14 Of The Most Common Water Softener Problems And How To Deal With Them

by Curtis Grossi | Last Updated: March 19, 2024
Water Softener Troubleshooting

When a water softener is acting up, it won’t deliver quality and clean soft water on demand. Problematic water softeners force the pipes and faucets to do more work than they should, which minimizes efficiency and increases the cost of operation.

Quite interestingly, most softener problems can be easily identified and troubleshot. In this article, we will give you the 14 most common water softener problems and the best way to troubleshoot them.

1. Salt Tank Water Softener Problems

One of the biggest concerns water softener users face is the issue about the salt tank full tank. Such issues happen because of clogging or poor overflow. The issue will be triggered by a whole lot of issues. You can seamlessly troubleshoot salt tank water problems once you identify the problem.

a) Softener Is Extra Cold

Most water softening systems are designed to last for about 8 years. In the event your softener has lived up its life, make sure to carefully examine its components for wear and tear damages.

b) Broken Entry Valve

When the entry control valve is damaged, it will affect the flow of water to the brine tank, which may cause flooding. So make sure that you replace the control valve timely to resolve the problem.

c) Float Valve Is Set A Bit High

The float valve is designed to help control the water level in the compartment. When the float valve is set higher, water will build up in excess, which makes the softener unable to release it efficiently.

2. Salt Bridge Water Softener Problems

Water softeners can prevent scaling of minerals on fixtures and pipes. However, water softeners are prone to salt, from hard water which will cause a buildup of scales inside the tank and unit’s lines.

When the salt buildups, it will form salt bridges at the tank’s base, making it impossible for the system to efficiently soften water. Salt bridges can be easily fixed you break and remove the salt crust. Also, make sure that you clean the salt accumulated on the tank edges.

3. Brown Water Problems

When your hard water softener starts dispensing brown water, chances are high the plumbing is worn out or there are high dirt and sediment contents inside the water feed. It may as well be caused by bacteria accumulation on the water softener.

The easy way to resolve this type of problem is by sterilizing the system using hydrogen peroxide or chlorine. You may need to put the sterilizer in the brine tank of your water softener and run several manual regeneration cycles before you flush the plumbing system.

4. The Water Softener Isn’t Using Salt

Begin by checking how much salt is in the tank. If the salt level in your water softener is not being used up, there may be no exchange of ions going on in the resin bed. Unless you get the issue fixed, the resin beads and pretty much the entire system will be useless.

The main reason behind a water softener not using the salt is due to the creation of salt bridges hence blocking the softening of resin beads. Make sure that you fix the salt bridge problem to get the resin bed doing its magic and ensure the efficient performance of your system. To fix a salt bridge system, first, turn off the water from the incoming faucet. Next, take a long rod and use it to tap the crust until it breaks.

5. Operation Error

Water softeners rely on inputting and manual settings to do their magic, meaning they are prone to developing operation errors. If the unit has a complex structuring and technical configuration, you should try to have it checked regularly by an expert. An expert will have the technical know-how to efficiently correct most operation errors and keep your unit functioning more efficiently.

It would be much better if you got a water softener servicing expert who specializes in your specific tank, for instance, Harvey water softeners problems.

6. The Brine Tank Has A Low Water Amount

When the brine tank has a lower amount of water, it may show that the system is working efficiently or has a flaw. The low water amount in the brine tank may indicate that your system is performing as expected. However, if the water level is extremely low, it may have an issue and so you should have it checked by a professional.

7. The Water Is Not Being Softened

One quite annoying and disturbing water softener challenge is the unit’s inability to soften water. This issue is caused by the formation of salt inside the brine tank. The unit may as well not work when the unit’s bypass switch is off.

Also, when the resin beads aren’t regenerating well within the softening cycles, it may lead to the system not working as efficiently as required. So, consider whether the issue could be with the resin bed too. This way, you’ll be able to decide whether a manual regeneration to clean the resin beads may be necessary.

To solve the issue of a softener not doing its work, you have to identify the issue and use the provided Culligan water softener manual to efficiently troubleshoot the issue in the brine tank.

8. Low Water Pressure Issues

There are instances when your water softener will dispense water at reduced pressure. Here is how to work a water softener with low pressure:

9. Salty Taste

Salty water is quite unpleasant to drink and may cause stomachaches. While the majority of today’s systems use salt to soften water, it shouldn’t leave the salt in the treated water.

In case your system does produce salty water, the issue may be clogged drain hose or incomplete regenerating cycles, thereby leaving the resin beads ineffective. Once you discover your softener is generating salty water, check and unclog the drain hose.

10. It’s Making Funny Noises

Softeners are designed to operate efficiently and noiselessly. So, if yours is making funny noises, it simply means that there issues with worn-out timers, water lines, and clogged valves.

The noise may be produced during the regeneration cycle. If your system has to operate smoothly and efficiently, it must be free from extreme noises.

11. Motor Failure

These systems need motors to operate. If the motors fail, the entire rig will have issues. In case your system fails, the first thing to do is to check the condition of the motor. A problematic motor can be replaced or repaired, depending on the level of damage.

If your water softener is out of warranty coverage, you should consider getting a new one by yourself. If it’s covered by the warranty, you can request a replacement.

12. Leaking Water Softener

Leakage in water softener components like the lines and tanks is another Harveys water softener problem. It’s quite difficult to detect leakages in water softeners. The only way to detect such leakages is to inspect the entire softener.

Depending on the size of the leakage, you can fix or replace the damaged component. Most of these leakages happen due to poor handling during the installation process.

13. The Softener Not Regenerating

Water softeners must run their regeneration cycles completely so they can deliver soft water in the desired quantities. When the regeneration timer gets damaged, the machine won’t run its complete regeneration cycle.

The easiest way to detect an issue with the regeneration timer is to set it and evaluate it to know if it regenerates at the set time. In case it doesn’t produce the specified sounds, you should know right away that the regeneration timer is damaged.

14. The Water Is Stinky

When your softened water starts producing a rotten egg-like smell, it shows the water contains hydrogen sulfides and sulfates. For efficient removal, sulphur odors must be examined and treated professionally. Water filters may not have the power to handle these contaminants. Get the unit cleaned and residues cleansed.

Bottom Line

These are the common water softener problems you will come across regularly. All these problems can be solved in a matter of hours.

However, instead of leaving your water softener until it develops such complex problems that would cost you hundreds of thousands to repair, you should consider getting a professional to check and service your system regularly. If you happen to discover any of these problems on your water softener, you should follow the outlined tips to fix each of them.

Some of the problems will be a bit complex to be handled by an amateur. And that’s where the services of a professional technician on matters water softeners should be considered. You want your water filter to be doing its magic as normal with minimal to no hassle.

Only a professional will know how to properly repair complex water softener issues and that’s why you are advised to seek their services whenever the methods of fixing different softener problems fail.

Curtis is the founder and owner of softeningwater.com. He is the lead guy concerning all the water-softening accessories in this site's guides and reviews. If he is not writing a reviews, guides or any other useful tips, you will find him testing them to find out their suitability. He is passionate about softening water. You will find him extremely helpful and always willing to educate the general populace all there is concerning water and its effects on their health and appliances.