Most households in the USA face problems associated with having hard water. In fact, statistics show that hard water is present in more than 85% of American homes.
A good water softening system mitigates this, but it is imperative to maintain it regularly in order to avoid unnecessary costs associated with fixing it or getting a replacement.
The first thing you should check are the salt levels. The salt in your softener is there to regenerate the resin beads so they can perform their softening function unhindered. Without the salt, the beads would be ineffective.
Next, if there isn’t enough salt in the system, add some. You should probably look up your system’s specifications to determine exactly how much salt is needed, but a good rule of thumb is to always keep it at least half full.
If you live in an area that is excessively humid, it is a good idea to keep a lower quantity of salt in the tank and fill it up more regularly as the damp will accelerate hardening.
You shouldn’t just add any kind of salt in there though. There are three types of salt used in softening systems – granular, block and tablet. The salt being used largely depends on the manufacturer’s preference, so consult your device’s manual.
Most of them use salt in tablet form though since it dissolves more easily and using it prevents sediment build-up in the brine tank.
You need to take an active role in your water softener’s maintenance by performing regular inspections on it.
The easiest thing to check is whether a salt bridge has formed. This is basically a layer of hardened salt that can prevent it from reaching the water entirely, meaning that the resin beads won’t be able to regenerate.
Perform this inspection every 2-3 months to minimize the risk of a salt bridge formation.
If a salt bridge has formed, the first and most obvious thing you can do is break it up. Use a broom handle or similarly far-reaching tool to thoroughly break up the layer as best you can.
Sadly, once the bridge has appeared for the first time it will keep on appearing at a much faster rate than before, so a thorough cleaning of the whole tank is inevitable.
Lastly, if none of the above steps help, perform a thorough cleaning of the tank. If you have a more traditional electric model, you should drain it, empty its contents and clean it out at least once per year.
With more modern appliances, this shouldn’t be necessary though as their improved construction makes them run more or less without problems for 5-10 years.
As you can see, the most important thing you can do to maintain your water softener is to perform regular inspections on it, or play closer attention to its LCD if it has any.
You can perform this simple task while going about your other business, and doing it might help you save money on repairs and replacements in the future.