Preserving Water Softeners
Water softeners remove hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium from your home’s water supply. This helps prevent the buildup of lime scale and other calcification that can harm your plumbing, water heater, and other household appliances. In addition, soft water eliminates the need for chemical cleaners or laundry bleach.
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In order to soften water, your softener uses a process called ion exchange. In this process, negatively charged resin beads (which are made of polystyrene) trap the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions in your water.
A water softener consists of three main components: a control valve, a mineral tank, and a brine tank.
The control valve controls the flow of water to and from the mineral tank. It also determines the frequency, timing, and duration of regeneration cycles. Older style systems use a timer to trigger this, while newer systems have a built-in meter that measures your home’s water usage and then automatically determines when it is time to clean the resin beads.
To begin the ion exchange process, the water enters the mineral tank and flows over the negatively charged resin beads. As it does, the resin beads swap the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions.
Next, a second container called the brine tank is used to send a wave of sodium-filled water over the resin beads. The sodium ions then replace the calcium and magnesium ions, making your water soft again.
Brine tank maintenance
A regular check of your brine tank should be part of your monthly salt-level inspection. Make sure you’re using the right type of salt and that you’re not overfilling it with too much. Choosing the wrong type can reduce the efficiency of your softener and dirties the tank, which needs to be cleaned regularly.
When you’re cleaning the tank, keep an eye out for a layer of crust called a salt bridge. This can form over time when the salt in your tank isn’t being pumped into the resin beads from the brine tank.
While it’s difficult to avoid a salt bridge altogether, you can help minimize it by refilling the brine tank only when it’s nearly empty and filling it no more than two-thirds full. This will ensure that you’re not overfilling the tank and creating a barrier for salt to enter the system.
It’s also important to remember that the salt level in your tank isn’t the only thing that can affect the quality of your water. It’s also a good idea to change your salt once in a while.
Changing your salt will make it easier to keep your softener running smoothly and will improve your family’s health by removing toxins, such as chlorine and nitrates, from your water supply. In addition, a higher-quality salt will help preserve the life of your water softener.
Maintaining the motor
Just as with any other piece of machinery, your water softener can break down and need repairs or replacements. However, with proper care and occasional maintenance, your softener will last a long time.