Kinetico Water Softener Problems & Troubleshooting Guide

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Kinetico water softeners are known for being reliable – but that doesn’t mean you’ll never encounter a problem with your machine.

In this guide, we’ve highlighted the most common issues with Kinetico water softener systems and explained how to resolve them.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Common Kinetico water softener problems are the softener not using salt, not producing soft water, not turning on, not automatically regenerating, constantly draining, and producing salty water.
  • You can resolve these issues by clearing blockages from the lines or salt tank, replacing or reprogramming the control valve, or contacting Kinetico for further support, depending on the cause.

🪛 7 Common Kinetico Water Softener Problems & How To Resolve

Let’s take a look at the most common problems you might have with a Kinetico water softener, and how to fix them.

1) Kinetico Water Softener Isn’t Using Salt

All water salt-based water softeners, including Kinetico softeners, use salt during the regeneration process, when the resin beads are replenished with sodium ions from the brine tank.

If your Kinetico water softener isn’t using salt, there are two possible causes:

  1. You haven’t added salt to the brine tank
  2. Your water softener is blocked or clogged

In the case of clogging, you might find a blockage in the pipe that connects the brine tank to the resin tank, or the blockage might be at the bottom of the salt tank, preventing brine from leaving the tank.

✅ How To Resolve

To resolve an issue with a Kinetico water softener not using salt, first check that the brine tank contains salt.

Also check that there are no salt bridges at the top of the tank that make it appear full when it’s actually empty. If you find a salt bridge, break it up and remove the salt chunks from the tank before refilling.

If the issue is caused by a blockage in the brine tube, remove the tube and wash it under running water, massaging it to remove any stuck debris.

If the blockage is in the brine tank itself, check the tank’s float valve to make sure it hasn’t been blocked by crystallized salt. If it has, remove the float and place it in a bowl of warm water to break down the salt crystals. Check the bottom of the tank for salt mushing and empty and wash out the tank if necessary.

Checking the Kinetico Brine tank
source: Kinetico Water Systems Installation Guide, Youtube

2) Kinetico Water Softener Isn’t Turning On

If you can’t turn on your Kinetico water softener, the most likely problem is a fault in the power cable that’s preventing the system from receiving electricity. A cable might have become disconnected or a breaker could be down, or the system might have short-circuited.

Or, the water softener motor might have a mechanical problem, such as broken teeth in a cog or a dislodged mechanism.

The easiest-to-resolve problem is that you’ve simply unplugged your water softener from the power outlet and forgot to plug it back in.

✅ How To Resolve

This issue is more difficult to resolve yourself. If the motor is the problem, check your warranty to see what it covers. You might be able to get a replacement part for the motor, or an entirely new motor, if you’re still within the warranty period.

The same goes for the electricals – check the warranty and see if you’re covered. Even if you aren’t, reach out to the manufacturer and ask for advice on what you can do about a faulty power lead. They may be able to offer a better solution than replacing the entire system just for a new cord.

3) Kinetico Water Softener Isn’t Automatically Regenerating

Your water softener system should regenerate automatically based on your initial programming settings.

If the softener no longer regenerates when it needs to, you’ll end up with a hard water supply, rather than soft water, because the resin beads will eventually run out of sodium to use in the ion exchange process.

The likely cause of a Kinetico water softener that isn’t automatically regenerating is a technical issue with the control valve.

The control valve is the brain of the water softener and tells it when to perform regeneration cycles based on a timer or your water hardness/water usage. If the control valve has malfunctioned or reset, the softener either won’t automatically perform the regeneration process, or it won’t regenerate as often as it needs to.

Another reason why your resin beads may not be replenished with more salt is if there’s a blockage leading from the brine tank to the resin tank. This will prevent the regeneration process from working properly, even if you can hear the sound of flushing water.

✅ How To Resolve

To resolve an issue with the control valve, try reprogramming the valve and set the softener to manually regenerate to see if it fixes the issue. If not, reach out to Kinetico’s customer support team and see if they can help you to work through the issue.

Check your warranty. You might be able to get a free replacement control valve from Kinetico under the warranty’s terms.

If there’s an issue with the pipes connecting the two tanks, remove these pipes and wash them out to remove any blockages. Also check the float at the bottom of the brine tank to make sure it’s not blocked by crystallized salt.

Checking Kinetico water softener head valve
source: Kinetico Water Softener, Facebook page

4) Salt Issues In Kinetico Water Softener Brine Tank

There are a few different salt issues that could occur in the brine tank of your Kinetico water softener.

The most common problem is a salt bridge, which happens when excess humidity causes a solid layer of salt to form across the entire diameter of the tank. This mass of salt typically sits high up in the tank, giving the impression that your tank is full of salt when it could actually be empty underneath.

Another issue with salt in your Kinetico water softener cabinet is mushing. Salt mushing is when the salt doesn’t properly dissolve in water. Instead, it breaks down into small granules that form a mushy layer at the bottom of the salt tank, which may block the tank’s intake valve and prevent brine from leaving.

✅ How To Resolve

You can resolve a salt bridge issue by using the handle of a broom or another similar tool to break up the solidified salt. Then, use a net or a bucket to remove the large salt clumps before adding fresh salt to the tank.

Add salt blocks or tablets back into the brine tank once the salt bridge has been cleared, then program a manual regeneration process.

To resolve a salt mushing issue, drain the tank and empty out all the salt, including the salt mush. Throw out the salt mush – you can’t use this again. Then remove the float and cylinder, rinse them both, and put them back into the tank.

Once more, fill the tank with block salt or tablet salt (depending on your softener type) and schedule a manual regeneration cycle.

Make sure you’ve used the correct salt type in the tank – not granular salt, which is intended for dishwashers.

5) Kinetico Water Softener Is Draining Constantly

If your Kinetico water softener is constantly draining, you likely have an issue with the softener’s regeneration cycle.

It’s normal to hear the sound of rushing water for a couple of hours while the softener regenerates. This sound indicates that the brine tank is filling with water or the softener is draining all the brine that has been used to rinse the resin bed.

But if you hear a rushing water sound 24/7, it suggests that the softener is stuck in regeneration.

There are a few different reasons for this:

  • A broken circuit switch that means the water softener’s behavior is no longer regulated
  • Failure of the control valve, which may also affect the regeneration and softening process
  • A clog in one of the water lines, causing the softener to constantly regenerate due to a lack of water flowing between the tanks
  • Low water pressure, meaning that there isn’t enough water flow for a complete regeneration cycle to take place

✅ How To Resolve

You can resolve an issue with a water softener tank that’s draining constantly by troubleshooting the problem and acting accordingly.

If you think you have an electrical issue, such as a broken circuit switch or a faulty control valve, reach out to the manufacturer to see how they can help, and check your warranty’s terms.

If one of the water lines is clogged, remove the pipe and hold it under running water. Massage the pipe to clear the blockage, then reattach and schedule a manual regeneration.

👨‍🔧 If you have a low water pressure issue, consider installing a water pressure booster pump or refer to our low well water pressure guide.

Shutting off the Kinetico bypass valve
source: Kinetico Water Softener, Facebook page

6) Kinetico Water Softener Isn’t Producing Soft Water

A working water oftener should convert your hard water supply into soft water by exchanging the calcium and magnesium hard minerals with sodium ions.

If there’s a problem with the system, you might end up with hard water in your home once more.

Your water softener resin may be to blame for this. If the resin has reached the end of its lifespan, it’ll start to lose its softening capacity, meaning that it can’t hold as many sodium ions or calcium and magnesium minerals as it once did. The result is that you’ll end up with hard water at the end of every softening cycle before the system regenerates.

Alternatively, you might have simply forgotten to top up the salt level in the brine tank, so while the softener still regenerates, there’s no salt to use in the ion exchange process.

✅ How To Resolve

It’s easy to resolve a water production issue that’s caused by reduced resin performance – just replace the resin.

Look for 10% crosslink resin, which lasts about twice as long as 8% crosslink resin, minimizing future maintenance.

You can replace the resin in your water softener yourself, but it’s a lengthy process, so you’ll need patience and some level of DIY competence.

If your sudden hard water supply problem is caused by a lack of salt in the tank, simply add more salt and schedule the softener to regenerate.

7) Water Tastes Salty From Kinetico Water Softener

Why might your water taste salty from a Kinetico water softener?

Salty water isn’t normal even from a salt-based softener. The softener should only add undetectable trace amounts of sodium to your water. So, if your soft water tastes salty, your Kinetico water softener might be adding too much salt to the water.

There are a few reasons why your soft water might taste salty:

  • A clogged injector, brine line, or drain line
  • A bad brine valve
  • Too much water in the brine tank
  • An improperly programmed control head
  • An interrupted brine cycle during the regeneration process
  • Water being used while the softener regenerates
  • High sodium content in the incoming water

The most likely reasons are that you’ve inputted the incorrect hardness settings into the control valve or there’s a blockage in one of the pipes leading in and out of the softener and between the two tanks.

✅ How To Resolve

You can resolve an issue with salty water from your Kinetico water softener by troubleshooting and addressing the cause of the issue.

This could involve checking the water lines for clogs and removing any debris that you see, getting out the user manual and reprogramming the control head according to the instructions, replacing or cleaning the injector, or scheduling the softener to regenerate again and avoiding using water during this time.

Fixing Kinetico head valve
source: Kinetico Water Systems Installation Guide, Youtube

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📑 Final Word

Luckily, many of the issues with Kinetico water softeners can be remedied, and you might even have warranty coverage that means you can get a free repair or replacement from Kinetico (terms and conditions apply).

However, there will come a time when it makes the most sense to replace your water softener. A single-tank water softener like those sold by Kinetico lasts about 12 years. If your softener has reached the end of its lifespan, it’ll probably make more sense to upgrade to a more capable, efficient system rather than continuing to repair and replace the various worn parts of your system.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

2 thoughts on “Kinetico Water Softener Problems & Troubleshooting Guide”

  1. Avatar for Brian Campbell
    Peter and Diana Guidi

    Great information on trouble shooting my Kinetico unit. Sure hope I can get it running properly again before I have to call a sevice person to fix the problem. Thanks for the info. Pete Guidi.

    1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

      Glad it was so helpful! Keep us posted if you can get it fixed on your own without the need to call a service person 💪

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