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9 Signs Your Water Softener Isn’t Working (+Solutions)

Signs Water Softener Not Working

Is your water softener not working? Here are some common signs to check for a faulty water softener: 

  • Getting hard water
  • Hearing unusual noises from the softener
  • Rapid salt depletion 
  • Changes in the color of the water

But don’t worry – these problems often have simple solutions like:

  • Adding salt,
  • Adjusting hardness settings,
  • Breaking salt bridges.

In this updated guide, we’ll dive into these symptoms in more detail and provide comprehensive troubleshooting to help you get your malfunctioning water softener fixed.

🤔 How Do You Know If Your Water Softener Is Not Working?

SignsAdjust settings, Add salt, Break the salt bridge, Check if the softener is plugged in, and power on.Solution
You’re getting hard waterWrong hardness setting, Brine tank empty, Salt mushing, Power not on.Adjust settings, Add salt, Break the salt bridge, Check if the softener is plugged in, and power it on.
Consuming excessive salt/not using salt at allIncorrect settings, Resin bed issueAdjust settings, Clean/replace the resin bed
Brine Tank Full Of Water/not enough waterMalfunctioning float, Incorrect water level settingRepair/replace float, Adjust water level
Floating particles in the resin tankBroken resin beadsReplace resin beads
Discolored waterIron or manganese in waterUse iron filter
Water Pressure Is LowClogged resin bed, sediment filterRegenerate resin bed, Clean/replace filter
Softener making excessive noise/too quietMechanical issues, Power not onCheck for broken parts; ensure power is on
Softener Is LeakingLoose connections, Worn out sealsTighten connections, Replace seals
Water Tastes Salty/WeirdImproper regeneration, Excessive salt in the brine tankAdjust the regeneration cycles, Reduce the salt level

💧#1: You’re Getting Hard Water

You are getting hard water

It means you’ll experience hard water problems again, such as soaps not lathering properly, white spots on dishes, a white film on fixtures due to mineral deposits, and a bitter taste in the water.

Probable Reasons:

How to Fix:

  • Adjust the hardness settings according to the hardness of your incoming water.
  • Refill the brine tank with salt.
  • Break up the salt mushing in the brine tank and clog the brine line.
  • Make sure the water softener is plugged in and turned on.

🧂#2: Water Softener Not Using Salt at All/ Consuming Excessive Salt

When your water softener uses an unusual amount of salt or not at all, it could indicate a problem. It could make the water taste salty.

Probable Reasons:

How to Fix:

  • Adjust the settings according to the hardness level of your incoming water.
  • Clean the resin bed or replace it if necessary.

🍶#3: Brine Tank Full of Water/Not Enough Water

Brine Tank Full of Water or Not Enough Water

If your brine tank has too much or too little water, it can prevent the system from softening your water effectively.

Probable Reasons:

How to Fix:

  • Adjust or replace the float in the brine tank.
  • Adjust the water level setting in the brine tank.

🪱#4: Floating Particles in the Resin Tank

Floating particles in your resin tank can indicate broken resin beads, affecting the water-softening system.

Probable Reasons:

How to Fix:

  • Purchase resin beads at $150-170
  • Replace them with the steps I have shown in this video.
Also Read: Is Water Softener Resin Bad For Health?

🔰#5: Discolored Water

If your water is discolored (brown, orange, or grey), it could mean your water softener system isn’t working properly.

Probable Reasons:

  • High Iron or manganese concentration in water (more than 0.3 ppm)

How to Fix:

  • Install an iron filter in your water supply line.
  • You can add bleach to your softener brine tank for brown water – it can be used as a sterilizer for a potential bacteria buildup.
Also Read: How To Fix Brown Sludge In Water Softener Tank

⬇️#6: Water Pressure Is Low

Water Pressure Is Low

A decrease in water pressure might indicate a clogged resin bed or sediment filter.

Probable Reasons:

  • Clogged resin bed
  • Clogged sediment filter
  • The system size can be incorrect

How to Fix:

  • Regenerate the resin bed.
  • Clean or replace the sediment filter.
  • Install a booster pump to increase the water pressure.

🔊#7: Softener Making Excessive Noise/Too Quiet

If your water softener makes more noise than usual or has become unusually quiet, it could indicate mechanical or power problems.

💡Note: If you hear flushing sounds during the regeneration cycles, those are completely normal.

Probable Reasons:

  • Mechanical issues
  • Power not on

How to Fix:

  • Check for broken parts and repair/replace them as necessary.
  • Ensure the water softener is plugged in and turned on.

🚿#8: Softener Is Leaking

Softener is Leaking

A leaking water softener can waste water and salt, potentially damaging your property. The worn-out parts in your softener or incorrect installation can cause stagnant water to collect in your house. 

Probable Reasons:

  • Loose connections
  • Worn out seals

How to Fix:

  • Tighten all connections.
  • Replace worn-out seals.

You must call a service technician in case of a major leak

Also Read: Why My Water Softener Is Constantly Draining

🤢#9: Water Tastes Salty/Weird

If your water tastes salty or weird, it could mean an issue with the regeneration process or the brine concentration.

Probable Reasons:

  • Improper regeneration
  • Excessive salt in the brine tank
  • A pinched drain hose can let too much salt in your water

How to Fix:

  • Adjust the regeneration cycle.
  • Reduce the salt level in the brine tank.

⚒️How to Get Your Water Softener Working?

How to get your Water Softener Working

Here’s how to get a properly working water softener:

  • Adjust Settings: Ensure the hardness level is set according to your incoming water’s hardness.
  • Check Power Supply: Ensure your water softener is plugged in and turned on.
  • Refill Salt: Check if the brine tank is empty. If so, refill it with salt.
  • Break Salt Mushing: Sometimes, salt can form a hard crust in the brine tank, preventing the salt from dissolving in the water. Break it up to resolve the issue.
  • Clean Resin Bed: Over time, iron and other mineral deposits can clog the resin bed of your water softener. Regular cleaning can help maintain its efficiency.
  • Replace Broken Parts: If you notice any mechanical or broken parts, replace them immediately.
  • Install an Iron Filter: If your water is discolored, installing an iron filter in your water supply line can help.

To ensure your softener lasts longer by performing water softener maintenance, you must consider these tips:

  • Always refill the salt on time. Regularly check the salt level in your system and refill it as needed.
  • Use high-quality salt. Low-quality salt can cause issues like salt bridging or mushing.
  • Regular maintenance. Schedule regular check-ups and cleanings to prevent potential problems with the failed water softener.
  • Avoid overfilling the salt tank. Too much salt can lead to salt bridging and reduce the system’s efficiency.
  • Regularly check for leaks. Small leaks can turn into more significant problems if left unattended.

❓Signs Water Softener Not Working: FAQs

What happens when the water softener fails?

When a water softener isn’t working, it stops softening water. It means you’ll start to notice hard water symptoms such as:

1. Soap not lathering well, 
2. Spots on dishes, and 
3. Scale buildup on appliances.

How do I know if my water softener resin is bad?

Signs of bad water softener resin include:

1. A decrease in the water softener’s effectiveness.
2. Changes in water pressure.
3. Finding resin beads leakage in your water (Watch our video Bad Resin Issues)

How to tell if the water softener is regenerating?

You can tell if your water softener is regenerating by checking its control panel for a regeneration cycle indicator. Additionally, you might hear water flowing into the drain line during the process. If these signs aren’t present during a scheduled regeneration cycle, it could indicate a problem with your water softener.

Why is water softener not regenerating automatically?

If your water softener isn’t regenerating automatically, it could be due to incorrect settings, a malfunctioning timer, or a mechanical issue with the system. Check these components and adjust or repair them as necessary.

What are common problems with water softeners?

Common problems with faulty water softeners include:

1. Salt bridge or mushing in the brine tank – Break up the salt bridges, remove the mushy salt, and clean the tank.
2. Resin bed issues – Flush the system with a resin cleaner to restore the bed’s capacity.
3. Mechanical failures – Consult a service technician to inspect and repair any mechanical issues.
4. Incorrect settings – Check and adjust the settings according to your water hardness and usage.

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