I Hear My Water Softener Working, But I Still Have Hard Water

If you hear your water softener running but still have hard water, your system may be clogged. Hard water contains minerals, like calcium and magnesium, deposited in the softener pipes over time. These deposits can block water flow and prevent brine from entering the tank, where it can soften the water. Additionally, if the brine tank is too full or the salt is too thin, this can reduce the softener’s efficiency and cause hard water to remain in your system. To fix this issue, inspect your softener for blockages and clean out any built-up mineral deposits. You may also need to adjust the salt level in the brine tank or replace the salt altogether.

Why Would A Water Softener Not Soften My Water?

There are several possible explanations. The most common is that the brine tank, where salt is stored for the unit’s regeneration, needs to be filled with water-softener salt. If there’s no salt in the brine tank, then it won’t be able to regenerate and soften your water. Additionally, if the unit hasn’t been used for an extended period, the resin tank can become full of hard water minerals, preventing it from softening your water. Finally, if the brine float isn’t adjusted properly, it won’t be able to regenerate correctly either.

Is Your Water Softener In Bypass Mode?

Is Your Water Softener In Bypass Mode
Water Softener In Bypass Mode

If your water is hard, you should ensure your water softener isn’t in bypass mode. Turn the dial on the system’s top to the ‘service’ position to check if it is. If you hear a click and notice that a button is pushed down, it is in bypass mode.

You May Have A Salt Bridge

Another reason for water hardness can be the formation of a salt bridge. This can happen when calcium and magnesium ions build up at the top of the softener system, forming an arch or bridge that prevents salty water from flowing into the brine tank. If this is your issue, it might be time to call a professional to help break up any formed deposits or bridges. Once that is done, your water should begin to soften again. It’s also important to check the brine tank regularly to ensure it is free of debris or sediment because this can also cause a salt bridge. Regular maintenance will help prevent these issues and keep your water-softening system running at its best.

You May Have Salt Mush In Your Brine Tank

You May Have Salt Mush In Your Brine Tank
Salt Mush In Brine Tank

Salt mush is a buildup of excess salt that forms into a solid mass. When this happens, your brine tank can become clogged, preventing the softener from working properly. You must empty the brine tank and clean it thoroughly to fix this issue. Once it is cleaned, refill the brine tank with fresh salt crystals. You may also need to adjust your water softener settings depending on the hardness level of your water. Testing your water can help you determine the best settings for your home. If the issue persists, it could be due to a malfunctioning component or an issue with the plumbing.

Is Your Water Softener Drawing The Brine From The Salt Tank?

You should check that the brine tank is full of salt so your softener can work correctly. It’s possible for the brine tank to become empty; in this case, it won’t be able to soften your water properly.

If you confirm that there is still enough salt in the brine tank, but you’re still experiencing hard water, then you may need to adjust the settings on your softener. It’s possible that the current settings are not correctly addressing the hardness of your water. A professional can help walk you through this process.

Your Brine Line Fittings May Be Loose

Your Brine Line Fittings May Be Loose
Brine Line Fittings

A loose fitting can cause backflow, contributing to hard water as the brine tank cannot draw salt effectively. To test for a crack in your brine line, check around where the brine line connects to your softener and also look along its length. Replacing the brine line is better if there’s any sign of leaking or cracking.

Check Your Water Softeners Discharge Hose

Check Your Water Softeners Discharge Hose
Water Softeners Discharge Hose

This hose collects the brine used to remove hardness from your water. If the hose is clogged, it can prevent enough brine from entering your home’s plumbing system, resulting in hard water. Too much sediment may have built up in your tank, preventing the softening process from being effective. In both cases, you’ll need to have your water softener serviced.

You May Have A Problem With The Water Softening Resin.

The resin is a material, usually, a bead or grain, that captures ions like calcium and magnesium from the hard water. When the resin beads become full of these ions, they can no longer effectively soften the water and must be regenerated. This is typically done through a process involving salt brine which helps to flush out the captured ions, allowing the beads to be used again. To check if this is your problem, inspect the resin for any visible signs of damage or contaminants. If you find any, it may mean that a replacement is needed.

Can Iron Be Cleaned From Water Softener Resin?

Can Iron Be Cleaned From Water Softener Resin
Iron Cleaned From Water Softener Resin

Iron can be cleaned from water softener resin by periodically performing a regeneration cycle on the system, which involves flushing potassium or sodium chloride brine solution through it. This creates an ion exchange process where calcium and magnesium ions are removed from the hard water and replaced with sodium ions. Any iron collected on the resin is also flushed out during this process. If you regularly use your water softener and the hardness of your water remains high, performing a regeneration cycle more frequently may be worthwhile to help clean the iron from the resin. Additionally, an iron filter can help reduce iron levels in your home’s water.

Have You Seen Any Amber Colored Stuff In Your Water Recently?

If so, then you could have iron in your water supply. Iron is one of the most common causes of hard water, and it can cause your water softener to be less effective in filtering out the minerals that cause hardness. To get rid of the iron, you’ll need to purchase an iron filter for your home to remove the mineral before it reaches your water softener.

Your Water Pressure To The Water Softener May Be Too Low

You can test it yourself by putting a pressure gauge on the inlet side of the softener. The recommended pressure for water softeners is between 20-80 psi. If your water pressure is below 20, you may need to contact a plumber to adjust or repair it.

Is Your Water Softener Regenerating Enough?

If you hear your water softener working but still has hard water, likely, the unit is not regenerating enough. Several issues, including a worn-out control valve, incorrect brine setting, or low salt levels, can cause this. You can test the hardness of your water with a simple kit to determine if the issue is coming from the water softener or another source. If it is determined that the water softener is not regenerating enough, check for any of the issues mentioned above and call a technician if needed. Increasing the regeneration frequency to get your water back up to hardness standards may also be necessary.

How To Get Your Water Softener To Last Longer?

If you’ve noticed your water softener is working, but you’re still seeing signs of hard water in your home, it’s possible that the system isn’t functioning properly and needs some attention. Here are a few tips to help get your water softener working optimally again and prolong its life expectancy:

  • Irregular water supply: An inadequate or irregular water supply is one of the most common issues that cause your water softener to stop working. Ensure a constant, steady flow of water reaches the system so it can recharge properly.
  • Check for leaks and clogs: Another issue could be leaking pipes or fixtures causing water loss. Check all the pipes and fittings to ensure they are not corroded or clogged up, as this could cause a decrease in pressure and reduce the effectiveness of your system.
  • Clean the resin bed: The mineral-filled resin beads that filter out hardness minerals can become coated with dirt and scale over time, reducing their effectiveness. Regularly clean the resin bed to ensure it is free of debris and functioning properly.
  • Check the salt level: Another important factor in keeping your water softener working effectively is ensuring the salt tank does not run out of salt. If the salt levels are low, fill the tank with more so that the water softener can regenerate properly.


Why does my water softener sound different sometimes?

Your water softener may sound different because it regenerates or refreshes its salt supply. During this process, the tank is flushed and refilled with softened water. This process typically takes about 1-2 hours to complete, and during this time, you may notice your water softener making different sounds as it cycles through the regeneration cycle.

What is the ideal level of hardness for water?

What is the ideal level of hardness for water
Ideal level of hardness for water

Generally, the ideal hardness level for water varies from area to area. Generally, a total hardness (measured in parts per million) between 50-180 ppm is acceptable. However, if your water has a hardness higher than 180ppm, installing a water softener is recommended to reduce the levels. The local water authority may set different limits depending on where you live. Generally, softening is not needed when hardness levels are below 60 ppm.

How do I know if my water softener is working?

The most common and obvious way to tell if your water softener is working is by checking the hardness of the water. While you may hear your water softener running and think it’s doing its job, if you still have hard water, then it means that the machine is not functioning correctly. Various sources, such as elevated levels of calcium or magnesium, can cause hardness in drinking water.

You can conduct a simple hardness test to determine if your water softener works properly. You can purchase kits that provide a fast and easy test for hardness in your drinking water. These kits are often available at local home retail stores or online. If the results show that the water is still hard after running the softener, something isn’t working correctly.

Can I drink water from a water softener?

Can I drink water from a water softener?
Drink water from a water softener

Yes, you can drink water from a water softener. However, depending on the type of softening system you have and its settings, there may be factors that make it undesirable for drinking. A water softener exchanges hard minerals, like calcium and magnesium, with sodium chloride (salt).

Why Is My Water Softener Running Constantly?

It could be an indication of a few different things. One possible explanation is that your water softener’s regeneration cycle has not been properly set.

  • The timer must be adjusted to regenerate more often than it used to keep up with the hard water scale buildup inside the unit.
  • Another possible reason is that there has been an increase in hard water usage in your home, causing the softener to regenerate more frequently than usual.
  •  If you have recently installed a new water heater or dishwasher, they may use more hard-water than before, prompting more frequent regeneration cycles from the softener.
  • Check the brine tank for any salt buildup in the bottom, as this can increase the number of regeneration cycles the softener needs to go through.


If you hear your water softener running but still have hard water, it could be due to an issue with your water softening system. A malfunctioning part may cause this problem, low salt levels in the brine tank, or other issues. If these potential causes are ruled out, and your system is still not functioning properly, you may need to consider replacing it. In any case, it is important to consult a professional and ensure that your water softener works properly before attempting DIY repairs or maintenance. Doing so can help you avoid costly problems down the road.

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