Common Water Softener Issues and Troubleshooting Tips

Jan 10, 2024

Water softeners play an important role in making sure your home has clean water that’s easy on your skin and the plumbing system. To guarantee the best performance, we recommend addressing water softener issues as they arise. Having soft, clean water in your home improves household efficiency so much that it’s obvious when your water softener has issues! If your water softening system needs troubleshooting, don’t worry — these practical troubleshooting tips can help you maintain your water softener for years to come.

5 Common Water Softener Issues and How to Address Them

1. Crusty salt bridges in the brine tank

Symptom: Crusty salt bridges in the brine tank.

Issue: Your water softener has too much salt in the brine tank or the humidity is too high.

Troubleshooting: Regularly checking and cleaning your water softener’s brine tank can help prevent these pesky salt bridge formations. Here’s what to do:

  1. If you can see a crusty hard substance on the salt surface, use a net to remove any salt chunks.
  2. Break up salt bridge formations with a broom handle.
  3. For the best performance, the salt level in the brine tank should be a quarter full, and make sure to leave plenty of room at the top of the tank — at least five inches.
  4. Always remove hardened salt before refilling the tank with more salt.
  5. Refill salt if necessary. Remember, the salt level should always be a few inches above the water level.

2. Changes in water softness or visible mineral buildup

Symptom: Sudden change in water softness or visible white residue on dishes and fixtures.

Issue: Your water softener may be clogged due to mineral or sediment buildup.

Troubleshooting: You’ll need to manually check the valve injector for clogs and blockages. Here’s what to do:

  1. Check the valve injector for debris.
  2. If necessary, use pliers to pull out the injector.
  3. Clear any lodged sediment with a safety pin or needle.
  4. If there is a visible blockage in the brine tank or water line, you may be due for professional water softener maintenance or cleaning.

3. Incomplete regeneration cycle

Symptom: Your water softener doesn’t complete the regeneration process.

Issue: You may have a broken regeneration timer.

Troubleshooting: You’ll need to schedule the regeneration timer at a time you’ll be home to confirm that it works. Here’s what to do:

  1. Set your regeneration clock timer and check it.
  2. If the timer is working correctly, check instead for blockages that may be hindering the regeneration process.

4. Salty water

Symptom: Your water softener is producing salty water.

Issue: Your water softener settings are incorrect OR the drain hose is compromised.

Troubleshooting: Make sure all water softener settings are correct and all lines are clear. Here’s what to do:

  1. Adjust the settings on your water softener.
  2. Regularly flush lines.

5. Changes in water softness from salt mushing

Symptom: Sudden change in water softness.

Issue: Your water softener could be clogged by salt mushing.

Like salt bridges, salt mushing happens with high salt levels and changes in temperature and humidity. But unlike salt bridging, which collects near the top of the tank, salt mushing happens when dissolved salts recrystallize at the bottom of the tank and form a sludge.

Troubleshooting: You’ll need to drain and completely clean the brine tank to remove the salt “sludge.” Here’s what to do:

  1. Shut off the water supply and unplug the water softener.
  2. Disconnect the water line from the brine tank.
  3. Drain any remaining water from the brine tank with a hose or bucket.
  4. Once you can access the salt mush, use a soft-bristled brush or handheld vac to remove the salt accumulated at the bottom of the brine tank.
  5. Rinse the brine tank with clean water and let it dry.
  6. Refill with salt, reconnect the water line to the brine tank, and power up the water softener.

Maintain Your Water Softener and Prevent Water Softener Issues With RWI Water Systems

Investing in a water treatment system can be a big commitment, but it’s easy to maintain your water softener with RWI Water Systems! We offer routine maintenance on all our systems so there’s nothing to worry about. When you do run into water softener issues, you can take these steps to troubleshoot and maintain your system, taking full advantage of its capabilities. If you’re currently considering a water softener, explore our range of soft water solutions to find one that fits your water quality needs.

Contact us today to learn more!

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