10 Jul. 24

Most Common Issue When Your Water Softener Isn’t Working

Water softeners have become much easier to troubleshoot than in the past. While repairing a water softener can be challenging, with the right knowledge, you can fix common issues and get your system back up and running in no time.


The Most Common Issue: Salt Bridges

One of the most common issues with water softeners, especially in humid climates, is the formation of a salt bridge in the brine tank. This occurs when salt becomes hard and caked together, preventing it from dissolving properly during the regeneration cycle.


Identifying a Salt Bridge

When you add too much salt to the brine tank, the salt can harden above the water line, forming a bridge. The softener unit regenerates and washes the salt out of the bottom of the tank during the cycle, but the hardened salt above the water line doesn’t fall to the bottom. To check for a salt bridge, gently tap the outside of the tank. If it sounds hollow, a salt bridge may have formed.


Breaking Up a Salt Bridge

Most brine tanks have a plastic plate about six inches from the bottom. Be careful not to damage this plate when breaking up the salt. Here’s how you can break up a salt bridge safely:

  1. Use a Broomstick: Insert a broomstick or similar object into the tank and gently break up the salt. Avoid poking all the way to the bottom to prevent damaging the plastic plate.
  2. Hot Water Method: If the salt is particularly stubborn, pour a pitcher of very hot water around the edges of the tank. This will help dissolve the hardened salt. Then, tap around the edges to encourage the salt to fall to the bottom.
  3. Kick Method: Some people give the brine tank a swift kick to break up the salt bridge. Be gentle to avoid damaging the tank.

For visual learners, YouTube has several helpful videos on breaking up a salt bridge.


Why a Salt Bridge Matters

The water softener unit requires brine water (salty water) to wash the resin during regeneration. This process helps remove calcium from the resin beads, which is then washed down the drain. Without proper brine water, the unit regenerates with plain water, which does not remove calcium from the beads. Consequently, the beads remain full of calcium, and hard water continues to flow into your home.


Manual Regeneration Cycle

After breaking up a salt bridge, manually regenerate the system. Allow the salt and water to sit for about four hours to create brine water. Once regenerated, the cold water should be soft immediately, but it may take a few days for the hot water to become soft again if hard water has been an issue.


When to Call a Professional

If you do not find a salt bridge or the issue persists, it’s time to call a professional. Simple Water Softeners repairs many brands and can help diagnose and fix the problem. Give us a call at (210) 960-2555, and we’ll assist you in resolving your water softener issues.

By addressing these common problems, you can ensure your water softener operates efficiently, providing your home with the soft water it needs.