Photo of a home water softener systemDiagnose Water Softener Regeneration, Backup, Leaks, Stuck Controls

  • DIAGNOSE SOFTENER BACKUP / FLOODING - CONTENTS:How to diagnose problems with a water softener backup, regeneration, or cycle problem: stuck controls & leaks. Why does a water softener back up and flood a building - water softener gets stuck in "backwash" or "regeneration" cycle Still more diagnostic steps for a leaking or overflowing water conditioner.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about diagnosing & fixing a water softener that sticks in backup or regeneration cycle or that is leaking
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Repair Water Softener Backup & Regeneration Control Problems: this article explains how to diagnose & fix water conditioner / water softener leaks, overflows, backups, or building floods due to water softener malfunction.

We give steps in fixing a stuck water treatment device control that can otherwise leave your water softener running continuously in backwash or regeneration mode. We also explain other problems, such as a crimped water softener drain, that can leave the water conditioner stuck in regeneration mode.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Water Softener Stuck in Backwash or Regeneration Cycle Can Flood a Building or Septic System

Water softener controls showing adjustment pins (C) Daniel FriedmanQuestion: What Caused our Water Softener to Flood the Building?

We had a water softener overflow into the kitchen and am wondering if this could be caused by the electricity being turned off for several days and then being turned on without resetting the water softener? Maybe it just kept on running since it was not reset? - (Anonymous)

Reply: Stuck Water Softener Controls May Be the Culprit

Loss of electrical power itself would not in a straightforward way make a water softener overflow - the softener usually works by a clock control and automatically backwashes itself on a timer scheduled basis.

[Click to enlarge any image or table]

To overflow something else had to be wrong such as a lost connection between softener and its drain pipe or a problem in the control itself leaving it "stuck" in regeneration mode.

But if your water softener control equipment became damaged (such as by an electrical power surge that might have accompanied an electrical storm, lightning strike, or local power outage), or the water softener timer or control mechanism has been damaged (or corroded, leak damaged, or crud-jammed) so that it became "stuck" in its backwash mode, and if we had a compound error of a blocked or slow backwash water drain, the equipment might indeed overflow into the building.

So if there was an event that damaged the softener control and there was at the same time a new or pre-existing blocked or slow drain, the events might be related. In short, a softener ought not to backup or overflow due to loss of power, but coincidences are suspicious.

In the past when we have seen a softener problem like this, the control was "stuck" in regeneration (or "backwash") cycle. Sometimes moving the control manually (turning a timer dial) or resetting the control electrically will cure the problem. But watch out: keep an eye on the system or try a few manual backwash cycles to be sure that the system is stopping its regeneration cycle properly.

When a water softener gets stuck in regeneration mode what usually happens is water flows into the building drain continually, sometimes for days or longer before it is discovered. I've seen this flood a septic drainfield.

In the case of a softener that is emptying into a building drain, especially one on an upper floor, if we have the bad luck that that drain is itself slow, blocked, or draining into a blocked or flooded septic tank, the whole system can back up into the building.

Perhaps that's what happened in your case.

Further Diagnostic Steps for Overflowing Water Softener

Garden hose plumbing (C) Daniel FriedmanCan you trace the water softener drain piping to see where it is connected. If it's connected right at the sink or trap where the overflow occurred, check further for a blocked trap.

If the softener drain is connected to a different building pipe check the building drain system from that point onwards (downstream) for a blockage or partial drain blockage.

Finally, if the softener drain is improperly connected directly to a sewer line with an airtight connection such as shown in our photo at left, it is forming an unsanitary "cross connection" that is actually a technical building code violation as well.

A sewer backup can back into the softener and contaminate the building water supply. (See CROSS CONNECTIONS, PLUMBING)

When such a connection is made, if the softener gets stuck in regeneration mode and begins to flood a private septic system or drain into a blocked or partly blocked building drain, that too can cause drain backups and even an overflow on upper building floors.


Continue reading at DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for WATER SOFTENERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Suggested citation for this web page

DIAGNOSE SOFTENER BACKUP / FLOODING at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about How to diagnose problems with a water softener backup, regeneration, or cycle problem: stuck controls & leaks.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman