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Water Softener Maintenance – Complete Guide

For your information, hard or abrasive water is one of the most common problems of many households around the world today. As a matter of fact, this issue affects 85 percent of the households in the United States and 60 percent households in the United Kingdom. Hard water carries excessive levels of magnesium and calcium which are known to cause lime scale buildups.

There are geographical areas that widely make use of a water softening machine, making it as one of the most important appliances used in every household. While a water softener is expected to last a long period of time, it is highly advisable that every household owner should find time to check the unit to ensure optimum functionality and performance.

Prior to this, it is important to come up with certain ways that will help you enjoy the maximum functionality of your water softener. As such, water softener maintenance should be strictly followed and here are some of the best ways for you to keep your water softener working at its best:

 Cleaning the Cabinet

The first step in your water softener maintenance routine is inspecting the cabinet of your water softener for any crusty build up. The amount of crusty build up in the water softener’s cabinet depends on the type of salt product used inside the water softener. A salt with more impurities will create more crusty build up.

Before starting your inspection of the water softener’s cabinet you need to shut off the electricity running to the water softener and to turn off the water supply. After completing this step, lift the water softener’s lid and inspect the cabinet. In case that you find crusty build up inside you have to remove it. 

water softener cabinet

Break the crusty build up in manageable pieces using a long wooden dowel. Then use your vacuum cleaner to remove the build-up. Wipe the inside of the water softener’s cabinet and rinse away the remaining residue. Dry the inside of the water softener’s cabinet with a cloth. In the end, add new salt to the cabinet and restore the electricity and water supply.

Cleaning the Brine Line

Another maintenance task for your water softener that you should consider doing is cleaning the brine line. Usually the brine line is placed near the bypass valve, on top of the water softener. A compression nut connects the water softener’s control unit with the brine line. You need to shut off the electricity and the water supply and to release the pressure in the tank in order to remove the brine line. Unscrew the compression nut using an adjustable wrench and then remove the brine line. Rinse out the brine line using warm water. In case that you find the brine line clogged use a turkey baster, a bulb syringe, or an eye dropper to clear the line. You can also clean the tank and the resin bed of the water softener.

water softener brine line

Cleaning the Injector

The water softener’s injector needs maintenance too. The injector is placed behind the access panel, near the brine line, on top of the water softener. The injector’s function is to control the amount of the brine reaching the resin tank. It is possible that the water softener’s injector can clog over time. Before inspecting and cleaning the injector you need to shut off the water and electricity supply and release the pressure in the tank. 

water softener injector

After completing this task the next step is to remove the screws from the access panel. After removing the access panel you can unscrew and remove the injector. Locate the injector’s filter screen and search for any obstructions. If you find obstructions wash the filter screen using dish detergent. Also inspect the O-rings. If they are worn you need to replace them. You can find water softener parts at the appliance parts dealers or the plumbing supply dealers. Place back the O-rings and the filter screen and reinstall the injector.

Check Your Water Softener’s Salt Level

You have to take note that salt is considered as an essential factor which affects the overall performance and functionality of a water softener. The amount or level of salt used in the machine is the one which regenerates the resin beads, preparing them for a more effective softening process. If this process is disregarded, the resin beads are expected to become ineffective; In this regard, checking the salt level of your water softening machine should be a paramount water softener maintenance procedure you should do regularly.

Add Sodium or Salt Regularly

The amount of sodium or salt used basically depends on the kind of water softener you are using. However, this should not cause you annoyance because information pertaining to salt use or consumption is usually found in your user’s manual. However, there is a general rule that you need to understand: Salt should always be added to your water softener every time you see the level to be half-full.

Determine the Type of Sodium or Salt to Add

This is one of the most important maintenance procedures you should consider. The kind of water softener that you are currently using in your place should use one of the following types of water softener salt: Block, Granular and Tablet. In most cases, the kind of salt that you should be using for your kind of softener is usually determined by the manufacturer. Important guidelines pertaining to the use of salt are usually found in your user’s manual.

But you have to take note that tablet salt is considered to be the most common and widely used type of salt for water softeners. This is due to the fact that this kind of salt dissolves quickly and easily without causing sediments and other deposits inside the brine tank.

Conduct Regular Inspections

For every key sign, it pays to conduct a regular inspection to your water softener and this should be done at least once every two to three months. This is to guard your brine tank from the potential buildup of salt or sediments. This kind of maintenance is otherwise known as “bridging” which simply means that your water is not in contact with the salt, preventing or stopping the beads from functioning and therefore not doing its job to soften your hard water in the process.

Break Salt Bridges

As a temporary solution, breaking the bridges inside the tank is an effective water softener maintenance that you should consider doing to allow the machine to get back to its normal functionality. This is easily done with the aid of a long handle. You should also take note that once the bridge has started forming, it will continually occur again even after you have broken it up. Thus, regular inspection and cleaning should be done to address such buildups.

Clean Your Brine Tank

Various kinds of water softening machines may require regular cleaning in the brine tank. Say, the regularity of the cleaning task is made every six to twelve months depending on the condition or age of your softener. But even when contemporary water softeners require little maintenance, it is highly recommended that you should carry out thorough inspections every three to four months. And even when it is not mandatory, it serves you right if you take the chance to drain and empty your brine tank at least once a year. This will give you the chance to clean it up thoroughly and efficiently.

Quick Water Softener Maintenance Tip: To ensure excellent cleanliness of your brine tank, it is advisable that you should allow all salt deposits to dissolve first. When salts are already dissolved, you may now start scrubbing them with soapy water. After which, you may fill up the tank back again. This is something that will help you ensure that no residue or buildups are left in the tank.