101 Water Softener Troubleshooting Guide: All Major Problems Addressed

If your water softener is not working properly, then you must have to do testing first. It is necessary for you to test the hardness level of the output water. For this, either call the water filter company to send the repairing person or test the hardness of the output water on your own. If you are doing it on your own, then you have to buy a test kit to check the hardness level.

Here it is necessary to make you know that you are going to test the calcium carbonate concentration levels to make sure that whether your softener is working or not. The concentration level is measured in ppm or mg/l. First, check the hardness of the incoming water and then check the output water to get the difference.

If the concentration is below 60 mg/l, then the water is soft. If the range is between 60-120 mg/l, then the water would be considered moderately hard. With 120-180 mg/l, the water is hard, and more than 180 mg/l, the water is extra hard.

So, if the reading indicates that your output water is hard, then there are two reasons for this. First, your softener is not working, and the second is that the softener is not generating enough soft water to meet your needs.

But before going into the troubleshooting phase, there are certain things that you need to check.

Things to Look at Before Going into the Troubleshooting Phase

Softener Should Be Plugged in

First of all, make sure that your softener is plugged in. Make sure that the outlet is not turned off. Also, check the display of the unit whether it is active or blank.

Softener Installed Correctly

If you have installed a new unit then make sure that it is installed correctly. Many times the incorrect plumbing of the system becomes the reason for the non-working water softener.

Brine Tank has Enough Salt

Excessive Salt in Tank

Check your brine tank to ensure that it contains enough salt. Also, some times the salt bridge forms at the bottom of the tank. So, never forget to check that hard salt crust. If it is there, break it.

Check the Position of the Bypass Valve

Another thing that you should check is the bypass valve. If any bypass valve is in the bypass position, then change its position.

The valve is Recording the Water Flow

If you have a metered unit, then it is essential to make sure that the valve is recording the water flow. You can check this by opening any faucet that is near to you.

Check the softener head to make sure that the correct time of day is displayed

Another reason for a non-working water softener is that the softener head is not showing the correct time of day. This happens mostly when the softener experience a long power outage. If the display is reading the wrong time, then you have to adjust it.

Start a Manual Regeneration Cycle

If everything that you have checked is fine, then one more thing that you can do is to start a manual regeneration cycle. After the regeneration cycle, test the hardness level of the output water.

Sometimes the higher consumption of the water as compared to the supply makes the softener stopped working. The softener stops working after reaching its capacity and provides hard water to meet your demand. And when the scheduled time comes, it begins to make the water soft.

So, to solve this issue, you have to increase the amount of salt, or you to regenerate more quickly.

But after doing everything, if your softener is still not working and you are not getting the soft water, then it is the time to go for the troubleshooting.

Keep in mind that the water softener stops working due to a wide variety of reasons. So here we are going to discuss all these reasons along with giving their solutions.

Troubleshooting Guide

Water Softener is not Regenerating

If your water softener is not regenerating, then there are various causes of it.

  • You have a broken or misconfigured timer
  • The brine injector or venturi is choked
  • Blockage in the drain hose
  • Salt bridging and salt mushing
  • Too little or too much water in the brine tank
  • Contaminated resin bed
  • Motor failure

Broken or Misconfigured Timer

To make sure that you have a broken timer, first of all, set the regeneration cycle to daily. By doing this, your system will be recharged the following day or night. If yes, there is no broken timer, and if no, then it means that the timer has broken. And its only solution is to replace it.

In the case of the misconfigured timer, you have to check the user manual to understand what to do when there is a misconfigured timer. Check all the settings thoroughly.

Choked Brine Injector or Venturi

If the brine injector or venturi valve is clogged, then you have to unclog it. Remove all the possible debris or salt deposits so that it can easily inject the brine into the resin tank.

Blocked Drain Hose / Water Softener is not draining

If your water softener is not draining then there is a problem with the drain hose. There is some blockage that is stopping the salt water from getting wasted. Unblock the blocked drain hose to allow brine to draw during recharge.

Also, make sure that the drain hose is not in an elevated position. If it is, then readjust its position to allow the unit to drain properly.

Motor Failure

Once in a blue moon, the motor of the water softener fails. But if it does, then the only solution is to replace it.

Too Little Water in the Brine Tank / Water Softener is not filling

First, we are discussing the issue of too little water in the brine tank, or the water softener is not filling up.

Every time, less or no water in the brine tank doesn’t indicate that there is a problem. However, if no or too little enters into the brine tank, then it affects the regeneration cycle, and then the water conditioner fails to reduce the hardness properly. The water softener faces problem in restoring its softening capacity.

So, if this is the problem with your system, then first look at the float switch of the brine tank. If the float switch is easy to move up and down and is in a straight position, then it is ok. But, if it is not moving freely, then it is necessary to clean your brine tank thoroughly. Also, if required, change your broken brine tank float switch.

Moreover, check the brine line and, the valve. If there is a blockage, then you have to remove it.

Excess of Water in the Brine Tank / Water Softener is overflowing

Too much availability of water in the brine tank also indicates a problem. Too much water also stops the softener from doing proper recharging. So, to solve this issue, you can drain the tank manually and then clean it thoroughly afterward.

Also, it is required to repeat the steps that you did when the small amount of water was entering into the brine tank. Check the float switch, brine valve, and the brine tube.

Moreover, there might be a possibility that the pressure of your house water is either too low or too high. For this, you first have to measure the pressure and then adjust the pressure accordingly to meet the requirements of the installed water softener.

Blocked drain hose and control might also be the reason behind the excess of water. Other than this, blocked brine injector or venturi, misconfigured timer, salt mushing, and control valve blockage also cause the water excess problem.

Water Softener is not using Salt

Too Much Water Present in Tank

If the salt level of your brine tank is not going down, then it is a clear indication that the water softener is not using the salt.

The reason for this is salt bridging. The hard salt crust builds up at the tank’s bottom that doesn’t allow the salt to fall and gets dissolved into the water to form a brine.

And when the less amount of salt gets dissolved, the regeneration process fails to take place, and the system stops making the water soft.

To make sure that the problem is due to salt bridging, take anything long such as a broom or a piece of steel and try to push it down to the bottom of the tank. If you fail to reach the base, then there is a bridge.

Now, to solve this issue, you have to break the bridge. Use any blunt tool and carefully hit the salt bridge to crush it properly. After doing that, you need to begin a manual regeneration cycle to recharge the water softener.

Water Softener is not softening the water

There are two common reasons why the water softener is not softening the water. First, the control valve is set incorrectly. And the second reason is the salt bridging or salt mushing.

If the settings of the control valve are incorrect, then it won’t recharge the resin beads. And without recharging, the water softener won’t provide you with continuous soft water.

Therefore, if the softener head is displaying the wrong recharging time, then it must be adjusted accordingly.

In the second reason, we have discussed the salt bridging earlier. So let’s move on to mushing.

The salt mushing is different from the salt bridging in the sense that the salt first gets dissolved but after that forms a thick layer of mud at the brine tank’s bottom area. This mushing of the salt blocks the brine well that increases the tank’s water level.

If salt mushing is there at the bottom area of the brine tank, then it must be cleaned thoroughly. Break up the mush and remove it from the container. And then clean the tank properly to fill it again with the water and salt.

Contaminated Resin Bed

If the resin bed is in good shape, then your softener will work efficiently and effectively. But if it is not then you are very near to face some serious issues.

Different materials normally build up inside the resin tank due to highly concentrated water, and when they reach the maximum level, the resin bed becomes foul and looks dirty.

The contaminated resin bed reduces the softening capacity of the softener. Also, it changes the taste and smell of the water. Moreover, the water looks cloudy and even loses its color.

So, if this is the case, then you have to clean or sanitize the resin bed. Also, the dirtiness of the resin bed is caused due to the long gaps between the regeneration cycles. So, it is essential to reduce the time between the regeneration cycles.

Leave a Comment