Culligan Water Softener How to and Troubleshooting Guide

Culligan Water Softener How to and Troubleshooting Guide

Hard water makes it challenging to do ordinary tasks and leads to plumbing problems. Getting a water softener for your home ensures that your pipes do not block easily and you do not need a large amount of soap to do simple household tasks. A water softener system works by removing magnesium, calcium, and other elements from your water. Soft water ensures that you use less soap and energy when cleaning your home. An excellent water softener you can use is a Culligan water softener.

Culligan Water, established in 1936, makes Culligan water softeners and today manufactures high-quality water softeners for commercial, industrial, and residential consumers. The softeners are made of high-quality materials and effectively soften water in your home. So if you are looking for a water softener for your home, a Culligan water softener is an excellent choice.

Whether you intend to buy one or already own one, it is essential to learn how it works and make minor repairs. In addition, good maintenance is necessary, and knowing the signs of trouble will help you make the necessary repairs and ensure that your water softening system works for a very long time. Below you will find a comprehensive guide on how to use and troubleshoot your Culligan water softener.  

How to reset a Culligan water softener

If your water has a metallic or salt taste, you may need to reset your Culligan water softener. A reset will ensure that your water tastes nice and your soap foams when cleaning. Follow these steps to reset your water softener.

  • Start by long-pressing the Regen button on top of your water softener for about 3 seconds. You can also long-press it until there is a loud beep.
  • Use the arrow buttons to change your water softener’s regeneration time. You can use the checkmark to save the new information.  
  • Use the up and down button and set the days for your regeneration cycle.
  • You can use the arrow buttons to choose the best setting for the type of water in your home. However, it is essential to adjust your water hardness regularly.
  • Use the arrow button to set the Iron levels in your water, and use the checkmark button to save the new information.

How do I know if the Culligan water softener is working?

Whether you just bought a new Culligan water softener or have had it for a while, you can regularly check whether it is working. If you have regeneration issues, debris in the system, or a worn-out motor, it can affect the performance of your water softener system. Here are ways you can test whether the system is working correctly.  

The Soap Test

To check that your water softener is working correctly, use liquid soap. Make sure that it lathers and forms bubbles. If your softener is not working, the water will be hard and not lather.

Water hardness test kits

Water hardness test kits are available for sale online or at your local hardware store. The test kit will tell you whether your softener system works depending on whether the water is soft or hard. Bear in mind that if your machine is working correctly, mineral content in your water should range between 0-17.1 milligrams per liter.

Why is my Culligan water softener full of water?

If you notice that your Culligan water softener has too much water and is overflowing, you need to fix the problem immediately. These problems have simple solutions, and you will not have to hire a technician to fix them. However, be careful when disassembling your Culligan water softener to ensure that you do not hurt yourself or damage the system. Here are the reasons why your tank is overflowing and their solutions.

  • If the brine line is not correctly connected to the float in the brine well, your water softener will overflow. Check the connections and if there is a problem, make the necessary adjustments.
  • Obstructions could also cause your water softener to overflow. For example, salt can clog your tank and stop water from flowing into the brine tank. It can also prevent water from flowing out of the brine tank.
  • Obstructions can also occur on the drain line meaning brine will not flow through the brine line. Clogging can also occur in the drain line flow control valve. This problem is widespread in areas where the water has high iron levels.
  • Clogging can occur if debris gets into your tank and is sucked into the lines. It is essential to clean your tank to ensure that it does not happen regularly. If debris blocks your valves or lines, your Culligan water softener will overflow.
  • Another cause of an overfilled tank is a loose control float cap. As the softener works, the vibrations cause the lid to loosen, and it may even fall into the tank. Make sure that you check it regularly and tighten it.
  • Injector obstructions are a common cause of water overflowing from your brine tank. That is because the small hole in the injector provides suction, ensuring that the brine flows out of the tank. Make sure that you clean your injector regularly, especially if your water has a large amount of iron in it. If yours is clogged and you cannot clean it, you can easily replace it with a new one.
  • If all the above are working, inspect the pistons and spacer stack. You can do that by removing the brine and drain lines. Next, check whether water is flowing through the valve. If it is not, you need to replace the pistons or spacers. If you do not know how to fix it yourself, hire a technician to repair it for you.

Culligan Water Softener won’t stop running.

A water softener should not keep running all the time. But, if it is, check for the following issues and make the necessary repairs.

  • Your water softener could be stuck on a regeneration cycle if brine does not flow into the resin tank. First, check for obstructions or kinks and make necessary repairs.
  • Clogged lines or control valves can also make your water softener system run non-stop. Check the brine line, brine valve, injector, drain control line for debris or mineral deposits. Clean them to remove the clogs.
  • Check the water pressure in your home; very low water pressure means that your water softener system does not get enough water.
  • Check the circuit switch and settings to ensure that you have set your system correctly. If they are not, reset the regeneration cycle and repair the damage in the circuit switch.

How to configure your Culligan water softener

The first thing you need to do when you purchase a new water softener system is to configure it. Follow these steps to set up your Culligan water softener.

  • From the home screen, use the arrows to navigate to the main menu. Use the buttons to set the time and date. Use the checkmark button to save the new details. Make sure that you choose the clock type along with the day of the week.
  • Next, the screen will display Daylight Savings Time, use the arrows to change the setting, and then the checkmark button to save your new settings.
  • After changing all these details, use the X button to save and initialize the system.

The Culligan water filter is constantly draining.

If your water filter is constantly draining, it can be unpleasant. First, check that it is not stuck in a regeneration cycle, the lines are not clogged, and you do not have a broken switch. Incorrect regeneration settings could also cause this problem. Then, make all the necessary repairs so that your appliance works.

How to stop Culligan water softener regeneration

There are several ways to stop a regeneration cycle. You can choose to bypass the water softener, unplug it or advance the regeneration cycle to the end. Unfortunately, Culligan water softeners do not come with a cancel button, but the above ways are helpful.

Culligan water softener not using salt

If you notice that your water softener is not using up salt, it may be due to a salt bridge in the bottom of your tank. A salt bridge forms when pieces of salt bond together and create a hard surface on your water in the brine tank. The hard surface blocks your new salt from falling. You can quickly solve this problem at home.

How to determine whether you have a salt bridge

Hard water from your faucets is the first sign that you have a salt bridge forming in your brine tank. Since the bridge, as mentioned above, does not allow new salt to fall, your system will not soften your water. You can use a broom handle to check for a salt bridge. Push the broom into the salt until it hits the bottom. If the broom does not touch the base because you keep hitting something hard, you have a salt bridge, and you need to remove it. Follow these easy steps to remove a salt bridge.

  • Place your Culligan water softener in the bypass position.
  • Take out all the loose salt using a cup or bowl and put it in a bucket.
  • You should be able to see the salt bridge after that. Then, using a rubber hammer, break off the pieces of the salt bridge and place them in the bucket with the rest of the salt.
  • Below the salt bridge, you should find water. Use a cup or shop vac to remove it all.
  • Pour hot water into the tank until it submerges any of the hard crusty salt pieces at the bottom of the brine tank. Make sure it covers any salt on the wall of the tank too.
  • Uncap the brine well and pour in hot water. Allow the hot water to sit for between four and six hours.
  • After that, set the water softener to the service position and set a regeneration cycle.
  • Check the tank for any more salt using a broom handle. Keep checking until there are no more salt chunks at the bottom of your brine tank.
  • When satisfied, pour in the salt you removed and ensure that you do not overfill the tank. Use the recommended amount of two-thirds full.

How to prevent salt bridges

To ensure that you do not have any more problems with salt bridges, do the following things.

  • Always ensure that the salt you put in the brine tanks is ⅔ full and not more.
  • Buy and use high-quality salt.
  • If your softener is in a room with high humidity, try to reduce it.
  • Regularly check the tank for a salt bridge.

All Culligan water softener error codes, their meanings, and fixes

Your Culligan water softener uses error codes to tell you about any problems and issues in the system. Here are some standard error codes for Culligan water softeners.

Err 1

Error 1 will appear on your machine if the motor does not start. You can clear this error by long-pressing the program button. However, if it keeps appearing, you may need to replace the motor on your Culligan water softener.

Err 2

This error tells you that your motor is running when it should have stopped. Make sure that you take time to inspect your water softener motor. Remember to turn off all power to the system before checking it. You can clear this error by pressing and holding the Program button.

Err 3

Error 3 signals that the system is in an incorrect cycle position. Inspect the system and make the necessary adjustments. Using the program button will clear this error.

Err 4

This error signifies that the control type on your water softener does not match. For example, you may have set your controls to 3 and 4, but the system detects a four-cycle valve. Make the necessary adjustments or contact a Culligan technician to help you if pressing the Program key does not clear this error.  

Check Salt

This error is a sign that the system does not detect brine. Check your salt levels and put in salt if you are running out.


Your system may beep between 8 am and 8 pm, and you can stop the beeping by pressing any key. The beeps accompany errors, and you can clear error codes by pressing the program key. If that does not correct the error, you may need to make further inspections or repairs.

Culligan water softener not filling

It is impossible to know that your brine tank is not getting enough water until you run out of salt. The tank does not fill up to the top, so you will not see the water. If you are worried about your water filling, check the water level before adding salt when it runs out. That said, water flow to your brine tank can be impaired, which will affect your softener’s softening capacity, and regeneration will only be partial. Follow these steps to solve that problem.

  • Begin by checking the float switch in your brine tank. Make sure that it is straight and can move up and down. If the button is stuck, clean the brine well and all its components, and that should work.
  • Check the brine valve and line and ensure that they are not blocked. If either or both are blocked, soak them in hot water and flush them to unclog.

Culligan Water softener display not working

If your Culligan water softener display is not working, it can be very inconvenient. You will not be able to see error messages or reset them. A failed display could be due to any of the following issues.

  • If you do not have electrical power, your display will not work. First, check the power outlet you use for the softener by unplugging it and plugging in an appliance to check for power. If the outlet is not working, repair it, and your softener display will light up.
  • If your outlet is working, inspect the water softener transformer and its connections to the timer. Repair or replace loose wires.
  • Inspect the transformer wires for damage and replace them if the wires are badly damaged.
  • If all the above are working correctly, then the problem is your timer. It would help if you replaced it immediately.

Culligan water softener is not turning on.

If your Culligan water softener does not turn on, then you will not get soft water to use in your home. If you notice that the system is not switching on, then follow these steps to fix the issue.

  • Check the power cord and ensure that it is plugged in. Make sure that the wall switches you have turned on the wall switches.
  • Inspect the circuit breakers if you are not getting power to your unit. If they tripped, reset and replace blown fuses.  
  • If you have had a power outage recently, you will need to reset the timer. You can do that by pressing the Regen button.
  • Make sure that your bypass valves are in the correct position. For example, open the outlet and inlet valves if they are closed and close your bypass valve.
  • Inspect your water supply and its pressure. Use a tap ahead of the softener to gauge pressure. If you have water, then ensure that the bypass valve is not open. If it is, close it.
  • In case you are using more water in your home, you will need to increase the capacity of your water softener. To do that, you change the recharge schedule on your water softener.
  • First, go to the main menu and press the arrow button until the day appears, followed by the number of hours between recharges.
  • Then, reduce that number and use the checkmark button to save the details.
  • Refill your salt tank and then recharge after four hours. Use the regen button to start a recharge cycle.

How to bypass a Culligan water softener

There are several ways to bypass a Culligan water softener. You can push the red button, turn the bypass valve or switch the system to bypass operation.

  • The red button is usually on the control head of your water softener. Firmly press the red button until it is flush against the pipe.
  • To switch to bypass operation, locate the blue dial on the control head. Then, turn it clockwise to bypass the water softener.  
  • To use the bypass valve, you will need to turn the bypass valve and the other two valves on your system. First, turn the valves on the right and left to the closed position. Then turn the middle valve to the on position, and water will flow through your house, bypassing the water softener.

How to set time on Culligan water softener

You need to set the time on your water soften so that you can appropriately schedule regeneration. Follow these steps to set the time.

  • From the main menu, use the arrow and checkmark buttons to choose Set time and date.
  • Start by setting the month. You can use the arrow button to choose the month and then use the checkmark button to save the new information.
  • Next, set the day of the month along with the year using the same process.
  • Now choose the clock type. You can use a 24-hour or 12-hour clock, depending on your preference.
  • Use the arrow button to set the hour and then the minutes, and use the checkmark button to save both.  

Check this too: Kinetico Water Softener How-to and Troubleshooting Guide

Maintenance tips for a water softener system

Here are tips on how to clean and care for your water softener system.

  • Do not place heavy things on your salt storage tank or timer cover. That will damage it.
  • Use warm water and mild soap to clean the outside of your water softener. Do not use bleach, vinegar, or other acidic cleaners.
  • Make sure that you protect the drain line from freezing temperatures. If it freezes, it is not advisable to fix it yourself. Instead, consider contacting a Culligan water softener technician.
  • Make sure that you only use potable water in your water softener. If local water is contaminated, do not use your water softener; bypass it and wait for the water to be potable again. Remember to have the system sanitized before using it again.