8 Most Common Water Softener Problems and How to Fix Them

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Water contamination is a problem faced by people worldwide. The water could have microorganisms that have the potential to harm you, posing health risks like typhoid. If not the disease-causing microorganisms, the water could have residues in form of mud or particulates.

These residues change the color and taste of water and odor in some cases. The other water issue is the presence of dissolved salts such as nitrates, nitrites, sulfates, sulfites, and carbonates, among other dissolved salts. When these salts are present in the drinking water, the water is termed hard.

Although hard water itself might not be a health threat, it causes discoloration of teeth, a condition that makes people have low self-esteem and feel worthless.

The problem of hard water can be solved by using water softeners to remove the dissolved salts. Sometimes, though, the water softener may develop technical problems.

This article discusses the eight common water softener problems and how to fix them.

1- Water Softener is not Softening Water

This is likely one of the most common water softener problems and an annoying issue. It can be so disappointing to invest in the best water softener, only to realize that the softener does not soften water, and your drinking water is salty.

The cause of the water softener not working could the switching off of the by-pass switch, resin beads not regenerating, or the build-up of salt in the brine tank. The solution to the problem lies in first identifying the cause of the problem and then using the manual for troubleshooting, for example, by adding more salt to make the water soft or doing longer regeneration periods.

2- Water Softener Producing Brown Water

This is yet another problem noticed in water softeners. The common cause of the browning of water is a high amount of dust residues or heavy plumbing activities or metal corrosion in the water system. If these are the cause of water browning, then there is so little you can do.

However, sometimes an accumulation of bacteria can also cause the water to brown and be undrinkable. If this is the cause of the water browning, you can sterilize the tank with chlorine to kill the bacteria.

3- Water Softener having Salt Bridge

Sometimes, salt gets into the brine tank and causes a hard salt crust (bridge) to form and prevent the water from moving within the brine tank and regeneration from happening. When the problem is identified in time, the salt can be broken and removed.

4- Water Softener Not Using Salt

As water softening takes place, the amount of salt in the brine tank should be reducing consistently. However, sometimes you may notice the salt level in the brine tank is stagnant. The common cause of this problem is the formation of salt bridges which prevent water movement within the brine tank. To solve the problem, the salt bridge should be identified, broken, and removed just as had already been explained in iii.

5- The Resin beads Not Regenerating

For efficiency, the water softener uses resin beads. These beads should regenerate regularly to keep the system working. The beads may sometimes lose their potential or break, causing floating particles to appear in the water. The problem can be fixed by cleaning or replacing the beads.

6- Water Softener not Regenerating

Another common water softener problem is the softener ceasing to regenerate. There could be many causes of this problem, including failure of the regeneration time. You can adjust the timer and set the regeneration period to daily to fix the problem.

Next, you should wait for twenty-four hours and observe whether the softener is producing some soft sounds. If that happens, you should be sure the system is working.

However, if the system produces funny irregular sounds, it would mean that the timer is starting to wear out and needs to have a replacement.

7- Water Tasting Salty

Sometimes you will notice that the water from the water softener has a salty taste. As much as the system uses salt to soften water, the water must not be salty.

When this happens, it could be an indicator of two major issues, the drain hose is clogged, or the salt you are using in the brine tank is too much. Check the drain hose and unclog it, and if the salty taste doesn’t change, reduce the amount of salt used in the brine tank.

8- Water Softener Reducing the Water Pressure

At times, you might get irritated when you notice water leaving the tap with low pressure. This can be caused by sediment build-up in any part of the system, flushed out resin beads clogging the system, or iron build-up in the resin tank.

You can sort this out by removing the sediment blockage, removing the resin beads & flushing the system, adding a mineral cleaner to the resin tank, and setting more frequent regeneration cycles.


While water softeners can efficiently soften hard water and make it drinkable, the system can experience technical problems and compromise the quality of our drinking water. This write-up discussed the eight common water softener problems and their troubleshooting processes.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.