Although they may seem complicated with all the various cycles and regeneration taking place, the water softener is actually a simple plumbing fixture to maintain. You as a homeowner must be familiar with the operation, and perform regular scheduled maintenance EVERY 6 MONTHS. If you have an automatic softener, clean the brine line and injector screen. Check for any blockages. The salt "bridging" you mentioned is a direct result of condensation forming in the brine tank, and will eventually block the flow of saltwater from the brine tank to the resin tank. If you have a high iron concentration in your supply water, the mineral will cause the resin "beads" to break down, and will block hoses and valves. I can advise you to try 3 things, before you decide to replace the unit or call a professional. 1) Check and refill the salt in the brine tank. 2) Set the timer to regenerate more often 3) Have your supply water checked for high iron concentrations, you may need an iron filter on the line. Hope this helped some, and please post back and let me know how you made out.