Advanced Water Softener Maintenance and One Easy Alternative
Despite being relatively low-key regarding the way it functions, a water softener requires a certain level of attention if you want to keep it running smoothly. Water softener maintenance is probably the biggest concern for people looking to buy one.
First off, we want to get out of the way the biggest concern of them all: the maintenance process isn’t as hard as it sounds at first. With a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. And by following a set of instructions in the owner’s manual, you’ll be able to keep it running for years and years to come. Let’s start with the basics first and we’ll get onto the more complicated stuff later down the line in this article.
Basic Maintenance Tips
No matter how much money you’ve spent on your water softener or how good the spec sheet looks, you can’t overlook these basic requirements. We can’t stress this enough, so be careful to not overlook any of these things:
Check the Salt Regularly
On average, a water softener’s brine tank should be refilled once around every two months. In case you don’t know, the brine tank is where the salt goes.
However, you should check it more frequently than that, especially if you live in an area where water hardness exceeds 180 mg/L in calcium and/or magnesium, or more than 900 mg/L in total dissolved solids.
Open the brine tank lid every now and again and make sure the salt is wet and covered in water. If the opposite is true – namely the salt looks dry and the water level is low – it’s time for a refill. Furthermore, if your water softener is more than 10 years old, you should check the salt level at least once every week.
Use Good Salt
It should be a given, but many people cheap out when it come to the salt’s quality. Always use the best possible salt that you can buy. Even so, salt is relatively cheap these days, so if you can afford a softener, you can most likely afford to buy quality packets.
We recommend using evaporated salt pellets because they are generally the purest form of softener salt that you can find. As another rule of thumb, you should also try to avoid block salt unless your manufacturer’s manual specifically states otherwise.
Clean the Water Softener’s Brine Tank
You should really learn how to clean a water softener’s brine tank if you truly want to keep it running for years to come. Luckily, most models come with an instruction manual that also takes you through this process in minute detail.
The easiest way to do this is by waiting until the brine tank is almost empty. Get a scoop and take out the remaining salt rocks or salt sludge out. We needed to mention this because if your softener is truly dirty, the salt will look more like sludge than rocks and this is an important detail to consider.
If the sludge is caked onto the bottom of the brine tank, you might be able to pry it free by lightly prodding it with a stick or broom handle. Once you’ve gotten the sludge free, clean the tank with detergent, water and a brush. If mold has built up on the bottom, feel free to use mold remover. When you’re done with all of this, rinse the tank thoroughly, refill it with salt at optimum levels, and let it regenerate overnight.
Can You Use Bleach to Clean the Water Softener?
One major question that keeps popping up when talking about water softener maintenance is whether or not it’s OK to use bleach to clean mold in your softener tank.
And it’s understandable, because branded mold removers for softeners can be a little pricey in an emergency situation. Fortunately, a significant number of salt-based water softener models have what is known as a “bleach cycle”. As usual, you should read the user manual to see if your particular unit can support this method.
If the manual states that you can do so, then use one cup of bleach if you have a 9-inch water softener tank, or two cups of bleach if you have a 12-inch water softener tank. Close the tank’s lid and then trigger a manual regeneration of the system.
WARNING: Do not, under any circumstances, drink water from the tap until the softener manages to complete the entire regeneration process. If you plan on cleaning the softener with bleach, buy some bottled water or get clean water from another source until the process is over.
Clean the Venturi Valve
During the regeneration cycle, brine gets moved from the brine tank to the resin tank via the venturi valve. As such, the venturi valve might at times get blocked with sediment, dirt, sand, or other small pollutants.
A clean venturi valve is a must if you want your water softener to work properly. Fortunately, cleaning this valve is pretty simple and doesn’t require any special tools. All you need to do is unscrew the valve cover and remove the internal parts.
Take those internal parts and give them a good clean in soapy water. Pay close attention so that you’ll be able to remove any and all dirt that can accumulate on the small mechanisms. Once done, reassemble the entire thing and let the softener regenerate. You should clean the venturi valve twice a year even if you have a sediment filter installed before the softener, just to be safe.
Advanced Water Softener Maintenance
We’re finally done with the basic maintenance and all of its requirements. As you can see, it is fairly simple once you get a hang of how everything works. Now it’s time to move on to the more complicated side of things.
Water Softener Resin Tank Maintenance
We’re finally done with the brine tank, which is relatively easy to clean, especially because it’s designed in such a way so that you can refill the salt on a regular basis. Now it’s time to move onto the resin tank, which is a little more complicated to handle.
Sure, you may not need to clean the resin tank nearly as often as you need to handle the brine tank, but knowing how to do it is useful, nonetheless. At the very least, you will end up saving some cash that you would otherwise spend by calling the maintenance service. And in some cases, you’ll end up saving a lot more on repairs or even replacements.
To understand why the resin tank is important, you need to know that the resins within the tank are the ones that gulp in all the buildup. Sure, the regeneration process is supposed to remove most, if not all of the buildup, but the process becomes less effective in time. Generally speaking, most water softener units start losing their buildup removal efficiency after about seven years of use.
The simplest way to deal with this is to have a professional replace the beads themselves. This can be somewhat costly, with beads and a professional’s time running between the ballparks of $100 and $300. Sure, it can be quite expensive, but since you’ll only need to do it once every seven years, we think most people will be able to manage.
Nevertheless, if you want to save even more money and go the DIY route, there’s a solution for that as well. The short version: you’ll need an iron-cleaning formula to cleanse the beads and restore some efficiency to them. Optionally, you can also install a sediment filter before the softener to prevent future buildup even more efficiently.
Learn How to Identify Problems
While it isn’t an exact fix, this skill will help you solve potential problems before they become too overwhelming. Sure, checking the brine tank on a regular basis might be good enough most times to identify potential problems, but there are also more subtle signs that you can look for if you want to prevent unwanted issues.
For a start, look at the soap when you’re washing your hands. Hard water has a particular way in which it interacts with soap. Without going into many technical details, the calcium crystals make it much harder to lather properly. While you’re at it, you might also want to take a closer look at your faucet, fixtures, bathtub, and dishes.
If you see even the smallest number of white spots or film, then your water softener might not be working to its full capacity. Another good indicator is the water’s taste. Also, if your laundry becomes noticeably dingier after every wash, it should be clear that something isn’t right with your softener.
Finally, the last remaining thing you can look out for is the frequent regeneration. Some salt-based water softeners regenerate more often than other models, but the thing is that the process should have a somewhat fixed frequency. Let’s say your softener regenerates once every 12 hours – that’s ok. But if it starts regenerating at 8 AM, then at 1 PM, then at 6PM, etc., then it’s fairly obvious that the regeneration frequency is messed up.
Break Down Salt Bridges
You’ve probably heard of salt bridges before, especially if you’ve had your water softener for some time. But what is it exactly? A salt bridge is a salt crust layer that builds up between the “good” salt and the water in the brine tank.
As you can probably imagine, this prevents the softener from running properly. And because of this, the softener might start to gather even more buildup in the resin tank in due time. To prevent this, check the brine tank frequently to see if any salt bridges have formed and break them down with a broomstick or other similar item. Just be careful not to damage the tank in any way while doing so.
In most cases, this can be prevented by simply choosing quality salt, just like we have already mentioned in the first part of this article. Even so, we still recommend checking the tank from time to time just to be safe.
Water Softener Maintenance – Call a Professional
Hopefully, you’ve learned at least a thing or two about maintaining your softener properly. If you ever stumble upon a problem that you don’t feel comfortable handling yourself, don’t be afraid to call a professional service or repairman.
Often times, when dealing with unusual issues, trying to fix the softener yourself might lead to even more unwanted complications. You should especially consider calling a professional if a certain problem persists even after trying all of the fixes mentioned in this article.
The Alternative That Doesn’t Require Maintenance
Finally, we’ve covered everything there is to know about basic and advanced water softener maintenance. What do you think? It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?
Although it’s not all that hard, it can still become quite painstaking in no time. Why bother with all this effort, especially considering the downsides of a salt-based water softener? Well, because a lot of people are used to them.
Salt-based water softeners have been around for what seems like an eternity, and some people still have theirs for over ten years already. Nevertheless, technology has evolved, and new solutions have appeared down the line. Going salt-free is beneficial for the environment as well as for your drinking water.
Sodium in water can cause increased heart rate and other health problems. Not to mention that giving your plants water that contains sodium can prevent them from getting their much-needed nutrients from the soil. So, what is the best salt-free alternative to a water softener that doesn’t even require maintenance? We have just what you were looking for.
Introducing the Yarna Water Descalers
Apart from maintenance, a traditional salt-based water softener also takes up a lot of real estate. With a water descaler, on the other hand, space will no longer be an issue, as all of our models have short dimensions.
You can choose between the CWD24, CWD30, or CWD48 from our current lineup. Each one functions with capacitive electric impulses that directly affect the shape of hard mineral crystals. As such, the hard minerals will no longer stick to pipes and other surfaces and will no longer cause the formation of limescale deposits.
Furthermore, because the minerals are no longer sticky, you won’t have problems with soap lather, dermatitis caused by hard water, dingy clothes after every wash, or dishes with icky white film. In other words, it works just like a traditional water softener, except you’ll no longer have to deal with sodium or the tedious process of water softener maintenance.
Other Benefits of the Yarna Water Descalers
With the Yarna water descaler, all you need for it to run properly is electricity. Forget purchasing salt packets, bobbing your head up with maintenance tasks, or having to filter out the sodium in the water.
It requires no plumbing whatsoever and you can install it in around 15 minutes with the simple instructions that come printed in the user manual. The ultra-wide flat bands work much better than previous water descalers you might have seen on the market because they cover more of the pipe area, thus managing to treat water more efficiently.
Speaking of pipe coverage, all Yarna water descalers work with any pipe material. The way the capacitive effect works isn’t tied to GPM or other factors either. They also have no GPG limit, meaning that they work regardless of your water supply’s hardness levels. And the best part is that the descaler also has an effect on existing limescale and limestone deposits. Even if you have the hardest water level possible, you’ll start noticing its effects within three months of continuous use.
But that’s no all. We’re offering a one-year money-back guarantee with every purchase so you’ll have more than enough time to test it out and see if it works for you. On top of that, you’ll also get a 10-year manufacturer warranty once you register your product on our website.
You have the option of purchasing any of our descalers straight from our website or from our Amazon store in case you want to purchase other things as well and have them all delivered in one convenient package.
Regardless of where you purchase our descalers from, you’ll still get the full one-year money-back guarantee, as well as the 10-year manufacturer warranty once you register the product. We hope you’ll give one of our descalers a try and have a good experience with it!
Water softener maintenance isn’t all that hard, but it can be very, very tedious. Hopefully, you have learned a thing or two from our small tutorial and have managed to troubleshoot any issue you were having.
Although your water softener might have been useful for some time, we believe that you should try the newer salt-free alternatives that we are offering. Regardless of what you choose, we hope you’ll have a good experience.