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Water softener has not been using salt lately

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  • Oct 25th, 2017 9:19 am
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9431 posts
917 upvotes

Water softener has not been using salt lately

I notice the water softener has not been using salt lately. People told me it is probably salt bridge formed inside and asked me to stir it with a stick, also pour in hot water. I did that last month but didn't seem to help. So, I empty the entire brine tank. What am I supposed to do next ? Can I reuse those salt taken out earlier ? I notice some of those salt no longer gravel size but like sand though, is it ok to put that in ? I just don't want to mess up the step and have to redo again as it is very time consuming and took lot of effort to empty the tank.

I am curious what would the water softener company do if I call them for this type of service. It took me a couple of hours to take all salt out and raise the tank. I doubt they would spend that much time on this type of service call. Would they usually just replace the tank and charge new tank fee ? But still I bet they need to empty the tank before moving it out of basement. Any clue ? By the way, I thought water softener is low maintenance. How do we prevent this from happening?

Thanks for any help and advice.
44 replies
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12664 posts
7333 upvotes
Brampton
You probably have mushing somewhere near the bottom you can flush the system out and add some "rinse aid" to help break up the mush and flush it out. I'm calling it rinse aid but basically its just a softener maintenance wash substance. You can find it at Home Depot. Either that or your resin bead needs to be replaced
Sr. Member
Mar 19, 2013
697 posts
212 upvotes
Prince Albert, Sask.
I suggest find out what make & model your softener is. From there you can do some online research, help you troubleshoot. My softener is a Fleck 5600SXT and there is a wealth if information on the internet. For the most part softners are simple machines. Some basic mechanical skills, simple tools & some information, you can solve the problem.

As for the salt you have removed, as long as it is clean you can use it. The brine (salt) tank is designed to create a salt brine (slurry). There must be water in the brine tank to make brine. Depending on how many pounds of salt your softner uses for a regeneration determines how much water should be in the tank. For example my softner uses 6 lbs. of salt per regeneration, one gallon of water will dissolve 3lbs. of salt, so I need a least 2 gallons of water in my brine tank.

Is the softner doing its regeneration cycle? If so, not using salt, something may be plugged. I would suggest starting at the brine source, work your way to the control valve. Clean & inspect. Not that difficult.

I used to fill my brine tank to the brim with salt (300lbs.). Now maybe 3 bags at a time. This will help with salt bridge problems & if I need to empty the tank for maintenance, less salt to take out. Also I can see how much water is in the tank.

If you can give us the make & model of your softner, I will try and help you.
Deal Expert
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Dec 12, 2009
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Toronto
The brand of salt is important. Windsor system saver II is good. It's readily available at Wal-Mart at a good price.
Deal Addict
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Jul 15, 2003
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Ontario, Canada
I cleaned out my tank after 15 years and had a small bucketload of crusty and dirty salt mush. I use it to make concentrated salt water that i pour between the patio stones to kill weeds.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9431 posts
917 upvotes
Just an update. I cleaned the brink tank and put a brand new bag of salt in there. After two weeks, I don't see the salt bridge now. But how do I know if the system is working ? By the way, am I supposed to see any water in the brink tank (which I used to) ? I tried moving the salt pallets inside and they are pretty dry now. Thanks for any advice.
Deal Expert
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Dec 12, 2009
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rdx wrote: Just an update. I cleaned the brink tank and put a brand new bag of salt in there. After two weeks, I don't see the salt bridge now. But how do I know if the system is working ? By the way, am I supposed to see any water in the brink tank (which I used to) ? I tried moving the salt pallets inside and they are pretty dry now. Thanks for any advice.
Does your system report on when regeneration is required and is the salt being consumed? My system reports time to next regeneration in % value counting down from 100% after a regeneration to 0%. The regeneration cycles are about every 2 weeks and there is a noticeable movement in the salt pile after each regeneration. I usually fill 2 bags at a time so, the tank is not filled to the gills with salt.
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Nov 19, 2004
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Cambridge, ON
rdx wrote: Just an update. I cleaned the brink tank and put a brand new bag of salt in there. After two weeks, I don't see the salt bridge now. But how do I know if the system is working ? By the way, am I supposed to see any water in the brink tank (which I used to) ? I tried moving the salt pallets inside and they are pretty dry now. Thanks for any advice.
Trigger a regenerate manually and see what happens.

There should be some water in the brine tank. Depends on the system, but 4-6 inches.
Sr. Member
Mar 19, 2013
697 posts
212 upvotes
Prince Albert, Sask.
rdx wrote: Just an update. I cleaned the brink tank and put a brand new bag of salt in there. After two weeks, I don't see the salt bridge now. But how do I know if the system is working ? By the way, am I supposed to see any water in the brink tank (which I used to) ? I tried moving the salt pallets inside and they are pretty dry now. Thanks for any advice.
You need to test your water. You can get a Hach 5B test kit to test the water for softness. It costs $25-$30. Easy to use and highly recommended by the pros. Very accurate, the kit will do 100 plus tests.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9431 posts
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will888 wrote: Does your system report on when regeneration is required and is the salt being consumed? My system reports time to next regeneration in % value counting down from 100% after a regeneration to 0%. The regeneration cycles are about every 2 weeks and there is a noticeable movement in the salt pile after each regeneration. I usually fill 2 bags at a time so, the tank is not filled to the gills with salt.
Mine is an old style machine, This is what I see from the control unit. By the way, I have been using this setting from day one before we have kids. Should I change any settings now with 2 adults and 2 kids ? And if the machine is really not working, how easy to hook up a Costco water softener with the existing piping ?

Image
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9431 posts
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jackrabbit000 wrote: This is what I use. I buy it at Home Depot.
I use the same, which is available in most stores like Walmart, Costco and Canadian Tire
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Feb 8, 2014
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rdx wrote: Just an update. I cleaned the brink tank and put a brand new bag of salt in there. After two weeks, I don't see the salt bridge now. But how do I know if the system is working ? By the way, am I supposed to see any water in the brink tank (which I used to) ? I tried moving the salt pallets inside and they are pretty dry now. Thanks for any advice.
So lets see
water softener not using salt
no ability to detect its not working

The conclusion is obvious, your water softener has evolved to a point where it does not need salt to give you the water you want Smiling Face With Open Mouth
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9431 posts
917 upvotes
Another two months has passed, just an update. Salt at the same level and not wet at all. I guess the unit is definitely malfunctioning. Since it is almost 10 years old, I wonder if I should fix it at all.
I wonder if I should just replace it with the Costco unit. Do I need an installer to replace or I can simply reconnect it to the existing hoses

Thanks for any advice.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
35175 posts
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East Gwillimbury
rdx wrote: Another two months has passed, just an update. Salt at the same level and not wet at all. I guess the unit is definitely malfunctioning. Since it is almost 10 years old, I wonder if I should fix it at all.
I wonder if I should just replace it with the Costco unit. Do I need an installer to replace or I can simply reconnect it to the existing hoses

Thanks for any advice.
You should be able to replace it yourself. It is just two pipes. One intake and one out. The only concern is the length.

You got 10 good years out of it. It's time to replace it. I would consider a better unit like the Kinetico which you can find at Costco.

The dealer that installed my unit is offering a slightly used unit for $2800 installed with the balance of the remaining warranty.
Deal Expert
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Dec 12, 2009
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Gee wrote: You should be able to replace it yourself. It is just two pipes. One intake and one out. The only concern is the length.

You got 10 good years out of it. It's time to replace it. I would consider a better unit like the Kinetico which you can find at Costco.

The dealer that installed my unit is offering a slightly used unit for $2800 installed with the balance of the remaining warranty.
Is that how much a replacement unit costs these days. I spent less than half this amount 10 years ago for a Culligan which I thought to be over priced. A friend was am agent, so it was more or less a favor. So far the only thing that is not working is the panel light which is totally unnecessary. I hope I never have to replace it.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
35175 posts
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East Gwillimbury
will888 wrote: Is that how much a replacement unit costs these days. I spent less than half this amount 10 years ago for a Culligan which I thought to be over priced. A friend was am agent, so it was more or less a favor. So far the only thing that is not working is the panel light which is totally unnecessary. I hope I never have to replace it.
You can get cheap water softener for $1200 - $1400

A Culligan unit should set you back $2500 - $3000

A Kinetico unit will cost between $4000 - $7000

You got a good deal on the Culligan.
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rdx wrote: Another two months has passed, just an update. Salt at the same level and not wet at all. I guess the unit is definitely malfunctioning. Since it is almost 10 years old, I wonder if I should fix it at all.
I wonder if I should just replace it with the Costco unit. Do I need an installer to replace or I can simply reconnect it to the existing hoses

Thanks for any advice.
If you can't tell without checking then the water meets your needs, why do you need to fix it at all?
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
Jr. Member
Apr 17, 2016
103 posts
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Wouldn't replacing the unit be pretty plug and play? If the previous one was copper sweated, couldn't you just cut it off, shark bite a flex hose on the inlet and outlet and re-ground?
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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Quentin5 wrote: If you can't tell without checking then the water meets your needs, why do you need to fix it at all?
Most people don't know the difference or the benefits of soft water. As far as they're concerned, it just has to be wet.

But soft water will prevent lime scale in your shower glass and tile
Requires less soap when doing laundry
Will not clog your drains, pipes and shower heads with mineral deposits.
Reduce or eliminate sediment in your hot water tank.
Will not produce mineral flakes (white snow) when using a humidifier
Pots, pans and dishes etc
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Gee wrote: Most people don't know the difference or the benefits of soft water. As far as they're concerned, it just has to be wet.
True
But soft water will prevent lime scale in your shower glass and tile
It should
Requires less soap when doing laundry
How will you know how much less to use (and can you cut a pod)?
People have told me they save money, the salt plus extra water usage plus electricity will cost more then the soap savings
Will not clog your drains, pipes and shower heads with mineral deposits.

I don't think most drain clogs are from water minerals, but shower heads yes
Reduce or eliminate sediment in your hot water tank.

According to several manuals i read when researching hot water tanks they say it will rust the tank faster so you must change the anode more frequently or live with shorter life
Will not produce mineral flakes (white snow) when using a humidifier
Not sure on this, you would in theory get salt deposits instead of calcium/magnesium. This should be easier to remove mind you.

The OP had to check if its working instead of having problems, so i stand by my advice of if you don't have a problem why spend big bucks to fix it?
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people

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