How to Maintain a Water Softener

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Are you suffering from dry and itchy skin? Are your glasses cloudy or spotted? It may be time for you to learn how to maintain a water softener for your home.

There are a variety of benefits to owning a water softener system. For example, you save money. Scale build-up reduces the efficiency of water heaters and dishwashers.

Additionally, your skin retains its natural oils when you bath using soft water. Likewise, soft water balances your hair's hair’s pH level making it softer and silkier.

What Is a Water Softener?

You might be asking, "That sounds great, but what is a water softener?"


A water softener is a water filtration system that removes the high concentrations of calcium and magnesium that create hard water. The water flows through ion-exchange resins located in a tank. Then, sodium and potassium ions replace the calcium and magnesium, creating soft water.


These systems are a bit on the expensive side, so it is best to test your water before installing a water softener. Additionally, there are tell-tale signs that your home needs a water softener.


For example, if you experience soap scum build-up on your shower walls, curtains, or in your sinks, you probably need a water softener. Likewise, if you detect a crust build-up around your shower head or faucets, your water is too hard.


Other signs you need a water softener include:

  • Dry or irritated skin, and dull, coarse hair
  • Itchy drab clothing
  • Your plumbing constantly needs repair
  • Skyrocketing water bills
  • Your glassware is brittle and easily broken or chipped

How to Maintain a Water Softener

With proper use, a water softener can last for several years with nominal maintenance. However, regular checks and cleaning do extend the lifetime of a water softening system. For that reason, it is important to take the time to learn how to maintain a water softener.

Preventative Maintenance

Ecopure EPCL Universal Water Softener Cleaner - Off-White
  • Helps remove harmful deposits from resin bed, valve and system that salt alone cannot remove
  • Removes iron, sediment, dirt, and rust from your water softeners resin bed
  • Recommended use every 4 months

There are several preventative maintenance checks and services discuss as part of the process of learning how to maintain a water softener. First, check the salt level in your brine tank monthly. Salt regenerates the ion-exchange resins necessary for filtering the water.


Second, break up any solid layers, or bridges, of salt in the tank. Take a broom handle and push it all the way through the middle of the salt until it reaches to the bottom of the brine tank. Otherwise, hard water can pass through the filter and enter your plumbing system.


Third, flush the brine tank using water softener cleaner three or four times a year to regenerate the ion-exchange resins. Otherwise, your water softener system eventually becomes contaminated with heavy metals, silt, and organic compounds, decreasing its efficiency.

Cleaning the brine tank

DQB Industries 08755 Tampico Deck Scrub Brush with 1 Tapered and 1...
  • Tampico bristles have a 2 inch trim and resist caustic chemical attack
  • This Deck Scrub Brush is 10 Inch in length to cover a good size area
  • Features one threaded and one tapered holes for use with either handle type

Your water softener's tank needs to be cleaned if the water turns hard. Fortunately, this is a simple process requiring only six steps.


First, shut off the water supply using the intake valve. Next, either dump or siphon all the water from the tank. Then, remove all the salt from the tank and discard it.


Second, remove the mesh platform, or brine grid from the base of the tank. Clean the platform and set it aside.


Third, scrub the interior of the tank using a generous amount of dish soap and a long-handled brush.


Fourth, dump the tank and rinse out any remaining soap using plain water.


Fifth, sanitize the tank using a quarter a cup of household bleach and about two to three gallons of water. Then, let the tank sit for about 15 to 20 minutes to kill any organic compounds.


Sixth, empty the tank and rinse completely using plain water. Lastly, refill the tank using salt and water as per your unit's instructions.

Troubleshooting water softener systems

If your water softening system still doesn't work correctly after performing all the tasks detailed above, there are a few basic troubleshooting tips to try.


Check for any drain hose blockages and remove them. Additionally, make sure the hose isn't kinked.


Make sure the bypass valve is open.


If your water softener uses electricity, make sure it is plugged in and check the circuit breaker at the power box.


Make sure there is enough salt in the tank. The general rule is to fill about half the tank with salt, making sure it extends four or five inches above the water level.


If all this fails, calling a plumber is probably your best option at this point.

What We Learned Today About Maintaining Water Softeners

We covered a lot of information today regarding water softener maintenance.


Do you know any tips or tricks regarding how to maintain a water softener? What about troubleshooting tips?


Using the comments section below, let us know your answer to those questions.

Featured Photo via flickr 

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