How Do You Clean a Water Softener

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Water cleaner is a great element to have at home, especially if you live in areas with hard water. Luckily, many people have found the solution to this problem through the use of a water softener. However, to make your water softener operate at its optimum, you need to maintain it. And one of the ways of maintaining your water softener is by cleaning it.

From cleaning the resin tank or filter, or a resin bed, they all need care and maintenance to continue working correctly. Cleaning your water softener is not a difficult task, but it does require some regularity. Here are some tips on how you can clean your water softener:

Importance of Cleaning a Water Softener

Water softeners are pretty independent, but they still need to be cleaned from time to time to prevent a buildup of impurities. Here are the reasons to clean your water softener:

  • Cleaning helps prevent dirt and sediment buildup inside the brine tank.
  • It helps to prevent early fouling of the resin bed.
  • To avoid issues related to salt smushing and bridging.
  • To keep the water softener system working properly.
  • Cleaning water helps to increase the lifespan of the resin.
  • It also helps maintain the system's components and reduces the frequency of repairs.

Cleaning a Water Softener

There are two main cleaning tasks for a water softener. These include: cleaning out the resin tank and cleaning out the brine tank. You should also wipe down the outside of the tanks to prevent dust and dirt buildup.

How to Clean a Resin Tank

Cleaning a water softener's resin tank can be the difference between wonderful water and brown-looking iron water. The best time for cleaning the resin tank is when the salt is already running a little on the low side, where you do not have to dump all the salt inside it.

If you have very hard water or water with a high iron or manganese content, clean out the resin bed at least once a year to prevent fouling. Even if your water looks clean, it could be loaded with dissolved minerals that eventually clog the tiny pores in the resin beads.

To clean the resin beads, use a resin cleaning product known as a rust remover or a rust stain remover. You can also buy an iron removing product made for cleaning water softeners from your home improvement stores and follow the directions on the package.

Make sure the product is designed for or suitable for use in water softeners. Different resin cleaners have different cleaning instructions. But depending on the product you choose, follow these steps for cleaning your resin beads:

  • Dissolve the cleaner in water according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Add the cleaner water mix to the water softener's brine tank.
  • Manually program the water softener to perform a regeneration cycle.
  • The cleaner will clean out the resin bed as the water softener regenerates.

How to Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank

How to Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank
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Cleaning the brine tank is very important because it's where the salt is stored that regenerates the resin beads.

Over time, the brine tank will collect dirt and grime from the water and the salt. This can clog up the brine tank and prevent the salt from dissolving properly.

To clean a water softener's brine tank:

Wait Until the Salt Level is Low

It makes sense to clean the salt tank when sodium levels are low. If you've only just added salt pellets to the tank, you'll waste salt if you empty out the tank for cleaning. Wait until there's not a lot of salt left in the tank, and then you can go ahead and clean it.

Shut Off the Water

When you're ready to start cleaning, shut off the water by turning the water softener's bypass valve. This will divert water away from the system and make it safe for you to access the brine tank while it's not in operation. You'll still be able to use unsoftened water in your home if you need to.

Drain the Brine Tank

To get rid of the residual salt and water solution in the brine tank, open the drain cock at the bottom of the tank and let it all empty out. If your water softener has a built-in overflow tube, make sure that it's not blocked so that everything can drain out easily. Alternatively, you can set your water softener to perform a regeneration cycle, then skip the rest of the cycle once the brine tank has been emptied.

Clear the Remaining Salt

Once the water is gone, you'll be left with a sludge layer or a salt bridge. After the brine tank has been emptied, you can remove any remaining salt with a shovel. Scoop the sludge out of the tank while being careful not to scrape the tank's walls. Bash hard, stubborn pieces of salt that are stuck to the sides with a broom handle. You'll also need to use warm water or hot water to loosen the salt bridge up and break it out.

Wash Out the Tank

Use a garden hose to rinse the tank out. If the salt bridge was particularly stubborn, you might need to use a higher-powered hose, such as a power washer. Once the tank is rinsed out, check for any remaining bits of sludge or salt. If you see any, remove them with a shovel.

Scrub the Tank With Detergent

Mix a couple of drops of dish soap with two cups of water in a bucket. Dip a non abrasive sponge in the solution and scrub the insides of the tank with soapy water. If you notice your tank has mold that won't budge, then apply a natural mold removal treatment.

Rinse and Refill the Tank

Once you've scrubbed the tank clean, rinse it out with fresh water. Then, refill the tank with water and add salt according to the manufacturer's instructions. Dry the insides of the tank with a towel, or let the tank dry naturally outside.

Reinstall the tank and refill the salt pellets until the maximum fill line. Turn the bypass valve so that water flows back into the system.

Set the System to Perform a Manual Regeneration Cycle

After the tank is clean and refilled, set the system to perform a manual regeneration cycle. This will help remove any residual hardness from the system. Depending on your model, you may need to consult your owner's manual for instructions on how to do this.

How to Clean a Brine Tank to Get Rid of Salt Bridges

Identify the Salt Bridge

A salt bridge is a hard, crusty build-up of salt that forms on the bottom of the brine tank. This can happen if the tank isn't properly maintained or if the wrong type of salt is used. If you haven't topped up your salt pellets in a while, but the tank still looks full, use the back of a broom to gently press the top layer of salt. If the salt doesn't move, then you have a salt bridge.

Break Up the Salt Bridge

Once you've identified the salt bridge, it's time to break it up. Start by pouring a few gallons of hot water into the tank. Then, use a broom or other blunt object to break up the salt crust. Be careful when removing salt bridges from the sides of the water softener tank, as you don't want to damage your tank.

Pour warm or hot water onto the bridge if the salt is fully compacted. Use a small container or net for fishing the floating salt chunks out of the water. If you plan to clean the brine tank after removing salt bridges, then follow these steps to drain, rinse, scrub and refill the tank.

How to Clean the Outside of a Water Softener

You should pay much attention to resin beads and the brine tank, but don't forget to keep the outside of your water softening system clean. Most water softeners are installed in an out of the way location, like in a cupboard, a basement, or a garage. Read more on hooking up water softener on our site.

It's common to find dust and dirt accumulating in these locations, potentially damaging your water softener's components. Dip a cloth in a warm, soapy water bucket and carefully wipe around the system whenever you notice dust or dirt buildup.

How to Reduce the Frequency of Water Softener Cleaning

Not many people enjoy cleaning. But you can't avoid cleaning your water softener all the same. Even if you invest in the best water softener shower, you’ll need to maintain it to give you longer service. However, if you want to reduce your water softener cleaning duties, consider the following:

Filter Your Water Before Softening

Filter Your Water Before Softening
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One of the best ways to reduce the amount of cleaning your water softener needs is to filter your water before it enters the system. This way, you can remove much of the dirt, sediment, and other debris that would otherwise end up in your water softener unit.

There are a variety of whole-house water filters on the market that can do an excellent job of filtering your water. Be sure to choose a filter that is designed to remove the specific contaminants in your water.

Use High Purity Salt

The purer your softener's salt supply, the fewer impurities it contains. The fewer impurities in the salt, the more evaporated salt is produced, and the less sediment is left behind. High purity salt is cleaner, so it doesn't make your brine tank dirty.

Set your System to Regenerate on Time

You should regenerate your softener at least once a week, but more often if you have hard water. Regenerating means flushing all the impurities out of the system so that it can start fresh again.

If you don't regenerate regularly, your softened water will become increasingly contaminated and won't work as well. Make sure your water softener regenerates according to your household water usage and your water hardness.

FAQs on How to Clean a Water Softener

How often should you regenerate your water softener?

You should regenerate your water softener at least once a week, but more often if you have hard water.

How to clean a water softener salt tank?

You should clean your water softener salt tank every few months to remove any built-up dirt and grime. You can do this by using a garden hose to flush out the tank.

How to clean a water softener resin bed?

You should clean your water softener resin bed every few years to remove any build-up of minerals. You can do this by using a water softener cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water.

Final Thought on How to Clean a Water Softener

Maintaining a water softener is the best thing you can do to protect your system. By cleaning it, you will remove any dirt, grime, or mineral build-up that could clog or damage your system.




Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy

Heather is a professional writer with a background in real estate and home renovation. She enjoys research and contributing to DIY publications and loves to review home products and appliances.

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