Common Issues With Water Softeners


Water Softener Systems

We have come to rely on our water softener systems when we have them because we don’t want to be forced to go back to dealing with hard water. Although a water softener system should last around 15 years, that does not mean that we will not experience a problem.

If you were browsing for water softeners and were considering a citric acid water softener, then perhaps reconsider. You can learn more about that in this Nuvo citric acid water softener review. Traditional water softeners will get the job done well, but they do run into some problems.

Problems with water softeners, when they do occur, can include:

  • brine tank water is too low
  • brown water
  • clogs
  • dirty filter
  • faulty resin beads
  • motor failure
  • operation error
  • salt bridges
  • softener will not regenerate
  • system is leaking
  • the system is making funny noises
  • the system not using salt brine tank water is too low
  • water tastes salty
  • system runs constantly
  • water in the salt tank
  • water is still hard (not softening)
  • water tastes salty

Each of the issues above is covered in detail, by WaterFilter Cast, at the highlighted link and briefly below.

Nuvo H2O Citric Acid Water Softener

Brine Tank Water Too Low

This actually may be okay. It is normal for there to be no water in the brine tank.

Brown Water

Most brown water coming out of pipes is the result of pipes being old or soil passing through the pipes; however, there could be a possibility of bacteria accumulated in your water softener system.

You can sanitize your system by running two cups of hydrogen peroxide in the brine tank and running two cycles. If the brown water continues, call in a professional to see about servicing the unit.


Resin beads coming out of the water softener system will cause it to clog and also reduce the amount of water pressure that flows through your pipes. Salt and iron build-up has the same impact.

After replacing beads, remove remaining clogs and sediment by flushing the system.

Dirty Filter

Change your filter every three to five months.

Water Softener

Faulty Resin Beads

If you find yourself needing to replenish the salt more often or if you see particles in your water, it could be a sign the resin beads are not functioning properly.

Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the beads or replace them.

Motor Failure

Check the motor if the system stops working. Also, check wires for damage.

Contact the manufacturer if the motor is still under warranty. If not, you need to consider buying a new motor or a new system.

Operation Error

A new user must become very familiar with their new water softener system. Keep your manual and the manufacturer’s number handy, and pick out three repair people in the area, so you know whom to call in case something goes wrong.

Salt Bridges

The water softener system uses salts (potassium and sodium) to remove other salts (calcium and manganese). It is not uncommon for these to build-up and forms salt bridges at the base of the tank. If salt bridges, which can become very hard, go unnoticed, they can break damage the water softener system.

To remedy a salt bridge, simply pull it out of the base of the unit. You may need to break it in pieces first.

Water Softeners

Softener Will Not Regenerate

Regeneration timers do go bad. Salty water is often an indicator of a faulty timer.

Simply replace the regeneration timer.

System Is Leaking

Most leaks are associated with mistakes made during installation and are relatively easy to fix.

When the leak is found, you will likely need to replace the part.

The system is Making Funny Noise

Water softener systems should not be loud. If they are, more than likely, it is a clogged valve, a faulty timer, or a valve that is broken.

Find the problem area and replace or fix it.

The system is Not Using Salt

If the water softener is not using salt, the ion exchange that needs to occur between the salts is not occurring, and therefore, water is not being softened. Follow the instructions for the salt bridge above. If you discover there are no salt bridges at the bottom of the tank, then call the system manufacturer for assistance.

Nuvo H2O Citric Acid Water Softeners

System Runs Constantly

More than likely, salt bridges or clogs are keeping the system from being able to pull brine from the tank. It could also be water pressure, which is probably due to a clog somewhere.

See Salt Bridges or Clogs above in this article to remedy them.

Water In Salt Tank

Common problems with water in the salt tank are typically related to a lack of overflow or associated with clogging. Those issues, however, are simply the result of other overlying causes such as the system is too old, the water entry valve is not working properly, or the float value is set too high.

To remedy these issues, look for leaks around the base of the water softener system, cracks in the unit itself, or faulty O-rings.

If you find leaks, you may need to replace the system. Simply replace the O-rings or the water entry valve if either of them is not working properly and if the problem is with the float valve, just lower it.

Water Is Still Hard (Not Softening)

If you are still experiencing hard water, there are a few things to consider:

  • look for salt build-up in the brine tank
  • make sure the water softener system bypass switch is turned on
  • the amount of water you are pulling through the system may be too much for it

Use your system manual to troubleshoot and see if you can remedy the problem. If nothing works, call the manufacturer or a professional to come in.

Water Tastes Salty

Check the drain hose for clogs, if the water tastes salty.

If it is not the drain hose, reduce the amount of salt being used to see if that makes a difference.


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