Your water softener might be one of the most important appliances in your home. Water quality is directly related to water hardness, water hardness levels can vary depending on your water’s source, and water softeners are designed to remove the calcium and magnesium ions that make water hard.
When a water softener runs out of salt, it doesn’t work as well – which means you’re risking stains on your clothes, dishes that don’t come clean, soap scum in your shower, or bathtub drains that won’t go away.
- What is a water softener?
- What a water softener salts do
- Iron and other minerals can get into the water softener control valve
- You may suffer from etching on glassware such as shower cubicles
- The brine float in the brine tank may not shut off the water
- Five ways to make sure you never run out of water softener salt and keep getting soft water
- Eight ways you can avoid running out of salt in your water softener
What is a water softener?
A water softener usually has three main components: Body, Tank, and Control valve.
The water softener body contains the wire mesh water softener, water flow meter, and water pressure switches.
The water flows to the water softener body through incoming water pipes causing these components to start working. A water softener’s salt tank is usually located above the water softener body which allows for easy access when adding salt to your water softener.
Finally, the control valve regulates water flow to the water softener. When water hardens, it becomes difficult to get off of the water fixtures and out of clothes during laundry. With water softeners, water is able to wash away minerals that are found in water.
Hard water causes plumbing problems but soft water helps prevent this from happening. Control valves can get clogged with mineral deposits and water pipes can build up limescale. Hard water causes water deposits and reduces water flow through water fixtures and water appliances. Hard water also causes water spots on surfaces surrounding water fixtures such as sinks, faucets, and bathtubs.
Have you ever wondered where the phrase ‘hard water’ comes from? Hardness in water is caused by water dissolving in water mixed with calcium, magnesium, or other dissolved minerals.
What a water softener salts do
Water softener salt can be used to reduce water hardness and insoluble mineral deposits (e.g. calcium and magnesium minerals). It’s not good for water softeners to run out of salt, as it can lead to water that is too hard or water with iron in it.
When water softeners don’t have enough water softener salt, they may leave permanent etching on your shower door and glassware. You might also see rust or scale build-up inside water pipes and water fixtures.
If this happens, the brine float will not stop the water from filling your brine tank and cause a potential overflow. You may see this process called ion exchange and it means exchanging hard water causing ions with sodium ions.
Most softeners use water softening resin, resin beads, and other materials to make sure the brine tank runs efficiently, creating soft water.
Iron and other minerals can get into the water softener control valve
Running out of salt in your water softener may lead to iron in your water from hard minerals and iron.
The water softener control valve found on water softeners treats water by removing calcium and magnesium from water and replacing it with salt. When the water softener runs out of salt, hard minerals and iron can get into the water softener control valve and flow through your water supply. The problem occurs when you still use water coming from your faucet and water heater and water that goes to your water softener.
Water that flows into the water softener control valve is treated with salt, but the water that comes from other sources like water faucets and water heaters should not be used because there aren’t any other chemicals in the water as a replacement for salt. Iron can cause water to taste and smell bad and also stain water heaters, water faucets, and other water supply components. Iron can cause water problems such as noxious odors or brown water that makes the water undrinkable. Iron may also clog water appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
To prevent this problem from occurring, you should routinely replace water softener salt and test the water supply for water contaminants. This water softener control valve problem is very common among water softeners. It can easily be prevented by replacing salt in your water softener regularly and testing the water to make sure there are no other water problems such as iron or other nasty chemicals like chlorine.
You may suffer from etching on glassware such as shower cubicles
Permanent etching on your shower door and water glassware can be caused by running out of salt in your water softener. When water softeners are used for water conditioning, they are designed to remove calcium and magnesium ions from water. If the water softener runs out of salt before normal water usage has regenerated it, all the water that is consumed will have high levels of salt dissolved in it. This high concentration of dissolved salt will leave deposits behind on any surfaces where it may come into contact due to water evaporation or human contact.
Some people do not consider this permanent scarring as a big deal because they figure that stains are common on surfaces near water sources, but these are typically just minerals that are mixed with water and can evaporate if left alone for a while. When water softeners run out of salt, the water is going to be high in dissolved salt which will leave behind permanent etching on surfaces that it comes into contact with because water evaporation does not take place. Make sure you don’t have to deal with the consequence of a water heating system or water softener running out of salt.
The brine float in the brine tank may not shut off the water
If water is being added to your water softener and the salt running out, the float in your salt tank may not turn off the water from filling up your brine tank. The water will continue to fill the brine tank, wasting water and salt. If water is not turned off in your water softener, the water will overflow into the rest of the house.
If water is running, you should immediately try to find where water is leaking. The water leak could be coming from a place like below ground or it could be coming out of one of your sinks or showers. It may take water out of your water softener (if water is already running), but water will likely take water out of other areas in your home too. Therefore, it is important to find where water is leaking so that you can quickly mitigate the water damage.
Your brine float may not be set properly if water is still filling up your brine tank. If water is still filling up your brine tank after your water softener runs out of salt, you should contact a water softener specialist for help or investigate the brine solution yourself. In the meantime, you may want to reduce water usage in your home until this issue can get fixed.
Five ways to make sure you never run out of water softener salt and keep getting soft water
1. Water Softener Installation
if you’re installing a water softener for the first time, be sure that you purchase enough salt and water softener salt for your water softener. If you’ve had your water softener for a while and haven’t checked the water softener salt levels in a while, now may be a good time to change it. You can usually bypass this by opening up the water softener and adding more salt
2. Water softeners with a potassium chloride solution
one way to make sure that your water does not run out of salt is to have a water system that uses potassium chloride as its water-softening agent. Potassium chloride catches onto extra calcium dissolved in the water which replaces the water-softening salt that has gone down the drain.
3. Water Softener salt
water softening salt should be tested at least once per year or more often if you suspect that the water is not going through the water softener efficiently. This water test will ensure that your water softener is still working properly and also ensure that there are no leaks. Salt Water systems should also be tested for salt levels at least once a year, or more often if you notice that the softener is struggling.
4. Water Softener salt delivery
water softening salt can also be delivered to your home on a regular basis if you prefer to have someone else do the work, or if you would rather not do it yourself. This water should only be used for water softeners and not for other uses because it could cause water problems in water pipes, water heaters, or water fountains. Another water softening salt delivery service is to have a water softening salt dropped off at your home in bulk if you prefer this method of purchasing water softener salt.
5. Create a habit of maintaining the brine tank
a great way to ensure you never run out of water softener salt is to create the habit of checking and refilling the brine tank. Whether this means setting a reminder on your phone, writing it down on the calendar, or making it a task for the kids to do, it is all about creating a habit that lasts.
Eight ways you can avoid running out of salt in your water softener
1) Keep an eye on how much salt you have left
Usually, there will be warnings before it runs out, so you don’t need to worry too much! However, it is always best to keep an eye on it by regularly checking the system in case the warning light or panel doesn’t work effectively.
2) Change your Water Softener salt on a regular basis
Depending on when you have last changed the water softener salt, an experienced water softener company can change your water softener salt before it’s too late. However, it is relatively simple to do at home so most people will be able to do a “Do-it-yourself” installation.
3) Don’t overfill your water softener salt tank
Be smart about how much water is in your water softener so you don’t run out! In the same way that failing to maintain a softener is bad for the system, so is overfilling the salt tank. Always follow the instructions set by the manufacturer.
4) Be Prepared
Find out when water softener salt delivery day is and be prepared for water softener salt delivery
You should always know when water softener salt is delivered and keep water softener salt on hand just in case!
5) Check your local water mineral content
If you live in an area that has water with high mineral content, water softeners won’t last as long as those who live in areas of water with low mineral content. It is worth getting a report from the local water authority or perform a home test to find out the makeup of your water supply.
6) Learn the warning signs that your water softener is running out of salt
Monitor your water softener water level to get an idea of when you should refill it, and check the brine tank float switch too. Warning signs are not just about what the softener system tells you; it’s also about how the water looks, tastes and smells.
7) Use a Water Softener Water Test Kit if available
If you have a water softener water test kit, keep an eye on what water softener water test kit water shows. Water softener salt is good for water hardness, but too much salt can put your water softener system in danger.
8) Find out if your water softener has an auto shut-off feature.
Some water softeners have valves on them that will shut the water off to your water softener when it is out of salt. Find out if water softener water won’t work with no water softener salt! This is a fantastic safety net to have so always look for a system that offers this feature.
Thank you for reading our article on what happens when a water softener runs out of salt. The salt in your softener plays a fundamental role in providing you and your family with safe, clean drinking water, and neglecting this part of the system is a major problem.
We’ve put together all the information you need to make informed decisions about the best way to maintain your water softener, along with some of the risks involved in not maintaining it.
Please explore the rest of our water filter and water softener site for more information on all aspects of water filtration and water softening systems. We have created top product reviews and comparisons to help make the buying process easier and more effective. It is our mission to ensure every household has a clean, safe, and soft supply of water.