Why Are My Cold Water Faucet Filters Clogged?

faucet filters clogged with little beads

Why Are My Cold Water Faucet Filters Clogged with Small Yellow and Orange Balls?

If your water faucet aerators are clogged (and the water is coming out slowly), you may be surprised when you replace the filters to find tiny colored balls inside the filter. What are these little colored beads and why are they in your screens? Even more important, why are they in my water, and are they harmful?

faucet filters clogged with little beadsPossibility #1: Your water softener screen failed.

Your water softener works because water goes through small zeolite resin beads that soften the water through an ion exchange. In most cases, the zeolite resin beads stay in the water softener and out of your pipes because a screen holds them inside the unit. However, when a water softener screen erodes or is torn, the resin beads can get out of the softener and into your pipes, where they end up lodged inside your water faucet aerators.

The resin beads, also called zeolites, are microporous, aluminosilicate minerals that can also can be used for water purification as well as water softening. If you find them in your cold water faucet filter, you want to check your water softener screen, assuming you have a water softener.

Possibility #2: Your water heater plastic intake tube dissolved.

If you have an old water heater (manufactured between 1993 and 1997), you may notice that you are only getting lukewarm water plus you have these little colored bits clogging up your water faucet filters. These two signs point to a faulty dip tube in your water heater, a problem that can be solved by replacing the dip tube.

Here’s the deal: during the time of 1993-1997, a lot of the dip tubes used in both electric and gas water heaters were made of a faulty plastic that, dependent on the chemistry and pH and temperature of your water heater, would eventually crumble into little itty bitty pieces. These plastic beads clog up your water faucet filters (and your shower head filters). The dip tube, once dissolved, no longer functions to direct cold water to the bottom of the tank where it can be heated. Instead the cold water mixes with the hot water at the point where water is sent out into your plumbing system, meaning you get lukewarm water instead of how water.

You could replace the dip tube and flush the water heater, but the truth is your water heater has long passed its life expectancy! Most tank water heaters expire long before this time, and while you’ve gotten lucky thus far, you don’t want to invest money into repairs for a water heater built in 1993-1997 only to have it break down for good the next day. Replace your older water heater, and then replace your faucet and shower head filters.

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Article Summary

Quick question & answer: Why are there little plastic beads in my faucet filters?

You could find little plastic beads in your faucet filters when faucet aerators are clogged. This could mean that your water softener screen failed. When the screen is torn, the beads that soften water can end up lodged in pipes. If you also notice warm water in addition to the beads, your water heater plastic intake tube could have dissolved.

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