Common Water Softener Issues And How To Fix Them
More often than not, your water softener works silently behind the scenes transforming your homes hard water into soft water. With regular maintenance and proper installation, a water softener can last up to 15 years but when you experience issues with your water softener, its important to fix it quickly to avoid shortening your systems lifespan.
While you can solve some water softener issues on your own, other problems will require the help of a professional. Next time you notice one of these issues with your water softener, consider these tips and tricks to solve it .
Breaking The Salt Bridge
Another maintenance step you can take to make sure your water softener is running smoothly is breaking the salt bridge that can form inside your tank.
Salt bridges are caused by high humidity or the wrong kind of salt poured into the system. Thats why you should install your water softener in a dry part of your home.
When a salt bridge forms, your water will not touch the salt in the system. This stops the creation of brine, which recharges the resin bed in your system and ultimately softens the water.
We recommend taking a broom handle and pushing it into the salt. Try to puncture several holes in the salt so the bridge breaks up into pieces. This will allow the salt to make contact with the water once again.
Pouring cleanser into your water softener is a great first step in ensuring the longevity of your system. Reference your owners manual if any issues arise between routine maintenance checks and always make sure you have a bottle of cleanser ready if you suspect its time for a cleaning.
Extend Your Water Softener Warranty
The manufacturers full parts and labor warranty on the Whirlpool Water Softeners can be extended with regular purchases of Whirlpool Water Softener Cleanser. The Whirlpool WHES30 and WHES40 water softeners come with a 1-year full parts and labor warranty that can be extended to 5 years. The Whirlpool WHESFC water softener comes with a 2-year full parts and labor warranty that can be extended to 10 years. To participate in the warranty extension program, you must register your system on Whirlpools website and hold onto your system and cleanser receipts. By registering, youll receive email reminders to use Whirlpool Water Softener Cleanser every 4 months.
The EcoPure EP31 and EP42 water softeners come with a 1-year parts warranty that can be extended to 5 years with regular purchases of EcoPure Water Softener Cleaner. To receive the warranty extension, you must register your system on EcoPures website and hold onto your system and cleaner receipts. After registration, you will receive email reminders to use EcoPure Water Softener Cleaner every 4 months.
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How To Fix It
Clogs most often occur in two areas, including:
The injector in your water softener can get clogged with debris over time. This can affect the water softeners ability to create suction for the brine cycle. The result is the softener cannot regenerate properly and you will get hard water. A typical way to know if you have a clogged injector is to check if the water in the brine tank is very high.
To inspect the injector, pull it out with a pair of needle-nose pliers and see if you can look through the small opening in the injector. The hole is very small. If something is lodged in the small hole, use a needle or safety pin to push the debris out of the injector.
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Use A Bucket Or Scoop:
You can simply scoop out all of the water in your water softener by hand with a bucket.
Get a clean bucket or scoop: Find a bucket that is small enough to fit inside your brine tank or use a large scoop or bowl.
Scoop out the water: Scoop out all of the water by hand and dump it into a larger container to dispose of down the drain.
Save water to use again: If the water inside is still relatively clean, you can scoop it into a larger clean container or your laundry tub so that you can use it again once you have fixed the problem.
Water softener full of water? Scoop it out by hand.
Anyone Here Own An Ao Smith Water Softener I Have A Couple Questions
For anyone that owns an AO Smith water softener, I need your clarification.
I have the 40000 grain model, and need some clarification on a couple of the settings, as the manual it came with is useless.
Can any differentiate between the regen setting of High Capacity, High Efficiency and Automatic?
Then for the water hardness setting, lets say I set it to 5 gpg. Does that mean it reduces incoming water by 5 gpg or it outputs 5 gpg. I have been playing with the settings, and have set it from a hardness of 25 and it stated i have 500 gallons remaining before recharge, but then when I set it to 3, it states i have 1000 gallons remaining. Maybe I need an ELI5 but it seems to me like it should be the opposite.
Salt expense it not an issue, I’d rather see it work in top performance rather than minimal salt usage as I live in a region with very hard water .
Can anyone weigh in?
EDIT: I did some digging around with their support team and this is what I found.
This unit has two regeneration types that can be used: high efficiency and high capacity. High efficiency will use less salt during regeneration but will need to regenerate more often. High capacity will use more salt during regeneration but will need to regenerate less often. The high efficiency regeneration on this model uses 26 gallons of water. The high capacity regeneration on this model uses 30 gallons of water.
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Common Reasons For A Water Softener Full Of Water
There are a number of reasons that could leave you with a water softener full of water. These include:
1. Your water softener brine drain is kinked, plugged, or leaky: You may need to replace your drain line. You can contact a professional to do this for you.
2. Your brine line isn’t properly attached to your brine tank and into the float: If your brine line isn’t properly attached to your float, the water will flow directly into your tank and the float won’t shut it off.
3. Your drain line flow control is clogged: If this happens, then it can’t regulate the amount of water flowing through your system. You will need to clean any clogs.
Your drain line regulates the flow of water into your system. | Source: Waster Estore
4. Your brine line flow control is clogged: If this gets clogged, it will not be able to draw brine out of your tank.
5. You may have a salt clog at the bottom of your brine tank: A salt clog can stop the flow of water out of your tank.
6. Your safety float may be sticking: If it is sticking, it will need to be cleaned so it can once again shut off the flow of water into your tank.
7. Your injector is clogged: If this happens, then your injector won’t be able to produce the suction necessary to suck water out of your tank.
For a full explanation of how to solve each of the above causes of a water softener full of water, read our post, “Water Softener Full of Water – Complete Step By Step Guide Of What To Do.”
Salt Bridges Or Salt Mushing
A salt bridge forms when a hard crust develops in the brine tank, creating a space between the water and the salt. The salt is blocked from dissolving into the water to make the brine.
There are several reasons for a salt bridge to form. Check on the conditions around the tank high humidity or seasonal weather changes can cause it to clump. Low-quality salt with impurities can also lead to salt build-up.
Similarly, salt mushing can also cause issues with your water softeners performance. Instead of forming a crusty layer, the salt recrystallizes on the bottom of the brine tank, creating a salty sludge.
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High Protection With Low Energy Consumption
Thanks to their high quality resin and high-tech regeneration techniques, our A.O. Smith water softening systems offer high levels of lime removal with minimal salt and water consumption. As a result, the calcification problems that occur in pipe fittings, washing, heating and boiling systems within your homes are eliminated. You obtain high levels of energy consumption and efficiency.
Ao Smith Water Softener
The AO Smith Water Softener is AO Smiths classic water softening system. This traditional salt-based water softener uses ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium minerals from water with an all-in-one, single-tank design, and is available in 35,000-grain to 45,000-grain capacities.
The different grain capacities available for this system are:
- AO Smith 35,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener for 2-4 people
- AO Smith 40,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener for 3-4 people
- AO Smith 45,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener for 4+ people
What We Like
- The all-in-one design of the model is space-saving and simplifies installation
- There are three sizes to choose from based on your family size and water usage
- The unit offers an efficient performance that adapts to your water usage and minimizes salt and energy use
- The system comes with a salt alert, letting you know when to top up the brine cabinet
- The 5-year warranty for mechanical and electric parts and the 10-year warranty for the control valve and media/salt tank are reassuring
What We Dont Like
- Many customers complained about poor-quality components
- The installation instructions could be clearer
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How Do I Set The Regeneration On My Ao Smith Water Softener
To set the time for regeneration on your unit, Press > , then change the time with the + or button. Press SAVE, then press back until youre taken back to the main menu.
To enter the regeneration Mode and Type section, press > . Then, enter each selection menu by pressing > next to either Type or Mode. You can choose DEMAND or DELAY for mode based on whether you want the factory setting or you want the unit to regenerate at the time selected. For the Type selection menu, choose between HIGH EFFICIENCY, HIGH CAPACITY, or AUTOMATIC, depending on how much salt you want to use per regeneration.
Still Need Assistance Contact Watersmart
If you have tried the above steps and your water softener is still not functioning properly, or if you don’t want to attempt the above steps, contact a professional to help you.
If you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo region you can contact WaterSmart. We’d be happy to help you and we won’t charge you an exorbitant rate. Our expert, experienced plumbers will come to your home, take a look at your system and advise you about the best course of action.
Whenever possible we will fix your existing unit, and if you need a replacement, we can advise you on what type of softener would best meet your needs. We even offer financing.
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Additional Water Softener Cleaner Instructions
Whether you have an EcoPure or Whirlpool system, knowing how to use a water softener cleanser is a great first step in optimizing its performance. There are several other maintenance tasks that should become a part of your softener checklist throughout the lifetime of your system.
Interested in learning more about how you clean your water softener? Watch this video:
Ao Smith Premier Series Water Softener
The AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener is a salt-based water softening system that comes in two grain capacities. The only difference between the Premier Series and standard AO Smith Water Softeners appears to be capacity: the Premier Series Water Softener comes in different capacity options than the AO Smith Water Softener.
The grain capacities available for the AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener are:
- AO Smith 30,000 Grain Capacity Premier Series Water Softener for 2-4 people
- AO Smith 50,000 Grain Capacity Premier Series Water Softener for 2-4+ people
What We Like
- Choose between two capacities based on your household size and water usage
- Compact design for easy installation and saving space
- The unit uses salt-sensing technology in the brine cabinet to reduce salt, energy, and water use
- The battery backup offers power loss protection, saving your settings
- The warranties are decent 5 years for the electronic and mechanical parts, and 10 years for the control valve, brine cabinet, and media tank.
What We Dont Like
- Theres no drain hose for overflow, and several customers had issues with overflowing tanks
- Some customers had issues with flimsy parts and leaking pipes or tanks
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Where To Install A Water Softener
If youre asking yourself, where does a water softener go?, its time to do a bit of investigating around your home. On the other hand, if you have a general understanding of how to plumb a water softener, you can quickly identify the most effective location.
If youre installing a whole-home system, youre going to want to place the softener as close to the entry point for water in your home. As a general rule, its best to place a water softener at the earliest possible point in your home plumbing system. That means placing your water softener somewhere it can feed into your water heater, rather than placing it downstream from this equipment. Not only will you prevent hot water from damaging your softener, but you will also extend the life of your water heater by feeding it softer water.
Every installation scenario is different, but some general plumbing requirements for installation include:
- 3 gallons per minute at the inlet
- 125 PSI maximum water pressure
Your water softener will need power to function, and general water softener electrical requirements include:
- A 120V, 60 htz grounded outlet with circuit breaker protection
- If using an extension cord, ensure that it is a #20AWG appliance replacement cord
Wondering how to install a water softener with a well? As long as the water source enters your home in the same fashion as a municipal water supply, the installation steps are identical.
Remove The Brine Well And Dump The Water:
You can also disconnect your brine well and then dump the water down a drain as it doesnt pose an environmental hazard.
To do this, you will need to remove the brine well. This is the long cylinder that holds the safety float inside your brine tank. Here are the steps to follow:
Remove the float: Before you remove the brine well, you need to take out the float which is located inside the brine tank. .
Pull out the cylinder: Next, carefully pull out the cylinder that contains the safety float.
Disconnect the fill tube: If you have a side-by-side water softener model, then you will also need to disconnect the fill tube that connects the brine tank to the head valve and the brine tank’s overflow hose.
Dump the water: Lift up the brine tank and dump the water down a drain.
Remove the cylinder and safety float from your brine tank before you dump the water out.
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Ao Smith Water Softeners Review: Our Verdict & The Best Water Softener Alternatives
AO Smith water softeners are good systems, but they dont blow us away. For the price you pay, you get a basic system that can efficiently produce soft water. The only real setbacks of the softeners are their warranties and their plastic components.
Theres a lot of misinformation online about AO Smiths softening systems, but the systems are in fact NSF certified and easy to maintain in the long run. Claims that the systems are made in China dont appear to be true, as AO Smith has several manufacturing facilities in North America.
Does this mean wed recommend AO Smiths water softeners?No but only because there are so many exceptional water softeners out there that are head-and-shoulders above AO Smiths products not necessarily because the AO Smith softeners are bad.
Some of our recommended water softener alternatives are:
- SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener: The best salt-free conditioning option
- SoftPro Elite: Our runner-up traditional salt-based soft water system
- Fleck 5600SXT: Our favorite budget water softener
Why Does My Softener Need Salt And Whats The Right Type
Contrary to popular belief, salt does not directly soften your water by itself.
The softening process occurs when hard water enters the system and passes over the resin beads, which attract the hardness minerals in exchange for sodium ions, making soft water. Once the resin beads are completely coated in the hardness minerals, its time for the regeneration process, and this is where salt comes in. Salt combines with water to form a brine that then washes the resin bed and rids the beads of the hardness minerals. The high concentration of sodium replaces the calcium and magnesium stuck to the resin bead and prepares the beads to continue softening the water.
Thats why salt always needs to be present in your system. When you first get your softener, check salt levels at least once a month until you establish a refilling schedule.
There are three types of salt with the highest composition of sodium chloride to pick from for use in your brine tank: rock, solar and evaporated salt.
Rock salt is the least expensive option and contains higher levels of insoluble minerals, which means over time the inside of the brine tank may become muddy in appearance. Solar salt, meanwhile, is a much cleaner option than using rock salt and comes in pellet or crystal form. Evaporated salt is 99.9 percent sodium chloride, making it the purest and most effective option. Using evaporated salt will also lead to less overall maintenance for maintaining your water softening system.
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