Repairing the Salt Bridge 

Lorena telephoned to say, “Michael, my water is no longer “soft”. What might be the problem?” 

Hi Lorena. While there are several possible causes for water softener or water conditioner failure; a “Salt bridge” is the most common. Occasionally, a hard crust or salt bridge forms in the brine tank. This condition is usually caused by high humidity. When a salt bridge is formed the salt crystals have attached to each other leaving an empty air space between the water in the bottom of the brine tank and the salt. Because the salt is no longer in contact with the water it cannot make brine. Without brine, the resin bed can not regenerate and you will have “hard” water. 

Breaking a Salt Bridge: If the brine tank is full or even partially full, the salt is loose on top and the “bridge” is at a deeper level under the loose salt. Use a broom handle or similar tool with wooden or strong plastic handle. Push the handle straight down into the salt. If a hard object is felt prior to reaching the bottom of the brine tank, it is most likely a salt bridge. Carefully push into the bridge in several places to break it up. Often as you push the handle through the salt bridge you will feel a “release” of pressure on the handle as it passes through the “bridge” until it reaches the bottom of the brine tank. 

IMPORTANT: DO NOT use a sharp or pointed object to break a salt bridge as you may puncture the tank. Once you’ve cleared the salt bridge you will want to follow the manufacturer’s directions to regenerate your softener. 

Lorena, once the salt bridge has been cleared and your softener has been recharged, depending on the amount of water you and your family use it may take from one day up to three days before you will notice your water is again, soft. It is a pleasure to help. Let me know whenever I might be of further assistance, Michael