Water softener leaking at bypass valve (causes and solutions)

Photo of author
Written By John Stephen
I’m John, the person behind the aquahow blog. I love to investigate water conditions and ways of building water filters. Mostly for my aquariums and home use.

The internal side of the bypass valve might have damage. It generally gets scratched, causing it to broke from the edges. Change the O-ring. Also, check for any leakage in the water softener to ensure no damage to the protecting shield. 

What is a bypass valve on a water softener?

The bypass valve is used to move the water from the system to the other connection. The valve directs the water to the pipelines connected to the home and restricts water flow into the water softener. The bypass valve is given to change the water flow from the water softener to the mainline connection to the home. 

There will be a time when you might have to replace the water softener or do the cleaning. During the cleaning period, the water line will be disrupted in your home. 

To avoid such a scenario, the bypass valve is created to move the water without sending it to the water softener. Once the bypass valve is active, you can disengage the water softener from the system and conduct the cleaning job. 

The bypass valve gives you complete control over the flow of the water. Turn the system “ON” or “Off” according to your need.

Do not get confused while looking at the valve. You might see different pipes beside each other fixed on the wall with too many control tabs. Understand the flow of the water how the water gets to the Water softener and passes through it to the pipe connected to the house. 

Once you understand how the whole structure works, it would be easy to bypass the water by changing the water flow using the valve. 

How to bypass water softener?

Generally, the bypass water softener uses two sets of connections. One directs the water to the softener where it gets cleaned and fresh water pumped from the other side, which is connected to the pipe. 

Both the water pipe responsible for the inward and outward flow of the water would have the two sets of the valve fixed to it. 

When you close the valve of the inward water flow, the water will be restricted from entering the water softener. 

Similarly, when you close the outward flow of the valve, the water will not pass to the home water tank. 

These two pipes are interconnected with another pipe which is called bypass connection. When both the valve is closed, the water will flow through the bypass connection, and it will enter the pipe connected to the home. 

The water flow will be directed to the home connection without letting it pass through the water softener. 

The water connection will be intact during the cleaning of the water softener, and you do not have to worry about the non-availability of the water during this time. 

The system will work in the same condition until you disengage the bypass valve again and allow the inward flow of the water to enter back to the water softener. 

Also, remember that you have to turn the knob of both the inward and outward flow simultaneously. If one of the valves is not opened, the water will not flow in your mainline. 

What does the bypass valve do on a water softener?

The bypass valve is the mechanism uses in the water softener system to disconnect the water flow in case of failure of the system. There will be a time when your water softener may not work as expected. Or you might have to replace some of the non-working parts of the water softener.

In such situations, the bypass valve restricts the water flow to the water softener when the knob is closed. The water flowing from the mainline will be directed through the bypass connection connected to the home line. 

To make this system work properly, you have to close the knob that is available to the water softener’s outward flow, and else the water will flow back to the water softener from the exit point and damage the system. 

When both the knob is close, the water will freely flow from the bypass and reach your home pipeline, where you will have water for regular use. 

Note that the bypass connection is not filtered. It is not coming from the water softener. 

If you have a hard water supply in your primary water connection, then the same water will enter your home through the bypass connection without any treatment. 

Once you are done cleaning or repairing the water softener, open both the knob again and allow the water to flow freely in the water softener. 

Ensure that you open both the knob correctly. If any one of them is not open, the water will not flow into the system. As a consequence, there will be no water in your house. 

How deal with the Defective Bypass Valve O-Rings?

The bypass knob is made of different layers of material to achieve high efficiency. The primary objective of the bypass valve is to stop the water flowing from the connected pipe and use the bypass route to move the water. The bypass valve should be strong enough and leakproof to avoid water drop from the connected pipe.

The O-Rings are used in the bypass knob to give flexibility to the knob when it is turned “On” and “off.” 

Also, it works as the barrier between the water and the knob and does not allow the water to drip from the connection. 

In most cases, the O-Ring is made of high-quality rubber. It is fixed in the valve to create the seal between the gap and make the system waterproof. 

Over time the O-rings get damage, and the system will start leaking. The cause of the damage could be anything. The most common reason for the damage is the friction between the metal and O-Rings. 

Every time you “On” and “Off” the valve, the O-Ring gets in the action. The presser on it is release and again compressed. The continued use of the valve reduces the lifespan of the O-Ring, and as it reaches its breaking point, the valve starts leaking. 

The water dripping from the valve is the sign of O-Ring damage. Replace the O-Ring, and the system will work as normal again. 

Without the O-Ring, the metal will have friction between and over the period, both sides of the metal will be decayed during friction, and water will start leaking. 

Therefore, the O-Ring plays a significant role in protecting the valve from damage. 

How to remove the water softener bypass valve?

There are many ways you can remove the water softener bypass valve. The simple solution is the remove the bypass valve and knob system entirely. Use the direct connection of the pipe to the water softener system. 

This will allow you to move the water from the mainline to the water softener, and from there, it will be directed to the home line.

Once you remove the bypass valve, you will not be able to disable the water softener. Water has to pass the water softener as there is not bypass connection to stop the water. 

So before you remove the bypass valve, ensure that you are ready for the unexpected event to occur in the future. 

When the water software is failed, the water through the mainline will not pass through the softener. As a consequence, you will not be able to get the water supply to your home. 

How to remove water softener bypass valve clips?

The Water softener clips keep the valve connection waterproof and in place without building friction between the two metals. The removal process of the water softener bypass valve clips is easy. Before you jump into the process, ensure that you have the right tool to open the valve. 

The valve is fixed with a tight screw which needs proper tools to open them up. 

When you are ready with the tools, you first slowly release the pressure of the valve and the mechanism that is holding the valve in place. 

Remove the upper layer of the valve, and every part is closely assembled to produce waterproof sealing. 

When you are done with the first layer, the clip will easily get out, and you can replace them with a new one. 

The Water softener clip removal procedure could different in the valve. Check the mechanism before you start opening the valve.

How to replace water softener bypass valve?

Follow the below step-by-step guide to performing the Water softener bypass valve replacement.

1) Stop the water connection from the mainline to the water softener system.

2) Gently remove the bypass valve from the connection.

3) Use another pipe to assemble at the place of the valve. You will require two pipes at the size of the value connection to fix on both the side of the system. 

The inward flow and outward flow of the system should be properly sealed to avoid water from dripping.

4) Once the pipes are sealed, you can turn on the mainline connection and allow the water to flow in the water softener. 

How do you put a water softener in bypass mode?

There are different types of bypass mechanisms available in the market. Some allow you to use the knob to push and pull to activate the bypass mode. When you push the knob, the water starts flowing through the bypass connection. 

And when you are done with the job, pull the knob back to the normal state, and the water will not disengage from the bypass valve. 

The old method is turning the metal valve to a certain degree to allow the connection to block the water flow in the water softener. 

The mechanism requires you to turn off both the connection inward and outward line to work correctly.