If you already own a water softener or want to acquire one, then you should know how to properly maintain it.
Knowing this will extend its lifespan and will make sure that it works at the best efficiency possible.
Don’t know how to do it?
In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to maintain a water softener and everything that an owner of a water softener needs to know.
Also if you’re wondering how a water softener works then click the link.
Water softener maintenance done the right way
The first thing you need to check is the salt level, it needs to be done monthly.
You can do that by opening the lid from the brine tank or from the cabinet, also make sure that the salt level is higher than the brine one.
Tip: Seeing water is a bad sign.
When adding salt make sure to use only products recommended for water softeners, like pellet, nugget, crystal solar or button.
The usage of rock salt is highly discouraged due to its containment of sand and insoluble slit, which in time will build up in the brine tank and may cause problems.
Another problem that needs to be taken care of is Bridging.
What does this term mean?
Due to the wrong type of salt or humidity, a cavity may be formed between the water and salt. So basically, bridging leads to your water supply being hard, it denies the brine solution from being made.
If you encounter this problem you can fix it with some hot water poured over the salt to destroy the bridge or by gently pounding the outside plastic of the brine tank.
After doing this you should always let the water softener use any salt remaining and then proceed to clean the brine tank.
Brine production should take around 4 hours then you’ll need to manually regenerate the softener.
But be very careful while doing it the liquid brine will irritate the eyes, open wounds, and skin. Make sure to always wash with fresh water the exposed area.
To keep the machine like new clean the softener with a mild soap solution from time to time. Abrasive cleaners, ammonia or solvents are forbidden.
The next important step is keeping the injector assembly clean.
You can find it on the right side of the control valve, it’s pretty easy to keep it clean.
The injector can be clogged by things like salt, sediment, and slit. You may prevent this with pure salt and a clean water supply.
First, start by turning off the water supply and reduce the pressure with a cold soft water faucet. Then remove the screws hold the injector cover to the control valve body. And start pulling out the injector assembly and disassemble it as shown in the video below.
By using a large screwdriver and turning it, you can remove the injector orifice from the valve body, you can do the same with the injector throat. After doing this start washing all the parts including the screen. And to clean the small holes in the orifice and throat you can use a light acid such vinegar.
Another important part to keep clean is the venturi valve.
It may also get clogged with sand, sediment, and dirt.
The venturi nozzle and valve perform the suction process which moves the salt from the salt tank to the resin tank, during the regeneration process.
To start cleaning it you’ll have to enter bypass mode to remove the water flow. Then proceed to remove the cover, and hold the venturi housing with one hand and with the other unscrew the venturi valve.
Take out the filter screen out of its socket, the space and gasket will come out with the screen. Using soap and water clean all the removed parts thoroughly and assemble everything back.
How to clean water softener resin
Keeping it clean it’s a must, the resin found in the water softeners attracts minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium which may increase the hardness of your water. Your goal is to replace those minerals with sodium ions.
So, in order to maintain your softener at its best efficiency look for a resin cleaner product that is made to remove mineral buildup.
You need to follow carefully the instructions written on the package, and add the recommended amount of resin cleaner inside the tank. If there isn’t one just add it into the salt tank while the salt level is low.
Then proceed to remove the control panel cover and look for the manual regeneration button. When you have set it in this mode the flow of water will be reversed to clean any dirt or debris inside the softener.
You may also want to repeat the regeneration process if you want to go even further in eliminating the unwanted minerals. You can do it a third time if the brine tank is really contaminated with calcium or iron.
The resin beads will be cleaned by a mixture rich in sodium ions released inside the mineral tank.
Be careful to look for any iron build or salt found on the smaller parts of the softener, and clean it before putting everything back up.
After you’ve assembled it again, find the nearest faucet connected to the same circuit as the water softener and let it run for around 10 minutes to get rid of the cleaner.
To keep the softener working efficiently you’ll need to redo this process again. This varies based on your water usage, for example, during summertime, you’ll use the water softener more and thus it will need more maintenance. If you notice that you lose resin then you’ll want to replace the resin screen.
Cleaning the water softener brine tank
Maintaining the brine tank clean is also an important task for a water softener owner. You don’t really need to overdo it, once a year is enough and it’s easy to make it, but if you notice buildup it needs to be done more often.
The tank getting “dirty” can be caused by the insoluble-matter or impurities found in evaporative salt pellets. It’s pretty easy to mistake them for high-quality ones.
Cheap salt particularly rock salt can also cause sediment
You want to get rid of sediment because it prevents salt from dissolving properly and also it can clog your water softener.
Also, the insoluble matter leads to malfunction or buildup in the tank. So, when you buy salt pellets always look for one that has the best purity level.
The best time to clean it is when the salt level is low, so you won’t have to scoop that much salt. Also, the tank will be lightweight and you can carry outside or in some other room where you can clean it without worrying about making a mess.
However, if you don’t feel like waiting, anything above the grind plate if you have one can be used for later, everything below it is trash.
This varies between different water softeners if you own a post-fill one which refills itself automatically, all the water going forward has to be drained.
To start cleaning the water softener brine tank you should check the manufacturer instructions for the bypass mode. Which will allow you to clean it because this mode will make the water bypass the softener, but only for a short period of time.
Then proceed to disconnect all the line and hoes between the brine tank and water softener. Remove all the water in the brine tank but be careful where you do it because it can affect negatively your grass or plants.
Take out any remaining salt and if you encounter a big block of salt just use hot water to remove it.
Make sure to check if your softener has brine grid and get it out, it’s a screen or platform and bottom of the tank.
For actual cleaning just use dishwashing detergent and water, don’t bother with anything else and keep in mind that it doesn’t have to look like brand new. Then start scrubbing the tank walls using a brush.
After you finish, dump and rinse the water then pour around 2 gallons of clean water mixed with one cup of household bleach. Start stirring and let the water sit for 20 mins. Scrub again the water tank with a brush and chlorine water. Rinse and dump the water containing bleach.
Put the tank back in place and connect all the lines and hoes after doing that remove the bypass mode of the water softener.
The last step is putting 5 gallons of clean water in the brine tank and adding softener salt. Use at least two 50lb bags, for the best performance the tank should be at least one-quarter of water softener salt. But don’t fill it leave six inches of space from the top rim of the tank.
Adding a pre-filter for extra safety
Depending on your current location the supply of water may contain sediments and sludge.
Gaskets, very small ports, and seals all of these are parts of a water softener can be damaged by particles found in the water. Thus, reducing its life span.
You may extend the softener life by many years if you add pre-filtration. Also, it will help with chlorine removal inside your household.
Should you sanitize your water softener?
You’ll definitely need to do it since biological organisms like microbes and bacteria can infiltrate in the salt tank. Those organisms may reach your water even during the water softening process.
You may determine if your water is contaminated by density taste, color, and odor. Yes, bleach can be used after cleaning but only two ounces of the household one along with three gallons of water. It’s better to use unscented bleach if you can get it.
Leaving the mixture for 15 minutes uninterrupted to completely destroy mold or mildew. Using a soft brush rub carefully the tank, then dump the mixture and clean it again with soap and water.
If you let the bleach deal for a longer period with the resin it may produce total sterilization. But remember to clean the resin bed from the residue to get rid of any further contamination.
It is recommended to use 75 gallons of clean water per each cubic foot to be sure that the disinfection byproducts are removed.
Water softener maintenance checklist
To make it easier for you to remember everything here’s a useful checklist you can use to maintain your water softener at its maximum efficiency.
*Salt Level needs to be checked monthly
*Look out for salt bridges as well
*Brine tank: Check if it needs to be cleaned usually once a year.
*Cleaning the resin bed: every 2 to 4 months but it varies on the season.
*Single parts or components:
-Every 6 months or so clean the injectors and venturi valve.
-Assure that the O-rings are in good condition, you may replace them if it’s required.
-Look out for any leaks on the connections
-Change the pre-filter if needed.
*General water softener overview:
-Check for developing holes and signs of rust.
-A leaky gasket may be also a problem if you don’t observe them early.
-Ensure that the regeneration time is set correctly.
-Reset timers after power outages.
How to tell if your water softener is working?
Well, it’s pretty easy to know if your softener is doing its job, just remember all the benefits it has to offer and check if they are applied to you.
First of all, you shouldn’t have any more hard water spots on your glasses or dishes.
To test it leave the water running inside a glass without any dishwasher product. Then rinse it and see if on the glass appears hard water spots, if they are present your softener may not be function properly.
Your skin should feel soft and not itchy after a shower, also your hair too. This applies to the laundry too their colors should be brighter and soft when touched.
The water pressure should be constant if the water softener is working, and when you look at the showerhead it shouldn’t have any spots on it.
If you encounter any problem just go the softener and check if it’s settings are set correctly then look on the maintenance checklist and start verifying.
There you have it, your water softener maintenance guide there is enough information to keep your softener at its peak efficiency and extend its life span. Always use high-quality salts, make sure to check from time to time the brine tank and the salt one. If you do this you won’t have to worry about the softener not working.