Water Softener: No soft water

An empty salt tank, salt bridge, depleted resin, clogged or damaged venturi, broken rotor position switch or failed timer can prevent the water softener from producing soft water.

If your skin doesn't feel slick after taking a shower, that's a good sign you don't have soft water. You can check water hardness using the method shown in our how to check water hardness video.

If your water is hard, check the salt tank first. Fill the tank with salt if it's empty. If the tank has salt, but the salt level hasn't changed in several months, the salt pellets may have caked up and formed a salt bridge inside the tank. An empty space forms under the salt bridge, preventing brine production. Without brine, the resin filter won't regenerate and water won't get softened. If you find a salt bridge in the salt tank, carefully use a broom handle to break up the salt bridge. The salt from the bridge will fall to the bottom of the tank and mix with the tank water to make brine and regenerate the resin beads so you'll start getting soft water again.

Resin lasts about 10 to 15 years; it eventually loses its ability to attract hard salt ions. If the regeneration cycle works but output water is still hard and your resin is older than 10 years, then you'll likely need to replace the resin.

The venturi sends brine from the salt tank to the resin filter tank to regenerate the resin beads. A clogged or damaged venturi can cause hard water because the venturi can't move the brine water into the resin filter tank. Clean or replace the venturi if brine water level in the salt tank doesn't go down during regeneration.

A failed rotor position switch or bad timer can also cause hard water output from the water softener. If the rotor position switch fails, the timer will display an error code and won't initiate the regeneration cycle. Check the rotor position switch using the diagnostic test cycle described in your owner's manual. Replace the rotor position switch if it doesn't work. If the timer fails to respond when you initiate the diagnostic test cycle, you'll likely need to replace the timer.

water softener

These repairs may help solve your water softener problem

Replace the water softener venturi

Replace the water softener venturi

The venturi creates a vacuum that draws brine water from the salt tank into the resin tank for regenerating the resin filter. A damaged venturi won't draw brine into the resin tank. Replace the venturi if it's damaged.

January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener venturi

If your water softener leaks at the bottom of the brine tank, or if the tank is overflowing, it could be the venturi is clogged or damaged. This DIY repair guide and video show to how to replace a water softener venturi in 15 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Clean the water softener venturi

Clean the water softener venturi

The venturi draws brine water into the resin tank to regenerate the resin filter. A dirty venturi won't draw brine water into the resin tank. Clean the venturi periodically to maintain steady brine flow into the resin tank for regenerating the resin filter.

January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener venturi

If your water softener leaks at the bottom of the brine tank, or if the tank is overflowing, it could be the venturi is clogged or damaged. This DIY repair guide and video show to how to replace a water softener venturi in 15 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water softener timer

Replace the water softener timer

The timer is an electronic control board that lets you program the water softener. The timer also controls the functions such as water softening and flushing the resin filter. Replace the timer if it fails to control the water softener's functions.

January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener timer

If your water softener control panel does nothing when you press a button, or if the control panel won't come on at all, the timer might be broken. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a water softener timer in just 15 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water softener rotor position switch

Replace the water softener rotor position switch

The timer uses the rotor position switch to monitor the position of the valve rotor. If the rotor position switch is defective, the valve motor runs continuously because the timer can't detect the position of the valve rotor. Replace the rotor position switch if the valve motor runs continuously.

How to replace a water softener rotor position switch

If your water softener sounds like it's constantly running or trying to regenerate, the rotor position switch could be broken. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace a water softener rotor position switch in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the water softener resin beads

Replace the water softener resin beads

As the water flows through the resin tank, resin beads act as magnets to attract and remove the hard water minerals that make the water hard. Resin beads last for about 10 years before losing effectiveness. Replace the resin beads every 10 years or when you notice that the water softener no longer softens water despite preventive maintenance and system troubleshooting.

Symptoms for water softeners

Choose a symptom to see related water softener repairs.

Main causes: broken resin tank screen, bad resin tank seals, cracked upper distributor in resin tank
Main causes: faulty brine valve assembly, bad rotor valve
Main causes: clogged drain hose, faulty rotor valve, leaky rotor valve seals
Main causes: lack of electrical power, bad power transformer, faulty timer
Main causes: loose water line connections, cracked water-carrying components, bad rotor valve seals
Main causes: empty salt tank, salt bridge, depleted resin, clogged or damaged venturi, broken rotor position switch, failed timer
Main causes: salt bridge inside the salt tank, bad timer, valve motor failure, faulty rotor valve, clogged venturi
Main causes: broken water flow meter, faulty timer, water flow to softener is bypassed
Repair guides for water softeners

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your water softener.

How to replace a water softener rotor position switch

The rotor position switch detects the position of the valve rotor. If the rotor position switch fails, follow these steps to replace it in about half an hour.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener venturi

The venturi draws brine water from the salt tank to the resin tank for regeneration. Follow these steps to replace a damaged venturi.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener valve motor

The valve motor rotates the valve rotor to operate the water softener. If the valve motor fails, follow these steps to replace the valve motor.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Articles and videos for water softeners

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your water softener.

February 1, 2018
How to read a wiring schematic video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how to decipher symbols so you can buy the right part for your problem.

January 20, 2015
Water softener common questions
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about water softener repairs.

January 20, 2015
How a water softener works
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how a water softener works to provide your home with soft water.