Will Running Water Softener Without Salt Ruin It?

Water Softeners are systems that need to be maintained, and one of the ways to do that is to ensure their brine tank doesn’t run out of salt.

Water Softeners need salt to soften water effectively. 

Salt helps the formation of the brine solution, actualization of the ion exchange process, and an effective regeneration cycle of the resin beads in the resin tank. 

But what will happen if your water softener runs without salt? Will it be ruined? In this article, We will answer this question and other questions related to the maintenance of salt-based water softeners.

So, let’s get right into it.

Will Running Water Softener Without Salt Ruin It? 

No, it won’t. However, it will negatively affect how your water softener functions and prevent it from producing the desired result.

And if you consistently keep using it without adding salt, it could lead to more significant damage and cause you to carry out regular maintenance on the system.

The easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that there is always enough salt in the water softeners’ brine or salt tank. 

What Will Happen If You Use A Water Softener Without Salt? 

 Here are a few things that will happen if you use a water softener without salt: 

Overflowing Brine Tank

The brine tank of a water softener system is built with a shut-off valve which ensures its safety by regulating the amount of water that enters the brine tank. 

But when the water softener runs without salt, the brine float can’t stop more water from entering the brine tank, hence causing an overflow. This overflow could affect the quality of the water supply in your home if not swiftly handled. 

Inability to Produce Softened Water

To produce softened water, salt-based water softeners must exchange hard water ions like calcium and magnesium ions with a water softener salt like sodium ions.

So, with the absence of salt in your water softener, it won’t be able to carry out the ion exchange and regeneration process, therefore supplying water with hard mineral ions into your home.

Using this high level of water hardness could lead to dry skin and hair when used for bath, discoloration of your clothes, potential damage to your home’s water systems, etc. 

It can also affect the efficiency of your water heater and other heating elements to produce hot water.

What is the use of having a water softener if it can’t soften water in the first place?

Presence Of Hard Water Minerals In Control Valve

When you run a softener without salt, it will fail to soften the hard water, allowing it to pass through the control valve and causing it to affect the smooth flow of water. 

It also leads to the formation of limescale in your water pipes and other water systems, which causes water to flow slowly. 

The formation of limescale also leads to low water pressure and blockage in your water system.

One of the benefits of soft water is that it flows through the control valve smoothly through the control valve and other water systems in your home with no obstructions. 

However, in the case of hard water, it is the opposite. 

Water softener manufacturers run a new water softener with only softened water passing through its control valve to prevent damage. Still, as you purchase it and use it over a period of time, it is up to you to ensure it doesn’t run out of salt.

Ineffectiveness and Potential Damage of Your Plumbing System

Another thing that running your salt-based water treatment system without using water softener salt affects is the performance of your plumbing system. 

Allowing hard water to flow through your home’s plumbing system will negatively affect how it functions and shorten its lifespan.

Presence of Stains and Residue On Your Home Appliances

When your water softener fails to soften hard minerals due to the absence of salt, you will begin to see hard water stains on your faucets, glassware, fixtures, showerheads, etc. 

These stains harden as time goes on, and you might need a water specialist to remove them when they accumulate. 

• Difficulty of Soap to Lather 

Water with hard minerals has difficulty in soap lathering while producing sticky scum, therefore this leads to the frequent purchase of soap and detergents in a short time as compared to softer water. 

This could make you spend more money on buying soap and detergents. 

• Inability to Remove Iron 

Without salt in your water softening system, you can’t eliminate iron and other hard minerals from your control valve, hence blocking the free flow of water. 

And when you keep using it this way for a long time, these low levels of iron dissolve and take control of your water softener resin bed and obstruct its regeneration process. 

Saturation of The Water Softening Resin

When there is no salt in your water softener, its softening resin can’t form a brine solution and carry out the ion exchange process — which involves the removal of the hard minerals and replacing it with salts like sodium salts.

And since the resins can’t carry out the ion exchange process, they are soaked by the hard minerals.

• Running a water softener without salt can also affect the regeneration process of the water softener resin. 

How Do You Know When Your Water Softener Is Running Low On Salt?

• Your soap will have difficulty lathering and will start producing scum.

• There is a reduction in the quality of your water. 

• Your dishes will take a long time to clean while washing them. 

• You will notice dry skin and hair when you take your bath or wash dishes. 

• Your home appliances and dishes will have hard water stains.

• There is the formation of limescale on your faucets, showerheads, dishes, etc. 

• There are mineral deposits on certain appliances in your home.

How Do You Check The Salt Level In Your Water Softener? 

The brine tank of a water softener is where salt is stored, so to check the salt level, remove the lid to it and take a look at it. 

If there is water at the bottom of the brine tank, then the salt ought to be refilled. 

If there is any salt clinging to the walls of the brine tank, endeavor to break it before adding new salt pellets. 

How Often Should You Replace The Salt In Your Water Softener?

It is difficult to give a specific time frame by which salt should be replaced in your water softener because it depends on different factors, which include the kind of salt you use, the frequency of your water usage, and the quality of your water softener. 

However, you should check the salt level of your water softener every 2 – 3 months (8 – 12 weeks). But, if your water softener treats plenty of gallons of water due to the high water use of your family, then you should check its salt level more often.

A good rule of thumb is to write a note in your calendar, then it’s easy to remember to check it.

What Kind Of Salt Should You Add To Your Water Softener? 

They are different salts, but not every type of salt can be used on water softeners. The two water softener salts that can be used on water softeners are sodium chloride and potassium chloride. 

Despite rock salt and table salt being great salts, you shouldn’t use them in your water softening system. 

How Can You Prevent Your Water Softener From Running Out Of Salt?

One way of preventing your water softener from running out of salt is by being reminded when the time for maintenance refilling the salt is due. 

And you can get this done by purchasing any of the modern water softeners with smart meters that alert you whenever your system needs maintenance or refilling of salt. 

However, if you are using the older water softeners, it is a good idea to set reminders on your phone to remind you when it’s time to refill the salt tank. 

Another good thing you can do if you are using any of the older models of water softeners is to keep at least a bag of salt at home to avoid being caught off guard when your softener needs refilling.

Will running water softener without salt ruin it Summary

I hope you enjoyed this article about if a water softener works after it’s run without any salt.

As you discovered, unlike salt-free water softeners and water conditioners, a salt-based water softener treats water and softens hard minerals more effectively when it runs while using salt. 

This water softener works on water from different sources ( tap water, city water, etc.) effectively when it has the right amount of salt in its brine and mineral tank. 

So, even though using it without salt won’t ruin it, the best way to avoid all the consequences listed in this article is to ensure that there is always much salt in your water softener when necessary.

This will not only ensure less maintenance on this water treatment system but it will also totally remove hard water particles, and soften water perfectly, as opposed to salt-free systems of water treatment like water conditioners that produce much smaller crystals with these hard minerals instead.