Shower riser clog caused by brown sediment in water?

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MiamiBorn

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We have a almost total blockage in our shower riser. I noticed that the toilets have a reddish brown sediment in the bottom. I wonder what that is and if it can accumulate over 30 years and cause this blockage. We do have a water softener.
 

WorthFlorida

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Could be the water softener resin. Is the water softener also 30 years old? Are you on a well or city water? Parkland could be either.
 

MiamiBorn

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Could be the water softener resin. Is the water softener also 30 years old? Are you on a well or city water? Parkland could be either.
The softener is four years old. City water. I took some of the sediment out of the toilet tank and I’m going to let it dry. Maybe I can find out what it is and dissolve it. Long shot.
 

Bannerman

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Your city's water department may have recently swabbed and flushed water mains to loosen and dislodge any buildup in the pipes, to allow debris to be flushed from fire hydrants. As this is usually performed as a maintenance procedure, a notice is typically circulated to prewarn residents not to use water on those days.

If there has been a fire or other use of a nearby fire hydrant or if there has been a damaged water main, often the sudden higher than usual flow of water will dislodge built-up sediment within the pipes. If the water main is damaged below ground, soil will sometimes enter the pipe and will be pushed further down the line once water service is restored. Those situations are usually unanticipated so no prior warning will be given.

Suggest bypassing your softener, remove the shower head and allow water to flow unrestricted through the shower riser to flush out the debris until fully eliminated.

Faucet aerators should also be removed to allow those faucets and the aerators to be individually flushed until water runs clear. Start with faucets located farthest from where the water enters the building.

Hoses supplying laundry equipment will typically contain a screen in each connection to the shut-off valve or at the equipment, so they too will need to be cleared out.

If you have a tank type water heater, there should be a valve close to the bottom of the tank to allow a garden hose to be connected to flush-out debris from the tank.

Finally, un-bypass the softener and perform a manual regeneration which will include backwashing the resin to flush-out sediment and debris that may have entered. If the drain line can be temporarily directed to a laundry sink or other suitable drain or container, you can then observe if any debris is being discharged during the backwash portion of the regeneration cycle.

 
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MiamiBorn

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Only a dribble of water will come out of the shower pipe without the head. We did have a water softener that failed after more than 20 years. Could resin from that totally clog the shower riser since it has so many elbows?
 

Bannerman

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We did have a water softener that failed after more than 20 years.
How did the old softener fail? Did resin actually escape into your plumbing system? If resin is the cause, resin beads should be evident within the shower head and faucet aerators.

Depending on brand and age of the shower valve, a typical shower riser will not have many elbows since it usually connects straight to the top of the valve and will generally terminate at a 90-degree threaded elbow which the chrome shower extension arm will screw into through a hole in the wall. The shower head will usually screw directly to the chrome extension arm.

If the blockage is actually within the riser, since some water is able to make its way through, allowing the flow to continue for some time should eventually erode and break-up the blockage material to allow it to be pushed and eliminated through the open extension pipe.

Alternately, the blockage maybe within the shower valve itself and so the valve may require disassembly to investigate and manually remove the blockage material.
 

MiamiBorn

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The valve has been changed, so that’s fine. It is about 6 ft+ from the shower head because it’s a walk in shower with the valve is on the side wall near the opening and the shower head is on the distant wall. To get the water to that shower wall there are at least four elbows. The water has to go down below a glass wall and the around the corner.

Not sure how the softener failed. Have a new one now.

I took some of the brownish substance from the toilet tank and letting it dry to see what it is.
 

Bannerman

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The valve has been changed, so that’s fine.
Was the shower fully working after the valve was replaced, or was the valve replaced because of the flow restriction?

If the restriction developed sometime after the valve was replaced, even though the valve is 'new', the valve itself or something in or at the valve still could be the cause of the problem.

I anticipate the restriction is the same regardless if the valve is in a full hot or full cold position?

Have you removed the shower head to allow water to flow through the riser for some time (ie: 1-2 hours) to determine if the flow rate will eventually improve?
 

WorthFlorida

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If you have any spigots or faucets connected before the water softener? If yes run water into a clean pail and see if there is any sediment you're finding? Any other faucet aerators clogging up with this sediment? If it is resin beads I doubt it is from the old unit. Look at this video at the 5:30 time mark. It shows what the resin looks like.

 

Bannerman

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Run hot or cold or both for 1-2 hrs?
Start with cold to see if there is any improvement. If there is some initial flow improvement, then switching to hot may help to speed up the process.

If flushing the line can successfully eliminate the restriction, then 1-2 hours may not be required but since there is currently only a trickle coming through, opening the valve for a short time will probably be insufficient to erode and loosen the restriction. I said 1-2 hours to encourage you to give the pressurized water behind the restriction enough opportunity to wear away and push whatever is restricting flow out to the open pipe end and into your shower stall.

If the shower stall is fully enclosed, the ongoing trickle will likely not splash where it is not wanted. If the restriction is eliminated, you will likely hear the water flow suddenly increase even if you are not in the bathroom.
 
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