How to Troubleshoot Water Softeners

Water softeners help the quality of your water supply by reducing "hard water," or the minerals that cause dry skin. A water softener consists of a brine tank and a tube that you install onto your faucet or another water source. You can troubleshoot your water softener at home if you experience some of the common problems listed here.

  1. Check the salt level if you're not getting any soft water from the unit. Refill at least one-third of the brine tank with coarse water softener salt if the tank is empty. Press the "Recharge" button on your water softener for the recommended length of time to restore the soft water.

  2. Plug the water softener into a wall outlet if it gets accidentally unplugged. Reset the electronic controls on your water softener if you have no power or the timer light is blank. Reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse that is attached to your water softener, then press the "Recharge" feature to restore normal operations.

  3. Use cold water instead of hot water whenever you recharge your water softener's settings. This will help prevent more hard water from filling your unit. Adjust the timer and hardness level settings on your water softener so that it continues to operate efficiently.

  4. Inspect the valve drain hose of the water softener if the system's brine tank does not drain properly. Make sure that the valve is properly installed and there are no bends or kinks, and follow the instructions particular to your water softener for proper installation. Take apart and clean the nozzle, valve, brine tank and other parts of the water softener if dirt is the only problem.

  5. Clean the resin bed if you experience iron in your soft water. A resin bed cleaner can be ordered online or purchased from plumbing stores or any store that sells water supply and treatment products. Clear out the residue according to the package instructions.

  6. Add less detergent to your dishwasher if your glassware appears cloudy even with the water softener in use. Shorten the dish washing time by adjusting the cycle to avoid glass etching. Also, use less detergent in your washing machine so that your laundry doesn't stain or become dull.

  7. Replace the motor and the rotor/seal component of the water softener if the motor stalls or stops working. The parts may wear out and become defective over time. Order the water softener components from the manufacturer.


  • Don't use block, rock, granulated or ice-cream making salt in your water softener's brine tank. These salts can form a hard crust in your unit, preventing the salt from dissolving and obstructing proper soft water flow. Fill your brine tank with less salt if the unit is installed in an area with high humidity.

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