Monday, May 30, 2022

Why Isn't my Water Softener using Salt?

Why Isn't my Water Softener using Salt?

        Often times when the water inside the house doesn't give that soft slimy feeling, or water spots show up on dishes or shower doors, people will automatically think that their water softener has a problem. The first thing they do is to check the brine tank or salt tank for salt. The following examples could be the reason the water softener isn't using salt. Salt bridge, broken or worn part, the water softener is in bypass, no electricity. Hopefully this blog will help the reader find the answer and be able to solve the problem.

Salt bridge; a salt bridge is caused from the water filling the brine tank with water and slowly dissolving the salt in order to regenerate it. Over time as the salt dissolves it slowly falls or moves toward the bottom of the brine tank so that it can be dissolved and ready for the next regeneration cycle. Often times what happens is that the salt will not fall or move to the bottom of the brine tank and thus creates a bridge. A couple of ways to determine if there is a salt bridge;

 1.  Hit the brine tank with your hand starting at the top of the tank and moving down until you get near the bottom. Along the way down, make note how much resistance there is and if there is a soft spot about midway down then you know you have a salt bridge.                     

2. Using the end of a broom handle or other pole type of tool. Push through the salt; at first there will be resistance because of the salt up top, once through the salt the broom handle    will begin to go down more easily than before. This is an indication that the salt has bridged. Once you have determined it is a salt bridge, a hammer can be used to hit the salt  until it finally begins to fall, ensuring that the brine tank is not damaged in the process. A salt bridge can be avoided often times by only putting in enough salt to just cover the water, although this will require more checks to ensure there is enough salt in the brine tank to be dissolved and ready for the next regeneration.                                   

Broken or worn part: Depending on the make and model of the water softener will determine which part to look for. All Kenmore, Ecodyne, Whirlpool, GE and North Star water softeners use the same types of parts and the problem is usually the same. It is usually caused by a worn rotor disk or a problem with the venturi.

Kenmore water softener venturi
Kenmore water softener rotor disk

 On the ever popular Fleck water softener valve there is a gear in the back in which the piston is attached to. In the photo below it will be the gear right behind the middle piston. On occasion this gear will break off and unless there is something to compare it to, the problem will go unnoticed unless the person doing the servicing has plenty of experience. 



Water softener in bypass mode; sometimes but not too frequently the water softener will be in bypass, either from a recent service call or a frustrated homeowner who was just pushing buttons and moving levers out of sheer frustration. These two bypasses are  typically found on most water softeners. 

Water softener bypass valve in bypass position
Stainless steel bypass valve in bypass

      The below bypass belongs to either a Kenmore, Whirlpool, Northstar or GE. 

Kenmore bypass valve in bypass position


 No electricity; it may be relatively easy to tell if the water softener isn't plugged in depending on which model, on the digital models there will be nothing on the front screen and on mechanical ones the time will normally be off or the back can be taken off to examine the motor to see if it is still running. There is a little round hole that will show a red mark and white mark as the motor spins, if it is not changing color then the motor is not turning or just feel the motor with a hand and determine if it is running or not.


             Here is a video on how to check to see if the motor is running

      In case the video above does not play









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