How to Maintain Your Water Softener Brine Tank
Having a water softener tank is beneficial in many ways because let’s face it, hard water can wreak havoc on your clothes, your food, and even your skin.
It can also ruin your appliances, so proper care of your water softener brine tank is essential.
Fortunately, cleaning the tank and keeping it working right isn’t nearly as difficult as it might sound, especially if you learn a few basic tips from the experts.
What Is a Water Softening Tank?
Hard water is essentially water that has too much calcium and magnesium, and water softeners are made to remove these minerals from the water.
More often than not, there are two parts of a water-softening tank: the mineral tank and the brine tank. The mineral tank is usually tall and narrow, and it is the part where the actual softening occurs.
It is filled with beads made out of porous plastic polystyrene resin, and when water flows through the tank, these negatively charged beads attract and keep the calcium and magnesium in the water, which are positively charged minerals.
When the beads become saturated with minerals, they will need to be regenerated, and this is where your water softener brine tank comes in. In the brine tank, water saturated with either salt or potassium – called brine – is kept until it is needed to do its job.
Its job is to remove the mineral particles and restore the negative charge to the beads so that they can continue to remove calcium and magnesium.
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How Often Should You Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank?
People whose homes have water softeners in them should make it a point to clean their brine tanks thoroughly once a year.
This keeps the water-softening system working properly so that you don’t run into any problems.
How to Maintain Your Water Softener
Here are the steps you need to take to make sure your brine tank is as clean as possible:
- Make sure the water to both the mineral and the brine tank is shut off.
- Unplug all hoses and tubing that connect the two tanks.
- Drain the brine tank, either by manually starting the regeneration process or with some type of wet vacuum. Make sure every drop of water is removed.
- Mix together 1 to 2 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent with 1 to 2 gallons of water.
- With a bristle brush, clean the inside of the brine tank using the detergent solution. Don’t pour the solution into the tank, just dip your brush in it before you scrub.
- Rinse out the tank thoroughly with a hose.
- Reconnect the brine tank to the mineral tank.
- Refill the brine tank with the right amount of salt or potassium.
When you’re pouring in the salt pellets, don’t fill them up to the top of the tank. Instead, make sure you leave around six inches free from the top of the salt pellets to the rim of the tank.
Other Important Tasks
Of course, your water softener brine tank needs more than just a good annual cleaning.
Throughout the year, you’ll also need to:
- Break up any salt “bridges” that can block the pellets from moving around like they should.
- Check the salt levels once a month or more.
- Check with your manual to make sure you’re using the right type of salt.
- If the salt gets clumps or “mush” in it, break it up into smaller pieces.
You should also look for signs that your water-softening system may not be working right, such as stiff clothes or water spots on dishes or water that has a salty taste to it.
In these and other cases, you may need to call a water-softener expert to make sure you don’t need any type of repairs.