Once you have had a water softener installed into your home, to resolve any hard water issues which you may have been experiencing, it is important to make sure the softener system runs efficiently so there are a couple of things you can do to look after and maintain it.
- Maintain Your Brine Tank Regularly
If you have a salt water softener, it’s important to check the salt levels regularly – at least once every month, to make sure that the levels comply with the softener’s instructions. You need to know what level the salt should be at for maximum efficiency and you need to know what type of salt needs to be added. If the salt starts to run low then you need to take action to ensure your softener continues to run at an optimum level.
Make sure there are no solid salt layers forming in the brine tank as these can prevent the softener working properly as it stops the salt mixing in with the water. You can use a stick or broom handle to break the salt deposits, or use hot water on them to break them down. You might also find mushy piles of salt at the bottom, which also needs to be broken up and dissolved. Changes in temperature can cause a build up of salt on the internals and externally on the machine. This is called salt creep and is perfectly normal, you can just scrape the salt off and reuse.
- Keeping Your Brine Tank Clean
If you have a new, modern water softener it shouldn’t need cleaning as they are built to work for between five and ten years without cleaning. If you notice your water is hard again and running basic maintenance doesn’t work, then you might need to plan a full clean of your tank. Older tanks need cleaning annually.
To clean your tank you need to empty it, drain all of the water out and throw away all of the salt that is still inside. Take out the brine mesh or grid from the bottom of the tank and then scrub the tank with water and soap, using a long brush. Rinse it out with water several times to get rid of the soap. Then clean inside the tank with bleach and water to sanitise the whole tank. Rinse it all out thoroughly before putting the grid back in, and filling the tank with salt and water ready to use again.
Leave the tank to settle and the salt to dissolve for a few hours before regenerating it.
- Regular Maintenance Checks
There are a few other things you can do regularly to ensure your tank is working to its optimum level. Firstly, you can test the bypass valves to make sure that they are working effectively and not leaking. Make sure that you turn them all back on at the end though so that water goes through the softener and isn’t in bypass.
You can also check and if needed clean the valve which sits between the brine tank and the resin tanks so that it doesn’t get clogged but always follow the manual instructions when carrying out any work on the valves.
If you are experiencing hard water, check if there are any issues with your softener first, to make sure the system isn’t broken. Look out for valve issues, kinks in pipes, or water pressure issues which could be having an impact.
A common fault we encounter is if there is a leak on your plumbing system somewhere – say a leaking ball valve in the loft or on a toilet, the water softener may not meter properly and you can get intermittent hard water. If you are encountering this problem, it is always worth checking you don’t have any small leaks on your plumbing system.