How to Take Care of a Water Softener
There are few appliances which are more misunderstood than the humble water softener.
These low-maintenance wonders of the modern world don’t require much TLC, other than refilling salt and setting a few parameters. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the needs of your water softener if you want it to perform at its best.
Salt Bridges and Mushing
When a hard crust starts to form in a brine tank, resulting in a space between the water and salt, it is known as a salt bridge. This inhibits the brine creating process, as the salt is unable to dissolve in the water. Brine is an essential element in how a water softener works, as without the resin beads, it becomes ineffective. There are a few scenarios which can lead to salt bridges forming, including temperature fluctuations, humidity, or simply using salt that isn’t suitable for the water softener.
Salt can also recrystallize, which will result in what is known as salt mushing. This prevents the water softening process from taking place, as cycling is disrupted. There is the additional issue of the tank becoming blocked due to the thick sludge that gathers at the bottom of the brine tank. The best way to rectify this problem is by draining the softener and removing the old salt. You will then need to replace the salt before refilling and calibrating the water softener.
Your main problem, however, is likely due to using inferior salt in your water softener. High-quality salt pellets are much less likely to result in problems, such as salt bridges and salt mushing. It is also important to avoid overfilling a brine tank. When there is too much salt in the brine tank, older salt doesn’t have anywhere to go but directly onto the walls of the tank. As a final step, make sure the brine tank’s environment doesn’t suffer from high humidity.
You Get What You Pay For
The three types of softener salt most people are familiar with are solar, evaporated, or rock. The least costly of the three is rock salt. However, it is also the highest in insoluble minerals and other impurities which negatively offset the low cost. Solar salt does a better job in so far as it is more soluble than rock salt. Evaporation salt, on the other hand, is by far the most suitable option, containing 99.99% sodium chloride – the higher the purity, the better the salt, in general.
Salt that is higher in purity is less likely to result in problems such as salt bridges and salt mushing. That means you won’t need to maintain your water softener as often and can leave it to work in the background, doing the job for which it was designed. The other positive of spending the money on a quality salt product is certain brands are specifically designed to tackle issues such as rust stains.
Resin Bed Cleaner
Pollutants in a water softener can sneak up on you; which is why it’s a good idea to flush the resin bed every once in a while. Organic compounds can find their way into a water softener. This is not good for performance, and will eventually cost you money. You can reduce the impact of ineffective resin by using a water softener cleaner. This is achieved by following the manufacturer’s instructions for adding water softener cleaner to the brine well.
Any cleaner in the system is dispelled when the flushing process takes place as part of the normal water softening function. The purpose of a resin bed cleaner is to (unsurprisingly) keep the resin clean so it is more effective.
Venturi Valve Cleaning
You really appreciate all the effort your venture valve puts in to move brine from the brine tank into the resin tank, right? Well, all that hard work results in the valve becoming blocked up with dirt, sediment, or sand. If the valve is dirty, it’s not performing at its full capacity. The good news is, it’s easy to clean the Venturi valve without the need for a plumber. The valve cover unscrews for quick access to the component parts, which are likely to get plugged up with dirt and other gunk. All you need to do is wash these parts in soapy water, rinse them, and then put everything back together again.
Mason Plumbing offers low rates on all your plumbing and water softener maintenance needs. If you are unsure how to check your water softener to ensure it is working to its maximum potential, Mason Plumbing will come out to your home and perform a wellness check. Contact us today if you would like to discuss water softener care or maintenance with a professional. You can call our team at (602) 680-5086 for all your plumbing inquiries and emergency callouts.