Nothing can ruin your day more than a leak in the plumbing that you cannot find or figure out why it is happening. Plumbing and pipes are one of my least favorite things but understanding everything about them so they are not as intimidating is crucial to saving you time, money, and a headache.
Your water softener is no exception, and the more you know and understand about it, the better off you will be. Here are the different types of leaks you can expect, along with how to fix them.
Can A Water Softener Leak?
Yes, the water softener can leak. And depending on how big a leak, can be a serious problem. Anything that involves plumbing and water has a chance of leaking.
Whether it is at a connection point that did not have the right amount of Teflon tape, a pipe cracked for one reason or another, or an overflow of a tank, there are multiple ways that a water softener has a chance of leaking.
That is only a couple of ways that a water softener can leak through. There are many other ways because of all the different parts that are involved with water softeners and different system setups and installations.
How Can you Tell if You Water Softener is Leaking?
The easiest sign to tell if your water softener is leaking is water forming a puddle on the ground around where it is installed.
Another is potentially regeneration taking longer due to less water being available for it due to the water leak. Here are the different ways that it will leak and how to diagnose and solve them.
Common Water Softener Leaking – Reasons And Solutions
Water Softener Bypass Valve Leaking
You will know if the bypass valve is leaking because you will start to see some mineral deposits buildup around where the leak is on the valve.
If you have O-rings in the valve, they may need to be replaced, while some softeners come with kits for rebuilding your bypass valve on the off chance that it starts leaking or goes bad. The last option you have would be to just buy a new bypass valve.
Leaking Water Softener Resin Tank
You will know if you have a resin tank leak by either having a crack somewhere that is letting water drip out or at one of the connection lines that it has.
If it is the tank itself, check if you still have a warranty on it, and you can talk with the company that the warranty is with to replace the damaged one. If it is not under warranty anymore, you can turn off the water softener, clean and dry the tank, and then use a strong waterproof epoxy that handles salt well and applies it on the crack to seal it properly.
If it is at a connection point for the resin tank, see if tightening it works. If not, you can check the O-ring to make sure it is in proper working order and if not replace it.
Water Softener Drain Line Leaking
Drain lines can be installed improperly or overtime becomes blocked and crack or burst. Check to make sure that the drain line has the proper amount of air gap and was correctly installed.
If it was installed properly, then you will be able to rule the air gap out. If you notice a trickle of water following the drain line, follow it until it stops, that will be where the crack or issue begins.
You will need to check for blockage that may have caused the cracking or just replace the drain line altogether. Either way, this is a big problem that will need to get fixed right away if this ever happens.
Water Softener Leaking at Top
There will be two main culprits if your water softener is leaking from the top.
The first being a rotor valve issue. This is how the water softener receives water. The older the system you have, the higher the chance that this will be the issue. If it is cracked, you will need to replace it. If it is not cracked, check the O-ring to make sure it is working well and get a replacement to fit and check if that was the problem.
The second being the O-rings in the bypass valve. If these have not been getting lubricated frequently enough by you or a professional as scheduled maintenance, they may just need some lubrication. If they have been neglected for a long time, then you may need replacements before they normally fail at the 15-20 year marks.
Water Softener Leaking from Brine Tank
You will know if your brine tank is leaking for a couple of reasons.
The first reason being that you will have a nice sized leak coming directly from the bottom or side of the tank. There is a good chance you had just done schedule maintenance on it and clean it up from the salt bridge that you had found inside if this is the case.
You can use an epoxy rated for this repair after you have done proper prep work on the tank and cleaned it all out, and prepped the surface to be ready for setting an epoxy.
The second reason would be a crack in it due to a faulty tank. If this is the case, check your warranty to see if the tank is still within warranty.
If it is contact the company the warranty is with to get a replacement. Even if it is not within the warranty anymore, you may want to call them to see if there is a way to get a free replacement. If you cannot get one for free, they may offer you a discount on it.
Water Softener Leaking Overflow
If you are having overflow issues, there are a multitude of reasons for it.
Stuck brine tank float or defective control head:
- This is where it will overfill the brine tank because it does not know to stop. You will need to replace the tank float valve.
- Check the brine line and make sure that it is properly attached to the float inside the tank.
- Check for obstructions in the lines or valves and clear them out if they are present.
- Make sure the drain line is not blocking the flow of the brine line and causing the overflow.
Water Softener O Ring Leak
If the O-ring has not been properly maintained with lubricant, then you may need to lubricate the O-rings to make them work properly again. Depending on the age of the O-rings, they may have failed as well and need replacing altogether.
Lubricate them first to see if that fixes them, but if it becomes a consistent issue, replace them, and make sure the new ones are still fully lubricated every 6-12 months or every time the casing is opened and exposing them to air.
Water Softener Hose Leaking
If you think your hose is leaking, you can do the following:
Check the connection if you think it is coming from the hose and see if it is coming directly from where it is connected. If it is, you can simply tighten it to see if it fixes the issue.
Hoses can wear down over time and it may not be the connection. If it is the hose itself, and hot a crack that is fixable in the hose, then it is time to replace the hose. Just make sure you disconnect power and turn off the water to it so that you can do the repair and swap out the hoses.
Water Softener Resin Tank Leaking from Bottom
If the resin tank is leaking from the bottom, you most likely have a cracked tank for one reason or another.
The easy way to fix this is to turn off the water softener and clean the tank properly. Then you can mark and follow the crack to see how big it is and if it is repairable or not. If you will need to get epoxy that is rated for the job, and then prep the cracked areas that the epoxy will be applied to work properly for the epoxy.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Water Softener?
This answer is two-fold
What type of repair is needed? If you know the repair that is needed, depending on how difficult or easy it is, that will change it from being $5-10 for a new O-ring to more expensive replacement parts that go into the hundreds.
Hiring out or DIY? If you are hiring out then the labor for a professional who has all the knowledge and can repair it in 10 minutes will charge for an entire hour or two of their time to ensure that no hiccups happen that cause more issues.
If you are doing the repair yourself, all you need to factor in is the time of the repair and the cost for materials.
Should I Call A Professional to Fix the Water Softener Leak?
I would go through and check the simple things that you can and find where the leak is first. Depending on what type of leak you have and if you the simple fixes did not work and you are not comfortable repairing yourself or do not have the time, I would go ahead and call a professional to fix it.
Keep in mind some warranties may require professionals to service the water softeners and doing any repairs yourself may void the warranties if they can tell that it is altered at all from the original parts.
The more common problems that will arise from water softeners can often be fixed without calling in a professional.
If you are handy, you will most likely never need to call in a professional unless a leak has decided to flood your basement. A professional will cost a nice chunk, but if you are ever unsure and the simple checks or fixes did not work for the leaks, it is time to call them and have them fix the problem.
There is nothing wrong with getting a second pair of eyes on the problem to help solve the leaking issue you are having with your water softener.