Why Learn How To Maintain Your Water Softener?
Your best line of defense against limescale is a water softener. The top water softener systems are so powerful that they can completely remove hardness minerals from your water, giving your entire home the advantages of soft water.
Most of the time, water softener maintenance is quite easy. You can do more than just periodically add fresh salt to the brine tank to make sure that your system keeps operating smoothly and at its best for years to come.
The longevity and repair costs of a water softener can both be increased with proper water softener maintenance. The good news is that it’s not difficult for any homeowner to handle.
What Is Water Softener?
A water softener is a filtration system that removes calcium and magnesium deposits from hard water. The plumbing source in your home is where the system is attached. Soft water will flow out of your appliances and faucets after the harmful chemicals that damage the water in your house have been removed.
How Do Water Softeners Work?
The main tank and the brine tank are the two tanks that make up a water softener. Tiny resin beads that serve as a magnet for calcium and magnesium are present in the main tank. The water softener main tank filters the hard water, producing soft water that is pushed out of the plumbing system of your home.
The brine tank comes into play when the water softener main tank accumulates harsh chemicals from repeated use. Salt water from the brine tank is pumped through the main tank to flush away the accumulation and allow the resin beads to resume their operation.
Water Softener Maintenance
There are various water softener maintenance procedures for softeners that are crucial for various causes.
In general, your water softener may develop a problem if you don’t undertake routine system water softener maintenance as instructed by the manufacturer.
The water softener system’s capacity to complete a regen cycle will be affected by a number of overlooked water softener maintenance activities, and since regeneration tops off the system’s salt levels, it’s rather essential. A water softener is useless without salt.
Given that a water softener’s job is to remove the minerals from hard water, you may assume that it would know how to prevent scale buildup. Although regeneration does offer some assistance, it is very likely that minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron will assemble inside the device.
Your water softener is more prone to an accumulation of mineral ions over time if you’re softening well water. Discover our top well water softeners right here.
How To Maintain Water Softener
Let’s examine three of the most typical issues you could encounter when operating your water softener.
Removing a Salt Bridge
Your water softener brine tank could occasionally develop a salt bridge, which is a hard crust. A softener with too much salt or too much humidity can frequently experience salt bridging.
When salt bridges, it creates an air space between it and the water, which prevents the salt from dissolving. Without dissolved sodium, there won’t be any brine, which prevents the resin beads in the water softener from properly regenerating and prevents any water that passes through the water softener from being softened.
It only takes a few minutes to remove a brine bridge; just keep in mind to check your water softener frequently for bridging. Turn a mop or broom upside down and gently press the top of the handle against the salt until it breaks off to solve the problem.
Avoid being overly forceful in this situation, especially if you’re taking salt off the tank’s sidewalls. If the chunks are very hard, hot water might also be helpful in breaking them up.
Once the salt crystals are afloat in the water, remove them by scooping them out with a little container. Now that the water softener is prepared to regenerate, you can immediately add additional sodium.
Make sure you only put two-thirds of the salt in your brine tank to completely prevent salt bridging. The upper third should only contain water, which should provide enough room to prevent bridging.
Fixing Salt Mushing
A comparable issue that develops in the water softener brine tank’s bottom is salt mushing. Evaporated salt pellets might not always dissolve completely in water. When this occurs, the salt condenses into tiny granules that group together to form a mushy layer, or “salt mushing.”
The water softener tank’s water intake valve may eventually become clogged if salt mushing is allowed to accumulate over time. It’s essential to avoid this at all costs because there won’t be enough water in the tank, which will lead to more problems with bridging and drying out.
In the event that salt mushing is found, try cleaning the brine tank. The issue might have been isolated, but if it reappears, try a new brand or kind of sodium.
Try crystals, for instance, if pellets don’t appear to work well in your water softener. Additionally, salt quality can affect how well it dissolves, so it’s worth spending a little extra money to try salt from a different brand to see if it solves your water softener problem.
Addressing Iron & Manganese Buildup
Iron and manganese can cause deposits to form on the interior of your water softener tank even though certain water softeners are made to handle trace amounts of these elements. These buildups might reduce your water flow and reduce the water softener’s effectiveness. If routine cleaning is neglected, they may eventually even clog a water softener.
You must clean out the impacted parts of the water softener system in accordance with your user handbook if you find iron and manganese buildup in your water softener.
If your water is severely tainted with these contaminants, you might think about installing a whole-home water filter, which will keep your water softener, pipes, and appliances in much better shape.
The alternative, which involves more work on your part, is to routinely clean your water softener to get rid of the deposits.
How to Clean a Water Softener?
Although water softeners aren’t very complicated devices, they do contain various parts that each need to be cleaned differently. The brine and resin tank can be drained and cleaned by following the steps below.
How to Drain the Brine Tank?
You must drain the water from your water softener’s brine tank before cleaning it. However, you might not always need to follow this advice. In contrast to post-fill water softeners, pre-fill water softeners do not automatically replace the brine tank after regeneration.
You have a few choices for emptying the brine tank on your post-fill softener:
Scoop or Vacuum the Water
The simplest solution is to use a clean container or a bucket small enough to dip into the tank to scoop out the water.
Keep the water if it is pure and safe to use again. Once you’re done cleaning, you can pour it back into the tank. Before being scooped out, any large, difficult blocks of salt can be broken up with some hot water.
If you happen to own one, using a wet vacuum is another alternative for removing the water from the tank. However, it would be far more difficult to save this water for later use.
Regenerate The Softener
Your water softener can be programmed to initiate a manual regeneration cycle, which would drain the tank of water during the brining step. This is the second method for draining the tank.
When the tank is prepared, you must choose the option to skip the remaining steps of the cycle in order to stop the tank from automatically refilling. If you want to learn more about your particular device, consult your user manual for information about regeneration.
Empty Down a Drain
The last alternative is to consider using an appropriate drain to empty the water from your brine tank. Make sure to bypass your water before moving the tank, if necessary. The brine tank’s water supply can then be safely disconnected.
At this point, you should also take off the overflow pipe and, if your softener has one, the salt grid.
Finally, take out the float and brine well from the tank before tipping it to dump the contents down your drain. Be careful where you empty the tank because dumping salty water on your lawn could destroy the grass. If you need assistance because lifting the tank is too heavy for you to do on your own, ask a friend or family member.
How to Clean the Brine Tank?
It’s time to clean your brine tank once it has been emptied. Depending on the quality of your water and any pertinent personal factors, it is advised that you clean your tank once every one to five years.
Turn the bypass valve on your water softener to turn off the water before you begin. Afterward, adhere to the detailed recommendations provided below on how to clean a water softener brine tank:
Wait for the most suitable time for cleaning
There is no use in cleaning your brine tank right away if you have just topped it off with sodium. Instead, wait until the tank is almost empty to avoid having to shovel the salt out. Additionally, the tank will be lighter and simpler to handle.
You will be able to see any mold or dirt that may have developed in the tank’s bottom better if the salt levels are low. You can remove it with a little extra work if your salt levels are quite high and you want to start cleaning your brine tank right immediately.
Any salt that is above the grid plate should be saved and put back in after cleaning is complete. Any salt that is below the grid plate should be thrown away.
Remove the salt grid and brine well
It’s possible that you’ve already removed the brine well and grid plate (if your water softener system has either). If you haven’t, now is the perfect opportunity.
Clear salt/sludge from the water softener
Even if you clean your water softener at a time when the salt tank’s sodium content is relatively low, the tank probably still has some salt or muck that needs to be removed. You can now remove this sludge if you have drained the tank in accordance with the above guidelines. Grab a shovel or comparable instrument, and get ready to work hard.
As you remove the sludge, take care not to scratch the tank’s walls. To remove any salt that is firmly adhering to the tank’s surface, you might also need to use a broom handle.
Rinse the inside of the tank
After that, rinse out the tank’s interior using a hose. This should remove any remaining evaporated salt pellets or sludgey material from the tank.
It will be simpler to manually clean out the tank by hosing.
Scrub the inside with dish soap
You are now prepared to scour the interior of the brine tank in your water softener.
Grab a brush and some dish soap, a little detergent, and start scrubbing. Unless you have mold, in which case a mold removal treatment may be necessary, you don’t need anything more abrasive than this to perform the job. It’s unlikely that you will restore your tank to like-new condition, and that’s okay. The only thing you want to do is clean what you can.
Rinse thoroughly & refill
Once you’ve washed off all the dirt you can, properly rinse the tank to remove the dishwashing detergent. Now that your tank is empty, you can add sodium to it (and water for post-fill water softeners).
Before refilling, reinstall the tank because it becomes quite hefty when it is full. To avoid salt bridges, simply fill your salt container two-thirds of the way up to the water line. Additionally, remember to open the bypass valve so that water is directed back toward the water softener.
Set manual regeneration cycle
After cleaning the water softener system, it is advised that you manually set your water softener’s regen cycle for the following night. This is merely due to the fact that you shouldn’t need to use your water overnight, and the water softener will be ready to use again by morning.
At the very least, the brine tank needs to be cleaned every five years. I advise washing it once every twelve months.
How to Clean the Resin Tank?
Looking to clean the resin tank in a water softener? Fortunately, cleaning the water softener’s resin beads is much simpler, and you might not even need to.
You might not need to worry about cleaning your water softener resin tank if you use municipal water (though, of course, you can still clean the resin beads if you want to). Cleaning the resin beads is especially important if your water contains a lot of iron or manganese, which is likely the case if it originates from a private well.
This is so that the pollutants won’t foul the resin beads because they won’t be completely eliminated during a regen cycle.
Water Softener Cleaner
Use a specialized water softener cleaner for the resin beads if you’re cleaning the bed inside the resin tank. The frequency of cleaning the resin bed will depend on the quality of your water, but it is normally advised that you do so at least once every three to twelve months.
Water softener cleaner can come in a variety of varieties. Additionally, there might be items marketed as “rust removers” or “rust stain removers” that are good for cleaning the resin bed. It’s crucial to locate a solution that is intended for use with water softeners because they will all explicitly mention that they are acceptable for water softeners.
The manufacturer’s instructions will determine the precise procedure for cleaning the resin bed.
Most goods need to be dissolved in water and then poured over the salt in your water softener’s brine tank. Before beginning the regen cycle, the product may need to be added to the resin tank. Some are dry solutions, whereas others are liquid ones.
Check the instructions carefully because some may call for a lot of water softener salt in the brine tank while others might only function when the salt levels in your water softener is extremely low.
The best items include a dispenser that ought to be mounted within the brine tank. The hard work will be done for you by this dispenser, which daily adds a tiny quantity of cleaning solution to the water softener. The resin beads are automatically cleaned as part of the water softener system’s regen cycle, making water softener maintenance simpler.
Tips on How to Increase The Lifespan Of Your Softener
Use High-Quality Salt
Use of the proper salt is one of the best things you can do to keep your water softener well-maintained and functioning effectively. You can choose from 4 different types of salt for your water softener:
The cheapest water softener salt available is rock salt, but it’s usually not the healthiest option for your water softener. This is because of the pollutants it contains, which over time may generate an extremely muddy tank. You’ll have less effective water softener and more pollutants in your water.
- Solar Salt: Compared to rock salt, solar salt is far more soluble. Seawater is evaporated to extract the salt that it contains to create solar salt. Both pellets and crystals of solar salt are available. The preferable choice is pellets because they are bigger and don’t clog your water softener like crystals can.
- Evaporated salt: Salt that has either been mined or evaporated. The finest alternative for your water softener is this pure kind of salt. The cleanest salt you can buy, evaporated salt pellets are 99.99% sodium chloride and contains nearly no other contaminants.
Although potassium chloride isn’t actually salt, it will function as salt in your water softener. It is the softener salt variety that costs the most. For those who really need to limit their sodium intake in their diet, it might still be a good option.
Search for salt with a purity level that is as close to 100% as possible. There will be fewer water softener maintenance problems, such as salt bridges, salt mushing, and sediment buildups, the purer the salt.
Regularly Clean Your Brine Tank
Modern water softeners only require cleaning once every five to ten years if you own one. Older machines, however, require annual cleaning. If your water has become hard and removing salt bridges and mush doesn’t help, clean up your tank by carrying out the following actions:
- Empty the Water and Salt from the Tank: To empty the water and salt from your tank, you must either siphon or dump all of the water out of it. Dissolve any residual bridges or blocks in hot water if you have any. Remove the brine grid, which is a mesh platform located at the bottom of the brine tank on your softener, before you begin cleaning.
- Clean the Interior: Pour 4 to 8 liters of water and a lot of dish soap into the tank to clean the interior. Scrub the inside of the tank’s sides and bottom with a brush that has a long handle.
- Rinse the Tank: Empty the entire soapy water out, and then thoroughly rinse the interior with fresh water.
- Disinfect with Bleach: Next, fill the tank with a solution made by combining 1/4 cup of household bleach with 8–11 liters of water. After giving the bleach solution a thorough stir, leave it alone for about 15 minutes. After draining the bleach solution, thoroughly clean the tank once more with clear water.
- Refill Your Tank: As usual, add salt and water to your tank. Before beginning the regenerative cycles again, it is advisable to wait a few hours to give the salt time to dissolve in the water.
Look Out for Salt Bridges
Your brine tank may occasionally develop a hard crust that leaves a gap between the salt and water. A salt bridge is what this is.
Salt bridges prevent the salt from dissolving into the water and creating the brine that is needed to soften the water and coat the resin beads. Click here to read more about how your water softener functions.
Do the following to get rid of a salt bridge:
- Take a long broom handle or other similarly length piece of wood or metal and lower it through the bridge to the tank’s bottom.
- Break apart the bridge by moving the handle around the tank’s center.
- If you have trouble breaking the bridge, pour hot water over it.
- Use less salt and let it get lower before adding more to reduce salt bridges, according to this tip.