Why Does My Softened Water Taste Salty: Water Softener to Soft Water

Why Does My Softened Water Taste Salty - Homeowners Guide

Does your water taste salty sometimes? If you have a water softener, it may need an adjustment or possibly a minor repair.

The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to fix the problem and get back to enjoying delicious-tasting water straight from your tap! Our guide will help you troubleshoot and fix the issue. We cover all possible causes of salty water and provide solutions to each one. You can also find out how a water softener works and how much salt it adds.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of salty-tasting softened water and provide some tips for fixing the issue. Keep reading for more information.

Why Does Your Water Taste Salty After Regeneration?

Water softeners are an important part of any home’s water treatment system, but sometimes they can cause problems with the taste of the water. If you’re having trouble with salty-tasting water, it may be due to your water softener. Here are a few tips for fixing the issue.

Check out my Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know.

1 – Clogged injectorInjector Valve

The most likely problem is the injector valve. This component has a series of relatively small vertical and horizontal openings. These holes often get plugged with salt that hasn’t fully dissolved, dirt, or sediment.

The injector valve can be damaged if you don’t handle it carefully – use care when you’re cleaning it. I like to use a toothbrush to clean the valve. Sometimes, you’ll need a toothpick to remove some crust from one of the holes. Don’t use metal tools to avoid making the holes larger – this will change the brine flow and negatively affect the regeneration process.

If the valve is especially clogged, you may need to buy a new injector valve.

2 – Drain flow control button clogged

It could be that you have a clogged drain line flow control button. Check to see if there is a buildup of sediments or salt inside the flow controller, and clean as needed. This component is located inside the drain elbow, and it is very prone to fouling.

This button is also very delicate, so don’t handle it too roughly. It may be easier to replace the button rather than trying to clean it.

3 – Drain line is clogged, kinked, or crimpedclogged discharge line

If the first two tips don’t solve your problem, the next likely problem is the drain line. This part of your water softener is a small diameter tube that often becomes plugged with salt or other solids. If it’s plugged, you can usually remove it and flush water through it at a high flow rate.

Another problem you may find is the drain line is kinked or crimped. The tubing tends to move around when the water cycles on and off, causing it to get pinched or bent. Carefully inspect the drain line and straighten it out as necessary.

4 – Brine Line Clogged or Crimpedclogged brine line

It’s possible that you may have a clogged or kinked up brine line in your water softener. This could be restricting the flow, leading to an uneven distribution within the system. This non-uniform flow could result in pockets of concentrated brine which might cause your water to taste salty.

To fix this issue, inspect the brine line to make sure there aren’t any bends, kinks, or crimps in the tubing. Also check for clogs from undissolved salt or sediment. Flush the line or replace it if you can’t get it clear.

5 -Bad Brine ValveBrine Valve

You might have a problem with the components in your brine valve, including pistons and spacers. If they’re not working properly, then the brine solution could leak into the resin container where it would end up with too much salt in the resin media.

Examine your system’s drain and brine elbow for dripping or running water in the valve after removing them. If you find any, your problem is most likely a piston or spacer stack issue. To fix the condition, replace the faulty components.

6 -High water level in brine tank

There are a lot of moving part and components in your water softener. Eventually, they all fail and malfunction. Sometimes, this results in too much water in the brine tank. Usually, this happens because the brine line or drain line is clogged. Another cause is salt mushing in the brine tank.

To determine if this is the cause, inspect your brine tank. Normally, there will be about 6-inches of water in it. You shouldn’t have more than 10-inches. If you notice more water than normal, you’ll need to fix it.

Empty the brine solution from the tank. Use a bucket or a shop vac to remove it. Clear any blockages or obstructions as necessary to prevent the issue from recurring.

Read my article Standing Water in Your Water Softener Salt Tank? 12 Solutions

7 -Improper timer setting

Water softeners have controllers that initiate the regeneration process. Some are electronic and others are mechanical timers.

If you have an electronic controller, you need to enter the correct water hardness for your home. This information is used to determine when it’s time to regenerate the media and how long the regeneration cycle should be.

Mechanical timers sometimes get out of adjustment if there is a power outage. Sometimes, inexperienced people adjust the system, causing your softener water to taste salty. Check the settings and make adjustments as necessary. If the backwash cycle is too frequent, you can have excessive sodium content in the water.

8 -Brine cycle interrupted

During regeneration, salt water is used to remove the calcium and magnesium ions from the resin bed. A typical regeneration cycle takes between 30 and 100 minutes. If this cycle is interrupted during the freshwater backflush, you’ll end up with salt water in the media. This causes the salty taste in your drinking water.

9 – Using water during the regeneration cycle

Most water softeners are programmed to regenerate when people aren’t using the water. Most often, this is around 2 or 3 am. If your system is set for a different time of day, and you use the water during the regeneration cycle, you can end up with salt water in the water pipes. This can also happen if someone wakes up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or your washing machine is running.

Any of these situations can result in salt water in your water pipes, and salty water coming out of your faucet. Fortunately, this situation will correct itself once you use enough water and your plumbing is flushed with salt-free water. You can run the water for about an hour to clear the problem.

10 – Low water pressure

When the water pressure in your home is lower than 30 pounds per square inch (psi), you might notice that it has a salty taste. This happens because most softeners work best with a minimum of 45-70 psi. Anything less can result in slow-flowing water through your water softener that isn’t adequate to completely flush the media. This results in residual saltwater left behind after the unit regenerates.

Check your water pressure with a gauge to see what your pressure is. You may need to adjust the main pressure-reducing valve where the water enters your house. If you don’t have one of these, then you may need a booster pump for your softener system to increase your supply pressure.

11 – Your tap water has high sodium concentration

On rare occasions, the problem is with the tap water and not your water softener. Some water supplies have high concentrations of sodium or chloride. Since water softeners don’t remove sodium, and they add a little, this would result in a salt tasting water.

You should test your water upstream of your water softener to see if the sodium is coming from the supply. You may need to install water filters to address this problem.

12 – Brine piston, downflow piston, or spacer stack is bad

If you notice any sign that there is brine leak down into the mineral tank, then it would most likely be because one or more parts have gone bad. To check for this problem, turn your system controller to the in-service position – be sure it’s not set to regeneration. Take care to avoid damaging these components.

Remove the drain elbow and brine elbow away from the valve, then look inside for any movement of water for about 20 to 30 seconds. If there is a flow of water, it’s almost certain you have a faulty spacer stack or piston, and they must be replaced. Your water softener does need to have all components in tip top shape.

Water Softeners and Regeneration

Water softeners work by exchanging ions. In this process, the magnesium and calcium are exchanged for sodium or potassium. The most common type of water softener uses sodium to exchange the ions.

During regeneration, salt water is used to remove the calcium and magnesium ions from the resin bed. A typical regeneration cycle takes between 30 and 100 minutes.

Water softeners require routine maintenance and cleaning to prevent problems. Be sure to check the owner’s manual for your specific model and make a note of when these tasks need to be performed.

How Much Salt Does a Water Softener Add?

The amount of salt added to your water during the regeneration cycle is very small. In fact, it’s so small that you’re not likely to taste it. A properly operating and adjusted water softener adds so little sodium to the treated water that it’s not a concern for most people. Most people can’t taste the increased salt in their water.

However, if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet or have other health concerns, you may want to have your water tested. This is especially true if you notice a salty taste in your water.

Does your water have a salty taste?

One reason you may have salty softened water could be that your water has been “softened.” Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can make it taste a bit different than soft water. But sometimes, water softening can add too much salt, making it taste salty. If you notice this, it might be a good idea to have your soft water tested to make sure it’s safe to drink.

Properties of soft water that affect its taste

When we soften water, we are removing two minerals (calcium and magnesium) that can affect its taste. Soft water often tastes a bit more acidic or sour than hard water. Additionally, soft water can sometimes pick up other flavors and odors from pipes or plumbing, which also affects its taste.


Why does my hot water seem to taste salty?

If your hot water tastes salty, it’s most likely because someone used the hot water when there was excess salt coming out of the water softener. The water sits in the tank and the salt gets into the water. Once you’ve used enough water, the salt will be flushed out of your pipes, and you won’t have salty water.

Fridge water tastes salty?

If your fridge water tastes salty, it’s probably because someone filled a glass from the water supply when the water softener was malfunctioning. The salt in the line has made its way into the refrigerator water. Once you’ve used enough water, the salt will be flushed out of your pipes, and you won’t have that ocean water taste.

Does softened water taste different?

No, softened water doesn’t taste different. In fact, most people can’t even tell the difference between soft and hard water. However, if you have a water softener that isn’t working properly, you may notice a salty taste in your water. This is because the salt that’s used to exchange ions with the magnesium and calcium in hard water can sometimes leak into the treated water.

If you have any concerns about the taste of your water, be sure to contact a qualified water treatment professional.

Final Take on Salty Water

So, what can you do if your water tastes salty after regeneration? The good news is that most of the time, the problem is easy to fix. Remember, a properly installed and functional water softener will not make your water taste like salt.

We’ve compiled a list of the 12 most common reasons why softened water might taste salty, along with instructions on how to troubleshoot each issue. Our guide has all the answers to help you get your softener back up and running so you can enjoy delicious, salt-free water once again.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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