Common Water Softener Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them.

Water softeners are complex systems, designed to eliminate the problems that arise from using hard water in your home. Like any other machinery, water softeners can have issues and a faulty water softener may even reduce the quality of the water you’re using.

Seeking for some technical assistance with certified water softener companies can be expensive. And, troubleshooting the problems to make the water softener systems function properly can be challenging.

However, we have gathered a list of the most common water softener problems and ways to troubleshoot them.

Most Common Water Softener Problems and their Causes

Problem Cause of the problem
Hard water
  • Softener must be completely broken.
  • The system is producing an insufficient amount of soft water.
Low water level or no water in the brine
  • Crooked or broken brine tank float switch.
  • Clogged brine valve/line
  • Brine tank float switch
The system does not regenerate properly
  • Misconfigured timer
  • Broken timer
  • Restricted drain control
  • Clogged injector
  • Salt bridging
  • Salt mushing
  • Not enough water in the brine tank
  • Too much water in the brine tank
  • Dirty/worn out resin bed
  • Motor failure
Brine tank water level is too high
  • Crooked or broken brine tank float switch
  • Accumulation of dirt
  • Clogged brine valve/line
  • House water pressure too low or high
  • The brine valve assembly has misplaced/missing/ worn-out O-ring
  • Salt mushing
  • Plugged control valve
  • Restricted drain control
  • Misconfigured timer
  • Clogged injector
  • Brine tank float switch
Brown water in the brine tank
  • Rust in water
  • Dirt in salt
  • Installation error
  • Misplaced/damaged tank, valve, hose, O-ring
Soft water is discolored
  • Fouled resin bed
  • Rust in water
  • Dirt in salt
Increased salt use
  • Too much water in the brine tank
  • Improper system settings
Slippery and overly salty water
  • Restricted drain control
  • The system uses too much salt
Water softener makes loud noises
  • Does not indicate any problem
Resin beads in the water system
  • Cracked riser tube basket
  • Worn out resin bed
System drains continuously
  • Brine tank float switch stuck
  • Restricted drain control
  • Clogged injector
  • Wrong settings controlling cycle length or broken circuit switch
  • House water pressure too high or too low
  • Clogged brine valve/line
Low water pressure
  • System sized too small
  • Resin beads have clogged fixtures
  • Plugged control valve
  • Worn out or clogged resin bed
The system does not use salt
  • Salt bridge

Water Softener Problems and Troubleshooting Guide

You may need help from a professional to solve complicated problems, but some common water softener issues are easy to fix.

1. Blockages or Clogging

The hard water consists of magnesium and calcium that leaves chalky deposits on your pipeline and fixtures. This same residue can be left behind in your water softening system as well.

Over time, the minerals and salt pile up together, causing the water line that runs through your water softener to clog. It generally occurs in the valve injector and brine line.

Fixing It

Use needle-nose pliers to inspect the injector. Pull it out through the small opening and if something is lodged in the small hole, a needle or safety pin to get rid of the debris.

2. Salt Bridges or Salt Mushing

A salt bridge is the development of a hard crust, creating a space between water and salt in the brine tank.

Similarly, in salt mushing, the salt recrystallizes on the bottom creating a salty sludge. It can also affect your water softener’s performance.

Fixing It

  • Break the salt bridge with any broom handle.
  • Remove salt mushing by draining

3. Resin Replacement

The resin is responsible for capturing the minerals to turn hard water into soft water by exchanging ions. As the resins start to degrade, the capacity of your softener is reduced.

Fixing It

For a short period of time, you can simply adjust your water softener’s settings. This will allow it to regenerate more often and work more efficiently.

For a long term fix, you need to seek help from a professional.

4. Motor Issues

The motor of your water softener may fail. It can cause serious issues in the system’s performance. The motor won’t be able to move the valve between modes.

Fixing It

Check the warranty and contact a plumbing professional. As they can confirm and replace your motor if necessary.

5. Brine Tank Overflow

A brine line blockage, a clogged injector, a malfunctioning valve or a stuck float can lead to an overflowing brine tank.

Fixing It

Check if it is properly connected and the caps have a tight fit. Check if there is salt build-up in the brine line float. The brine line valve may be clogged with debris. Check the drain line and injector. Lastly, a professional can clean or replace an injector.

Steps to Keep your Water Softener Healthy

Here are a few steps you can follow to keep your system working for a long time.

  1. Use pure salt with iron remover.
  2. Do not add salt until all of the existing salt in the tank is used up.
  3. Clean the parts responsible for controlling the valve and resin bed once a year with Iron-out.
  4. Clean the brine tank once a year.
  5. Make sure the water softener’s drain line is not pushed down to a floor drain.

Benefits of Water Softening Systems

Water softening systems make significant investments. Some of its benefits are:

  • Softens Skin and Hair

Hard water causes rashes, skin irritation, and dry hair. Using water softener minimizes all these effects up to a great extent. Since soft water treats your skin gently, it can protect the fabric of your clothes and maintain its overall softness.

  • Prolongs Appliances’ Life

The lack of scale buildup allows better functionality of the devices and appliances which use water at home.

  • Energy Efficiency Improvements

Properly functioning appliances use less energy for operation. It reduces your heating bills to some extent.

  • Reduction in the Use of Soap and Detergent

The functionality of soaps is highly compromised when it is used with hard water. Soft water allows your detergents to perform well. Thus, reduces the amount you require for a wash.

  • Surfaces Remain Stain-free

The water softener either alters or completely removes the structure of the minerals causing hardness. Thus, it prevents them from sticking to the surface. So you no longer have to deal with a calcium film on your glass or mirror after a wash.

Final Words,

It is important to fix issues arising in your water softener. Failure to do so can shorten the total lifespan of your system. Although it seems to be complicated machinery, a proper understanding of all the various components can allow you to troubleshoot some common problems on your own.