The majority of American households experience the effects of hard water. Hard water is a natural result of drinking water filtering through minerals in the earth as it reaches drinking water systems. Water conditioners and softeners treat the water that comes into your home to reduce the adverse effects of the damaging minerals.
However, several moving parts in your water softener must operate in concert to make that happen. When those parts struggle to work as they should, screeching and other unpleasant noises can result and are often signs of trouble.
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Normal Operating Sounds
Water softeners have many moving parts and can make unusual noises during the regeneration cycle. In a water softener, water passes through resin material that removes the water's dissolved minerals. During regeneration, the softener forces salt water through the treatment tank to restore the resin to a ready state to continue its work.
Noises created by the regeneration cycle only occur while the softener is actively running one of several cycle stages. The softener installer typically sets the cycling process to run during the night. Normal operating sounds include clicking sounds from the timer and motor, trickling water noises, and rushing water sounds.
Screeching Valve Trouble
Water softeners are machines. As such, they can fail. Often, before they fail, they'll create unnerving noises. Screeching noises can be a sign of impending valve failure or mineral buildup that needs to be addressed before too long.
Before water gets to your softener, it's full of minerals. Before the machine can remove them, they can get trapped or build up inside the valves, causing the valves to not fully open or close. A valve can also fail due to internal cracking or excessive wear. Both situations can result in screeching noises when water passes through them under pressure.
The offending valve requires rebuilding or replacing to get rid of the screeching. Only homeowners with very strong DIY skills should consider performing water-softener work. Professional service by a licensed plumber is typically necessary to take care of valve repairs.
Sources of Ticking Noises
Water softeners also contain motors and gears to keep things moving. Although ticking sounds from the timer and perhaps the motor are normal during regeneration, louder clicking sounds aren't and could be a sign of trouble. It's often challenging to determine the source of these noises. It could be a failing drive motor or missing gear teeth on one of several cogs. Call your water softener service technician to diagnose and repair the problem.
Sources of Other Noises
The mechanical room or area in your home can be a noisy place. Water softeners, HVAC components, water heaters, filtration systems, and even your plumbing can make plenty of noise. If you have trouble distinguishing exactly where the noise comes from, you can turn off your water softener and other mechanicals one at a time to help pinpoint the sounds before calling the appropriate professionals.