Water Softener Noises (What They Are & Should You Worry)

Starting to hear some funny noises coming from the water softener? You might be concerned or, like some of us, just look the other way. But because it filters out harsh water, it’s worth taking a look when it starts to sing out of tune. If you are wondering if it means something is wrong, you’re right. 

When your water softener starts to make noise, there can be a number of causes. It could be worn valves, failing motors, broken gears, warning alarms, or incorrect water pressure going into the system. There are more, but you should address the issue regardless of the reason. 

Most of the time, as a homeowner or renters, we aren’t entirely sure how to identify the problem. And to go a step further, we feel we don’t know how to fix it. When it comes to your water softener making strange noises, the more information, the better. Let’s check it out. 

Causes for Water Softner Noises

The first part of the problem is understanding what is going on with your water softener. We can quickly go over the probable causes here. Keep in mind that while there are many reasons, most of them you will learn require a professional to fix. 

  • If you are using the shower or faucet while it is trying to flush out the harsh chemicals, it creates a vibration and a loud knocking sound. The process of flushing out the harsh water is called regeneration. 
  • If the timer motor is making high-pitched noises, then it is possible the belt slipped, the gears start grinding, or loose parts knocking around. 
  • Hard water in the intake valves creates a build-up of calcium or magnesium. This residue will build scale. This reduces the water flow and causes the water softener to make strange noises from the pressure build-up. 

While these are the most common issues, there are several other causes. And in some cases, it could not be the water softener after all. It could be a smaller or bigger issue. That’s why understanding regeneration is so important. 

What Is Regeneration, and Why Is My Water Softener Making Noise?

Regeneration goes through different cycles to backwash the harsh chemicals out of the valves through the water softener. Since it usually happens at night, it can feel particularly loud. First, it quickly rinses the clean water in reverse through the water softener. It gets rid of the debris. The larger the water softener, the more likely it will create louder noises because of the amount of water passing through. 

The brine cycle is next and can take about 90 minutes. It is typically the quieter cycle between the first and last backwash cycles. In this part, the brine gets drawn out of the brine tank, goes through the resin, and then rinsed out. This is the main part of regeneration.

Lastly, backwashing starts when the clean water flows through the water softener in the right direction, taking any leftover brine with it. It’s an incredibly quick cycle. 

When water softeners are set to a time regeneration, they are typically set at night while everyone is sleeping so water is not being used. The other method is based on water usage and gauges how much build-up there could be. If something goes wrong with this draining process you may want to check the common causes that lead to your water softener continuously draining.

When the regeneration process can’t properly perform, many strange sounds come out at night. For instance, when the deposit builds up and restricts the flow of water, a lot of pressure builds up. This creates a loud banging sound. It can be startling. The other sound is a high squealing high-pitch noise that can come from regeneration being triggered while simultaneously using water flow. 

How Do I Fix The Loud Noise that Comes With Regeneration?

There are two options when it comes to fixing the loud noises that happen with regeneration. The first is resetting the timer to ensure it doesn’t go off at all hours of the night. The second is calling in some backup. Sometimes a professional is the way to go. 

Reprogramming the Timer

You can reset the timer so that it doesn’t happen in the middle of the night and startle you. This won’t necessarily fix this issue, but it won’t seem as loud in the dead of the night. Different models will potentially have different ways of resetting. But with most water softeners, the process isn’t too difficult.

Locate the level on the back of the timer where there should be an “on and off.” Naturally, it will be switched on, and you will have to pull it down to off. Leave it off for a few minutes and allow it to reset. It’s never a bad idea to consult your manual because it may already have instructions for addressing this issue. 

Calling In a Professional

The simplest fix is resetting the timer. But in the case where you are nervous to adjust your water softener or resetting the timer doesn’t work, call a professional. When there are other issues, such as the deposit build-up, this becomes more of a plumbing job and is no easy fix. 

Even handy people can find themselves causing more damage trying to fix the water softener in the first place. The average cost for fixing an issue like this lies somewhere between $150 and $890. For major issues, some people have found themselves well into $2000 for broken valves.

In this case, it is usually because an original problem was ignored for far too long. Addressing weird noises quickly can end up saving you thousands of dollars. And sometimes, it is just simply resetting the timer. 

Don’t Let Bumps Go On In The Night

A water softener is a strange thing to point a finger at. Most people aren’t even really sure what it is or what it does to ensure they don’t have harsh chemicals floating in their water. But water softener maintenance is important, even if it is minimal. Making sure that it is running properly is truly the only job.

As you start to hear weird sounds in the night, like banging, thudding, or screeching pipes, chances are all roads lead back to the water softener.

Try changing the timer settings to get it to regenerate and clean the valves out. Also, changing it to a time when water isn’t used but not in the dead of the night is a solution. 

Otherwise, look to call a professional. The last thing anyone wants is thousands of dollars in plumbing that could have been a simple fix. 

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