15 Common Water Softener Problems To Be Aware Of

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Water Softener Problems

It’s crucial to know the most common water softener problems and how to fix them. This article will tell you about these problems so that you always have the upper hand. If the system is acting up, it won’t deliver clean, soft, and quality water on demand.

Home appliances break down all the time; you can save yourself some money when you know common problems. Repairs will also help you extend the lifespan of your water softener. A reliable handyperson can perform water softener maintenance with ease. Here are the most common issues.

Water Softener Problems

Water Softener Problems Water In Salt Tank 

A salt tank full of water is one of the issues most homeowners face. This can happen because of clogging or poor overflow. But many other reasons lead to water in the salt tank. Troubleshoot and identify the exact cause of the problem.

It’s the only way to rectify the issue and get the water softener back to working correctly. Sometimes the system may be too old; most water softeners last about eight years. Examine for any wear and tear and see if they need repairs or if they need replacement.

If your entry valve has broken, the water flow will be affected, leading to water in the salt tank. Flooding will affect the functionality of the system. Replace your entry valve to resolve the problem.

You should also check to see if the float valve is set too high. The float valve is what controls the water in the compartment. If it’s set too high, water will start to build up in the salt tank. These are some of the many reasons that can lead to a lot of water in the salt tank.

Water Softener Problem with Salt Bridges 

A water softener system prevents minerals from building up on your fixtures and pipes. But ironically, they are subject to salt building up in the tank. When this happens, it forms a salt bridge within the system’s lines.

It’s the development of a hard crust that separates salt and water in the brine tank. The salt bridge will prevent the system from softening water. The last thing you want is a system that doesn’t perform; it becomes a liability. Luckily, once you identify the issue, it will be easy to resolve.

You can fix the salt bridge problem by breaking the salt crust. You can use a broom handle to break the bridge and remove it by draining it. When your water suddenly becomes hard, or the system has stopped using salt, the tank may have a salt bridge.

Water Softener Problem When Water Softener Makes Water Brown

Brown water problems are also very common when you have the system. I know it’s safe to assume that you have seen the disgusting brown water flow out of your tap at least once. It’s easy to understand that this water is not safe to drink. But if you have a water softener, you might be wondering if that is causing the issue.

There is a chance you are right because the softener can make the water brown. It’s possible the plumbing may be worn out, which is why the system is dispensing dirty water. It can also be because of the sediment content and dirt in the water feed.

Sterilize the water softener system using chlorine and hydrogen peroxide. Put the sterilizers in the brine tank, run at least two manual regeneration cycles, and flush the plumbing system. If the problem persists, you might need to reach out to a plumber.

They will do a proper inspection of the system and make necessary repairs. The issue may lie with the water supplier and not your system. Find out if there have been any complaints about the water by others.

Water Softener Problem with Water Softener Not Using Salt

You should check the salt levels in the brine tank often. If the level remains the same over a long period, it means the system is not using any salt. This shows there is no ions exchange meaning the hard water will not be soft.

The whole system will be pretty useless unless you get the issue resolved. A salt bridge may be the reason why your system is not using salt. The bridge prevents the salt crystals from dissolving.

If the salt bridge is the issue, I already told you how to resolve it. Once you remove the bridge, you will notice the salt level will start to go down gradually. But if you get rid of the salt bridge and the issue is still present, it’s time to call a professional.

You can also contact the manufacturer to give some troubleshooting advice. They better understand the system and are better positioned to know why the softener is not using salt.

Water Softener Problems with Brine Tank Water Too Low or No Water at All

When little water enters the brine tank or the salt tank, there will be insufficient regeneration cycles. That means the system will not sufficiently reduce water hardness. The water softener doesn’t usually fill with water.

If the system is functioning correctly, it won’t be easy to spot water in the salt tank. But that doesn’t mean the water should be too low. The system still needs enough water supplies to function correctly.

It’s confusing because when the tank has little water, it indicates the system is working correctly. It also suggests a flaw in the softening unit. But if it’s extremely low, have a professional look at the system to see if there are any malfunctions.

Ensure everything is working as intended and the tank is getting enough water. You will have peace of mind when you know the low water level results from a functioning water softener.

Resin Bead Problems 

The water softener system uses resin beads to make it more effective. When the resin beads start to degrade, the system performance will reduce. The beads have the same lifespan as the system. But they can break and cripple the softener; that is why you need to check often to see if they are in good shape.

Get someone who understands the functions of the system to examine and fix the resin beads. You may need to replace the resin if the damages are beyond repair.

Damaged resin beads are very annoying and can deny you clean, soft water. But fixing the problem is very simple; you can either replace or clean the beads. If you still have your instruction user manual, you can fix the resin bead issue without help.

Follow the instructions to avoid causing more damages to the system. Excessive amounts of chlorine in the water may cause resin problems. Try to manage the amount of chlorine you use to sterilize the water softener system.

Water Softener Not Softening 

The most annoying issue is a water softener that doesn’t soften your water. There are plenty of problems that cause the system to stop softening water. The first one is the formation of the salt in the tank. As you know, this may form a salt bridge and hinder the exchange of ions which are what make the water soft.

Break the bridge and remove it to ensure only soft water comes out. It can also be because the system bypass switch is off. The water may not be flowing through the system at all; that is why you only have hard water in the household.

The water softener may be too small to support your soft water demands. If the resin beads regeneration does not happen between cycles, you will not have enough soft water. Consider increasing your system’s capacity to improve the function of resin beads. But before you make any assumptions, correctly identify the cause of the problem first.

There may be other issues in the brine tank that make it hard for the system to soften water. When you fix the wrong problem, there is nothing much you would have done to ensure the supply of soft water.

Water Softener Causing Low Pressure 

There are instances where the system will dispense low water at very low pressure. Even outside the water softener system, low water pressure always indicates a bigger problem. Sizing may be the issue you have low pressure.

Check the output and inlet pressure the system can deliver. You have to know the size of the unit when buying to avoid such a daunting problem. Low pressure can also be a result of sediment build-up in the water feed.

Keep the softener parts clean at all times, and you won’t be dealing with pressure issues. Any clogging or blockages, especially in the piping, will lead to a bigger problem.

The resin beads you flush out from the unit may cause blockage, which leads to water pressure loss. When you replace the beads, flush the whole system to get rid of any clogs. The iron build-up in the resin tank can also be the reason why you have reduced water pressure.

Use mineral cleaners to minimize the chances of iron build-up in the tank. More frequent regeneration cycles may also help you resolve the issue. Check for all the above possible causes of low pressure and fix them.

Water Softener Problems with Excessive Salty Taste 

Salts are standard components in water softeners; salt turns hard water into soft. But when the salt is too much, it can spill over to your clean water and make it salty. No one wants to drink salty water unless it’s by choice.

Internal seals in the softening unit can be damaged, and weak, so salty water is leaking into cleaned water. Also, if the minerals are not distributed evenly in the water during regeneration, you may notice the water tastes salty sometimes.

Salty water is a significant sign that there is a major problem with the system. If your drain hose is clogged, the brine will not flush during the regeneration cycles, and that is why you have salty water. Try to fix the salty water issue as soon as possible because it has other disadvantages.

Salty water will damage your pipes and wear them down. If you care for your plumbing system, ensure the water going through the lines is less salty and clean.

Water Softener Motor Failure 

I am sure you can think of several ways a motor failure can affect your water softener unit. The unit runs on electricity, which is why it needs a motor. Sadly many things can make the motor break down and cripple the whole system.

Motor failure will reduce the performance of the system or may make the entire unit shut down. The first thing you have to do is check the cables to see if they are damaged. The problem may not be the motor but the cables that connect the system to electricity. If the wires are okay, then it’s your motor that has issues.

The motor can be repaired or replaced, depending on the severity of the damages. Check the warranty to see if you are eligible for a replacement. If you are out of warranty coverage, you should consider getting a new one.

There is not much you can do if the motor is entirely dead. Buy a new one and call a technician to install it for you. You will have the system up and running in no time. Preventative maintenance will elongate the life of the motor.

Water Softener Will Not Regenerate 

This is also a common issue most homeowners have had to deal with from time to time. Without complete regeneration cycles, you will not have soft water. The machine needs to complete these cycles to dispense water with desirable qualities; it’s at the core of its function.

The leading cause is a damaged or faulty regeneration timer. Set the timer and wait to see if the system regenerates at the set time. If it doesn’t, you will know the problem you are dealing with. Have the timer fixed and try again until you hear the specific sounds that show the unit is regenerating. In most cases, you will need to replace the timer.

The other causes are build-up and clogs. Clogs may prevent the machine from regenerating the way it’s supposed to. You will hear the regeneration sounds, but the water will still be saltier. Flush water through the tubes to ensure they are functioning correctly.

As you can see, clogs, build-up, and sediments are the leading causes of most of these problems. The secret is to keep your softening unit clean and well-maintained.

Water Softener is Leaking

A leaking water softener is hard to detect; you will have to inspect the whole unit to discover leaking parts. It will be tedious but worth the trouble because you won’t resolve it if you don’t diagnose the problem. Error during installation is the leading cause of leakages in water softener machines.

I would advise you to always get a professional handyperson to install your water softening unit. Plumbing leaks are the least favorite problems to deal with, but understanding how the system works makes it less intimidating.

Depending on how big the leak is, it may be a more severe problem than you initially thought. A simple repair can fix the issue, but sometimes you will need replacements to make the problem go away for good. If a connection point doesn’t have enough tape, water may start leaking.

A cracked pipe is also another cause of leaks in the unit. It can also be an overflow in the tank. Inspect every part of the unit to determine the source of the problem before you start fixing it.

Water Softener Makes Funny Noises

The last thing you want to hear is your water softener making funny noises, and you don’t know what is causing them. Softening machines work without much noise, so something is not functioning correctly every time you hear funny noises.

You may hear some sounds during the regeneration cycles, but the noises are smooth and less disturbing. When the sounds get incredibly loud when the softener is on, there is a problem with the pipes, valves, or timer. If your water lines or pipes are clogged, funny noises may appear. Unclog the lines to get rid of the loud, disturbing sounds.

If the problem is a faulty timer, it’s time to fix it. You may need to replace the timer when it’s too worn out. A broken air valve can also be an issue; ensure you repair or replace it. To be on the safe side, check other parts of the softening unit. Noises mainly come from faulty parts; a few tweaks can return your system to its original glory. If there is replacement involved, get someone who can install the parts properly to avoid future problems.

Water Softener Keeps Running

The water softening machine can get stuck in regeneration mode and cause the system to keep running over and over again. Like any other system, the water softeners are subject to operation errors. If the unit cannot draw brine from the tank, it will keep running. A salt bridge may have formed in the tank, making it hard to operate correctly. It can also be because of sediment build-up in the pipes or water lines.

Maintain the unit by cleaning the water lines and avoiding salt bridges. Check the switches and other settings to ensure they are not the cause of the issue. Broken switches can cause endless regeneration cycles. Your softener may keep running because of low water pressure. This is one of the complicated softening problems that may need expertise. Before you start repairs, make sure you can do the tasks with full confidence.

Water Softener Problem with Smelly Water 

The water softener system may start producing a foul, rotten egg-like smell. This indicates that the water has lots of hydrogen sulfides and sulfates. This is irritating because it makes it difficult to drink the water or use it for other chores.

This problem has to be examined and treated by a professional. They understand the sulfur odors better. Have the unit cleaned and cleansed professionally, and the system will go back to dispensing fresh water.

A water filter may not be enough to handle the smelly water. You need more aggressive solutions that provide instant results. Sulfur bacteria infestation can happen to any water softener regardless of how good the manufacturers are. As the bacteria develop, the smell will keep getting worse. That is why you should resolve it as early as possible.

Benefits of Installing a Water Softener System

Prolongs Appliance’s Life 

All the appliances that use water in your house will benefit from a water softener. There will be less scale build-up which degrades the appliances. This may not be why you buy a softening unit, but it will be one of the benefits you enjoy.

Watermarks on faucets are common when you have hard water running in the house. Hard water has minerals that can be harsh to plumbing and household appliances. It will increase wear and tear, unlike using soft water.

Softer Skin and Cleaner Hair 

Showering with hard water every day will take a toll on your skin and hair. The hard water sometimes causes skin irritation and rashes; you will also have dry hair most of the time. Softer water will minimize all these effects.

It’s gentle on your skin and protects the general softness. Also, soft water doesn’t have many minerals, meaning you will get a deeper lather. Your hair will be less dry and cleaner.

Softer Brighter Clothes 

Hard water makes your clothes fade unusually fast; the white clothes will also be dingy. You can change all this with a water softener system installation. You will be able to preserve the fresh, new look and feel of the clothes.

Soft water will dissolve easily into clothes making the cleaning more effective. You will also spend less time cleaning the clothes and also dishes. You know how hard it is to wash dishes and clothes if you live in a hard water area. The softening unit will attack this problem from the root. Your household cleaning will become a breeze.

Improves Energy Efficiency 

When your household appliances are working correctly, they will use less energy. This will help you save money on gas and electricity. When you use hard water, the scale build-up in your plumbing will narrow the pipes forcing the water pressure to increase to push through.

The narrow line will also affect the heat transfer in your house. This will make you run the water heaters to compensate, which leads to more energy bills. You will also use less detergent and soap with soft water, saving you significant amounts of money.

Final Words

Now that you know the most common issues, you are in a better position to fix them. Know the kinds of problems you can handle and the ones that need you to call a professional.

The H2Home Lab team is dedicated to helping you find the best solutions to your specific water needs, as well as provide troubleshooting tips and guides for water filtration, heating, softening and plumbing. We hope you will find the info you need on our site from any one of our buying guides or subject matter articles.

1 thought on “15 Common Water Softener Problems To Be Aware Of”

  1. It is essential to assess the water’s hardness in order to gauge the severity of the problem and implement the appropriate solutions. This can be accomplished by employing affordable test kits that produce precise findings to examine the feed water and the output water.


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