What if my compact water softener stops working?

Written By: A writer for all her life Marti King Young escaped the womb with stories to tell Her work has not only been featured in magazines but also used to create motion pictures She lives with her family in Nashville Tennessee

When water softeners are not soft anymore, the fix doesn’t have to cost an outrageous amount. 

How water softeners work: Fresh water enters and exits through the resin tank. As it does this, the hardness is removed by the mineral content within the water, bonding to countless resin beads. When the fresh water is stopped, the softener recharges, and the salty water from the brine tank is dragged down into the resin tank. From there, the salty water dissolves the collected minerals and they are flushed away. 

When this does not happen, problems arise. But again, the cleaning does not have to utilize a stranger. 

Note: Make sure to have a bucket and screwdriver handy.

  • Check the settings. The timer must show the correct time so the resin tank cleans and recharges when there is no water usage. Also, ensure the water hardness is at the appropriate setting as well. 
  • Set water supply to “bypass”. 
  • Check the brine tank. Rock salt contains impurities that clog softeners, so that could be the culprit. Using rock salt is not recommended and is terrible for water softeners. 
  • Look for salt domes or bridges. They block salt from getting to the tank bottom, which results in the resin bed not being cleaned, so the water doesn’t get softened. Use a tool to break up these salt patches.
  • Search for a paste of salt sludge at the brine bottom.  This compromises the salinity of the brine solution due to its aversion to dissolving. Remove the sludge. On a good note, this mush usually occurs once a year, or when salt levels are particularly low. 
  • Locate the brine well tube and dilute the resin cleaner per the instructions on its package.
  • Pour the cleaner carefully into the tube.
  • Remove the brine valve assembly or air check valve, depending on the make and model of the water softener.  
  • Thoroughly cleanse it with warm water. (Check and cleanse resin beds bi-annually with a good resin bed cleaner, an easy purchase from any water softener dealer.)
  • Identify the venturi assembly and filter screen.
  • Remove the cap covering the assembly and remove the parts.
  • Check the screen carefully for sediment clogs. Because the salt water flows from the brine tank through these parts to the resin tank, if the nozzle or screen gets clogged, the water will remain hard due to the resin bed being unable to clean the water effectively. 

Once the brine valve assemply or air check valve has been cleaned, and all sediment has been removed and the nozzles are clear, replace everything and turn the water softener back on. In order to flush out any remaining hard water in the system, run hot water for five minutes.  

To ensure that the softener is working properly, take a small sample to a water softener dealer to test the water hardness levels. Then, check the softener settings against their findings. If the results match, the cleaning has been successful and money has been saved. 

However, if the water softener is over twenty years old, and these fixes do not work, the answer may very well be to purchase a replacement. Replacements can cost anywhere from $525 and higher. 

Money saving for compact water softeners

Written By: Christen Orth

A compact water softener is a lower capacity softener that can be an option for those who have smaller homes. A compact water softener is designed to use salt to counteract the effects of hard water. Someone looking to purchase a new softener should first consider their needs in regards to hard water. There are some saltless options, but for most these will not take care of their needs if there is very hard water or high water usage. For those looking to save a little bit of money and still get the right softener for their household, there are a few different things to consider during the buying process.

Proper evaluation

The first step to buying a compact water softening system is to make sure that a test is done to measure the hardness of the water and also to accurately evaluate the household water usage. Knowing exactly what is required from the water softening system can save money over time. Paying half the price for half the capacity will only land someone in a situation where they will be unhappy with what they have bought, and end up purchasing a different and more expensive water softener.

Do not settle

A new compact water softener can cost over $1000, and should be looked at as an investment for the household. When choosing a new softener get at least two different price quotes from highly recognized companies. Doing this will ensure getting the best price. Also, if the softener is sold by an established company it will give peace of mind that the softener is high quality.

Buy, do not lease

Leasing a water softener might seem like a good option to save money, but in the long run it will cost considerably more per year. The average person will spend $150 per year on supplies for their softener, but leasing a water softener could cost $180 or more per year.


One of the easiest ways to save money when buying a new compact water softener is for people to install it themselves. However, most will not be knowledgeable enough about plumbing to complete this task on their own. In order to save on the cost of installation homeowners should ask the plumber or service person if there will be any prep needed before they come for the install. Easy access to the install site can cut down on the time it will take to install the softener, which in turn reduces the cost of the overall installation.

Purchasing a new compact water softener is a big investment for any home. Buying from a trusted and well-known brand and knowing the water softening needs of the household will ensure that the softener purchased will be a solid investment. It can seem like a lot of money up front, and leasing a softener can seem cheaper when you see the monthly payments. However, over time it will cost more to lease a softener than to purchase one outright. After pricing out a few softeners and deciding on the right one, make sure to evaluate the installation needs. Saving money on a new compact water softener is all about doing the research and taking time during the decision making process.

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