Many homeowners around the United States struggle with hard water issues. Hard water occurs when there are excessive levels of minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium dissolved in the water. This can create problems throughout the home, as appliances are clogged with scale, stains appear on fixtures and water heater efficiency is compromised. Additionally, hard water can affect detergent performance, so your clothes may not feel fully cleaned, your skin can be left feeling dry, and your hair can feel frizzy and dull. The most obvious solution to these types of problems is to install a water softener. These types of devices remove the excess minerals to create soft water, but what if your water is still causing problems even with a water softener. Fortunately, there are some things you can check to restore functionality of your softener before you call for service. 

Check the Power 

This sounds elementary, but it can be very easy for appliances to be unplugged or switched off accidentally. If a member of your family has unplugged your softener and forgotten to plug it back in, you will immediately start to notice your water feeling hard. Your first step if you notice your water doesn’t feel soft is to check the device is plugged into a working outlet, and it is switched on.  

Check the Clock 

The next step is to check that the clock has been set to the correct time. When the clock settings are incorrect, your softener may be regenerating at inappropriate times. This could lead to your family exhausting the supply of softened water before the unit regenerates. 

Check the Bypass Valve 

Unless you are performing some maintenance tasks, the bypass valve on your softener should be kept in the open position. This will enable water to enter the device and allow softened water to pass into your home. If you’ve recently had some plumbing work performed in your home, it is likely that the water was temporarily turned off and it is possible that your softener may not have been returned to service. 

Look in Your Brine Tank 

It can often be overlooked, but if your device has run out of salt, it will be unable to continue to produce softened water. This is actually a common reason for technicians being called in for service, and it can be embarrassing for the homeowner. If you take a look in your brine tank and see that your salt level has dropped or the brine tank is actually empty, you can easily resolve the problem yourself without professional help.  

Look for a Salt Bridge 

You may have heard the term “salt bridge” and be aware that it can have a detrimental effect on your water softener performance. Many homeowners feel a little uncertain about how to determine if there is a salt bridge inside their brine tank. Fortunately, checking for a salt bridge is really simple. All you need to do is knock on the lower portion of your brine tank. If it sounds hollow, the salt could have hardened inside the tank to form a “bridge.” If you have a salt bridge, all you need to do is gently knock the bridge loose to allow the salt to drop into the bottom of the tank.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.