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Reasons For Water Softener Running Water Sound

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

Most of us don’t really know how our appliances work, especially when it comes to less-than-standard items like water softeners.

But even if you don’t know a screwdriver from a socket wrench, you can still tell that something might be wrong if your device starts making unusual noises.

If your water softener has started making noises, but you aren’t sure what they mean, here are a few possibilities.

Running water
Running water

Running Water Noises

Hearing the sound of running water is normal and pretty common when it comes to water softeners.

Your water softener device has a regeneration process of roughly 7 stages – fill, backwash, draw, rinse, second backwash, fast rinse, and refill. The stages can vary from model to model, but this is the basic outline.

All of these stages make noise, so anyone new to the operating processes of water softeners might just want to wait a few days before they conclude that something is amiss.

One more tip for new users – most water softeners work on a timer, so if the regeneration process is a bit too noisy, you always have the option to set it to run during a time of day when you’re usually out of the house.

Different Models of Water Softeners

Water softeners can usually last you a good 10 to 15 years. This will naturally vary depending on the quality of the softener that you’re using, but people typically stick to one specific model for a pretty long time.

Having the same water softener for years can get you used to certain noises coming at a specific time, so it might seem strange if your new model does things in a different order.

For example, if you switch from a pre-fill water softener to a post-fill one, or vice-versa, you might find it a bit weird at first since the softener noise will change.

Pre-fill water softeners start their regeneration process by filling the salt tank with water and waiting for around 2 hours until the water has turned into the brine. Post-fill softeners fill the sodium tank ahead of time and already have the brine ready to go, so the regeneration process starts immediately without any delays.

Basically, the order and duration of regeneration steps might be why you’re hearing running water when you think you shouldn’t be.

Hissing Noises

Hissing sounds during the regeneration cycle are mostly normal, but they can also indicate a problem with your water pressure or softener device.

The Regeneration Process

Most of the steps in the regeneration process are relatively quiet; however, you might be hearing some hissing noises that come as a result of the backwash and rinse steps of the sodium regeneration procedure.

Both of these steps in the regeneration procedure involve a large amount of water moving through the main tank at force, so it’s not strange to hear a sort of hissing sound.

Low Water Pressure

The hissing sound might be due to your home not delivering enough water to the tank. The tank tries to draw from the supply a lot quicker than the pipes might be able to manage, and it results in a sort of low hiss as the motor works, but the water doesn’t come into the system.

The only way to solve this issue is to hire a professional plumber and have them check your pipes to determine where the problem is.


You can usually tell when a valve isn’t fitted properly by whether or not there’s water accumulated somewhere around the tanks. However, sometimes the valve in question is located inside the system, and it’s a lot less obvious.

Generally, this can only happen in the salt tank, specifically in the valve connections that are located under the salt, so if you’re hearing hissing noises, we suggest checking them first.

Ruptured or damaged hoses can also cause this sound, but again, as long as they’re located outside of the salt tank, you can easily find which ones are damaged by checking to see if there’s any water on the floor below them.

Material Buildup

A water softener turns your hard water into soft water and stops material buildup in your appliances due to the high levels of calcium and magnesium.

But material buildup can affect the softener device since hard water flows through it.

The most common areas for material buildup are the valves that lead into the main tank or connect to the pre-filter (if your model has one of those). Depending on the buildup, you can clean the valves and put them back in place or replace them outright.

Banging Noises

Banging noises from water softener
Banging noises from water softener

When it comes to most types of machinery, banging noises indicate mechanical failures, and it’s no different for water softeners.

Banging or ticking sounds in water softeners usually result from issues with the motor or its components. It can be anything from a worn-out cog with missing teeth to the motor itself failing.

Unfortunately, these issues are tricky to diagnose by sound. Most mechanical issues that could occur in a water softener are impossible to solve on your own.

If the banging is loud enough to cause concern, the only thing that you can do is call in a specialist who knows what they’re doing and tell them what you’ve been hearing so that they have at least some idea of what to look for.


It’s always a good idea to maintain your water softener and check to see that everything is running as it should be. Many of the issues we’ve brought up here can be solved with basic maintenance and cleaning.

However, keep in mind that these are machines that operate under a decent amount of water pressure. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, it’s better to hire a professional than to risk the possibility of damaging the water softener or hurting yourself.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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