Last updated - November 19th, 2021
A high-quality water softener can be beneficial for people living in areas with hard water. But what if your water softener recently started using too much salt? It can be quite annoying, especially if your model is new and of high quality. So, what causes your water softener to use more salt than before?
6 Possible Reasons Your Water Softener Uses Too Much Salt
Diagnosing why your water softener is using too much salt is actually not that difficult. There are a few possible issues to consider – let’s check them out.
1. Using More Water Than Before
Most water softeners are able to measure the amount of water used in homes and regenerate only as needed. However, if you currently live with more people than before, it could be the reason why your softener is using too much salt.
For example, if you have a guest staying with you, or if your child comes back from college, the amount of water that your home uses will be higher than before. The unexpected increase in water consumption can throw off the typical actions of your softener.
In most cases, the solution would be to buy a water softener that is able to work under a bigger load. On the other hand, if the guests will stay only for a couple of days, it won’t be necessary.
2. Running Toilets and Leaking Faucets
Alternatively, even if new guests aren’t consuming more water, there could be other sources of unexpected water use. For example, if your faucet is leaking, it might not seem like a big deal. However, during a single day, a leaky faucet can drip several gallons of water, which your water softener will register and thus regenerate more often.
If your faucet is not leaking, make sure to also check the toilet. A running toilet can consume even more water than a leaking faucet, leading to the same issues. You can learn how to stop the toilet from running on the following link (link to How to Stop Toilet from Running).
3. Recent Power Outage
If your water softener is programmable, it needs to be set according to the characteristics of your water. Basically, when you install it, you need to program it according to your water hardness and iron content.
Most models have a battery to retain the settings that you programmed. However, the battery won’t last forever. After a couple of years, the battery will no longer work, and if you have a power outage, your water softener will lose those settings.
Water softeners usually have a factory pre-set hardness of 20. If your water hardness is around 20, you won’t even notice that the settings have changed. However, if your water softener was set to 10, it will consume twice as much salt. Double-check that your softener is using the right settings, particularly if you’ve had a recent power outage.
4. Clogged Injector
If you are not familiar with it, an injector is the part of a water softener that creates a vacuum and draws brine from the salt tank. If it gets clogged, it won’t be able to create a strong vacuum and might leave water in the tank.
When the softener gets to the brine tank fill cycle, it puts a certain amount of water into the tank. If there is already water in the tank, the water level will be higher, allowing more salt to be dissolved.
However, this problem is easy to fix. Simply clean the injector with an iron cleaner, since there might be a buildup of minerals. Alternatively, injectors are very affordable, so if you’re not able to clean yours directly, you could purchase a new one. When you have a properly working injector, the water softener will use all of the brine and the amount of dissolved salt will return to normal.
5. Is the Clock Set Correctly?
If someone or something is consuming water elsewhere in your home when the water softener regenerates, the softener won’t have sufficient pressure to draw all of the brine. As mentioned above, if some of the brine isn’t used, it will cause the water softener to add water to the salt tank, resulting in extra salt being added to the overall solution
To avoid this issue, the water softener should be set to function at a time when there is no, or little water being used, like 2:00 AM. Make sure the softener’s clock is set to the correct time to avoid overlap with water usage while the softener regenerates.
6. Water Flowing Through the Control Valve
Most models have a control valve with a piston that controls the water flow, which allows the softener to run through its cycles. The piston moves through the seal, but over time, the seal can get worn. When this happens, the water will be able to run through the control valve constantly.
Unfortunately, even a small leak can waste several gallons of water each day, which can cause the water softener to regenerate more often. It’s not difficult to replace the piston and the seal, but if you are not experienced with DIY, you should call a plumber to help.
How to Reprogram Water Softeners
It’s quite simple to reprogram your water softener if the settings reset unexpectedly. First, you’ll want to buy a water hardness test kit and enter the hardness amount into the softener according to the instructions manual. If you think that your water has iron, then you should buy a complete water test kit.
After confirming water hardness, input the correct settings in your softener. The process is different for every model, but it shouldn’t be difficult – just check the user manual. For every 1 PPM of iron, you should add 4 to the amount of hardness, ensuring your water softener. It’s also recommended that you program your water softener for slightly higher hardness, so adding 20% to the final number should do the job.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the usage, you will need to refill the salt for your softener every 8 to 12 weeks.
The brine tank should never be filled with water. Even if 50% of the content in the brine tank is water, it can cause problems in the future. Check to ensure the brine tank is fully draining as expected to avoid issues like those discussed above.
As you can see, diagnosing problems with your water softener isn’t that difficult. Best of all, any replacement parts that you might need to buy are affordable and can be found in most stores. Also, in most cases, you can do everything on your own. We hope this article helps you diagnose and resolve any over-salting issues with your water softener.