Water softeners remove minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and other organic compounds from hard water. This process is called ion exchange. Hard water is a common concern for many homeowners because it can cause problems, such as clogged pipes, spotted glasses and dishes, and appliance scale buildup. To prevent these issues and ensure the water softening process of your unit is efficient, you must perform regular maintenance on your home’s system.
This blog post talks about the most common issues in these units, easy DIY water softener repair advice, and some practical maintenance tips to extend the lifespan of your equipment.
How Long Do Water Softeners Last?
On average, the lifespan of water softeners can last up to 12 years, but they can last up to 20 years with proper care. This also depends on the brand you buy and the type of water you are using. Generally, salt-based softeners last longer than non-salt models.
Salt-free systems require frequent maintenance to keep functioning at their best, while salt-based systems usually require less maintenance but may need repairs more often.
Evaporated salt pellets are the best choice for your softener system as they help reduce the hard water minerals and make the entire system more efficient. It’s important to remember that you should not run out of salt, as this could cause damage to your equipment. Rock salt is also a common choice, but it tends to be messier and harder to manage.
Solar salt is another option, and it’s often the least expensive. Lastly, potassium chloride is a synthetic alternative to traditional salt that’s becoming increasingly popular due to its environmental benefits.
Common Water Softeners Problems and Troubleshooting
As a homeowner, you must watch out for potential problems and be knowledgeable about basic water softener troubleshooting. Common issues that can arise with water softeners include:
- Clogged Filters
Clogged filters will reduce your system’s effectiveness and lead to unwanted mineral buildup in your home’s pipes. It is often caused by debris buildup in the system. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to fix this issue:
- Shut off the power supply to your water softener and disconnect it from the mains.
- Remove the filter housing using a wrench if necessary.
- Take out the sediment filter and inspect it for buildup or blockages.
- If you find any debris, rinse it with warm water.
- Reattach the filter housing and turn on the power supply to your water softener again. This should restore the normal function of your system.
- Salt Bridges
In some cases, salt can become clumped in your tank, leading to a phenomenon known as a salt bridge. This usually occurs when the water level is too low or if there’s moisture in your tank. To resolve this issue, you should increase the water level and add more salt until the bridge has dissolved.
Resin beads are responsible for trapping the minerals removed from your water supply. If your unit isn’t working properly, it could be due to defunct resin beads. While they may last 10 to 15 years, these beads gradually wear out over time and must be replaced for the unit to function correctly.
To check if the beads need to be replaced, buy a hardness test kit from your local hardware store and check for mineral content. If the results are unsatisfactory, it’s time to replace the resin beads in your system. Sometimes you know you need to replace your beads when your resin tank stops putting out soft water or runs out of soft water quickly.
- Excessive Water in the Water Softener’s Brine Tank
Although water is always present in the water softener brine tank as it has to dissolve the salts to form a brine solution, an excessive amount can indicate a problem. A leaky valve, a worn-out brine pick-up tube, or clogged flow control fittings could cause this.
To resolve this issue, consider the following:
- Check the water level and inspect the parts for any damage or blockages. If there are, replace them with new parts.
- Check the float valve if it’s set too high, as this can affect the water level. Read the manual of your unit and follow the guidelines given.
- If your water softener is more than eight years old, it’s time to replace it. Choose a more efficient model for maximum performance.
- Check if the water entry level is still working because a broken one can cause the system to fill with water. Inspect the brine tank for any cracks or buildup, and if there are any, replace it with a new one.
- Insufficient Water in the Brine Tank
If there’s too little water in the brine tank, the water softener regeneration cycle will be interrupted, and the system won’t be able to produce soft water. A clogged drain line, an inadequate salt dosage, or a low water level in the brine tank usually cause this.
To fix this issue:
- Check the drain line for blockages and clean it if needed so the water can flow freely. You may soak in hot water and flush out to unclog any debris.
- Check that the brine float switch is straight and can move freely up and down. If it’s stuck, clean all the parts in the brine. If the switch is broken, you have to replace it.
- Add more salt into the brine tank until the water reaches the fill mark indicated on your unit’s manual.
- Raise the water level in your brine tank using a hose to bring it up to its correct height.
While this may not be an issue because water softeners are usually quite noisy, excessive noise can indicate a problem. A malfunctioning motor, worn-out parts, or incorrect settings could cause this.
To resolve this problem:
- Check the valves and other parts for any wear or tear.
- Make sure that all connections are tightened securely and that there aren’t any air bubbles in the line.
- Replace any worn-out parts if needed.
- Set your timer to the recommended cycle length as indicated in your unit’s manual.
- Clean and lubricate the motor with oil to ensure it’s running smoothly and quietly.
Top Water Softener Maintenance Advice
To maintain your unit’s efficiency and avoid damage, there are some maintenance measures you can take:
- Perform salt levels checks at least every 2 to 3 months, and add more when needed.
- Clean the brine tank often to remove any sludge or dirt buildup. When cleaning water softeners, make sure to use an approved water softener cleaner safe for the system.
- Change resin beads and replace them with new ones once they wear out.
- Check for leaks in the valves and connections, as leakage can cause damage to your system.
- Replace worn-out parts’ seals to ensure they’re tightly sealed and secure.
- Call a qualified technician for water softener service at least once every year for optimum performance.
Water softeners are essential for providing you with clean and soft water. However, you must know how to use water softener properly and carry out regular maintenance to extend its lifespan and ensure optimal performance. Follow the tips mentioned above to keep your water softener in tip-top condition and enjoy its benefits for many years.