Water Softener Systems Troubleshooting: Do It Yourself!

Water Softener Systems Troubleshooting
Every system might stop working at any given moment because it contains multiple components. If a part of the system breaks down or does not function correctly, then it will affect the whole procedure. A water softener system is no exception.

Sometimes the problem is not as bad as you think; it might even be predictable. Before you look for water softener systems troubleshooting, keep in mind that the issues you face with a water softener system depend on the hardness of water, the installation, and the overall state of your system. If you just bought the water softener and it shows signs that it is not working properly, check the installation first and make sure everything is plugged in and running smoothly.

On the other hand, if your system was working just fine for some time and all of a sudden it stops softening water or starts leaking, then this troubleshooting guide comes into play to help identify the possible causes and provide you with solutions.

Is My Water Softener Working Properly?

First of all, every softening system has a specific usage guide that you need to read before installing the system. For instance, Some water softeners will be ineffective if you have very hard water in your house while others cannot filter some particles. If you ignore these instructions, You should not be surprised if the system did not work as you expected, and the chance of damaging your unit is high. 

Now that you have installed the softener for a while, you need to check if it is working properly. 

The Hardness Of Water

Hard water is the reason you bought a softener in the first place. Running a test that proves the effectiveness of your system is a must at a certain point.

Use a water hardness test kit to see if the water is soft; the output water must have lower calcium carbonate concentration and less iron. In general, if the before and after test of water hardness is roughly the same, then your softener is not working properly.

In this case, you need to find out why your softener malfunctioned. To do this, we managed to find every possible cause and asked professionals about what you can do in each case.

The ion exchange systems are usually easy in terms of maintenance and use. It removes water contaminants and scales build up and extend the lifespan of your home appliances.

Water flows from the primary city source to your house, and through the pipes to your water softener. The water gets to the resin tank first, where the ion exchange takes place and where the water gets softened. 

The brine tank is where you add the bags of salt to recharge the resin beads. In this process, hardness ions get exchanged by salt ions, and excess minerals are rinsed into the wastewater drain, this process is called regeneration.

If you understand how things are working, it will be easier for you to fix some problems.

Let us dive into the water softener troubleshooting guide and see some common problems that you can face with a water softener. You will be able to find solutions you need for every given situation.

The Troubleshooting Phase: This Is What You Should Do

It is important  to check every other possible cause before going into the troubleshooting phase:

  • Check if you have enough salt in the brine tank; 
  • Make sure the water softener is installed and plugged in properly;
  • Check the bypass valve position;
  • Check the time and date displayed in the softener head.

The softener might also stop working, when it reaches its capacity before the regeneration time comes, due to high water consumption.

In this case, the system provides hard water to meet your needs, so you should start a manual regeneration cycle. If that solves the problem, you might consider adding more salt or reprogramming the regeneration phase.

The Water Softener Is Not Regenerating

The regeneration phase is crucial for your system to provide you with soft water continuously. When the water softener is not regenerating, you need to consider many things before you start working on a specific component. To diagnose the problem, take a closer look at different factors that can go wrong in your system.

Here are some key components that you need to check in no specific order to tackle the issue.

Broken Timer

A water softener timer allows you to program your system. It controls the regeneration cycle, which is a critical process for your softener to operate correctly.

To check if the timer is still working, you can set the softener to regenerate on a daily basis. You should expect the regeneration to start at night, so if you hear the system regenerating as you planned, then you need to look for other factors that you will read about next. However, if nothing happens, you have to replace the timer with the manufacturer-approved replacement part.

Check Your Venturi

The venturi draws the brine from the salt tank to the resin tank during the regeneration cycle, so if it is clogged, the system will eventually stop working. To prevent this from happening, or if you checked and found out that it is clogged, you can remove and clean the valve, but before you do that, make sure the system is in service mode.

Check the user manual for instructions on how to clean the venturi valve and remove any debris salt, or dirt to unclog it.

Check Your Drain Line

The water softener needs to get rid of minerals, dirt, or small amounts of debris accumulated in the tank. The system flushes out the crud through the brain line, and if it is clogged, the regeneration cycle can be disrupted.

Dirt and small amounts of minerals can damage the resin over time and cost you a lot of money to repair it, that is why it is recommended to install a hard-plumbed drain line for more efficiency.

 If you examine the drain hose and it is clogged, you can unblock it or replace it if necessary.

My Water Softener Is Not Using Salt, What Went Wrong?

The ions exchange process requires salt. So, if the salt level in the brine tank doesn’t change, then something is wrong. Because the system will not soften the hard water in this case.

When pieces of salt are bonded at the bottom of the brine tank, they form a salt bridge. As a result, salt doesn’t dissolve into the water; thus, there will be no brine for the ions exchange process. It is not complicated to get rid of the salt bridge after all. Please keep reading to know how it is done, but now let’s focus on how to identify a salt bridge.

Every once in a while, take a long wooden stick and push it down the salt tank, if it hits something hard at the bottom, then it is time for you to clean the tank.

My Water Softener Is Not Using Salt And There Is No Salt Bridge, What Is The Problem?

What if you don’t have a salt bridge at the bottom of your tank, but your system is still not using salt? The common problem, in this case, is that your venturi is clogged. This part pulls the brine solution from the brine tank to the resin tank, and if it is clogged, nothing will happen, and the salt level will never change.

We have a solution to this problem in this troubleshooting guide. You can check it for the exact method to unblock your venturi.

If you verified that there was no salt bridge and the venturi is not clogged but still facing the same issue, then it is time to contact the system’s manufacturer for help. Each system operates differently, and seeking help from professionals is a wise decision to make.

Water Overflowing In The Salt Tank, What Now?

A high water level in the salt tank indicates an existing issue in your system and could interrupt the regeneration cycle.

During the regeneration phase, the brine solution is pumped into the resin tank to force the minerals off the resin beads. The control valve is responsible for this procedure and for the backwash to refill the salt tank with water for another future regeneration session. When the system does not draw water from the salt tank during the regeneration cycle, the water level may increase during the backwash cycle.

There are many possible causes for this problem, but you should always start with the obvious. 

The safety float can shut off the water flow to the salt tank; however, it loosens with time due to the system’s vibration when it is working. If that happens, water can flow continuously in the brine tank. So you have to check the safety float and make sure it is attached securely.

Salt clogging is another cause you should look for inside the tank; it limits the water drawing and prevents the water from entering the tank from absorbing the salt. Make sure to drain the salt tank manually and clean it.

You might want to check the drain line for this matter; it can be blocked and prevent the flow of brine through the brine line, increasing the water level in the salt tank.

Moreover, the water pressure should meet your softener requirement. Check the user manual, and measure the water pressure in your house to make sure everything is smooth.

You can also check other reasons covered in this water softener troubleshooting guide that may cause this issue. For instance, a clogged venturi valve, or blocked control valve and misconfigured timer can cause overflowing water in your salt tank.

I Checked And There Is A Salt Bridge, What’s Next?

A brine tank needs to be thoroughly cleaned once every year as recommended. However, you have to be careful; if you notice scaling inside the tank, then it is time to clean it because it can cause your softener to malfunction. It can be a result of impurities or water-insoluble matter in the salt you buy. Still, it is usually a hard crust of salt that forms a salt bridge, which will prevent water from flowing through the brine tank, thus, interrupting the regeneration cycle.

Try to buy a salt sack to tackle this issue, which will provide you with the highest purity level.

For the cleaning work, the most important thing to keep in mind is to follow the manufacturer instructions to put the system in the bypass mode. Disconnect the brine tank from the softener and break the salt bridge. The rest should be easy.

My Water Softener Won’t Stop Running, What Should I Do?

If your water softener is stuck in the regeneration cycle and is not automatically switching to the conditioned phase, the resin tank can not draw the brine from the salt tank; thus, your system will keep running over and over.

This problem might occur for various reasons; one of them is a salt bridge in the brine tank. As it appears to be responsible for the blockage of the process in which the resin tank draws the brine.

Other reasons are tackled in this guide. Such as clogged venturi and brine line, blocked drain line, or the timer being misconfigured. The latter can cause the error without paying attention to it, so I recommend starting with the timer then go from there.

What If Water Keeps Flowing To Drain

This case is another result of the same problem; the system is stuck in the regeneration phase. But the approach to this particular one is different. The power outage can cause it, so check the timer after power restoration and the settings that control each phase. The latter may require adjustments.

If the problem is still there after you have checked many possible causes, it is better to contact your service technician.

Do This If Your Water Softener Is Leaking

At some point, When you know for sure that the water softener is leaking, the hardest part is to detect the leakage. This problem might occur because the installation was not correct and secure, so it is not something that you should worry about in most cases. If you find out that a component or line is leaking, you can either fix it or replace it.

Make sure to follow the user manual’s instructions when you decide to fix or replace any part of the system.

This Is How A Water Softener Motor Failure Looks Like

Sometimes the water softener or any system that relies on electricity to function stops from working. At this point, the first thing to think of is a motor failure because if any other part does not operate, there is always a sign that indicates something is wrong. In other words, you can tell if a motor stops functioning.

Cables and connectors can be damaged, keep this in mind before you start thinking about the motor’s cost or any other solution. Make sure to check every other possible cause.

When you don’t doubt that it is a motor failure, check if it is still covered by warranty, if not, then you have to replace it or buy another water softener.

Do You Have Low Water Pressure In Your House?

The loss of water pressure is a common issue if you use a water softener. Many factors can be responsible for low water pressure caused by your system. For instance, every unit has an inlet pressure that it can handle, and it also has an outlet to be aware of what your system is capable of. So if you have a small system compared to the water pressure coming to your house, then this problem is predictable.

If sediments and scaling clog any part of your system, then a loss in water pressure can happen. Check if there is any blockage in the pipes or lines.  If there is any,  unclog it and see if the water pressure goes up again.

A common factor that can also be the reason behind the issue is iron build up. Small amounts of iron can accumulate in the resin tank resulting in the iron build-up, which can reduce water pressure. Add mineral cleaner to the resin tank flush out the iron.

Resin Beads Can Cause A Problem

The resin beads are a crucial component of a salt-based water softener. If they are in good form, the system will work effectively.  If you notice some particles floating in the softened water or if you have to add the salt more often, then it is an indicator that the resin beads need to be replaced.

The taste and smell of water will be different. Why? Because the softening capacity of resin beads is reduced due to contaminants assembled inside the resin tank.

Try to clean the resin beads first and see how it goes, and then you can replace them by following the instructions in the user manual.

The Salty Taste Of Your Water Is Annoying

When you use a salt-based water softener, no water-related problem should get you mad because the system is perfect. From time to time, you might be dealing with unpleasant issues that you have to fix. In this case, your water is salty. 

The solution for this problem is rather simple; when the drain hose is clogged, the brine will not be flushed out. Another reason is that you might be using too much salt. Or, the quality of the salt you are using requires large quantities to meet the system’s needs.

So, two things to keep in mind, the taste of your water is salty, reduce salt and unclog the drain hose.

Operation Error Sign

Sometimes to set a machine properly, you need some basic technical knowledge, especially if you are dealing with a complicated system.

When you configure a system manually, it is more likely that the system will work smoothly. As long as you’re following the instructions in the user manual. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some of us like to explore the system and alter many data to fit our needs. In this case, an operation error may occur.

If you feel stuck and overwhelmed, there is no other option than ask a professional to fix the issue.

Does Your Water Softener Make Unusual Noise?

We all get used to the sound of every machine we buy at the beginning of use. Once we notice a tiny difference in that sound, we immediately know that something is not right.

The water softener is not different from other machines we use, it produces a specific smooth sound. However, if the sound becomes annoying then the valves or lines are clogged. Sometimes it’s due to the damaged timer. Otherwise, the air valve can be broken.

In general, when something goes wrong with a water softener, there are many things involved that you need to check. At the end of the day, you are the man. Fixing things around the house is something you Do!

Water Softener Systems Troubleshooting: Do It Yourself!
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Water Softener Systems Troubleshooting: Do It Yourself!
The problem is not as bad as you think, this water softener systems troubleshooting guide will provide some quick tips to fix it.
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