A water softener is a whole-house water filtration system that removes minerals from water responsible for its hardness. These minerals include calcium and magnesium salts. Hard water not only destroys home appliances but is also harmful to the human body. Thus, water softeners make hard water soft and remove the heavy metals and minerals from it. 85% of the United States has a hard water supply and the majority of the public use water softeners for their houses.
Like all appliances, water softeners are also prone to malfunctioning. You can save your expense by avoiding calling a professional to treat water softener issues, as you can do it yourself. This guide provides you with the most common water softener problems and their troubleshooting.
1. Salt Bridging
Salt bridging is one of the most common problems a water softener faces. A salt bridge is referred to as a hard and crusty formation on the surface of salt level. These bridges are formed when the brine tank is stored in a high humid place. It also happens when salt levels are too high for the tank.
Removing a salt bridge is easier than you think after its identification. Take a broom handle and cut down the salt bridge into pieces. Use the net or a cup for fishing these pieces out of the water.
To avoid salt bridge formation, you must store your water softener tank in a non-humid place. In addition to this, also add salt to the fill line in the tank.
2. Excessive Water in the Brine Tank
Water is always present in the water softener brine tank because it has to dissolve the salts to form a brine solution. However, if excessive water is present in the brine tank, it will be problematic for the functioning of the water softener. If your water softener tank is overflowing and has high water content, it could have various reasons.
Wrong Setting of Floating Valve
The brine tank’s float valve has to control the water level in the tank. If the floating valve is set too high, water will overflow.
Read the user manual of your water softener and follow the instructions written over there to lower the settings of the floating valve.
Water Softener is Old
Another possible cause of excessive water in the brine tank is because your water softener is old enough and cannot function properly now. The components of the old water softener fail to perform their functions; as a result, excessive water collects up in the brine tank.
If your water softener is more than 8 years old, you need to replace it with the new one to get better results.
Water Entry Valve Is Not Working
A broken entry valve causes flooding in the brine tank. The water entry valve controls the amount of water in the tank, so if it’s broken, too much water will enter the tank and causes its overflow.
If your water entry valve is broken, replace it with the new one.
3. Salt Mushing Due to Salt Crystallization
Salt mushing is referred to as the breakdown of salts in the smaller granules that don’t dissolve in the water fully. It occurs in the bottom of the tank when salt crystallization occurs. Salt mushing blocks the base of the brine tank and prevents the brine solution from passing into the resin tank. Softness and regeneration processes get affected by salt mushing.
You must empty your brine tank from water and remove the salt. Scrubbing the leftover salt in the tank would help clear the tank completely. Add new salt after cleaning.
4. Not Enough Water in the Brine Tank
Not enough water in the brine tank is another issue that might cause it for function improperly. It doesn’t seem a problem at once, but it will be an issue when the tank is about half full of salt and you still can’t see any water. Here are the possible reasons behind the low water level in the brine tank.
Clogged Brine Line
A brine line is a tube connected to the brine tank that works to refill the tank during the regeneration process. If the brine line becomes clogged, it fails to send the water to the tank.
Flush the brine line with water pressure to remove clogging. If this doesn’t work, you have to replace the brine line.
Low Float Valve Setting
If your float valve is set too low, it can hinder the entry of water into the tank, just like a too high setting causes excessive water in the tank.
Read the user manual and follow the instruction to set the floating valve at the right level.
Water Entering Valve Is Not Working
A fault in the water entry valve causes excessive water in the brine tank and can also be responsible for low water in the tank. As suggested earlier, if your water entering valve isn’t working, you must replace it with the new one.
5. Soft Water Contains Granules
If the soft water resin’ beds become old, they can’t perform their function well, and as a result, you will find different particles and granules in soft water. It happens when old resin beds break down and enter the water. Although they are not dangerous to drink in small quantities, they still cannot be accepted.
There is only one solution to this problem: replacing old resin beds with new ones. For your water softener tank, you can get a new resin bed for around $170.Tip the old resin bed and replace it with the new one by yourself.
6. The Water Softener is Unable to Use Salt
The water softener cannot use salt if the valve motor is faulty. The valve motor controls the amount of water entering the brine tank. If water does not enter the tank, salt will not dissolve; as a result, no brine will be formed.
You can fix this issue by replacing the faulty valve motor with the new one. To replace the valve motor, you can take help from a manual and also from a professional.
7. Water Softener Won’t Regenerate
Every water softener performs a regeneration cycle after every two weeks. The regeneration process is important because it flushes the minerals from water softener resin beds. If the regeneration process doesn’t occur, the resin beads become heavily inundated with minerals to perform properly.
You need to troubleshoot the regeneration program as soon as possible to continue the regeneration process. Take help from the manual for this purpose. You can force your water softener to regenerate also.
Broken Regeneration Timer
If your water softener isn’t regenerating, it could be due to a broken regeneration timer. The regeneration timer performs the duty of programming the water softener system to regenerate regularly. If this timer is broken or there is any fault in the timer, it will cause the water softener to regenerate sporadically or not at all.
First, you have to check the generation timer. For this purpose, you have to set this timer to a specific time and then check the water softener to perform the regeneration cycle at this time. If the timer doesn’t perform regeneration at the exact time, there is surely a fault with the timer, and you must replace it.
Clogging of Tubes
Another possible cause behind not regenerating the water softener is the clogging of tubes. In this case, you may hear the noises that suggest that your water softener is regenerating, but when you taste water, it will not be soft at all. In fact, the water will taste salty.
Remove the tubes first and then flush them. Replace these tubes and set your water softener to a regeneration cycle to check if the issue is being resolved or not.
8. Salty Taste of Soft Water
Water softeners add salt to water according to the water hardness level. The amount of salt added to hard water is measured, and exactly how much the salt is needed. This added salt doesn’t change the taste of the water. If your soft water tastes salty, there will be a fault in your water softener. This fault happens due to the incorrect settings on the water softener. If you have inputted a number that’s too high, the system might add too much salt to your water.
A pinched drain hose is present on the water softener for too much salt to get into the water. If you want to prevent this issue, you should flush the drain hose or replace it if necessary.
9. Soft Water is Brown
It’s obvious that you set up a water softener to improve your water quality, but then you end up getting brown water; it’s the most worrying situation you might have to face with water softeners. Mostly the brown color of the water isn’t the fault of the water softener itself. It happens due to the high level of sediment in your water source or may be due to the old plumbing of the house.
Besides this, in rare cases, brown water is caused by the accumulation of bacteria in the water softening system.
You can sterilize your water softener to eliminate bacteria. You must add 2 ounces of bleach to every 3 gallons of water. Run different regeneration cycles, then allow the water to flush out the faucet for at least 5 minutes. If you still get brown water, you should test your water for the sediment level and also call your plumber to check the water pipes.
10. Unusual Noises From Water Softener
Unusual noises generated from a water softener are a sign of malfunctioning in the water softener system. The noise indicates that the system is not working correctly. Whirring sounds and loud clunking indicate clogged or worn-out components in the system.
Check all components of the water softener system, including valves and water lines, and also check the timer, motors, and air valves. If you find any of them faulty, replace or repair them as needed.
11. Incorrect Setup of Water Softener
The incorrect setting is another common issue that your water softener might face. It happens due to the wrong installation of the system, especially if you do it by yourself.
To properly install a water softener, you should be concerned with the user manual. Follow the steps as mentioned. If you find it difficult to set up the water softener by yourself, you should seek help from professionals. You can also ask for customer services from your water softener manufacturer.
12. Water Softener is Leaking
Leaking is indeed one of the worst problems associated with water softeners. If you see that your water softener is leaking, immediately check all the connections between tanks, water pipes, and other parts. Incorrect installation could be the possible cause of water leaking. Besides this, worn-out parts could be the other reason.
Check the installation carefully and tighten the fittings and connections first. Also, check for the old and damaged components that might cause water leakage and replace or repair them. More importantly, if you don’t find the main issue, call the plumber for inspection and fix the issue.
13. Water Softener Is Reducing Water Pressure
If you have reduced water pressure, it could be due to a water softener. There are a few reasons behind the reduced water pressure by a water softener.
Resin bed could be the cause of reduced water pressure. When the resin becomes old, the resin beads that are flushed down the drain line may cause a blockage. As a result, water flow is reduced.
Unclog the resin bed by flushing the water. If the resin bed is old or worn out, you should replace it with the new one.
If any part of the water softener has iron, sediment, and scaling buildup, it will cause a reduction in water pressure. When water flows through the system, it faces resistance from this buildup. The clogging of the drain line is the main culprit.
Add a mineral cleaner to the tank and flush the brine line or clogged drain hose if you find it necessary.