One of the things you might have in your home if you live in a hard water state, such as Arizona, Texas, Utah, Nevada, or Idaho, is a water softener. Water softeners can save you money, and increase your lifespan on many of your home appliances. In hard water states, the build-up of scale on the insides of pipes, water heaters, showerheads and faucets can create a headache for homeowners when they have to replace these over and over. If you don’t have a water softener, you can do some extensive maintenance on your home systems and appliances that Landmark Home Warranty has detailed in past posts. Here are some tips for hard water:
First, you should learn about what makes hard water hard. Then, look at this DIY post about how you can rid your shower head from hard water scale. After, you can read about how getting rid of the scale within your pipes can help you save money and a headache on replacing those pipes. Then, learn how to descale those pipes.
If you have opted to not have to worry about these problems, and get a water softener, that’s great! Think of the headache that you’ve just avoided by not having hard water throughout your home! But, just because you have a water softener, and you don’t have to do all of the extra maintenance that comes with hard water, you still have to maintain your water softener! If you have a home warranty, the only way that you can have it covered by your home warranty plan is by properly maintaining it. Luckily, Landmark Home Warranty knows how to maintain your water softener to get the best soft water, and to keep your water softener running as long as it should.
There are two main components of a water softener: a brine tank and a resin tank. Some of the water softener models are both of the tanks in one, and some have the two tanks separate. Both of these need maintenance to be covered by a home warranty, and to make sure the water softener is has the longest lifespan possible. If you want to learn about how to maintain your water softener, you need to go and learn about water softeners and how they work on our last post. Otherwise you’ll have a hard time understanding why you should maintain your tanks and how to do so.
MAINTAINING YOUR BRINE TANK
The brine tank is one of the tanks that makes up your water softener.
The main thing you should do to maintain your brine tank, is to make sure you have the right amount of salt inside of the tank. Don’t let the tank run out of salt, but also don’t over fill it. That’s what creates annoying salt clogs or bridges, which we will talk about again. A good rule of thumb is to put salt into the tank when it has dwindled to about a fourth of a tank.
CLEAN OUT YOUR BRINE TANK
You should also frequently be cleaning out your brine tank. This makes sure the water softener will always be using clean brine to regenerate the resin within the resin tank. Here is how to clean out your brine tank:
First, make sure your water softener is turned off.
1. Get your tank to a low level
The tank doesn't have to be absolutely 100% clean, but vacuuming it as much as you can is a great plan.
4. Refill the tank about 2/3 full of salt.
REMOVING A SALT BRIDGE
Sometimes your water won’t be softened because there is a salt bridge inside of the brine tank. These occur naturally, and one of the reasons you should maintain your brine tank. A salt bridge is a hardened layer of salt overtop the water in your tank. This means that when the resin is regenerated, there isn’t enough sodium pumped into the resin from the brine tank, and the resin isn’t cleaned. Then, when you try to soften your water, the resin already has calcium and magnesium deposits on it, so the water you get from your softener is harder than usual.
Luckily, there is an easy fix to this problem, and it comes with regular maintenance. You should be cleaning out your brine tank annually anyway, but if you end up having a salt bridge, here is how to fix a salt bridge within your tank.
1. TURN OFF WATER SOFTENERMake sure your water softener is turned off, and you have turned on the bypass switch. (This means your water source will bypass your water softener, and just go into your home. That way you don’t have to turn off your water while you clean.)
2. BREAK UP SALT BRIDGE
Take a broom handle or large stick and break up any hard salt bridges.Then, scoop out all of the brine and excess salt that you can possibly get.
3. DISSOLVE EXCESS SALT
Pour a few gallons of hot tap water on the rest of the salt. Let that sit for four hours, so the salt can dissolve into the water, and become brine. Then, regenerate your system until you have used up all of the brine you have created from the salt bridge.
MAINTAINING YOUR RESIN TANK
Resin tanks generally don’t need a lot of extra help when it comes to maintenance. However, sometimes they will need to be cleaned out for sediment damage, or to have their resin replaced. Replacing resin is a relatively easy process, and can save you a couple hundred dollars to do it yourself.
You will need to go to the hardware store with the type of tank you have. They will tell you what kind of resin to get, how much you need to put into your tank, and if you should put gravel at the bottom of your tank. They may also recommend you get a new distributor tube. You should also buy a resin funnel along with the resin you purchase.
1. TURN OFF WATER SOFTENER
Once you have purchased the resin, gravel, funnel and tube, put your tank into bypass.
2. DUMP RESIN OUT OF TANK
Then, take off the tank, or take the tank out of the brine tank. Remove the distributor tube, and then dump out the resin. Watch out, there will be water in there!
3. REPLACE RESIN
First, put the new distributor tube into the tank, and cut to the correct height. (About an inch above the lip of the tank). Tape the top of this distributor down, so you don’t get gravel or resin inside. Then, put the gravel in, if your tank needs it, and then put new resin in (make sure to not get it in the distributor!)
4. BACKWASH AND REGENERATE
Backwash and regenerate a few times and then it is ready to go!
As long as your properly maintain your water heater, and you have a home warranty, you can get it repaired or replaced when it fails from normal wear and tear for a small service call fee. If you have a Landmark Home Warranty plan that includes home warranty coverage on water softeners, all you will do is call Landmark Home Warranty and explain what is happening to your water softener. Then, Landmark will send out a trusted and bonded contractor to diagnose your water softener, repair or replace it.If you're interested in learning more, read our collection of articles about your home's plumbing system. Or, if you want to learn more about home warranties and how they work, check out our home warranty educational tools.