Monday, December 29, 2014

My Water Softener is Not Using Salt

I have heard that statement more times than I can count.  Usually that is the first thing someone notices even before they notice the water is no longer soft anymore.  The home owner goes out and starts to put salt in the salt tank or what is known as the brine tank and see's that there is still a full tank of salt, oh what to do what to do.

The first thing you are going to want to do is to look at the time clock on the water softener to see if it is displaying the correct time.  If it is not then you will want to set the time to the correct time.  Then look to see if it is plugged in, who knows a cat, rat, or someone could have accidentally unplugged it.  I have seen that many times in my days as a water softener service man.  If it is plugged in and not a digital model try and see if you can look to the back of the motor.  If you can then you will see a little window and you should see a red dot every so many seconds.  This is an indicator that the motor is running but not necessarily good.  The next thing you are going to want to look at is the front of the large dial to see if it is in the service position, and actually you probably should have done that first but all in all most of this is simultaneously done.  If it is in the service position then you will want to begin to turn the knob from the service position to each position in the regeneration cycle and when it gets to the brine/rinse cycle stop and grab the little tube that goes from the water softener to the brine tank as tight as you can.  You are trying to feel the salt water going through the tube, if you cannot feel the water going through the tube then just monitor the water in the brine tank and you should see it going down.  If it does not go down then you will need to call a service man.  If it goes down then you will want to continue through the cycle and reset the knob in the service position.

The next thing you will want to do if you can is to make a fist and pound on the side of the brine tank towards the bottom about 1 foot from the floor. Start there and move your way up noticing any difference, if it seems to be softer towards the bottom and hard at the top then more than likely you have what is called a salt bridge.  You can hit the salt where the hardness and soft spot on the tank come together and knock the salt down.  You can also get a broom stick (make sure you put it back where you got it or you will get it when your wife finds out) and poke it in the salt upside down and move it around trying to make the salt fall.  You can also carefully shake the brine tank making sure not to break any pipes that may be exposed and this will help the salt fall.  This will fix your problem.  You will want to put your water softener in regen in order to have it regenerate so your wife can have that soft water she loves.  Make sure you do not put it in regen while she is washing laundry since it will make the clothes salty if all things come together at the right time.

How does the salt bridge?  What happens is the water that is put into the salt tank only goes in so far, then during the brine cycle it is drawn out and rinses over the media in the tall cylindrical tank.  The water makes the salt wet so it can dissolve and make the brine solution, well sometimes for whatever reason the salt that gets wet begins to stick to itself and sooner or later does not fall down into the brine tank and forms a cement like hardness with the salt.  All the salt that is below the bridge is dissolved and the water comes and goes and comes and goes and never dissolves any more salt because it is bridged.  So if you follow the above directions the salt will fall and you will be back in business again.  If you have tried everything then you may have to call a service man out to see if you don't have a problem with your brine piston, which is another article in itself.

If you need water softener parts you can go to and click on any of their items and you will be forwarded to a larger website where you can get parts.  I hope this helped the old saying, "My Water Softener is Not Using Salt"

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