One of the reasons people are increasingly opting for alternatives to traditional water softeners is that the conventional salt-using systems require a lot of maintenance. In addition to the salt requirement, there are a host of water softener problems owners regularly run into. Whether you’re doing some water softener troubleshooting, or just trying to learn what you can expect with an ion exchange system, we present you with some of the most common problems you might encounter.
There are several points in your water softener where the salt and minerals in the water may create deposits. Two common ones are the filter screen and the brine line. If your water isn’t getting softened properly, this is a great first place to look because it’s a simple fix. Just follow your water softener manual’s instructions to clean off the offending buildup.
Salt can build up inside the tank, and in extreme cases, form a salt bridge. Here again, the solution is simple: Use a broom handle or similar object to break the salt bridge apart. Then clean up any additional salt buildup around the edges.
Resin beads need to be cleaned or replaced
Water softener resin beads usually last for the lifetime of the appliance. However, under certain conditions, they may need to be cleaned or replaced. If your system is constantly needing to recharge, that’s a strong signal that the resin beads aren’t absorbing or holding sodium as well as they should. In extreme cases, you may find little particles in your water – remnants of the resin beads after they completely break down.
Like any other motor, the one in a water softener can fail. If your system isn’t working at all, then this could be the reason. Before giving it up for dead, however, you may want to check all the cables to make sure everything is connected properly. That includes the power cord, by the way. This can easily get disconnected, especially if you’ve recently been moving around other things in the room.
The most common water softener problems of all are due to incorrect settings or operation. Here are some of the most common issues people have:
- Brine tank has run out of salt
- System is turned off, or settings are incorrect
- Settings are too low for the water hardness or amount of water used
Some water softeners are easier to use than others, and thus less prone to confusion. Sadly, systems that are difficult to use often come with equally mystifying user manuals. Nevertheless, that’s the first place you should look when you need to do some water softener troubleshooting. Many of the problems people encounter are unique to the brand and model of the system they are using.
Those are just a few of the most common water softener problems. There are countless other things that can go wrong – many of which are beyond the ability of the average homeowner to fix. While many of the issues on this list apply mostly or exclusively to ion exchange systems, salt free water softeners aren’t immune to trouble. Indeed, no home appliance is.