Is your water softener leaking? Don’t panic; the solution may be relatively simple. In this post, we’ll take a deep look at the most common causes of leaky water softeners. By the end, you should have a clear idea of what your next steps should be.
With some of these issues, you may be able to repair the softener yourself. With others, you’re better off calling a professional like those we have our water specialists at Aquatell.
What to do when your water softener starts leaking?
Before you attempt to diagnose the issue, you’ll want to stop the leaking and ensure a safe working environment
Before you do anything else, disconnect the unit’s power supply. If the leaking is severe, you may want to do this at the circuit breaker.
Next, you’ll need to disconnect the unit’s water supply. Turn off the water supply to the softener. If water is leaking/flooding into the home from a softener, the first step is to locate and turn off the water supply to that softener.
Water connections to the softener are made at the rear of unit and are usually visible. Locate the bypass valve. The bypass valve is usually white plastic and will have the water inlet/outlet supply lines connected. It is located at the top rear of the water softener. One end of the bypass valve has the words "push for bypass" printed on it. Push this in. This will allow the water to bypass the softener.
You typically need to push in on this valve to bypass the softener. In some cases, you may find that the bypass valve exists in the form of two knobs side by side on top of the valve head. You’ll want to turn these knobs to that they face each other. In other cases still, you may find that the bypass valve is on either side of the head. For these types of systems, you’ll also need to turn these knobs as directed in the owner’s manual or on the unit itself.Activating this valve will allow your water to bypass the softener, avoiding disruptions to appliances throughout your house. Note that the water reaching those appliances will be hard since you’re bypassing the softener altogether.
Some water softeners do not have a bypass valve. In this case, you’ll need to shut the water off by using the water supply line’s valve.
Why is my softener leaking?
Loose water line connections, cracked water-carrying components or worn rotor valve seals can cause water softener leaks. Tighten water line fittings if they leak. Check for cracks in the bypass valve assembly and replace it if it's cracked and leaking water.
Check the rotor valve for damaged and replace the rotor valve if it's cracked and leaking. If the rotor valve is okay but its seals leak water, replace the rotor valve seals.
1) Rotor Valve
If your water softener is leaking from the top, there are a few common culprits. One of these is the rotor valve. This valve is the source of water for the softener. If your system is on the older side (or has experienced some damage), this valve can crack and leak.
This valve also contains a seal. If you don’t notice any cracks on the valve itself, the seals inside may be damaged and to blame for the leak. In either scenario, you’ll need to contact a professional with access to replacement parts for your softener.
Replace the water softener rotor valve seal
The rotor valve seal on the bottom of the rotor valve prevents water from leaking out of the valve and allows water to flow through the proper opening at the bottom of the rotor valve.
2) O-Rings In Bypass Valve
Another potential cause of a water softener leaking from the top is defective bypass valve o-rings. As part of water softener maintenance, you occasionally need to have a professional lubricate these o-rings to keep them functional. As the system reaches the 20-year mark (which is how long softeners typically last) you may need to replace the o-rings altogether.
While most aspects of softener maintenance are DIY-friendly, you’ll need someone with access to the right parts and know-how to solve a bypass valve o-ring issue promptly.
Replace the water softener rotor valve
The rotor valve directs water through the water softener to complete functions such as softening water and flushing the resin filter. A defective valve leaks water or locks up and doesn't move. Replace the rotor valve if it leaks or it's damaged.
3) A Punctured Brine Tank
If your water softener is leaking from the bottom, it is almost certainly a brine tank issue. The brine tank is where you place salt. A water softener that’s leaking at the base is usually caused by an overly aggressive attempt to clear a salt bridge.
At American Home Water and Air, we’ve seen plenty of people puncture their brine tank by poking at a salt bridge too aggressively. Unfortunately, if your water softener brine tank is leaking, your best bet is going to be replacing the tank altogether. Certain types of epoxy may help contain the leak for a short time but you risk further damage and malfunctioning of the unit.
If you’re certain you didn’t cause damage to the tank yourself, contact the company that installed it for you. The issue may be covered under warranty.
4) Drain Line leaking
Now that we’ve covered a few of the primary causes for a water softener leaking from one of its tanks, let’s explore some of the hoses and pipes that connect to the unit.
You can usually find a water softener drain line running near the top of the unit or even further up. If your water softener is leaking from the drain line, this will be hard to miss or misdiagnose.
To solve this issue, call a water softener repair expert. They should be able to solve the issue by replacing the faulty plumbing.
Replace the water softener water flow meter
The water flow meter measures water usage. A defective water flow meter won't detect water flow. Replace the water flow meter if it won't detect water flow when water moves through the softener.
5) Water Softener Hose Leaking
If your water softener hose is leaking, you’ll be able to tell by looking at its connection to the top of the unit. If it’s come loose for some reason, solving the issue could be as simple as tightening the connection. As with all components, however, a water softener hose can wear down over time. If the hose itself (as opposed to its connection to the softener) is leaking, you will need to have it repaired or replaced by a professional.
Thankfully, this is a fairly simple operation. If you’re handy around the house, you may be able to do it yourself — after you’ve disconnected the unit’s electricity and water supplies.
When In Doubt, Call A Professional To Fix Your Water Softener Leak
There are many DIY-friendly aspects of owning and maintaining a water softener. Filling the brine tank, cleaning it, and even running manual regeneration are all things you can do on your own. When your water softener is leaking at the base, top, or from its connections, though, you need to have it dealt with professionally.
A leaking softener wastes water, costing you more. It also performs inefficiently, leaving your family without the quality water you deserve. Worse yet, leaking softener poses safety and electrical risks for the entire household.