Water Softener Repair: The Most Common Problems (+ How To Fix Them)

Do you need a water softener repair?

In the world of home appliances, water softeners are wonderfully useful and necessary for people suffering from hard water.

Although they are usually reliable and typically require little maintenance, sometimes they just break.

If your water softener does not work, I’ll show you how to fix it. Water softeners may seem complicated, but I will explain the components of how they work and how you can continue to use them. For instance, by cleaning the tank and the resin bed, you can extend the life of your device.

There are also lots of quick fixes for the most common water softener issues.

However, there are some problems that cost so much to fix (if a professional plumber is necessary) that it’s better to buy a new one. I’ll discuss when you should consider the “buy over repair” option.

Water Softener Repair 

There are some simple reasons why a water softener works badly, but before we start with the quick fixes, let’s first briefly examine how it works.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

In the most simple terms, a water softener works by saturating hard water with sodium (salt), which removes all hard minerals.

This is what allows it to remove minerals like calcium and magnesium that are responsible for hardness in the first place. Once the softener generates soft water then your water will stop creating limescale crystals in your kettle and around your sink, plumbing, pipes and appliances.

How to Service a Water Softener

The following sections highlights some things you should be doing on a regular basis to self-service a water softener. It can get a little technical so if you’re unsure speak to a local plumber or watch some YouTube videos to clarify.

Step 1.

Clean the resin tank injector:
A common problem with a water softener is the injector sometimes becomes blocked with salt.

In order to fix this, activate the softener bypass valve first as this will shut off the water. The next step is to release the water pressure. Do this by running the softener through a manual regeneration. The last step is to remove the caps on both sides of the water softener head. Once all of this is done you should thoroughly clean the injector screen (left side) and the injector (right side of the head).

Step 2.

Clean the brine tank (the part of the softener that contains the salt):
Salt clogging up the brine tank is another common issue. Overtime salt can turn into a hard dome or crust. This type of “salt dome” arises when there is too much salt. One result of this is a large air pocket underneath, which makes it look like there is already enough salt in the tank.

To fix this simply break up the salt with a long hard implement like the end of a broomstick. Then make sure to thoroughly clean the softener unit and rinse the tank.

Step 3.

Clean the iron-impregnated resin bed:
Does your water contain iron? If it does then this will eventually “contaminate” the resin bed. The result of this is that it can hamper the effectiveness of the softeners’ ability to operate.

The solution? Run iron-out throughout the system. The iron-out solution is available online and once you get it simply follow the instructions and run the softener through manual regeneration.

How to Maintain a Water Softener

1. Regularly use iron out and pure salt through the system.

2. Use good quality salt. To maintain good results, always make sure you are using the best quality salt. Ideally, you are buying evaporated salt. This is because it is the purest salt and also the most efficient type of salt because it consumes salt more effectively. So always try to use this type of salt whenever possible.

3. Do NOT use rock salt. Although getting rock salt is usually cheaper, its impurities will cost you much more in the long run. This is because rock salt can cause a few centimetres of sediment to build up in your softeners’ brine tank. Lots of sediment build up over time can create a clog.

4. Continue to use iron-out at least once a year, this is because even pure salt contains some impurities.

Save Money with Water Softener Repairs?

If you have a softener that costs over $500 then paying for a professional fix may be worth it. This is because replacing it will cost another $550 (cheapest softener) + the $450 (professional installation). Consider the fact that replacing the resin bed can be about $60 to $100. 

But make sure you get a realistic quote before you commit to fixing your softener.

If the cost of the water softener repair is the same as (or close to) what it will cost to replace it, then replacing it makes the most sense.

As with most things it depends on what the water softener repair involves. A basic repair can be as low as $65 for something that takes a couple of minutes to fix. While complicated fixes could be as high as $1,695. The national average for a water softener repair in the US is between $150 and $735 US dollars.

Common Water Softener Problems and How To Fix Them.

Problem: Water Softener Not Using Salt

You probably have a salt bridge.

When your water softener is not using salt, then the fundamental cause can be lots of salt build up that you can’t see.

In other words the salt in the tank forms together into a stiff crust but sits below the water level, which means you can’t see it. The big air pocket created by the salt bridge means that the water may not be using salt.

Solution: 

To resolve this problem, open up the  water softener tank. Then use a long hard device (e.g. the end of a broomstick) to break up the salt bridge. Flush all the broken up salt by doing a manual regeneration.

Long Term Maintenance:  

Reduce the humidity because a high amount of humidity can make salt stick together and cause chaos for your softener. For instance, think about how salt clumps together in a salt shaker. So make sure your water softener is in a cool room with a stable temperature that doesn’t get too hot etc.

When Should A Water Softener Be Replaced?

One saving grace is that it is highly unlikely that you will need a water softener repair very often.

Mr Water Geek ThinkingModern softeners are designed to last for at least 10-15 years.

However, if you are finding issues with your machine, then see if it’s something you can fix by yourself before calling out a professional plumber.

An even better approach is to take care of your softener and continuously carry out on-going maintenance. Doing this will help your softener last longer and mean the issues are less serious when repairs are necessary.

If your water is tasting foul, smells funny or you start seeing limescale around your plumbing then something is probably wrong. After cleaning, re-starting and trying to fix the softener yourself, it’s time to get a professional in.

Fortunately, Amazon now provide home services like professional plumbers. I like to recommend them because they are more reliable then your regular local plumber. This is because you can read reviews beforehand, get a quote and even have access to Amazon’s world class customer service.mrwatergeek winner badge

Also, paying by credit card means you can also go to the credit card company for help if everything goes wrong. This is unlike cash transactions preferred by most local plumbers.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here