Saveourh2o is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

How to Turn Off a Water Softener? – Quick and Easy Guide

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how to turn off a water softener

Hard water problems can be a nuisance because they tend to cause major plumbing issues. Depending on how much hardness is present in your water supply, your water softener will regenerate daily.

Therefore, it runs most of the time when needed. But if you’re planning to have a weekend getaway with your family, you might be thinking about how to turn off a water softener temporarily.

Typically, all you have to do is locate the bypass valve (alternatively called a water softener shut-off valve) and switch it off. Don’t worry; I got you covered with the quick and easy steps to do it. Let’s start!

Table of Contents

What Will You Need in This Tutorial


For starters, a water softener consists of three modes that help it function correctly: service, regeneration, and bypass mode. When in a service mode, hard water flows from the main water line into your softener unit; and undergoes a normal softening cycle.

Backwashing occurs during regeneration mode and recharges the saturated softening resins, making it ready to soften water again. If you put your water softener in the bypass, hard water will divert away from the resin tank and can’t be softened. Thus, hard water is distributed throughout your home.

Some modern water softeners feature a vacation mode menu, and which will prevent your water softener from regenerating once activated. You can freely turn off water softener vacation mode once you come back from a family trip.

Now that you know how your softener operates, get ready to prepare the following tools to help you shut off the water softener easily :

Dry Towel

You would need to put the towel underneath the pipes to catch the leaks. Typically, any domestic cleaning cloth could work, but I highly recommend using a microfiber towel if you have it at your home. Microfibers can repel water with their great absorbency, ensuring that no spillages are left behind on the floor.

Gripping Tool

Out of the many gripping tools for DIY plumbing, what tool should you use? Many DIYers have a wide range of selections depending on their usage expertise :

  • Channel Lock Pliers: A pair of channel lock pliers saves the day! Most DIYers online use this tool to effectively screw and unscrew the bypass valve inlet and outlet ports. I tried it myself, and it gives tremendous leverage when fixing the valve lines from the water softener.
  • Channel-lock pliers are designed for grabbing and crimping the end of pipelines and any metal fittings. Their gripping jaws lock tight in place and eliminate nut and bolt failure.
  • I prefer this tool because of its ergonomic design that allows gripping movements without affecting the distance between the handles; Thus, tightening and loosening the bypass valve fittings becomes manageable.
  • Adjustable Wrench – While an adjustable wrench is always included in every homeowner’s toolbox and fits a variety of plumbing fittings, the jaws tend to loosen while subsequently in use.

But if you have a firm hand grip, this wrench should work fine and can still deliver a decent clutch on your workpiece. It may not be a perfect alternative, but it serves its purpose.

Water Softener Seal Kit

You can easily disconnect the water softener from your water supply by purchasing a comprehensive seal kit. It usually provides precise fittings that fully enclose the inlet, outlet, and drain hose. Thus, leaving your home leak-free while you are away.

Step-by-Step Instruction


You do not need to be a pro to kick-start this small-scale task. Whether you set your water softener bypass valve on or off, you have different options on how you want to disable it! :

Method 1: Disconnecting Water Softener From Your Water Supply

  • Step 1: Prepare your DIY tools beforehand. Make sure that all of the necessary supplies are complete so that you can finish the process without difficulty.
  • Step 2: Look for the two hoses attached at the back of your unit. Trace them until you find the three main valves (inlet, outlet, and bypass). Close the inlet and outlet valve, which is in line with the copper pipeline; Lastly, open the bypass valve (usually cutting across the pipe).
  • Pro Tip: A bypass valve setup varies depending on the type of inlet and outlet plumbing on your water softener. Therefore you may have a turnable knob, push-button, or lever-style bypass valve.
  • Step 3: Unlink the hoses from the water softener. Before removing the hoses, grab the towel and put it down to catch the dripping water caused by the pressure buildup.
  • After that, use a pair of channel-lock pliers to unscrew the hoses. You can do it by twisting the fittings attached to them until they loosen.
  • Step 4: Use the seal-off kit to cap on the inlet, outlet, and drain ports. It will help to avoid leaks. Voila! You have successfully isolated your water softener from the plumbing system.

Method 2: Unplugging Water Softener From The Power Supply

Can I unplug my water softener? Yes, you can! You don’t need to shut off the main water supply to do it. If you’re wondering if you can unplug the water softener while it’s still running, the answer is yes.

The resin tank may still soften your water for a short period until the resin beads reach their capacity. It won’t regenerate on its own after that. You have to follow the initial steps before you unplug the machine :

  • Step 1: This step is the same as the second step of Method 1. You have to trace the hoses until it leads you to the copper pipeline. Look for the knobs/handle of the valves. Set them to their designated settings.
  • Using the pliers, turn the valves 90 degrees. At this point, the inlet and water valve should be closed and leave the access to the bypass mode open. It will now allow water to run throughout your home.
  • Pro Tip: If you are confused about which direction you should turn the valve, take note of this trick: The valves are open if the handle is in line with them, whereas the valves are closed if the handle is across the valve.
  • Step 2: Inspect the pipe towards the water softener; it should have no access to hard water because the water supply has been completely cut off from your water softener. If there are no problems, you may now shut off the electricity to your unit by simply unplugging it from the wall, and you’re good to go!


Turning off a water softener shouldn’t be a real hassle if you know the basics! Now that you’ve gathered the necessary information about how to turn off a water softener, it brings peace of mind.

You no longer have to be anxious about it leaking while you’re on a jam-packed vacation with your family. Just don’t forget to complete the essential toolbox to help you turn off your unit smoothly and leave home at ease. Do you have any questions? Leave your comments below! Let me assist you.

5/5 - (3 votes)