Water softeners do not require much maintenance. However, to ensure that the system works properly and performs at its peak for many years, you can do more than just pour new salt into the salt solution from time to time.
Proper maintenance of the water softener will also extend its service life and reduce repair costs. And the good news is that it’s easy enough for any homeowner to take care of it.
Would you like to know more? The following manual gives you everything you need to know.
- Add salt
- How to empty the saline solution into the softener.
- How to clean the water softener
- Cleaning of the brine tank
- Disinfection – can I add bleach to the water softener?
- Cleaning the resin tank
- How to remove salt bridges
- How to avoid overlap
- Maintenance checklist
Salt for filling
There’s no need to complicate things. Check the salt content in the brine tank of the water softener once a month. Top up the stocks if they are below the ¼ mark. Do not fill in more than ⅔ to avoid bridges. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!
Empty brine tank of water softener
Draining off the salt solution is necessary for cleaning, disinfecting and troubleshooting.
A distinction must therefore be made between water softeners before and after filling:
- After refuelling, the system automatically fills its brine tank at the end of each regeneration cycle. So there is always water or brine in it.
- If there is no water in the brine tank, this means you have a pre-fill unit and of course you don’t have to empty the water – as long as it works properly.
There are several ways to drain the water from the softener after refueling.
For example, you could just pour water into a bucket. So you can pour it into the tank when you’re done cleaning or doing what you do. Of course, this only makes sense if the water is not too dirty.
You can also use a wet vacuum. Another possibility is to start the regeneration cycle manually. During the brine phase, the softener automatically draws all the water from the brine tank.
(Depending on the model, you can start regeneration by pressing and holding the regeneration button -B9. When you start the regeneration, press the button again to start the brine cycle. Once the brine tank is empty, skip all other cycles to get back to work).
Your last option is to put all the water in the right drain. However, make sure the softener is placed in the bypass before moving the tank. Then disconnect the filling hose connecting the brine container to the brine head valve (for side softeners only) and the brine container’s overflow hose.
If your water softener is equipped with a salt screen, it would be a good idea to remove this as well. You also need to remove the salt solution from the well, which is an extra pipe in the salt tank that houses the floating unit. Take the floater first. Then remove the overflow elbow, if present, and finally remove the hose.
You can now carefully tilt the tank. But beware, if you empty it on your lawn, the grass will brown and die.
How to clean water softeners
The standard water softener should be treated once a year for up to five years, depending on the circumstances. However, if the water hardness at the outlet suddenly increases or if the water discolours or emits a strange odour, it is certainly worth cleaning the entire system as soon as possible.
Here’s the thing:
Cleaning of brine tanks
The best time to clean the brine tank is when the salt is almost gone. So you don’t have to turn everything off by hand and the pool is light, so you can easily move it around. You can even take it outside, where you don’t have to be very careful not to damage the water.
In addition, if the salt content is low, dirt or mould can already be observed on the bottom of the tub.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Dirt is in softening salt – especially in cheap rock salt. Because sludge cannot dissolve, it builds up over time while you keep filling the brine tank. After a while the brine might look like mud. That’s the main reason for cleaning: That way the sludge won’t clog your system. This can also prevent the salt from dissolving well.
If the salt content is still high and you don’t want to wait, you have to remove it manually. It is generally useful to store salt above the grid plate (if present) for later use. Everything under the plate is garbage.
If you have a water softener that fills up automatically after filling, you also need to drain all the water beforehand.
As we said before, you can do this in different ways (see above).
Get rid of all that water? Awesome! The rest of the cleaning process is as follows:
- Remove remaining salt and mud
- Beauty inside
- Add new salt (and after filling the water with water softener).
- Set the regeneration cycle for the coming night.
If you haven’t removed the brine pit and salt rack yet, now is the time to do so.
To remove salt and/or residual sludge, you can use a shovel or any other tool you deem suitable. But be careful not to damage the tank. Here, too, the holidays in the shop are excellent. If the salt is too heavy to be sucked up, it can be broken with a broomstick. Then rinse the inside of the tank with a hose and suck out the remaining salt, water and sludge.
For the actual cleaning, mix water with a good old dishwashing detergent – without aggressive chemicals – or, if necessary, with an antifungal product and use a brush for certain cleaning jobs. Remember, it’s useless to try to make the tank look brand new. And don’t forget to rinse yourself thoroughly later.
Professional advice: This is a good time to check that the float switch is straight and can move up and down freely. Care must also be taken not to clog it so that it can absorb the saline solution during regeneration (absorb hot water to prevent clogging).
When everything is good and clean, it’s time to collect the pieces and add new salt. 2 or 3 bags should be enough. But first put the brine tank back in, because it will soon be heavy enough.
Remember that when using the system after refueling, you should also add about 3 liters of water. Don’t worry, the device will adjust its water level over time.
Finally, set the water softener to regenerate the next night so that you can get back to work the next day.
Cleaning of venturi valves / urine injectors
The water softeners are supplied with a venturi valve or a brine injector. Both are responsible for sucking the brine from the brine tank into the resin tank.
They use a screen or other type of screen to prevent dirt from getting into the resin tank. This means that the valve or injector becomes clogged over time. In other words: Whatever you have, you clean it every six months or so.
It will now be different for each model of water softener, so it is best to consult the manual.
The components are located somewhere on the back of the main unit. Normally, you have to put the plasticizer in the bypass first. Then release the water pressure by manually regenerating it before opening the lid.
Disinfection – Can you put bleach in your water softener?
The water softener and especially its resin can be contaminated by biological organisms such as bacteria, including water pollution, for various reasons. But even if your water is disinfected at the source, microbes can spread everywhere before the softening system is installed.
In addition, iron, sulphur and other impurities can contribute to the infection. Typical signs are the discolouration, taste or unpleasant smell of rotten eggs in water. In addition, mould can form in the salt tank, which can also cause an unpleasant odour.
Particularly affected are newly installed water softeners and water softeners that have been out of use for some time or that have worked for a long time between regenerations.
In summary: After regular cleaning, you can use 2 ounces of unscented bleach mixed with 3 litres of water to disinfect the brine container.
Just let the solution soak in for 15 to 20 minutes to kill the fungus. Then scrub it with a brush. Tip: Concentrate on the float construction.
Drain the mixture and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Before using any bleach or other water softening disinfectant, read the instruction manual for specific instructions and restrictions, or consult a professional.
You can (and should) also disinfect the entire system. In fact, some plasticisers need to be disinfected regularly during their normal life, e.g. B. every 3 to 12 months.
Again, 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is generally the most suitable. It can be used with polystyrene resins, zeolite and green sand.
A manufacturer recommends that 1.2 ounces of liquid – less than a quarter cup – per cubic foot of polystyrene resin be added to the brine before/after rewinding the system. The bleach is dissolved in the brine, after which the brine is sucked into a resin tray during the cycle. Continue normal regeneration.
Depending on your softener, you can also add 2 to 3 litres of water to the brine tank. In general, this means disconnecting the unit from the mains for 20 to 30 minutes during the brine phase so that all brine can be used.
For complete sterilisation, the bleach must remain in contact with the resin for at least one hour.
And to make sure that none of this is in the water you are going to use, the tarbed must be washed with at least 75 litres of water per cubic metre. It also removes any disinfection byproducts that may have formed.
3 Notes to the financial statements:
- Never mix bleach with a resin-based detergent (see next section). This can lead to potentially dangerous fumes. If the bleach is already in your salt or brine, separate the brine and suck the bleach out of the bucket.
- Chlorine reduces the softening capacity of the resin layer. Then why use bleach for disinfection? Compared to long-term chlorination, as will be the case for most municipal services and many private wells, high concentrations result in minimal damage in a very short time. Moreover, skilled labour outweighs the disadvantages. Chlorine is one of the most effective and at the same time cheapest disinfectants. If bacteria are present in the tar bed, a random shock is the best of both evils.
- There are NSF and EPA certified disinfectants that eliminate 99.99% of harmful bacteria and a wide range of viruses.
Have you neglected to maintain the softener for too long? See our comments on plasticizers if you need a replacement!
Resin tank cleaning
What does it take to keep the tar bed in good condition? Usually it’s not that much, unless your water is too bad.
Municipal water is generally good. Well water can be problematic if it contains large amounts of iron or manganese. Both can contaminate the resin as it is not completely removed during regeneration.
In addition, the accumulation of organic compounds, usually tannins and humic acids, can occur in houses with shallow wells. If these connections fail, they fall into a trap between the resin grains.
In this case, cleaning the dirty bed with a special resin cleaner restores the softening, reduces salt and water consumption, extends the life of the resin and ensures the proper functioning of all other parts of the system. It can even help to improve the taste of your water and increase the flow rate.
How often should I clean? Most experts recommend intervals between 3 and 12 months, depending on the condition of your water.
Water softener and resin cleaner
There are many resin-based cleaners, the most popular of which is Iron OUT®, which removes iron deposits.
Iron OUT® – available at amazon.com.
Iron OUT® initiates a chemical reaction that brings the iron ions back into the solution. The main reagent is sodium hydrosulfite. For other products, citric acid or hydrochloric acid may be used, for example.
Unfortunately, not all de-ironing products or other special cleaners are suitable for your softener and resin. So first you want to know which one to use. The manufacturer can provide you with all the necessary information.
Just follow the instructions on the product. Dissolve some of them in water, pour salt over them and pour well into the brine before the regeneration cycle begins. Some are liquid, some are dry. Some require large amounts of salt in the brine tank, others can only be used if the salt content is low.
For some, you can also use a pipette, which you install on the side of the brine container. Every day the dispenser drips half an ounce to an ounce water softener for continuous maintenance. The resin is cleaned with each regeneration and the formation of limescale is prevented.
Do you want to make sure all clean residues are removed before using water? Rinse the water softener thoroughly after regeneration or perform a second cycle approximately 2 hours after the first.
How to remove salt bridges
If the salt bridge, also known as the salt bridge, is blocked, it prevents the salt from reaching the bottom of the brine tank and coming into contact with the salt water. This prevents proper regeneration of your plasticizer.
Just so we’re clear: When the salt bridge forms, it may seem as if your salt tank is completely full. But probably all the salt under the bridge is gone. So it’s important that you keep an eye on it every time you fill up.
The bad news is that in recent years the problems with salt bridges have multiplied. What for? Because modern water softeners are much more efficient than before. This means they use less salt, giving them more time to connect. Other reasons for overlap are high humidity and the use of the wrong type of salt (see the manual to make sure you are using the correct type of salt).
Incidentally, the most striking symptom of the salt bridge is that the salt content in the reservoir does not drop at all. Moreover, hard water can come out of the system.
You can easily test it by gently tapping the side of the salt tank to see if it’s moving or if it’s really hard. The latter is an indicator for the salt bridge. You can also take the broom with you and try to push it to the bottom of the tank. If you can’t do that, you certainly have a bridge.
Make sure you break up the salt you put in and the large pieces that may have formed. Again, you can use the broomstick for this or any other tool that is not too sharp – be careful not to break the salt fillet underneath. You can also hit the side of the tank with a rubber hammer. Start the manual regeneration cycle after removing the bridge.
In the most serious cases, as much salt as possible should be dissolved and removed. Then remove any brine that is still in the tank (it has already dissolved as much salt as possible).
Then pour 2 to 3 litres of warm or tap water over the salt. That might be enough to take down the salt bridge. Pour another half litre into the salt well.
In the next few hours the water will start to absorb some salt. After about 4-5 hours you can press the regeneration button.
The next day you walk around in the brine tank. Is the bridge broken? If not, try to release some more salt and start a new regeneration cycle. Maybe you should do it a few days in a row.
If you’ve used the wrong salt, there’s no way to replace it.
How to avoid bridging
A simple rule to avoid salt overlap is to fill the salt tank to ⅔ and only add salt when the level has dropped to about ¼. In wetlands the additive has to be tested even less often, but more often. And you don’t want to mix dumplings, cubes, crystals or hidden salt.
As long as you keep this up, you’ll probably never have a problem with salt bridges again.
Salt mowing is a different kind of problem. This happens when the salt dissolves and then recrystallises into a thick layer of mud at the bottom of the brine tank.
Instead of being mixed with water, slurry can seal the salt pit and increase the water level in the tank with each regeneration cycle. It will eventually flood.
To repair it you can use the broomstick and try to break or kick it. There’s no need to throw away the salt, especially if it’s not too dirty. Instead, you can dissolve it in hot water and pour it back into the saline solution – think about recycling.
If you prefer not to take care of the maintenance, you can hire a company to do it for you. Water softener maintenance programs that include monthly salt deliveries and system inspections begin at $120 a year.
Water softening service Checklist
This checklist contains important maintenance tasks that you can perform yourself.
- The water softener is connected to an energy source.
- The system is in operation mode unless a regeneration is performed.
- You don’t have to do this: Exhaust water hardness test – gives an idea of the correct calibration of the system + the correct operation; if necessary, the system must be adjusted:
- Hardness settings
- Regeneration time, frequency + duration
- Salt settings
- After the power failure: Resetting the timer
- The water level is normal.
- Salt content above the water level; charge if necessary (to ⅔).
- No salt bridge or spray solution; remove if necessary.
- Empty + clean; set regeneration for the next night (approx. once a year).
- straight float switch + free of salt/dirt + can move up and down freely; immerse in hot water if necessary
- You don’t have to do this: Sanitary treatment
- With a high iron/manganese and tannin content: Pure resin with resin cleaner (approximately every 3 to 12 months).
- You don’t have to do this: Sanitary treatment
- Connections don’t leak.
- Seals are in good condition; replace them if necessary.
- Exercise the bypass valve to keep it lubricated
- Clean salt injector/ventilation valve (approx. every 6 months)
- You don’t have to do this: Replace the pre-filter
Checklist to download: Checklist.pdf
If you have thoughts or questions about the maintenance of the water softener, please leave a comment below!
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