What You Need to Know About Water Softener Maintenance
If you want your water softening system to last, you have to maintain it. Don’t let the idea of water softening maintenance overwhelm you! You don’t need specialized skills to be able to maintain your water softener. You can keep it in good condition by following the information in this tutorial.
Refilling Salt in a Water Softener
Water softeners remove minerals that make your water hard—such as calcium, magnesium and iron—by replacing them with sodium or potassium chloride. This process is called ion exchange. It occurs when water passes through the brine (salt) tank in the water softener. This is why your water softeners needs salt. When the salt level is below the ¼ mark, you should add more salt. Fill it up to the 2/3 mark. Don’t fill it past that to prevent salt bridges!
If you have trouble lifting a 40-pound salt bag, try placing it on a wagon or rolling cart that you can pull up next to the tank. Then use a large plastic cup or trowel to scoop it into the tank.
How to Sanitize the Entire Water Softening System
If you have a water softening system with greensand, zeolite, or polystyrene resins, you can use bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to sanitize the whole system. It’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s website for detailed instructions.
In most cases, you can do it by following these steps:
Add 1.2 fluid ounces of bleach per cubic foot to the brine.
Set the system’s setting to backwash and then run the regeneration cycle.
Allow the resins to sit in the bleach solution for at least an hour before it backwashes.
How to Clean a Water Softener
Your water softener should be cleaned every 3 to 4 years. If you notice dark stains near the water line in the brine (salt) tank, you should clean it now! Those dark stains are mold. You don’t want mold, fungi, or bacteria to thrive in your water softener. Follow these 8 steps to clean your water softener.
Empty the brine tank.
Remove any salt or sludge at the bottom of the tank.
Rinse out the tank using a water hose.
Use a scrub sponge to remove any residue along the sides and a wet vacuum to get rid of sediment.
Once you’ve cleaned out the sludge and sediment, use a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water to cleanse the tank.
Rinse it out completely after it’s been cleaned.
Then put it back in place, refill the salt and add around 3 gallons of water to the tank.
Turn the system setting to a regeneration cycle.
How to Drain a Water Softener Brine Tank
Before you can clean, sanitize or troubleshoot a problem with your water softener, you need to drain the brine tank. The best time to choose to drain the brine tank is when the salt level is low.
If you don’t see brine in your tank, don’t worry! That means you have a pre-fill system. You can skip this step. If there is water in the brine tank, you have a post-fill system. There are four ways you can drain the brine tank:
Option 1 – Use a wet vacuum to suck the water out.
Option 2 – Manually scoop the water into a bucket. (If the water isn’t too dirty, you can pour it back into the tank afterward).
Option 3 – Switch the setting on the tank to the regeneration process. During this process, the water will be drawn out of the tank.
Option 4 – Remove the tank (after disconnecting the fill tube and overflow hose) then empty it into a drain.
After you have drained the brine tank, remove the salt grid if there is one. Once you’ve completed this step, you are free to clean, sanitize, or troubleshoot your water softener.
How to Prevent Salt Bridges in a Water Softener
Salt bridging is a problem that interferes with the regeneration process. It happens when salt clumps together into a bridge-like formation at the bottom of the brine tank instead of dissolving into the water. The best way to prevent this is by ensuring that the salt level does not exceed 2/3 full.
How to Clean the Resin Tank
The resin tank should be cleaned every 6 months. Cleaning the resin revitalizes the capacity of the softener and prevents gunk from accumulating on the resin. It can even improve the taste of your water. It’s easy to do.
Choose a resin cleaner that’s recommended for your water softening system (you can check out the manufacturer’s recommendations).
Follow the instructions on the resin cleaner package to cleanse the resin tank.
How to Replace Resin in a Water Softener
The resin in water softeners can last for up to 20 years. You may need to replace it sooner if the water has developed algae or the resin has been damaged by long-term exposure to chlorinated city water.
To replace the resin, follow these steps:
Consult your owner’s manual to determine the amount and best type of resin to use.
Turn the system setting to bypass and then unplug the power cord.
Disconnect all the plumbing and remove the control head.
Place the tank in a trashcan or lay it on its side.
Use a water hose to rinse out the old resin. If there is gravel at the bottom, don’t get rid of it! Just clean it with the hose.
Cover the product tube opening and stand the tank up.
Use the gravel to cover the screen and then fill the tank half-full with new resin.
Uncover the product tube, reconnect the plumbing, and reattach the control head.
Plug the power cord back in, place the system in service mode, and start manual regeneration.
After regeneration is complete, test the water’s softness level.
How to Exercise the Valves and Clean the Venturi Valve
About once a month, switch the valves on and off to exercise them. While you do this, be on the lookout for drips and leaks. If you find a leak or notice a drip, replace the worn-out seals or washers.
Twice a year, use soapy water to clean the venturi valve and nozzle. Sediment, dirt, and sand tend to build upon them.
Following these steps to maintenance your water softening system will help it run smoothly for years to come. If you don’t have the time for regular maintenance, talk to a water system professional like us! Many water softener providers offer a servicing package to ensure you have a long-lasting, top-performing water softening system. If you have a question about your water softening system, give us a call!