• September 08, 2022 6 min read

    Can I Just Turn Off My Water Softener?

    turn off water softener

    If you already have a water softener installed, you might wonder why you’d ever want to “turn it off.” Soft water is great for your indoor chores because it helps certain appliances run more efficiently. But that doesn’t mean you need to use soft water outside, too. In fact, that bypass valve can be pretty handy this time of year—whether you have water softener repair issues, or not! What should you do with your water softener to prepare it for while you are away?

    If you are thinking of turning off the water softener while on vacation, it's a good idea. You might turn off the water, as well, to eliminate the possibility of leaks. Turn the valves to bypass as a first step, then cut off the water to the house. You can usually do this with a valve near the water meter. At this point, unplug the water softener and you are good to go.

    A metered water softener will not regenerate when no water is used. A timed water softener will regenerate when it’s pre-set time says to. When leaving your home for an extended period, you should bypass your water softener and unplug it if it regenerates based on time and not usage.

    How do I turn off the water supply to my water softener?

    Your water softener has three different modes: Service, regeneration and bypass. When it is in the service mode, the water softener is working as intended, softening the water in your home. When the machine is in the regeneration mode, it is essentially recharging itself for the next service period. Finally, if you adjust it into the bypass mode, the water softener action is no longer at work, and the machine permits untreated hard water to run through your faucets when they are open.

    Bypassing your water softener simply means that you are diverting the water from flowing through the water softener and instead the water will flow from the ingoing pipe, straight to the outgoing pipe.

    Since most water softeners meter your water usage to determine when they should regenerate, putting your system in bypass mode will stop your water softener from metering any water, and therefore the system will not regenerate unless it has an override feature.

    Many digital water softeners will have an override feature so that even if you do not use any water, the system will regenerate once a certain amount of time has passed.

    This feature is to help keep your water softeners resin clean when there is little to no water being used.

    There are many digital systems that have this “override” feature, it can often be shut off quite easily if you are going to be away for an extended period of time. Check your water softeners' manufactureres manual or contact your water treatment professional for details.

    How to put the water softener into Bypass mode

    Using the water softener bypass valve — sometimes called the water softener shut off valve — means that the water softening function of your appliance will be turned off. This allows regular water to flow into your bathroom and kitchen, rather than softened water. To accomplish this, trace the hoses in the back of the water softener to where they connect with the copper water pipes. You'll find three valves there that turn one way for soft water and the other way for bypass. Usually, they are marked with arrows indicating which way to turn for which result.

    Turn all three valves in the direction of bypass, if that is marked. If only "soft" is marked, turn all three valves in the opposite direction of the SOFT arrow. At this point, your appliance is in bypass mode. That means that ordinary hard water will flow to the property.

    Using the bypass valve is easy when you know what to check. First, just look for the set of pipes that connect to your water softener. (One pipe brings water into the unit so it can be softened. The other pipe sends the soft water into your home.) Next, locate the third pipe between the inlet and outlet pipes—that’s your bypass valve. It should have a knob or a handle that you can twist to open the bypass setting.

    Why would I need to turn off my water softener?

    Reasons to Bypass Your Water Softener

    There are a couple good reasons for using your unit’s bypass valve. During the summer months, it can be a great tool for making your water softener more efficient. If your unit treats all incoming water, you can save some money on softener salt by using the bypass valve when you run you’ll be using a lot of water outside. Since you don’t necessarily need to use soft water for your landscaping and yard work, the bypass setting can give your system a break without limiting your water usage.

    You’ll still have all the water you need for watering your lawn, plants, new trees, and anything else in the garden when you open your bypass valve. Just put the valves back in their normal position when you’re finished so your indoor water will stay soft. Only using softener salt when you need it can be a really nifty trick for boosting your unit’s efficiency!

    The other reason to use your bypass valve is for water softener repair services. If your unit is acting up and you’re not sure why, you don’t have to go straight to your main water line—just use your bypass valve. That way, you can still get water into your home. The bypass valve is important because it can prevent problems from getting worse. (Especially for leaks!) If you direct water away from your unit, then you can help keep any issues in check until a water softener repair expert can help you out.

    Do I need to un-plug my water softener when I go on vacation?

    If your water softener is non-digital and regenerates based on a pre-set day schedule, the simplest way to stop it from regenerating is to simply unplug it from its outlet. If you decide to un-plugging it, you will have to reset the time clock when you plug it back in.

    Digital water softeners often have a battery back-up in them to save your water hardness and other program settings, but if you are going away for an extended period of time, you may have to re-program the hardness and clock when you plug the system back in

    Before un-plugging, a digital, check your owners manual to access your water softeners programming and write down the programmed hardness and any other setting that you will need to re-program when you plug the water softener back in.

    What should I do to my water softener when I get back?

    For the most part, you shouldn’t have to do much of anything when you get back from your vacation.

    If you bypassed your water softener before leaving on vacation, I recommend turning the water to the house on first and running an upper-level sink for a few minutes to eliminate any air in the line.

    After the water is back on and running well, take your water softener out of bypass mode, and run more water through the same sink faucet until you can feel that it is soft.

    If your not sure that your water is soft, you can check it with a simple do it yourself water test kit.

    Plugging your water softener back in, this is a great time to add a surge protector if you haven’t already.

    Once you have plugged your water softener back in, you may have to reset a few things:

    ReSetting your clock:

    A non-digital water softener will often have a wheel with the hours of the day on it with a button that you push in to allow the wheel to rotate.

    BTurn the wheel so that the correct time of day is indicated by the arrow or dot that says the time of day by it.

    Most digital display water softener clocks are as easy to set as an ordinary clock radio. Pressing the clock button and up or down to set the hour, press clock again and up or down for the minutes and you should be done.

    Setting your hardness:

    On a non-digital water softener, the hardness should not have to be reset as it should not have been changed due to the water softener being unplugged.

    A digital water softener may require re-setting of your water hardness and other settings that you made note of before unplugging it. It is usually quite easy to re-program a water softener, just take it one step at a time, and you should be done in just a few minutes.

    Bottom Line

    For more information your water softener system, please give us a call today. We’d be happy to give your unit a review, so you can get back to having great water quality everywhere in your home!