A water softener system is a useful appliance for getting rid of hard water. However, these systems are often working constantly to deliver softer water. This demand on the system limits its lifespan, especially when you avoid certain maintenance tasks.
A quality water softener system that is properly maintained may provide softer water for the next 20 years or more. Use these tips to maximize the lifespan of your water softener.
Do Not Add Too Much or Too Little Salt
Most water softener systems are comprised of two primary tanks – the brine tank and the resin tank. The brine tank contains salt that is used to create brine solution, which is used to flush the collected calcium and magnesium from the resin tank.
When you add too much salt to the tank, the tank is more likely to develop salt bridges. These hardened layers of salt prevent the softener from properly cleaning the resin beads in the resin tank. When you do not add enough salt to the tank, the same issues can arise.
The brine solution will not contain enough sodium to thoroughly cleanse the resin beads. These issues limit the efficiency and effectiveness of the water softener. To maintain the consistency of the brine tank, pay attention to the salt level.
Your softener instructions should discuss the optimal amount of salt to keep in the tank. For most systems, you should keep the tank filled at least a quarter-full of salt.
Clean Out Your Brine Tank to Remove Buildup
Along with paying attention to the salt levels in the brine tank, you should also occasionally clean the tank. Regular cleaning will help remove buildup and salt bridges.
To clean the brine tank, turn off the water softener system. When the water level is low, scoop out the salt and brine solution in the bottom of the tank. You may need to use a shop vac to get rid of the remaining brine solution. Remove any buildup and as much sediment as you can with the vacuum before adding fresh salt.
You should clean the brine tank at least once per year to maintain the efficiency of your water softener. However, salt bridges may form at any time.
Occasionally check the inside of the tank for these bridges and break them up as they form. After breaking up the bridge, you can dissolve the salt with hot tap water.
Maintain the Resin Tank and Replace Damaged Beads
Unlike the brine tank, the resin tank does not typically require annual cleaning. However, sediment can collect in the bottom of the tank and limit its effectiveness.
If you inspect the resin tank and notice buildup, you may need to turn off the system, remove the components, and clean the inside of the tank.
If the resin beads are damaged or worn, you may need to replace them. As these beads become worn, they become less effective at removing the hard minerals from your water. Before you can replace the resin beads, you need to determine what type of resin and how much your tank requires.
You can check the instruction manual or take the tank to a local hardware store. Along with new resin, you may need to purchase a resin funnel, gravel, and a new distributor tube.
Replacing the resin is a straightforward process. You turn off the water softener and remove the existing resin from the tank. After cleaning the tank, add the distributor tube, followed by the gravel and resin.
When this process is complete, run the regeneration cycle at least twice to flush the system and start eliminating hard water.
Adjust the Regeneration Cycle and Hardness Settings
The last step for maximizing the lifespan of your water softener is to adjust settings based on your water usage. You can limit the number of regeneration cycles to reduce the demand on the softener system. You may also have the option to adjust the hardness settings depending on how hard your water is.
Check the instruction manual of your water softener system to learn more about these settings. If your water does not contain a high concentration of hard minerals, it may not need to work as hard to soften hard water.
Like most appliances, the lifespan of your water softener depends on how you use it and the maintenance steps that you perform.
Using the tips discussed, you may protect your water softener from unnecessary damage and stress that may shorten its service life.