How to Clean Water Softener? [Pro Tips]

Should You Clean a Water Softener?

Even while cleaning is not always fun, it frequently has benefits that we can only appreciate if we routinely clean and take care of our systems. Cleaning Water softeners are not an exception to this law, and if correctly maintained, they can collect and clean our water so effectively and consistently for us.

From cleaning the resin tank to the filter to the resin bed, every part of the water softener will require care and maintenance in order to continue supplying us with clean, soft water. Our article today will touch on how to clean water softener as well as some basic maintenance to prolong your water softener’s lifespan.

Why is it Important to Clean Water Softener?

Despite their relative independence, water softeners still need to be cleaned sometimes to avoid an accumulation of pollutants.

Here are a few important reasons why you should regularly clean your water softener:

  • To prevent accumulation of dirt and sediment
  • To prevent early fouling of the resin bed
  • To avoid salt mushing and bridging issues
  • To ensure water softener system works efficiently
  • To increase the lifespan of the resin
  • To reduce the frequency of repairs

Cleaning out the resin tank and cleaning out the brine tank are the two primary cleaning jobs for a water softener. To avoid dust and grime accumulation, you should also clean the tanks’ exteriors.

How to Clean a Water Softener Resin Tank

It is recommended to empty a resin tank once a year, or when you perform water softener maintenance.

Aim to clear out the resin bed at least once a year to prevent fouling if your water is particularly hard or contains a lot of iron or manganese. Even if your water appears to be clean, it may be leaving a variety of impurities inside the resin.

To clean the resin beads, use a substance referred to as a rust remover or rust stain remover. Make sure the item is appropriate for or developed for use in water softeners.

Cleaning directions vary depending on the resin cleaner. The procedures for cleaning the resin beads will differ depending on the product you select and go something like this:

  1. Dissolve cleanser in water according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Fill the brine tank with cleaner-water mixture.
  3. Set the water softener to run on the regeneration cycle.
  4. As the water softener regenerates, the cleaner will clean the resin bed.

It’s crucial that you read the resin cleaner’s directions very carefully. While some cleaners can only be used when the water softener brine tank is depleted of salt, others must be added when the water softener brine tank is full with salt.

If you don’t want to remember to clean the resin bed manually, you can purchase specialised resin cleaner dispensers. Every day, these dispensers, which are installed inside your brine tank, provide precisely calculated amounts of solution to the system.

How to Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank

Compared to the resin tank, the brine tank requires more work to clean and might need to be cleaned more frequently.

The majority of brine tanks will require cleaning every six to twelve months. If you use salt that has a low purity, such as rock salt, you might need to clean the tank more frequently to get rid of filth buildup. You must disregard your cleaning schedule and clean the tank immediately if a salt bridge forms in the water softener tank.

Let’s look at the process for thoroughly cleaning a water softener brine tank:

1. Hold off until the salt content is low.

Cleaning the water softener brine tank makes sense when the sodium levels are low. If you empty the tank for cleaning after you have recently added salt pellets, you will simply waste salt.

Wait until the brine tank is light enough to lift easily and there isn’t much salt remaining. As a result, you won’t need to remove as much salt from the tank and you’ll be able to see how much dirt has accumulated around the tank’s bottom.

2. Cut the Water Off
Turn the bypass valve on the water softener to turn off the water when you’re ready to start cleaning.

When the system is not in use, this will direct water away from it and make it safe for you to reach the brine tank. If necessary, you can still use unsoftened water in your home.

3. Empty your brine tank.
From the brine tank’s base, take out the grid plate and brine well. Using a large bucket or a wet vacuum, remove the water from the tank and drain it.

Disconnect the tank from your water supply when it is light enough to be carried, then pour the remaining brine solution down the drain.

Alternately, program your water softener to go through a regeneration cycle and then stop when the brine tank has been drained.

4. Remove any remaining salt.
You’ll be left with a layer of sludge or salt at the bottom of the tank once the water has evaporated.

Scoop the sludge out of the tank with a shovel, being careful not to scrape the walls. Use a broom handle to whack salt that is stuck to the sides in tough, obstinate bits.

5. Clean the Tank
Place the tank in your yard, then wash it down with a hose. This will eliminate any salt or brine that may still be there, as well as the simple-to-lift sediment from the tank’s edges.

To make the subsequent cleaning stage easier, try to get the tank as clean as you can using the hose.

6. Use Detergent to Clean the Tank
In a bucket, combine a few drops of dish soap with two glasses of water. Scrub the interior of the tank with the soapy water after dipping a non-abrasive sponge into the solution.

Apply a natural mold-removal remedy if you see mold in the tank that won’t go away.

7. Clean the Tank and Fill It Up
After thoroughly cleaning the tank, rinse it with water from your garden hose to remove the suds. Use a towel to dry the tank’s interior or leave it outside to dry naturally.

Install the tank once again, then top it over with salt pellets. Turn the bypass valve to allow water to enter the system once more.

8. Program a Manual Regeneration Cycle for the System.
After you’ve cleansed the water softener tank, program your softener to run a regeneration cycle overnight.

Cleaning Brine Tanks After a Salt Bridge has Formed

A salt bridge is a thick, crusty covering of salt that accumulates on top of the brine tank’s leftover salt. Salt bridges can be misleading because they give the appearance that the tank still has a lot of salt in it even if the area underneath the bridge may be completely empty.

The salt bridge cannot simply be crossed with more salt. Instead, you’ll need to remove the salt bridge and clean the tank before adding more salt.

To remove salt bridges, clean a brine tank as follows:

  1. Identify the salt bridge. Salt bridges are dense, strong, and unyielding. If you haven’t added more salt pellets in a while, but the tank still appears to be full, gently push the top layer of salt with the back of a broom. You most likely have a salt bridge if the salt won’t budge.
  2. Break up the salt bridge. Broom handle pressure must be increased until the salt bridge is broken. You don’t want to harm the water softener tank, therefore take caution when removing salt bridges from its edges. If the salt is completely compacted, pour warm or hot water onto the bridge.
  3. To remove the floating salt crystals from the water, use a small container or a net.
  4. After removing salt bridges, you may want to clean the brine tank, empty, rinse, scrub, and then refill the tank as described before.

How to Clean the Outside of a Water Softener

The brine tank and resin beads should receive the most of your attention, but don’t forget to maintain your water softening system’s exterior clean as well.

The majority of water softeners are installed in awkward spaces like a garage, cellar, or cupboard. These areas frequently become clogged with dust and dirt, which could harm the parts of your water softener.

When you see dust or debris accumulating, carefully wipe the system with a cleaning cloth dipped in a bucket of warm, soapy water.

Reducing the Frequency of Water Softener Cleaning

Most of us don’t like to clean. In the end, you can’t completely avoid cleaning your water softener. But there are a few things you can do to lessen your need to clean the water softener:

Filter Your Water Before Softening

It is well known that a water softener’s resin bed will become damaged by high levels of iron, manganese, and chlorine.

Install a whole-house water filter that gets rid of these dangerous impurities before water gets to the softener if you want to clean the resin less regularly and enjoy a resin that lasts longer.

Use High-Purity Salt

The purer your softener’s salt supply, the fewer impurities it contains. Less silt is left behind and more salt evaporates when there are fewer contaminants in the salt. Because high-purity salt is cleaner, your brine tank won’t get as dirty.

Set the System to Regenerate On Time

Your water softener won’t flush out the resin as regularly as necessary if it doesn’t regenerate as frequently as it should. The outcome? The resin will quickly degrade as it gathers dirt, iron, chlorine, and other harmful impurities. Make sure your water softener regenerates in accordance with the amount of water used in your home and the hardness of your water.

Sanitizing – Can You Put Bleach in Your Water Softener?

For a variety of causes, including a contaminated water source, a water softener and its resin in particular can get contaminated with biological organisms like bacteria. However, microorganisms can enter your water at any stage before the softening unit, even if it has been cleaned at the source.

Above that, contaminants like iron, sulfur, and others might encourage infection. A change in color, an unpleasant taste, or a rotten egg smell in your water are typical symptoms. Additionally, the brine tank may develop mildew, which can also emit an unpleasant stench.

Particularly vulnerable are newly installed water softeners, those that have been out of commission for some time, and those that operate for extended periods of time between regenerations.

Conclusion: To sterilize the brine tank following routine cleaning, mix 3 gallons of water with 2 ounces of unscented household bleach.

  • To eliminate any mold or mildew, simply let the solution sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then use a brush to scrape. Focus on the float assembly.
  • Dump the mixture and give it a thorough clean-water rinse.
  • As an alternative, you can (and ought to) disinfect the whole system. In fact, some water softeners may need routine cleaning during their usual lifespan, such as every three to twelve months.
  • 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) works well in this situation. Zeolite, greensand, and polystyrene resins can all be utilized with it.

According to one manufacturer, the brine well should contain 1.2 fluid ounces—less than a quarter cup—per cubic foot of polystyrene resin before and after the system has been backwashed. During the brining cycle, the bleach will dissolve in the brine and then be drawn into the water softener resin tank. Continue normal regeneration.

You might also need to fill the brine tank with 2 to 3 liters of water, depending on your softener. In order to ensure that all of the brine is consumed, this typically involves unplugging the appliance for 20 to 30 minutes during the brining stage.

The bleach should be in contact with the resin for at least an hour in order to completely sterilize it.

The resin bed should be rinsed with a minimum of 75 gallons of water per cubic foot to ensure that none of it gets into the water that you will subsequently utilize. Additionally, this will get rid of any byproducts of disinfection that might have developed.

Conclusion: How To Clean A Water Softener Better?

A water softener is simple to clean. When you refill the salt about once a month, it’s simple to check on the cleanliness of the brine tank in particular. If the machine’s maker permits it, be sure to run a bleach cycle through it every so often.

Use a specialized resin bead cleanser to freshen the beads in between the typical replacement cycle of 15-20 years if your water softener regenerates more frequently than usual.

Finally, keep an eye out for salt bridges. These are simple to get rid of with a shovel or stick.

Water Softener Cleaning FAQs

How frequently should a water softener be cleaned?

The water softener resin tank should be cleaned once a year, and the water softener’s brine tank should be cleaned once every 6 to 12 months. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations for your water softener in your user manual, or get in touch with customer support for further details.

What is the difference between servicing a water softener and cleaning it?

In order to clean a water softener, the salt tank and water softener resin tanks must be thoroughly washed with dish soap, water, household bleach, or a specialized cleaning solution. Checking the functionality of each component of a water softener as well as the water quality, electrical safety, and detection of any defects are all part of its servicing.

How frequently should the resin in a water softener be changed?

Your water softener resin will ultimately lose effectiveness, even with routine cleaning. The type of resin you purchase and the brand will affect how long it lasts. A 10% crosslink resin can last up to 20 years, compared to an 8% crosslink resin’s lifespan of roughly 10. For further information regarding the supplied resin, consult your user guide or get in touch with the manufacturer.

Is the brine tank in my water softener dirty?

You’ll notice a buildup of brown or gray sediment inside the salt tank of your water softener if it is dirty. When using softening salt that is less than 99% pure, a buildup of dirt is frequent because the dirt and impurities that are mixed in with the salt end up accumulating in the tank.

The good news is that since this dirt won’t dissolve in salt, it won’t end up in your water. The silt can be removed by cleaning the brine tank.

Can you clean a water softener with bleach?

Yes. You can use bleach as a sanitizer by adding 2 ounces of bleach for every 3 gallons of water to the brine tank. After leaving the bleach solution in place for up to 30 minutes, scrub the tank’s interior and discard the solution. Before adding fresh salt to the tank, rinse it with clean water, then drain it once more to remove any lingering bleach water.

How can I tell if the resin in my water softener is bad?

You’ll find that even though your water softener is utilizing salt at its typical pace, your water isn’t soft if your resin in the water softener is bad. Consider cleaning the resin beads using the instructions in this manual. If you notice no improvement, your resin has failed completely and needs to be replaced.

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