How to turn a softener on or off.

By-Passing a Softener

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If your softener malfunctions, you may need to turn it off, you may also need to  Isolate the electricity to an electric softener. If your water softener is in by-pass or has the by-pass valve open, you will not receive soft water. We regularly see bypass valves left open after a boiler service or other plumbing works. Follow the hoses from the water softener back to the plumbing and check that the bypass valves are in the correct position. For installations carried out by us in the last 15 years or so we have used these type of valves:-

Water Softener On

The inlet and outlet are (Blue levers) OPEN

The By-pass (Grey Lever) is CLOSED.

Switch on transformer. (if applicable)


Water Softener Off

The inlet and outlet are (Blue levers) CLOSED

The By-pass (Grey Lever) is OPEN.

Switch on transformer. (if applicable)


15+ years old Installations

For Installations over 15 years old you may have valve set that look like this.

If they do, we strongly recommend getting these replaced!

Water Softener On

The Inlet and outlet valves are open  (the black line is inline with the pipe)

The by pass is shut  (the black line is across the pipe)


Water Softener Off

The Inlet and outlet valves are shut. (The black line is across the pipe)

The By Pass is open. (The Black line is in line with the pipe)


We have seen by-pass arrangements in all sorts of different types of plumbing valves, but the basic principle remains the same. Likewise, your electric softener maybe 240v, so it may be just on a plug or fused spur. If the softener had been off, you may need to reset the time clock so it regenerates at the correct time of day. If you have an EcoWater Evolution, it'll reconnect to the internet and update automatically.  If you are in anyway unsure or would just like a refresher on how to, please do not hesitate to contact us.   

Have you tested the water?

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When testing, make sure you have tested your water from a tap that is after the water softener. For example, the cold supply to your kitchen tap maybe un-softened, so you would need to test from a bathroom tap. Ensure the water softener is not regenerating (excluding a twin cylinder Kinetico). When you test and that you have run the tap for 2 minutes if the water softener has just regenerated.  If you are Testing water from a storage tank, it may take up to two weeks for softened water to make it's way round! You can buy your testing tablets here:

Does the Water Softener have salt in it?

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If your softener has run out of salt, replenish it with the correct salt and manually regenerate the Water Softener. Please allow 14 days before testing as it can this long to achieve a completely soft test result.

Block Salt

  • Ensure that the indentations on the block face the front and back of the water softener.

  • Ensure the Salt Blocks are touching the water, we have seen salt blocks jam themselves above the level of the water..

  • Ensure the Blocks are free to move and that there is no or only a little build up of salt inside the cabinet.

Tablet Salt

Sometimes a hard crust or 'Salt Bridge' forms in the brine tank. This is usually caused by high humidity or the wrong kind of salt. when this happens an empty space forms between the water and the salt. A bridge may be underneath the loose salt.  Use a broom handle or similar to check. Carefully push it straight down into the salt. If a hard object is felt, before the bottom, it is most likely a salt bridge. Carefully push it into the bridge in several places to try to break it.

If you have used Poor Quality salt, Granular salt or salt meant for a dishwasher instead of blocks or tablets, you will need to call us to have your water softener cleaned as these types of salt should not be used in your water softener.

Is there water in the Water Softener Cabinet?

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Not applicable to an EcoWater Softener

Check that the salt is sitting in water.  If the water softener is making a noise, it may be regenerating so check back again when it stops.

Block Salt

If the salt is not sitting in water, add water to the cabinet until the water level is approximately 1” above the platform on which the salt sits, then manually regenerate the Water Softener.   Should you have to repeat this action on a regular basis, we suggest that you contact us so that we can investigate further.

Tablet Salt

 If the salt is not sitting in water, add water approximately 5 ltrs of water. Then manually regenerate the Water Softener.   Should you have to repeat this action on a regular basis, we suggest that you contact us so that we can investigate further.

High salt usage/overflowing

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As a rule of thumb, the average block salt softener user in Dorset will use about 4kg (one block) per month. This will vary in relation to the amount of water actually used and the hardness setting. If you are a high water user or in a very hard area user you will use more than 4kg of salt. If you find your salt usage has suddenly increased and you are not using more water, please use the guide below.

If you are an EcoWater Evolution user, you can monitor your usage online or via the App.


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Your Water Softener meters all the water through your home, (we have not sold unmetered or time clock softeners since the 90s) therefore we suggest that you check for signs of overflowing loft tanks or toilets (keep in mind, modern toilets overflow into the pan).

If you own an EcoWater Evolution you should have received an alert for this, log into to check your history, update your alert settings and current water flow.

If you are on a water meter you can check your home for leaks.

  1. ensure no one in the home is using water and that any roof tank has finished filling.

  2. Open the lid of your meter

  3. If the black (or red) dial spins, water is moving.

  4. If it is spinning, go in and bypass the softener.

  5. If it stops, call us, your softener is malfunctioning.

  6. If it continues there is water movement.

You can investigate or eliminate further by:

  1. Turning off the internal stop cock.

  2. If it stops contact a Wessex Water, you may have a leak in the supply line to your home. 

  3. If you are sure that nothing is leaking, contact us.

Outside tap

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If your softener is supplying your outside tap, using it will cause the water softener to use more salt than needed so remember to bypass your water softener before using your outside tap.

To bypass your water softener, follow the hoses from the water softener back to the plumbing and put the valves in the bypass position. Be sure to put the valves back into the service position when you have finished.

Kinetico Manual regeneration

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Remove the lids from the softener and follow the instructions below to manually regenerate the softener.

  1. Push down firmly with a Phillips screwdriver on the “Actuator” and turn it clockwise until you advance the “Indicator Dot” to the “Brine Rinse” position. The water softener will start making a noise and water will start running down the drain.

  2. If you have a twin tank softener, check back in 30 minutes and repeat the process to regenerate the 2nd cylinder.


EcoWater Manual Recharge

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Ecowater Evolution

page 7 of your owners manual.

  1. Press SELECT ( O ) to go to the Main menu

  2. Go to the Recharge screen

  3. Go to Recharge Now and Press SELECT (O) to begin and immediate recharge.

Ecowater DUO ED

page 14 of your owners manual.

  1. Press and hold the Recharge button (R) until the words 'Recharge Now' flash on the display. 

Ecowater ESM & ERM

Page 13 of your owners manual.

  1. Press SELECT ( O ) to display the main menu.

  2. Make sure RECHARGE is highlighted

  3. Press SELECT ( O ) to display the recharge menu.

  4. Go to RECHARGE NOW and press SELECT (O)

Salt Creep (Salt on the outside of your softener)

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The term 'Salt Creep' applies to salt deposits appearing on the outside of a water softener. Salt creeping happens when crystals precipitate from evaporating salt solutions, a quite common phenomenon in everyday life.



Over time, salt crystals can 'grow' up the inside of the cabinet and through the gaps between the lid and the cabinet and face plate.


Salt Creep occurs when the brine in the water softener cabinet evaporates leaving salt crystals being on the side of the cabinet. This generally occurs when the water softener is installed in a warm environment or next to a source of heat (underfloor heating, boiler or hot water cylinder). Salt creep can happen to any water softener.  If you are a low volume user, single occupant or if the softener is installed in your holiday home, you may experience salt creep due to natural evaporation. Non Kinetico block salt has also been know to cause salt creep or certainly speed it up, we have seen this especially during the international block salt shortage where we couldn't source our usual blocks and was even more pronounced on the package free blocks we sold! We would advise using Kinetico Salt blocks at all times in your block salt softener.


If the unit is situated in a warm environment, the best solutions are to relocate the softener away from the sources of heat (we never see this issue on softeners located outside!) Or to install a softener that doesn't have a constant high water level inside such as an Ecowater Evolution, these put most of the water into the brine well at the beginning of the cycle and therefore are far less likely to suffer evaporation and the associated salt creep.

Whist unsightly, salt creep does not have any damaging effects on the water softener. We recommend that the salt is cleaned off with a warm wet cloth. Salt  inside the unit can be gently knocked off, back into the water to be dissolved.

It is recommended that blocks/tablet are periodically checked for free movement as the build up of salt can cause the blocks/tablets to become stuck or form a salt bridge, preventing it from coming into contact with the water resulting in hard water to service.


We would also recommend a 'Heath Check' is carried out periodically, where we can remove the softeners working mechanism (if applicable) and fully clean out the brine tank to ensure long term reliability.