A water softener has 4 basic cycles: Backwash, Brine, Rinse & Service. These are the most frequent problems and remedies.

BACKWASH: Water travels up through the media churning it and dislodging debris trapped and sending it to the drain.

BRINE: There is 2 methods to introduce the brine

Co-Current: The brine solution flows from the top of the media down. This method uses a little more salt,

Countercurrent: The brine flow from the button of the media to the top. This method uses less salt but has a higher chance of hardness bleed through.

Brine can be divided into 2 parts: Brine and Brine Rinse or Slow Rinse. Brine is when the system is drawing brine water from the salt tank. This process last about 20 minutes. Brine rinse starts once all the water is drawn from the brine tank even though the valve has not changed positions.

RINSE: Water passes through the media in a downward direction rinsing the excess sodium. It is also know as rapid rinse or settle rinse. It packs the resin preparing it for the service cycle.

SERVICE: This cycle is providing treated water.

  1. My softener appears to be working but I still have hard water.

The most common hard water problem is that the system does not draw the brine solution. The brine draw is created by the venture assembly. Insure the venture is free of debris. A blockage of the drain can also cause lack of brine draw.

2. These is excess water in my brine tank.

The amount of water in the brine tank is controlled by the valve. If the valve is set to fill first, there will be very little water in the brine tank. Sears, GE, NorthStar & EcoWater are a fill first system and should have only about 2″ of water in the brine tank. Most other systems are a fill last system and can have 12-18″ of water in the brine tank. Excessive water in the brine tank can be caused by a blocked venture or drain line, leaking brine valve, missing or wrong size brine flow control or internal seals leaking by. Check for a loose connection on the brine line.

3. My softener is not using salt.

The system may not be regenerating. Insure the timer motor and/or the meter assembly is working. Check to insure the unit is in service and not in bypass and plugged into electricity if required. Check for a salt bridge by pouring 2 gallons of water along the insides of the brine tank. Regenerate the system. If soft water returns, repeat every couple of days until salt bridge is gone. To prevent salt bridge, only add salt once it has dropped below normal water level.

4. My water pressure in the house is low but raises when I place the softener on bypass.

This is an indicator that the resin is bad or the upper basket (if equipped) is plugged. Resin can be checked by getting a sample and squeezing it between your thumb and forefinger. If it smashes up, it’s bad and needs to be replaced.

5.  My water is salty after a regeneration.

Normally the brining cycle is about 60 minutes with 20 minutes of that drawing brine and the other 40 minutes is a slow rinse cycle. If the system has excess water in the brine tank, it may draw it all out not leaving enough time for the slow rinse. Determine the cause of excess water. Bad resin may not rinse properly leaving salty water.