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How To Clean a Water Softener

Cleaning a water softener system is relatively straightforward, and you can do it on your own as long as you have the necessary cleaning supplies. You need to clean the resin and brine tank at least once per year with dedicated solutions to maximize the efficiency of your water softener.

So, what do you need to do if you want to clean your water softener properly? Take a look at some of the most important tips below, and stay up to date on water softener maintenance if you want it to last as long as possible

The Top Reasons To Clean Your Water Softening Solution

First, you might be curious about some of the reasons why you need to clean your water softener from time to time. The biggest reason is that you want to prevent impurities from building up in your water softener that could put unnecessary stress on its internal components.

Some of the other reasons why you need to clean your water softener include:

  • You do not want to end up with a bunch of sediment and dirt in the brine tank.
  • You do not want the resin bed to spoil prematurely.
  • You want to minimize the chances of having to repair your water softener.
  • You want to prevent salt mushing and salt bridges from impacting the performance of your water softener.
  • You want your water softener to work as efficiently as possible.

Before you go to work cleaning out your water softener, keep in mind that there are two general tasks that you need to complete. You must make sure you clean the resin tank, and you need to clean the brine tank as well.

How To Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank

Time needed: 1 hour

Cleaning your brine tank is definitely the more challenging of the two tasks. Furthermore, depending on the hardness level of your water, you may need to clean your brine tank more frequently than your resin tank.

In general, you should expect to clean your brine tank every 6 to 12 months, but depending on how much water you use and the hardness level of your water, you may need to adjust the schedule.

Some of the steps you need to follow include:

  1. Wait for a Low Salt Level

    You do not want to waste the salt that is in the tank, so you may want to wait to clean out the brine tank until the salt level is already relatively low. Furthermore, this will make the brine tank much easier to lift.

    You will not have to scoop out as much water softener salt, and you will have an easier time seeing the dirt around the tank.

  2. Turn Off the Water

    When you are ready to start the cleaning process, turn off the water to the system itself. You can do so by turning on the bypass valve, which will direct water away from the system. It will make it much easier for you to access the brine tank.

    Note, this is slightly different than turning of the entire water softener system.

  3. Empty the Tank

    You need to drain the tank completely before you can start cleaning it. You should remove the grid plate from the bottom of the tank. Then, start scooping out the water. There might be additional parts you need to remove depending on the water softener you have, so refer to the manual to learn more.

    Once you can lift the tank yourself, pour the rest of the brine solution down a nearby drain.

  4. Wash and Scrub the Tank

    Now, you can wash and scrub the sink. If you have a hose in your backyard, you can use it to rinse out the tank and remove any remaining salt, grime, or sediment that might be present. You should try to clear out as much of the debris with the hose as possible to make your life easier when you start scrubbing.

    All you need to do to clean your brine tank is mix a few drops of dish soap with some water in a bucket. Then, use a non-abrasive sponge, dip it in the solution, and scrub the inside of the tank. If there is mold inside the tank, you may need to use a mold removal solution.

  5. Refill the Tank

    Be sure to thoroughly remove any suds that might be present in the brine tank, and then dry the inside of the tank using a towel. You can reinstall the tank and refill the salt pellets according to the instructions in the manual. Remember that you may need to perform a manual regeneration cycle to complete the process.

What About Salt Bridges?

There is a chance that you may see salt bridges when you open your water softener’s brine tank. You need to remove the salt bridge for your brine tank to function properly, so you’ll need to start by breaking up the salt bridge itself. You may want to use the handle of a broom to do so.

Then, fish out any of the floating chunks you see and remove them from the water softener tank. Once you have destroyed the salt bridge and removed the chunks, you can proceed with the rest of the steps above.

If you have trouble breaking up the salt bridge, consider pouring warm water on the salt bridge to dissolve it. Be careful if you use hot water, as you don’t want to burn yourself.

How To Clean a Water Softener Resin Tank

In general, you should clean your water softener resin tank at least once per year. Ideally, you should clean your resin tank when you carry out your routine service. If you have water that has a lot of iron and manganese, or if your water hardness level is exceedingly high, you may need to clean your resin tank slightly more often to protect the resin beads.

There are plenty of resin cleaning products available, but in general, you want to go with a rust remover. Before you purchase your cleaning product, make sure it has been specifically designed for water softeners.

There are a few steps you need to follow to clean your resin tank. They include:

1. Dissolve the Water Softener Cleaner in Water

First, you should take your cleaning solution and mix it with water. Take a look at the instructions on the bottle, and make sure the cleaning solution is completely dissolved in the water before you move forward.

2. Add the Mixture to the Tank

Then, open the resin tank and pour in the mixture. There is probably already some water in the resin tank, so go ahead and add your mixture to what is already there.

3. Regenerate the Resin

Depending on the water softener you have, you may need to manually program it to perform a regeneration cycle. The exact buttons you have to press will be different from system to system, so take a look at the manual to learn more.

4. Wait for the Cleaner To Dissipate

During the regeneration cycle, the cleaning solution will clean out the resin bed and remove any impurities that might be present. You need to perform a regeneration cycle to make it as easy as possible for your water softener to do its job. 

As a note, some cleaners work better when there is already a lot of salt present in the water softener. If you want to get the most out of your cleaning solution, take a look at the instructions and be sure to follow them closely. 

What About the Outside of the Water Softener?

Without a doubt, you need to make sure the resin tank and brine tank get most of your attention, but you need to clean the exterior of your water softening system with warm or hot water as well.

The vast majority of water softeners are installed in a location that is out of the way of your daily routine. For example, it could be located in the garage, basement, or cupboard. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the outside of your water softener, and it could eventually damage some of the components.

You can prevent this from happening by mixing some soap with warm water. Then, use a soft cleaning cloth to wipe down the exterior of the system if you see any dust or dirt on the outside of your water softener.

If you see any mold or mildew around your water softener, you may need to get some more powerful cleaning solutions. If you would like some recommendations for how to keep your water softener clean and operational, our experts would be happy to help you.

Find the Best Water Softeners from DROP

You need to clean your water softener regularly if you want it to operate properly. At DROP, we have a wide selection of smart water softeners and water filters available. We would be happy to help you find the best system for your home. Take a look at some of our choices today, and make sure you have quality water in your home.

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