Water softener not using salt is the most common problem that occurs. Fortunately it is often very easy to solve.

Why is my water softener not using salt? What can you do to solve the problem right now: 4 ideas

Water softener not using salt from the salt tank is the most common problem that occurs.
Salt bridge, salt mushing, or a clogged injector are the reasons that lead to no salt usage. Fortunately these problems are often very easy to solve.

Hard water is known for its high mineral content, which can cause various problems for your home appliances, skin, and hair.

However, through over 25 years of experience, my conclusion is that one of the most usual issues with a water softener is that it is not using salt, and then it is not providing your home with soft water.

Water softener program parameters
Water softener program parameters can affect salt consumption

If your water softener is not using salt from the brine tank, it is just like you don’t have one installed. When the ion exchange resin gets saturated, and the regeneration is done without salt consumption, on the outlet of the softener you get hard water. Just like on the inlet of the softener.

Read on and find out about the main reasons why water softeners may not use salt from the brine tank and what you can do to fix the problem.

Common Causes of Water Softener Not Using Salt

Incorrect Water Softener Settings

Water softeners come with various settings, including water hardness, capacity, regeneration time, and salt dosage.

If any of these settings are incorrect, it can affect the efficiency of the softener. For example, if the brine draw or refill times are changed, the water softener could not be using salt as much as needed.

In this case the operating capacity of the softener will be lowered, and by the end of it’s operating capacity it will provide hard water.

Clogged Injector

If the inlet water has higher iron content or sediments, they can clog the injector of the water softener.

The injector assembly is a very important part of the water softener. It creates vacuum, and with this vacuum the brine solution is drawn into the softener control valve, through the ion exchange resin during the regeneration process.

If the injector gets clogged, it can not make the vacuum and it can not draw the saturated salt brine solution from the salt tank.

This is the most usual reason for a water softener to stop using salt from brine tank.

Salt Bridge in a Brine Tank

Formation of a salt bridge in a water softener salt tank can be one of the most common problems. Luckily, when a salt bridge forms, it is an easy to fix problem.

Salt bridge can appear in areas with high humidity levels, low quality water softener salt usage, or when the use of the water softener is not frequent.

When the humidity is high, moisture can cause salt crystals in the brine tank to fuse together again, forming a hard layer of crust, which can form salt bridges.

Check the brine tank salt level frequently
Check the brine tank salt level and condition frequently

Even if too much salt is added to the brine tank, it can create a hard salt crust.

To find out more about salt bridges and a quick solution, You can read more in our other post: Water Softener Salt Bridging

When a salt bridge forms in the brine tank, the water softener salt is left above the water. This means there is no contact between the salt bridge and water, which results in no saturated brine solution which is required for regeneration.

When you look at the brine tank you see that there is salt in it, but it is the salt bridge above the water level.

Water softener salt bridging
Salt bridges in a brine tank
are easy to fix

This also means that the water softener is not regenerated, and it doesn’t soften the water.

Damaged water flow turbine in the control valve

During the operation small, pieces of ion exchange resin can get damaged over years and flow out of the softener resin tank.

They can then block the turbine of the flow meter that is measuring the amount of softened water.

water softener turbine
Water softener control valve turbine can lead to softener operation problems

If the turbine is not spinning as the water is flowing through it, the controller won’t measure the water quantity. This leads to overcoming the softeners capacity and once it is passed, the softener no longer softens the water.

The turbine can also get blocked by some other debris that came with the raw water.

As the capacity is not measured, the softener will not start a regeneration, and it will not use any salt.

Air Leakage on the Brine Tank to Control Valve Connection

If there is any possibility that the connection is not 100% leakage free, the vacuum from the injector will draw air, and not the brine from the tank.

Brine tank to water softener connection
Bad brine tank to water softener connection can also be a problem

Malfunctioning Control Valve

The control valve is responsible for regulating the flow of water and salt through the water softener.

If the valve is not functioning correctly, it can lead to issues such as low water pressure or no salt usage.

Low Water Pressure

If the water pressure of the inlet water is too low, it can affect the injector performance of the water softener.

With low pressure the injector can not make vacuum and draw the brine to the softener’s ion exchange resin.

What You Can Do?

If you are experiencing issues with your water softener not using salt, there are several steps you can take to fix the problem.

Check the Settings

Ensure that the settings on your water softener are correct. Verify the water hardness level, regeneration time, and salt dosage. If any of these settings are incorrect, adjust them accordingly.

Clean the Brine Tank

If you suspect that salt bridge has formed or the brine tank is clogged with mushed salt, clean the salt tank thoroughly. You should use only high quality water softener rock salt in your brine tank.

Why is my water softener not using salt?
Using high quality rock salt is best for your water softener

Check the Control Valve and Injector

The control valve should be checked for any signs of damage or malfunction. The injector should be cleaned periodically. If you notice any issues, contact a professional to repair or replace the valve.

Increase Water Pressure

If the water pressure in your home is low, consider installing a booster pump or contacting your local water supplier to increase the pressure.


Water softeners are an essential part of households in areas with hard water.

If your water softener is not using salt correctly, it can lead to various issues such as hard water stains, appliance damage, and skin problems.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your water softener is functioning correctly. By following the steps outlined above, you can fix the issue of your water softener not using salt and enjoy the benefits of soft water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my water softener not using salt?

A: There could be a few reasons which can make your water softener not using salt. One possibility is that the salt tank is empty or running low, so the softener isn’t able to properly regenerate. Another possibility is that there’s a blockage or clog in the brine line or injector, preventing the salt from reaching the resin beads. Check your salt levels and inspect your brine line and injector for any issues.

How often should I be adding salt to the brine tank?

A: The frequency at which you’ll need to add salt to your water softener will depend on a few factors, such as the size of your tank, the hardness of your water, and the size of your household. As a general rule, you should aim to keep your salt tank at least half full at all times. Depending on your usage and tank size, you may need to add salt every few weeks or every few months. Use only the purest salt available.

Can I use any type of salt in my water softener?

A: It’s recommended that you use high-purity evaporated salt pellets specifically designed for water softeners. Avoid using rock salt, as it can contain impurities and sediment that can cause buildup and clogs in your softener system. Additionally, avoid using salt with additives or dyes, as these can also cause issues with your system.

What should I do if my water softener is still not using salt after troubleshooting?

A: If you’ve checked your salt levels, inspected your brine line and injector, and confirmed that you’re using the correct type of salt, it’s possible that there’s an issue with your water softener system that requires professional attention. Contact a qualified technician or the manufacturer of your softener for further troubleshooting and repair guidance.

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Why is my water softener not using salt? What can you do to solve the problem right now: 4 ideas 15

Who am I?

I am working as a water treatment technical manager and I have more than 25 years of practical experience in water purification.

Water purification expert

After many years of experience in water purification, I want to share some of my knowledge and get people to know the real importance of water quality.

Water purification and water treatment are very complex themes, so it is important to explain them in an easy-to-read way.

On this blog, you will find many understandable, easy-to-read information about water purification.

I hope you enjoy it, find some useful information, and thank You for reading.

More info on my work and my expertise on water purification can be found on my LinkedIn profile.