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What are the Best Methods for Water Softener Maintenance?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 17, 2024
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Water softener maintenance is required at least three times a year. In certain geographical areas, the water has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. These minerals are not harmful to the health, but can have a negative impact on washing machines, pipes, and other water systems. The purpose of a water softener is to remove some of the minerals present in the water, often replacing these mineral ions with sodium or potassium.

This type of system is typically purchased from a hardware or water softener store and installed near to the main water intake pipe. In addition to the purchase of the water softener unit, special salt must also be purchased and added to the unit. Most water softeners include a flow or hardness meter. Salt is added in specific quantities, based on the level of hardness in the water.

There are three primary methods of water softener maintenance: automatic system, manual inspection, and professional service. All three types of maintenance will involve accessing the water softener, reviewing the level of water hardness, and cleaning out the brine tank. These tasks are not difficult or overly complex, but must be completed on a regular basis.

The most common type of water softener maintenance is the purchase of an automatic system. The water softener comes with a hardness indicator, self regulates the amount of salt released, and alerts the owner when the brine tank needs to be cleaned. These units are slightly more expensive than the basic unit, but are a great solution for people who don't want to complete the recurring maintenance required.

Manual inspection must be completed at least every three months. Someone needs to check the salt levels in the softener and test the water hardness to make sure that the appropriate level of salt is being used. In addition, the brine tank must be inspected. Should there be a build-up of salt on the walls of the tank, they must be knocked down into the tank to be dissolved. If this work is not completed, the hard water will begin to flow through the system unchecked. This will result in damage to pipes, as well as problems creating a lather with soaps and detergents.

Many areas have professional service firms that will come to your home on a fixed schedule to conduct water softener maintenance. The firm is responsible for providing the salt, checking the levels, and cleaning the brine tank. In addition, many of these firms will also maintain other systems in your home, such as the gas furnace, electric water heater, and sprinkler system.

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