected and with exactly what and then charge you a great deal of money to do it. Apparently this escapes the plumber you're using so look to another.

At this point is does sound like a softener with a 3/4" control valve on a 3/4" softener loop is not sized correctly for flow. Another consideration is that if the volume of resin in the softener has insufficient SFR then hardness will leak through and you'll get hard water at high flow rates.

RE: Water Softener Loop Problem

Well you certainly did not have a problem finding advice for a loop problem. I am a water professional, water treatment that is. I also understand plumbing but my thought here is just that a softener loop is usually just to add a bypass capability so the softener can be removed for service while still providing water to the house. Usually these systems are installed on the water inlet to the house and before the water heater, especially on new houses but only feed the house. Hard water is related to the amount of calcium and magnesium ions in the water itself and may be exacerbated by hot water but not caused by hot water so some people install the softener ahead of the hot water heater only but most do the whole house. There would be reasons to separate your irrigation from the softened water due to the fact that sodium is harmful to your landscape and softened water will have high levels of sodium in the water. As far as the sprinkler heads not popping up, they need pressure and volume to accomplish the task and the plumnber could have adjusted the pressure coming into the home maybe that could affect the irrigation system.

I am not sure that a permit would do this though I do agree that a qualified person be aquired for the job. 1" to 3/4" back to 1" for that small of an area, maybe. Your loss of presssure could be through the softener itself as the piping and redirection of water through the various ports on the unit itself could result in enough of a loss of pressure for the irrigation system to malfunction. I think if you separate the irrigation from the softening loop you will solve your problem and save your landscape.

Just a thought! Wtp5

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