A Quick Fix for a Common Water Softener Problem

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Under normal operation only the brine well should be full of salt water for the cleansing of the resin beads. As you can see in the picture of the interior of the NSC30UD/NST30UD North Star automatic water  conditioner(water softener), the brine tank is also half full of water!

My first impulse was to call for a repair man to fix it, but I figured that would cost at least $100 and likely more. It turns out I was able to fix it myself in less than 15 minutes by just reading the owner’s manual. It took longer to find the manual than fix the water softener.

Something called the Nozzle and Venturi was the culprit. This piece is responsible to help form the suction that pulls the brine water out of the brine well and into the resin chamber. The brine water cleans the some 53 pounds of resin beads. These beads become coated with “the hard minerals” magnesium and calcium as part of the water softening process when the hard water passes through the resin beads.

An Overflowed Water Softener Brine Tank
An Overflowed Water Softener Brine Tank

In the picture below, the hole that you see was once blocked and the reason the water level rose in the brine tank. Understand that the brine tank is only supposed to be full of salt during normal operation, NOT Water! It is the brine well that is supposed to contain the brine water that cleans the resin bead which in turn convert hard water to soft water.

A Clean Venturi and Nozzle
A Clean Venturi and Nozzle

 

Venturi Nozzle place in Housing attached to suction motor
Venturi Nozzle place in Housing attached to suction motor

As you can see in the picture below, the capped housing for the cleaned Venturi Nozzle is connected to a tube which suctions freshly dissolved salt water from the brine well and into the resin chamber. As mentioned, this brine water will remove the calcium and magnesium that his built up on the resin beads. This ion exchange process will get the resin beads ready to remove the magnesium and calcium from the hard water when the North Star water softener is in the service mode and making the water in your home home soft for longer appliance life and much better for your skin when you shower and bath.

How do you know your water softener is not working? The water does not feel as slippery when you are showering and you can see mineral deposit buildup on your dishes after your dishwasher cycles.

It took around 7 months of service before we needed to clean the Venturi Nozzle, which is just a hole in the red plastic piece you see in the picture above. Cleaning out the obstructed hole was just a matter of rinsing with warm water. We also rinsed the metal screen which was not that dirty or blocked to begin with.

Save yourself some money by fixing your water softener yourself. Your owners manual will show you where Venturi Nozzle Housing is. No tools required. You can twist off the white plastic cap you see in the below picture and be finished with the task in less than 20 minutes while saving yourself an unnecessary cost on a repair visit!

 

Cap that seals in Venturi Nozzle
Cap that seals in Venturi Nozzle

 

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6 comments on “A Quick Fix for a Common Water Softener ProblemAdd yours →

  1. One fairly serious issue is the clogging of pipes and appliances than can occur if the resin beads leak out through a compromised membrane and into your home plumbing. The big symptom is low water pressure. I have not run into that problem yet. If you see the beads in your water soon enough, then shut off the hard water bypass immediately(meaning the hard water will bypass the nonfunctioning north star softening system and flow directly into your home) which will at least prevent more resin beads from flowing into your homes pipes and water heater, etc.

  2. I had a similar problem with a brine tank full of water. I replaced my venturi gasket, but it made no difference. I finally ran some iron-removing product through my water softener, and that fixed my problem.

    1. Thanks for writing back. We did something similar. We used the salt impregnated with an iron-removing product and also a product called softener mate(from Culligan) I think with Citric acid and surfactants as its primary active resin bead cleaning agents.

  3. our water cuts off for about 8 seconds then comes back on. is this a symptom of a water softener going bad? it is 12 years old. we just want to make sure that is the cause. is there anything we can check to verify this is it? our model # NST25ED

    1. Sounds like the aperture in Venturi part may be partially occluded. You can remove that easily as shown in the article to check for blockage and then clean it out if necessary. You may need new o-ring or put silicone grease on existing one if non brittle.

  4. I just bought and installed a brand new north star nsc25ed water conditioner it is installed correctly and it worked for about 30 minutes then it started regenerating and got a error 1 code. Everytime we try to run it it will only regenerate and come up with the error code i have tried everything! I am so frustrated this unit was very expensive and it was bought to help with a skin condition. I don’t want to uninstall it after all the work ive already put in and money but this unit sucks!! Very very angry and irritated!!

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