After our water softener regenerates the bathroom faucet & shower have air in the water lines for the first few minutes after running. What causes this? I don’t think it’s hurting anything, but the sputtering sure is annoying.
Answer: There are a few possibilities, but the most common one is an air leak in the brining system. When your water softener regenerates, it draws brine (saturated salt) solution into the resin tank to perform the ion exchange process. Occasionally, an air leak develops in the brine tubing connections, or in the brine valve/float assembly found inside of the brine well (tube) attached to the inside of the brine (salt) tank. When the water softener regenerates, it draws water into the resin tank, but it can also draw air into the system if there is a small leak in one of these locations. If there is a larger air leak, you may see a substantial amount of water on top of the salt, filling half of the brine tank. But in this case, regeneration would not occur at all, as no brine solution would ever be drawn into the softener and you would always just have hard water. Our company site has a document available called “Resolving an air leak” to trouble shoot this problem on the “Equipment Installation” page.
There are other valves & seals that may also be causing the problem, but this would take some diagnostic work to find the source of the problem, and it may be a good idea to find a local service person that can assist you with locating the leak.
If this is an on-site well application, there is also the possibility that the air leak is coming from a pressure tank or valve on a submersible pump. A water softener uses a high water flow rate during regeneration, and this higher than normal flow may give rise to air in the pipes that would not normally be noticed. It’s hard to confirm this, better to first investigate the softener for problems.