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5 Signs Your Water Softener Isn’t Working Properly

In Edmonton, we’re big fans of water softeners. Our prairie water is hard, meaning it has a high amount of minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium) in it. Hard water isn’t bad for our health, but life is a little brighter with a water softener.

5 Reasons Water Softeners are Good for Your Home

But lately, you’ve suspected that something is wrong with you water softener. Since water hardness is a subtle part of life, it can be hard to tell. So, here are some signs that your water softener isn’t working properly.

1. Your skin feels “squeaky” after you wash it

When your water softener isn’t working, you’ll feel the effects of hard water on your skin. The calcium and magnesium in hard water can leave a film on your skin, making it feel sticky, dry, and itchy. With soft water, your skin should feel healthy and soaps will lather easily.

2. You’re seeing signs of hard water

Other signs of hard water will start to pop up is your water softener isn’t working. Since it’s not as obvious as the feeling of the water on your skin, you might have a hard time noticing these more subtle signs:

  • Stiff clothes
  • Water spots
  • Crusty buildup around your pipes and faucets
  • Soap refuses to lather

If you’re seeing these signs, you can confirm that your water isn’t being softened with a test. Water hardness test kits are sold at hardware and pet stores (in aquarium supplies). Test both the outgoing and incoming water to see how well the softener is working, if at all.

**Tip: Don’t test with a pool strip. Pool strips test for the water’s pH or how alkaline or basic water is, which isn’t the same thing as water hardness. That said, hard water is usually higher in pH and basic water is usually lower.**

3. The water tastes salty

If there’s too much salt in your water softener, you might see a thin, salty film left on the inside of the dishwasher or on faucets. Or it might actually taste salty.

To fix this, the softener may need to be cleaned and then refilled with salt. There are lots of different types of water softeners out there, so check your manufacturer’s guide or website to see how to clean yours. Here’s a general guide for cleaning water softeners.

Once it’s clean, check the salt settings against the current hardness of your water.

Salty water could also mean you have a jammed control or valve in your system, but it never hurts to give your appliances a cleaning every year or so.

4. Your brine tank is out of salt

This is actually the most common water softener problems, not enough salt. Just mark it on your calendar or set yourself a reminder to check the salt level once a month. You’d be surprised how many people will think their softener is broken only to lift the lid and see that it’s just out of salt. Most need to be at least half full of salt.

If the salt is less than half full and looks dry, refill it until it’s about ⅔ full (refer to your manufacturer’s guide for specifics). Those bags are pretty heavy, so be careful when you’re pouring so that you don’t over fill it (or get salt everywhere).

5. Your water softener is not working at all

If your water softener isn’t working at all, the problem could be with the electrical (wires, fuses, the plug-in), or it could mean important parts have worn out. Like all appliances, things wear out or break over time. Eventually your water softener’s life will come to an end.

After ruling out minor issues like being out of salt or needing a cleaning, it could be time to call a pro. Kingstree Plumbing can service or repair your water softener. If it comes down to it, we can even recommend a new water softener and install it for you, giving you the best settings for your home.

So if you have a water softener, look out for these signs that it’s not working and have it fixed right away.

Give us a call at 587-410-3554 or send us a message with your water softener questions and a free quote today!

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