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Water Quality/water softener breakage leaving insides in water line


QUESTION: My water softener didn't appear to be working and a friend tried figuring out the problem. Well, he ended up breaking something that allowed the filtration material out into the water lines.  This clogged the lines to the toilets in the house and who knows what else. I called a plumber and he said I needed to blow my water lines out for a cost of over $1000.00.  I don't have that kind of money. What can I do on my own to remedy this issue and most importantly, is there any health risks in drinking this water?

ANSWER: Hi Lois,
I would love to know how he did that!  I have honestly never heard of that and I have been in water treatment for over 35 years!  Anyway, first of all there is no health risk due to the resin beads in the water lines.  It probably wouldnt be a good idea to ingest too many of the beads so, as a precaution, I would drink only bottled water for a while.  When  you say the lines to the toilets are clogged - do you mean completely clogged so that no water flows at all?  The best thing to do is to try to blow out the lines by opening up the outside faucets and letting them run for as long as you can - turned on all the way.  Only do one at a time.  
Tell me a little more about the lines that are clogged.  I.E. are they completely clogged, etc.  Get back to me as soon as you can and I'll try to figure out a way to keep from having to get a plumber.


Environmental Engineer
General Contractor

PS:  Don't blame the poor guy - he probably feels bad enough.  It can and has happened to all of us!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: One of the toilets wouldn't flush at all until I took the mechanism apart and that is how I noticed what had happened. My plumbing works fine now but after quite some time I still see these beads in my Britta water filter I run my drinking water through.  The plumber said if I didn't blow out the water lines that I would ruin my water heater.

HI Lois,
Sounds like things have improved since the first email.  You will probably have to deal with "nuisance" issues for a little while.  What I mean by that is the Brita water thing, toilet mechanisms, etc.  Nothing major.  You will not ruin your hot water heater!  What you can do though is to drain it.  Your hot water heater should have a drain faucet at the bottom.  Hook a garden hose up to it and run the hose outside.  Make sure the end of the hose is LOWER than the bottom of the HW heater.  Then open the drain valve and allow to drain for about 3 minutes.  Check the water coming out after about 3 minutes and see if there are beads in it.  If there are no beads turn the drain faucet off and you are finished.   If there are continue to drain until there are no or very few beads in the water.  
You may get beads in your water for a while but it's really nothing to worry about - just a nuisance.  Continue to use the Brita or buy bottled water for drinking for a few months.
Good luck and let me know if I can help out.


Steve Young
Environmental Engineer
General Contractor

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Steve Young


I will answer questions on residential water treatment, i.e. use of softeners, filters, reverse osmosis systems, disinfection, iron and/or sediment removal and other issues facing the homeowner. I have worked extensively with well water systems.


I have worked in the water treatment area for many years as a consultant and as a professional environmental engineer in the private industry sector. I have designed reverse osmosis, deionization, and water softening systems. I have also done work in water quality and stream and river remediation as it relates to the Clean Water Act.

I am currently serving as an Expert for Home Improvement, Travel (New Mexico) and Travel (North Carolina);

BS Environmental Eng.

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