Water softener maintenance (Simple steps and tips)

Ion exchange Water softener lasts for years with little maintenance, but regular check-ups and cleaning can make the softener work efficiently and last longer.

What is that little maintenance that a water softener requires? Read this article from beginning to end to learn how to maintain a water softener.

Water softener maintenance

The new Ion exchange water softeners are easy to install with simple instruction you can do it yourself without hiring a plumber or professional. They are also small in size do not require large space.

You only need a habit of checking the salt level once a month, cleaning the brine tank and resin tank yearly so that your system can work properly and improve lifespan.

Water softener maintenance checklist

  • Check salt level every month
  • Clean the brine tank at least once per year to prevent problems such as salt bridging. Cleaning also prevents bacteria growth in the tank.
  • Check the brine tank every month. Apart from cleaning the tank, you need to inspect the brine tank whether there is salt bridging or mushing. A salt bridge is caused by high humidity, the wrong type of salt, and high temperature.
  • Use the right salt – before adding the salt check the system manual to know the right salt that will work well with the unit
  • Check for salt bridge and mushing every month-

A Salt bridge happens when the hard crust forms in the brine tank. The crust form a barrier between water and salt therefore prevent salt from dissolving that is used for regeneration.

Salt mushing happens when the dissolved salt recrystallizes and form sludge at the bottom of the tank. To solve mushing problem you need to drain everything in the brine tank and dig out the salt at the bottom. Clean the tank and replace with new salt

  • Clean resin tank –

This involve cleaning and replacing the resin beads. Cleaning resins require you have resin cleaner and it is recommended you do it after every 3 months.

Replacing resin can be done when the resin beads get worn out and are not giving out soft water

  • Remember to sanitize your tank after cleaning using bleach to prevent bacteria growth
  • Cleaning resin tank injector/ Clean the venturi valve

Water softener maintenance guide step by step

  • Maintaining brine tank

Cleaning the brine tank

The brine tank needs to be cleaned at least once per year and this activity you can enjoy doing in a weekend.

Step by steps how to clean the brine tank

Set the system to bypass mode. In bypass mode, the water will not enter the water softener for a period so that cleaning can be done.

Disconnect all the lines (resin tank to brine tank) and electricity from the water softener.

Take the brine tank out

Pour all water out of the brine tank and remove the remaining salt.

If your system has brine grid pull it out.

Mix a few drops of dish soap with 1-2 gallons of water to form soap mixture.

Pour the soap mixture into the brine tank and scrub the tank using a scrubbing brush or long-handled brush.

Dump and rinse the soap mixture with water

How to sanitize brine tank

Pour one cup of household bleach like vinegar and three gallons of water in the brine tank. Stir until the solution mix well, let’s it sit for 15 minutes to kill any pathogens (the bleach is used to sanitize tank) after that scrub the tank, dump the bleach mixture and rinse with clean water.

Put the brine tank in place and connect all lines of the water softener

Add water up to 5-gallons and lastly water softener salt. It is recommended to keep water softener salt levels at least six inches space from the top of the brine tank

Check the salt level at least once in a month to make sure it’s at a right point.  For common rule fill the brine tank at least half full with salt and keep the salt levels at least six inches below the top to avoid overly salt or 2/3 full of salt.

Choose the right types of water softener salt to add to your unit. Make sure before adding a salt check whether the brine tank has a salt bridge.

The salt bridge is one big block of salt that prevents the salt from getting to the bottom of the tank to form the brine solution, therefore, blocking your system to regenerate properly.

Ensure you break the salt bridge into small pieces.

You can manually break it by pouring warm water on it to loosen and break easily. Also, you can use a broom handle and gently hit the salt bridge until it breaks.

Another thing you need to check is whether there is salt mushing. Salt mushing is when the dissolved salt recrystallizes and form sludge in the bottom of the tank.

If the brine tank has salt mushing you need to clean tank and replace with fresh salt. Salt mushing prevent brine solution flowing in the resin tank 

Maintaining resin tank

The resin tank is also another essential part of the water softener. From time to time they require to be cleaned and resin beads replaced.

If your water has iron, the iron deposit can occur on the resin beads making it not operate properly. 

Also, over the time your resin beads can be overcoated with silt, heavy metals and organic compounds they cause the resin beads not soften water properly.

In such a case, the resin beads need to be cleaned regularly to restore and peak their efficiency.

Just use the resin cleaner recommended by the manufacturer to clean the beads without having to replace it, but if they don’t solve the problem, you need to replace the beads.

Pour the resin cleaner in the brine tank and regenerate the system manually. The cleaner is flushed out of the resin tank use the drain.

Replacing the resin

Make sure you have bought the resin, gravel, distributor tube and funnel.

Put the tank into bypass and take off the resin tank.

Remove the distributor tube and pour the resin out of the tank.

Put the new distributor tube inside the resin tank and cut the correct height (an inch above the tank top). Tape the top of the distributor so that gravel and resin won’t get inside. Put the new gravel and then resin. Make sure gravel and resin do not get inside the distributor tube.

Return the resin tank in place and reconnect.

How To clean resin tank & Replace Your Water Softener Resin, Media, Beads Video

Cleaning resin tank injector/ Clean the venturi valve

This is the part of the water softener that people forget to clean.  The tank injector creates the suction to move the brine solution from the brine tank to the resin tank.

Over time the valve gets sand and dirt which need to be cleaned to operate effectively.

The injector needs to be cleaned after every six months to prevent resin beads from contamination.

How to clean resin tank injector

Turn off the softener and disconnect the power.

Drain the water and release pressure from the tank. Unscrew the panel to get the injector line. Remove the injector and trace the filter panel. Use dishwasher detergent to clean before you return it.

Cleaning the venturi valve should be done twice in a year.

Check whether the o-ring is in good shape if not replace it. You can buy water softener parts here.

Water softener maintenance checklist
  • Always check salt and water level once in a month
  • Make a habit of checking the salt level every month. Make sure the salt level is at least half full and keep it 3 inches above the water
  • Check whether there are salt mushing and salt bridge. If any make sure you remove.
  • Clean both resin and brine tank once in a year.
  • If your water has a high presence of iron make sure you clean resin using resin cleaner after every four months.
  • Regular checking of your water softener helps improve the system performance and extend lifespan. Make sure you use the right salt.

Can I put vinegar in my water softener?

It is advisable to sanitize brine tank and the recommended liquid to sanitize is household bleach and Vinegar is one of them.

How often should you clean a water softener brine tank?

Once a year

How do you maintain your water softener? Share with us in the comment section below.

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