Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 by Mike Ohlinger
Your water softener works diligently all day long to remove the minerals that make up hard water. Whether you’re showering, drawing a pot of water for cooking, or filling a cool pitcher for lemonade, all of the water that you use in your home needs to first pass through your softener. That’s a lot of responsibility for one appliance!
While a water softener requires very little maintenance or monitoring for it to continue to deliver consistently soft water, it does require regular additions of softener salt to its brine tank. If you’re a water softener owner, you are likely familiar with the routine of dumping bags of salt into the short tank next to your softener. But, with life being as hectic as it often is, it can sometimes be difficult to remember to add another bag of salt to your brine tank. What happens to your water softener if you forget to add salt? Are there better ways to remind you to check the salt levels in your tank?
To know what can happen to your softener and home if your brine tank runs out of salt, it’s important to first understand how a brine tank works. When the resin media inside of the water softener becomes too full of hardness minerals and cannot capture any more, the brine tank fills with water and soaks the salt, dissolving it to form a brine solution. This brine solution is then drawn into the media tank where it rinses and cleans the media, sending all of the captured hardness minerals to the drain, making the resin ready to do its job again.
Think of a brine tank as a fuel tank and salt as the fuel. Just like your car, if there’s no fuel in its tank, it won’t run. Without a proper concentration of brine to recharge the resin media inside, your softener will start to get less effective and hard water will begin to bypass the softening media, making its way into your home. Once all of the salt runs out of your brine tank, your softener will attempt to recharge the resin media using raw, hard water instead of a salt solution. This will be ineffective and your home will then be supplied with hard water until the resin can be cleaned again.
At this point, you may start to notice some of the telltale signs of hard water begin to surface, such as residue around your faucets and fixtures, needing to use more soaps and detergents than normal, or difficulty getting a lather in a shower. If the problem is addressed, hardness-related buildup can damage your water-using appliances, including your water softener itself!
While the best way to prevent any of the issues above is to just make sure your brine tank is always adequately full of salt, it still can be tricky to know how often your tank needs to be refilled, or how much salt you need to add each time. Several factors directly contribute to this, including:
With these three factors alone, you can imagine that most households have different schedules in regards to adding salt. Some homeowners refill their brine tank every few weeks while some do it every few months.
To ensure that your water softener has enough salt to operate properly, the brine tank must be always at least 1/3 of the way full. When adding salt, a good rule of thumb is to fill the tank to the half-way point. Since we’ve established that it can be difficult to predict when your tank may need refilling, there are two ways that you can monitor when it’s time to add salt.
Staying on top of filling your brine tank is important for keeping your water softener working as it should. If your current softener seems to swallow salt by the pound or isn’t delivering the quality of water you expect, it may be time for an upgrade. WaterCare’s line of high-efficiency softeners coupled with our unique Salt Monitor can save you trips down to your brine tank while providing the peace of mind that your softener is working properly. Call us today to learn more!