Knowing how to clean and maintain your water softener is one of the most important parts of owning a water softening system, especially if you want to get your money’s worth. After all, these systems aren’t exactly cheap, and proper maintenance is essential to keep them running in tip-top condition.
That being said, however, the level of maintenance and cleaning you have to perform varies considerably depending on the system you’ve installed and the kind of water softener you’re using (to understand more about the various kinds of water softeners and how they work, click here).
How to clean and maintain your water softener
If you’re using an ion-exchange water softener
Out of the three most popular kinds of water softeners on the market, the ion-exchange water softener performs the best when it comes to actually softening your water. However, this also means that it requires the most maintenance too since the process of ion-exchange requires regular rejuvenation cycles.
But that’s not to say maintaining the system is hard or costly at all. In fact, the only thing you as the user have to do is keep an eye on the amount of salt in your brine tank. Ion-exchange water softeners regularly use saltwater from the brine tank as part of their rejuvenation process, so as the salt in the brine tank gets used up it needs to be replaced with new salt from outside. Typically, you need to refill your brine tank with salt about once every month, but this time period may vary depending on your use and the size of your water softener.
Refilling the brine tank with salt is very simple. Simply open the lid of your brine tank and peer inside. If the level of the salt inside has fallen below the recommended level (which will be labeled on the inside of the salt tank or specified in your manual), all you need to do is dump a new bag of salt into the brine tank. Once you’ve restored salt to the recommended levels, replace the lid and seal it tight, and you’re basically good to go.
And as far as cleaning goes, there’s really not a lot to do other than just lightly dusting the two tanks with a piece of clean cloth once every two weeks or so. You may have to clean out your brine tank once every 6 months or so, but even that can be avoided if you keep the lid shut tightly and use only the right kind of salt. So, just take care you don’t jostle or exert undue force on the water softener while cleaning, or else you might undo a fitting and cause a leak.
Overall, as long as you keep the brine tank lid tightly sealed and install the system in a secure, shaded and clean place, cleaning it regularly should be the least of your worries.
If you’re using an electronic water de-scaler
An electronic water de-scaler is basically a zero-maintenance system, with there being absolutely nothing for you as a user needing to do to keep it running, other than providing it a steady flow of electricity of course. Dust and cobwebs are the extents of what you’ll be facing when cleaning this unit, so a quick wipe with a clean piece of cloth is more than enough to last an entire month. Just be sure you don’t break any electrical connections while cleaning, and you’ll be fine.
If you’re using a template-assisted crystallization (TAC) water conditioner
Like the electronic water de-scaler, a TAC water conditioner also requires no maintenance from the user, on paper at least. The system consists of a simple tank filled with media, with only one water inlet from your mains supply and one outlet to the rest of the house.
However, you may have to perform some maintenance, after all, depending on your overall system construction, since a TAC water conditioner is usually paired with a filter system to remove dirt, debris and other contaminants before the water can be de-scaled by the water conditioner. So, depending on the quality of water that comes into your house, you may have to change filters on a semi-regular basis.
Though most water conditioners have a fixed lifetime (5-6 years depending on the manufacturer or model) after which the entire system needs to be replaced, your manufacturer could offer you the option of replacing only the media in your existing model, therefore helping you cut back on costs. So, be sure to ask whether or not the media can be replaced when buying a TAC water conditioner to make a more informed decision (for more tips on buying a water softener, click here).
And as far as cleaning the system goes, the guidelines are the same as for the ion-exchange water softeners: a little dusting is more or less all you’ll need to do, provided you installed the water conditioner in a secure and clean place to begin with.