Water Softener Keeps Running! (Reasons & Solutions)

By - Ron Singh

Updated on -

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Many things can go wrong with your water softener, and you’ll want to be ready when one malfunction comes up!

One of the most common issues with water softeners is that they have an issue regenerating, meaning they aren’t running when they should be.

If this happens to you, check out this guide on what to do if your water softener keeps running and get back to enjoying clean and soft water!

If your water softener keeps running, it is most likely due to several reasons, such as defective wiring, a worn-out softener, a faulty regeneration timer, and others. However, you can fix some of these problems without replacing them while you have to replace other parts. Failure to resolve them can lead to the softener being unable to work well.

Water Softener Keeps Running When Unplugged

Water Softener Keeps Running

Water softeners are mechanical devices that keep doing what it’s doing even if you unplug them.

It will remain in its cycle when you pull the plug on a water softener. It might lose its programming and won’t stop the water softener from leaking or releasing water. 

Unplugging a water softener won’t stop water from running through it, so it may continue to pour down the drain, which can cause condensation on your plumbing and run the well dry.

That is because hard water will still pass through the water softener after you unplug it, leaks won’t stop, and hard water could get into the control valve of your water softener, which could damage it.

The water softener is unplugged, and the control is in the off position, but the water softener continues to run.

Several things can cause this, and you have incorrectly set the softener regeneration cycle. The regeneration cycle tells the water softener when to regenerate or clean itself.

If the process is too short, the water softener will regenerate more often than necessary, and this can cause it to run even when unplugged.

If you unplug your water softener, water can still flow through it. It means that your home’s water may stay soft until the water softener resin can’t take any more hardness out of the water.

The first step in determining if you set your control incorrectly is to turn off all power to your water softener.

It can be done by either switching off your breaker at home or unplugging your electrical cord and removing it from a power outlet.

After you have unplugged and switched off all power, wait 10 minutes before proceeding to avoid electric shock. 

The next step is to check your softener regeneration cycle length. Locate your water softener controls and review your settings.

An icon that resembles a circle with two arrows pointing to opposite sides shows the length of your regeneration.

This icon should have a number representing how many hours until regeneration occurs.

If you find that your regeneration cycle is too short, either change it or reset it, so it regenerates later to prevent unnecessary regeneration cycles.

After you have adjusted your regeneration cycle, it is time to turn back on power. You can do this by returning your breaker or plugging your electrical cord into a power outlet.

You will then need to wait for 30 minutes before starting using your water softener so that it has time to regenerate. Then, to test if it has finished restoring, unplug and re-plug your control.

How Do You Fix a Water Softener That Keeps Running?

There are a few things that could be causing your water softener to keep running. However, before you can fix it, you need to know what the problem is.

The table below shows possible causes of water softener running and how you can fix it.

Possible CausesHow to Fix It
An old water softener.A water softener’s shelf life is about eight years, so if yours is more than that, it might be due for a replacement. Also, the water softener may break down at some point. Finally, it won’t stop running because of worn-out parts; it’s best to replace it in this situation.
Faulty water entry valveIf you have a defective water valve, water will flood the salt storage tank. You aren’t supposed to have water in it as it can damage the softener. It keeps running since the device can’t soften water because the salt container has water; it’s best if you replace the lid as it contains the valve.
A high float valveThe softener’s float valve controls water flow; too much water passes through the softener if the float valve is very high. However, the water is too much, so it keeps flowing to soften it, and the softener struggles as more water leaves and enters. To fix it, you lower the float valve to an acceptable level.
Salt bridgeA salt bridge is a thin layer of salt, minerals, and water that has hardened into a crust. It can get inside the softener and stop water from getting to where it needs to go. So, the water softener keeps running, thinking that the water hasn’t softened yet. You can fix it by unplugging your water softener and removing the thin crust in the compartment with your hand.
A small water systemYour water softener must be the correct size. That is because getting a water softener that is too small can keep it running. However, you use more water than it can soften at once, and to soften the water so you can use it, it has to keep running. You can fix it by checking how much pressure can go in and out and using a larger softener or less water.
Faulty regeneration timeWater softeners require regeneration; it’s when the water-softening resin beads refill. The regeneration timer tells the softener when to start the process of regenerating. Having a broken timer prevents the softener from stopping to regenerate. You can fix it by getting a new regeneration timer and setting it.
A malfunctioning control board You can fix it by purchasing an inexpensive replacement part and installing it to get things working correctly.
Check the water softener control.If your check if you set your water softener control to auto; if it is, then water softener regeneration happens. To fix it, set the softener control off to stop it from regenerating and check the softener regeneration cycle.
A broken brine tank float.The float regulates how much salt goes into the resin bed and controls whether or not your brine tank refills. The water softener regenerates if a float remains in either position (up or down). You can fix it by replacing the brine tank float switch or adjusting its contact arm.

Reasons Why Won’t My Water Softener Shut Off?

There are several reasons your water softener does not shut off. The most common cause is that you set your system to regenerate too often. It is due to the high water hardness level or a leak in the system.

Another possible reason is that the water brine tank is not draining correctly. For example, it might result from a clogged drain line or a problem with the float switch.

If you suspect either of these issues is causing your water softener to keep running, call a qualified technician for assistance.

If you believe that your salt levels are correct and your brine tank is draining correctly, there may be a problem with your flow switch.

This switch turns off your water softener when you’ve removed all of the tank’s brine.

Therefore, a problem with the flow switch can prevent your water softener from shutting off, even if its water brine tank is empty.

It can also be a problem with your control panel. Your control panel sends signals to your flow switch and brine tank to tell them when to operate.

If there is a problem with your control panel, it can prevent your flow switch from turning off and your water brine tank from filling up.

Kinetico Water Softener Keeps Running

Your Kinetico water softener keeps running for several reasons. But because the Kinetico water softener isn’t electric, it wouldn’t know when it’s constantly running.

So, if you have a broken part, water will keep draining until the problem is found and fixed. 

Here are some ways to figure out what’s wrong.

  • If debris from the water gets stuck in the gears, it stops the softener regeneration cycle or keeps it from turning off when done. Clean your unit to fix the problem.
  • The piston’s watertight seals allow water to flow through it. But over time, the seal breaks down and stops keeping water out, letting water flow into other channels that don’t need it. You can fix this problem by replacing the piston.
  • Your water supply may be too pressurized, leading water to bypass the seals. When a lot of water comes in at once, and the seals can’t keep the water out, the seals will break, and the water will keep going down the drain. You can fix it by contacting your water supplier.

There are other reasons your Kinetico water softener keeps running, like low water pressure or you need to reset the softener.

Kenmore Water Softener Keeps Running

Kenmore water softeners are among the most popular brands. But even the best brands can have issues.

If your Kenmore water softener keeps running, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem.

  • Make sure you have enough water to run through your system. It could cause your Kenmore water softener to overheat if you don’t. Check to ensure your tank is full before starting a softener regeneration cycle.
  • Kenmore washing machine not filling up: If your Kenmore washing machine isn’t filling up with enough water, it could be an issue with your fill hose or float switch.
  • Check if the unit regenerates or cleans itself on a schedule. If it is, then you may need to adjust the settings. 
  • Check the water brine tank to see if you need to refill it with salt.

Your Kenmore water softener won’t work if you don’t replace its needed parts. Fill any brine tanks that aren’t full.

See your owner’s manual for advice if you see an error code and you may need to clean or alter your settings, but these are easy repairs.

Morton Water Softener Keeps Running

Check a few things if your Morton water softener keeps running. 

  • Check the salt level in the brine tank. If it’s low, you’ll need to add more salt. 
  • Check the settings on the unit. If you do not set it correctly, it will keep running. 
  • Check for leaks in the system. If you find a leak, you’ll need to repair it before the unit works properly again.

In most cases, though, if your Morton water softener keeps running and you haven’t found a leak, one of two things will fix it.

First, if you have a digital control panel for your unit, reset it; you may need to restart the system before it starts working correctly again.

If you don’t have a digital control panel, flip off power to your unit at both ends of its circuit breaker.

Pentair Water Softener Keeps Running 

Check a few things if your Pentair water softener keeps running to know the problem.

  • The float switch remains in the on position.
  • The brine tank is empty.
  • The resin bed is full of hard minerals.
  • The air bleeder valve is stuck open.
  • The air intake has become clogged. 

These are just a few of the most common reasons your water softener might keep running, but you should always call in a plumber if it’s still experiencing issues.

If you don’t know how to fix it yourself, or if it continues to run despite your efforts, contact a plumber today!

Fleck Water Softener Keeps Running 

When there’s no one using water, and your Fleck water softener keeps running, it could be because you need to add more salt to it or something else is happening.

During regeneration, if the softener can’t pull the brine solution out of the brine tank, then the softener won’t work well.

Here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem.

  • Check if the drain line for the softener is kinked, clogged, or frozen.
  • Check if the safety float isn’t working right.
  • Check if the injector is blocked.

You might want to call a plumber for help fixing it or Fleck Customer Service for help repairing it. You can also check your manual for instructions on what to do in situations like that.


Your water softener keeps running due to several factors, including defective wiring or a lack of salt.

However, if your water softener doesn’t turn off and go into its softener regeneration cycle, it can damage the motor and make your water hard. This article explains what causes it and how to fix it.

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