Is your water softener not using salt? There are many possible reasons the water softener isn’t using salt, and luckily, you can quickly fix the problems.
Keep reading to find out the causes and how you can correct each of them.
Why Water Softener Salt Not Going Down
You’ve realized that your water softener is running, but your glassware still comes out of the dishwasher with some streaks.
Perhaps, you are also struggling to wash your clothes clean, but they always come out of the washing machine scratchy and stiff.
So, what could be the problem? While you might not know everything about your water softener, you at least know it needs salt to function correctly.
However, you’ve noted that the water softener salt is not going down. That could be the main problem.
The truth is, your water softener needs salt to soften water. Even if it’s running and the water coming out of the tap is crystal clear, the chances are high that the water is hard.
In other words, it has high concentrations of minerals responsible for water hardness.
Unfortunately, hard water can cause devastating impacts on your water appliances, like the dishwashers and washing machines. It can also block your plumbing systems.
So, why is the water softener not using salt? Let’s look at the possible reasons!
1. Formation of a Salt Bridge
The primary reason why a water softener can stop using salt is when a salt bridge forms in the brine tank.
The salt bridge is a hard crust that forms when salt clumps together in the brine tank. Unfortunately, it prevents more salt from dissolving in the tank’s water.
The water will continue to cycle as the softener runs, but it will not mix with salt.
So, an air cavity will form between the water surface and the salt bridge’s bottom. That’s why your water softener salt cannot go down in the brine tank.
So, how do you determine that a salt bridge has formed in the brine tank? Push a long wooden stick, like a mop handle, into the brine tank, through the salt. If the stick hits something hard that prevents it from getting to the bottom, you’ll know it’s a salt bridge.
How to Go about the Salt Bridge
Once you’ve verified that a salt bridge has formed in the brine tank, you can solve it immediately by breaking the hard crust.
All you need to do is push the mop handle gently into the salt until the salt bridge breaks up and crumbles.
Break all the large pieces of salt crust and stir gently to dissolve in water. However, avoid using sharp objects to break up the hard salt bridge. You might puncture the brine tank, and that can exacerbate the situation.
However, breaking up the salt bridge might not solve the problem completely. You need to find out the underlying causes of the problem.
Here are some of the things that can speed up salt bridge formation.
- High humidity in the tank storage room
- Using the wrong salt in the brine tank
- Overfilling the tank with salt
After breaking up the salt bridge, figure out how you can avoid the three underlying causes.
For instance, you can move the brine tank to less humid conditions, fill the brine tank halfway, and use the purest salt.
2. Using the Wrong Salt Type
Did you know that the type of salt you use can influence the performance of your water softener?
So, you need to select the best type and size of water softener salt. Here is how the two factors can influence the efficiency of your water softener.
You need to use salt that’s 100 percent pure for efficient water softening. Notably, rock salt contains other minerals apart from sodium, reducing its effectiveness to remove ions responsible for water hardness.
Another salt type is the solar salt naturally evaporated from seawater. Its purity is around 96.6 percent. However, the remaining trace amounts of impurities can interfere with your water softener’s functionality.
Consider using evaporated salt because it’s 100 percent pure. All the moisture gets extracted using heat, making the most efficient salt type. Besides, it’s less likely to form salt bridges.
Fine-grained salts like table salts tend to dissolve very fast when used in water softeners.
Also, block salt dissolves very slowly and cannot maintain a proper brine. So, what’s the right size of salt to use in a water softener?
You can use salt crystals or pellets because they are the most efficient. However, most experts recommend using pellets because they are least likely to bond and form salt bridges.
3. Component Failure in Regeneration Systems
What happens next if you discover there’s no salt bridge in the brine tank? In this case, you need to inspect the water softener’s regeneration system. The problem could be a clog inside the nozzle venturi.
The nozzle venturi is a component in the water softener that pulls brine solution from the brine tank.
If it clogs and stops working, no brine solution will get pulled through it. Consequently, the water softener will not use the salt.
Notably, there are different types and styles of nozzle venturi, and you need to know yours.
But before you check your nozzle venturi, ensure that you’ve placed the water softener in the bypass position. If you are not able to, you can seek help.
How Do You Unclog a Brine Tank?
If you’ve noticed chalky deposits on your dishes and clothes, your water softener brine tank may be clogged.
To unclog, do the following:
- Turn off the water supply and put your brine tank in bypass mode. Check the instruction manual for a step-by-step guide.
- Throw away the water from the brine tank—ideally into your toilet. Remove any remaining salt deposits.
- Mix 1 to 2 gallons of water with 2 tablespoons of soap. Pour the soapy mixture into the brine tank.
- Use a long-handled brush to scrub the insides of the brine tank. Clear away any gunk or lingering deposits.
- Mix ¼ cup of bleach with 3 gallons of water. Let the bleach solution sit in the tank for 15 to 20 minutes. Dump the water down the drain.
- Reconnect the water supply, and fill the brine tank with clean water. Add fresh water softener salt to the brine tank.
Should There Be Water in My Water Softener Salt Tank?
The water level in your brine tank should not exceed the salt level.
The brine tank should never be full, or even half-full, of water as it can adversely affect the water softening process.
How Often Should a Water Softener Regenerate?
Regular regeneration of the water softener is necessary to keep the resin bed active.
The exact frequency of regeneration depends on various factors, such as the hardness of your water, the size of the tank, the amount of iron present in the water, your daily water usage, as well as the age of your system.
Standard water softeners regenerate every two or three days. The most efficient softeners regenerate multiple times a day.
If your water softener is not using much salt, you need to find out the problem. Check the type of salt used in the brine tank and if there’s a salt bridge.
If there’s no salt bridge and you also used the purest salt, check your nozzle venturi condition.
Generally, you should always check the salt level in your brine tank at least once in a month.
Smaller tanks may require frequent inspections to ensure that there’s enough salt in the brine tank. When refilling the tank with salt, remember not to overfill it.