Why is My Water Softener Making Noise? Read to Find Out!

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When you run water at home, you expect it to be smooth-running and relatively quiet, right? Well, what do you do when that isn’t the case? On occasion, things can cause mysterious problems with your running water. One common problem is issues with your water softener. One of the big questions we find is, “Why is my water softener making noise?!” Well, fear not, because we’re about to tell you all the details you need to know about your water softener and why it might be making those funny noises.

What is Water Softener, and What Does It Do?

Water softener is a water treatment system that is part of the water system. It is designed to help filter out the minerals that cause hard water (hard water gets its name from the hard mineral deposits it consists of and causes). These minerals include things like calcium and magnesium, and high concentrations of them can build up over time and cause major issues…not to mention look pretty gross.

Limescale image: water softener making noise

Water softener acts like a magnet. As the hard water passes through a negatively charged terminal, it pulls the positively charged calcium and magnesium particles away, leaving your water softer for you and everything it touches!

Why is My Water Softener Making Noise?

Many different noises can come from your water softener. These noises range from tiny noises to much more alarming sounds, and each of them could be caused by different things that may or may not be cause for concern. Let’s explore.

Hissing Sound

Hissing noises from your water softener could be caused by a few things. If your hard mineral build-up gets into the little gaps near the valve seals, the water pressure gets out of balance and can cause water to leak out around those seals of your water softener. Hissing sounds could also be caused by cracks in the water line coming into the water softener.

Loud Humming Sound

A humming sound from your water softener could be part of your regeneration process, which is no cause for alarm on your part, or it could be caused by air pressure being off. It could even be the hum of the motor as it pumps the water if your home has an electric water softener.

Running or Trickling Water Sound

Water softener running water sound can be a totally normal noise from your water softener, but trickling water could be a sign that your valves aren’t sealing properly. This could be caused by normal wear and tear and is definitely something I’d recommend keeping an ear out for.

Timer Motor Sound

If you have an electric water softener, part of the system will include a timer motor that controls when your water softener will regenerate. Sometimes these gears inside that motor will make a clicking or ticking noise as they touch each other. It’s a totally normal sound, so there is no need to worry!

Vibrating Pipe Sound

The sound of pipes vibrating in your water treatment system is rarely normal, so keep an ear out for this one. Some of the causes can be improper installation, an overloaded system, the water pressure being too high, or you are trying to use water during the regeneration cycle.

Clicking Sound

This could be related to the timer motor and be completely normal. Still, it could also be caused by broken teeth in the gears of your water softener, which is usually caused by a harder than usual resistance against said teeth.

Clanking or Banging Sound

A few of the causes for clanking or banging noises from your water softener can be pressure fluctuations from mineral build-up around the intake or air pockets formed around the valves when they release (this one is tough to re-create, which means it can be hard to diagnose).

What Does Water Softener Regeneration Sound Like?

Water softener regeneration is when your water softener cleans itself. The system flushes itself and the negatively charged filter with water and salt, which is positively charged, and it causes all that built-up calcium and magnesium to detach from the resin bed and run out along with the salty water, leaving your water softener refreshed and ready to start all over again.

When the regeneration process is going, you’ll likely hear two specific sounds. The first will be a lot of flowing water, which is the tank filling up with that salty water. Then you’ll have a similar sound when it performs its rinse cycle. Keep in mind that different water softener systems may sound different.

For example, a Culligan water softener could make different noises from any other brand. If you hear a beeping sound coming from your water softener, that is quite possibly the low salt alarm or annual service reminder. Basically, if it starts making noise other than running water and a low hum from the motor when it’s regenerating, that’s when you may have a problem, and I would recommend getting someone out to check on that.

Culligan-specific Water Softener Regeneration Sounds

If your Culligan water softener has hissing noise, it could mean that it has the wrong type of salt or is low on salt.

How Do I Fix My Water Softener When It’s Making Noises?

If your water softener making noises aside from the tick of the timer motor or the running water of the regeneration cycle, the smartest thing to do is get a licensed plumber out to take a look. You may need to replace a motor or gear, seal a leak in the hose, clean out an opening, or even fix a computer error.

Unless you are a professional, playing around with your plumbing is more likely to cause harm than do any good. A smart thing to do in this instance is to record the sound for your plumber in case it decides to stop making it when they show up (you know how tricky those machines can be). Know your limitations, and never be afraid to ask for help!


1. Can I still use my water softener if it’s making noise?

It is not recommended to use your water softener when it’s regenerating. Other noises, maybe…but I would recommend erring on the side of caution.

2. Why do I need a water softener?

A water softener helps to keep your water from causing damage to the surrounding area as well as your skin by eliminating the hard minerals.

3. How long will my water softener last?

A quality water softener should last for a long while. Just be sure to have someone check up on it annually.

4. Is my water softener supposed to make noise?

As it is a water treatment system made up of many moving parts, yes, your water softener will make some noises. Hopefully, this article will help to separate the normal from the abnormal for you.

Conclusion on Why My Water Softener Making Noise

To sum up, some of the noises you will hear from your water softener are totally normal and easily explained. If there are any odd noises, listen to see where they’re coming from.

Also, make sure you know what does water softener regeneration sound like as it is a completely normal process of a water softener. I hope this article helps you to identify the water softener problems and find a remedy!

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