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Old 11-28-2015, 10:28 PM   #1
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what are these tiny balls in my plumbing? -> see pics


what are these tiny balls in my plumbing that clogged all my shower heads, faucets and toilets' fill valves?

in order to replace a shut off valve (in the basement) to outside sprinkle spigots , i had to turn the main water stop valve off = no water in the house.. the valve that i was replacing is in the basement and by removing it, all the water from upstairs pipes drained. after i replaced the valve, i turned the water back on and every single bathroom and kitchen faucet, shower head and toilet fill valve was clogged with these tiny, semi-transparent, orange balls to the point that the faucets, shower heads and toilets stopped working - no water would get through except maybe a few drops.

these balls do not float. they sink. the only appliances that the water flows through before it comes out of faucets (and toilets) is a water heater tank and water conditioner (softener) tank. the water conditioner has not been working for a while due to a broken regeneration time controller.
any ideas?
edit: these balls are about 0.5mm in diameter and i have already collected about 1/4 of a bucket of them; and a lot more of them already ended up in the drain.
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what are these tiny balls in my plumbing? -> see pics-balls-plumbing1.jpg   what are these tiny balls in my plumbing? -> see pics-balls-plumbing-closeup.jpg  

Last edited by sacrilege; 11-28-2015 at 10:36 PM. Reason: more specs
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:30 PM   #2
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Well or city water? I'm assuming you're on a well.

Temporarily bypass the water softener, and see if that's your problem.

There are a couple great water treatment techs that frequent this forum, please wait for one of them to respond. Thanks.

Last edited by jmon; 11-28-2015 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:41 PM   #3
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Definitely water softener resin.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:48 PM   #4
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@jmon
i am on city water. we live in a small town and in even smaller subdivision.
it appears that the balls "showed up" with the initial burst of water that came into the house once i turned the water on as if some mass got dislodged by the initial pressure; or as if something ruptured and let out these balls.
it did not appear to me that more was coming once the water was on since once i cleared the balls that got caught behind the faucet screens, no more balls were coming out of that particular outlet. nevertheless, i have already bypassed the water softener (just to make sure); however, there were no more balls before i bypassed the water softener and there are no more balls now. so i kinda wonder where they came from and what they are. they are tasteless and break easily if i bite them - almost as if they were some kinda crystals that by abrasion became balls.

Last edited by sacrilege; 11-28-2015 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:55 PM   #5
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@ iamrfixit

if these balls are the water softener resin, what exactly happened there? do i need to put them back into the water softener tank? is the water softener caput? is this going to happen again? what is the solution and fix?
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Old 11-29-2015, 12:03 AM   #6
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Your softener has likely developed an internal leak of some sort that has allowed the resin to pass through. Since you said it isn't working anyway it should be bypassed. If it can't be completely bypassed you should probably just remove it or it probably will continue to allow resin through.

I don't have much experience with home type softeners, my experience is with large commercial softeners for the boilers at work. I recognized the resin immediately as the resin in our softeners looks identical.
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Old 11-29-2015, 07:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacrilege View Post
@ iamrfixit

.... is the water softener caput?

I am no water softener expert, but my guess is "yes'. The plastic balls are supposed to stay in the tank. Might be something simple like a screen that unlatched (but I wouldn't count on it). You could try calling a place that does water softener sales and service --- but beware they may be more interested in sales than service.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:36 PM   #8
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Another vote for water softener resin.
The screen on the output pipe of the water softener has corroded and and is big holes instead of screening.
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