If your water softener isn’t properly maintained, it won't eliminate hard water and could damage your plumbing! As if that isn’t enough, untreated hard water will leave unsightly mineral deposits on your shower, toilet, dishes and even in your hair. Inspect your water softener at least once a year to make sure it’s working properly.
Unplug your water softener. Before you clean any parts of your water softener or add anything to the tanks, always unplug your water softener from its power source to prevent electrocution. It’s also a good idea to consult your owner’s manual for details on each of these steps.
Locate your water softener’s manual recharge button. This may also be a knob, and will be at the top of your water softener with the rest of the control panel. It will likely be labeled. Consult your owner’s manual for the exact shape and location. Note: This is the button you push when you need to manually restart your water softener on a new cycle.
Locate your water softener’s timer. This will be in the same area as the regeneration/recharge button. The timer controls what time of day your water softener automatically recharges. Make sure this cycle is occurring during hours you aren’t using water, like when you’re sleeping. Note: In the event of a power outage, you will have to reset your timer to its correct settings just like you would a clock.
Check the salt levels in the brine tank. This should be done every two to three months even if your softener is working properly. The brine tank is usually the shorter of the two tanks, and contains a salt mixture. Make sure that the salt level doesn’t fall below one-third (if it’s low and requires a refill, only fill it to two-thirds full). If the salt level is low, and you notice a “salt mush,” remove it before adding more salt. This thick paste doesn’t dissolve well and makes it harder for your water softener to do its job.
Inspect the inside walls of your brine tank. Check the brine tank for salt residue buildup, which will look like a white crust. If there is salt residue along the sides, unplug your water softener and remove the buildup using a soft brush and warm water. If possible, detach your brine tank from the water softener and empty any remaining water into a drain. Take it outside and rinse it with a hose. Tip: No matter how pure the salt you use is, it’s a good idea to clean your brine tank once a year to keep your water softener functioning properly.
Remove iron (optional): Some water sources contain high amounts of iron. If you’re not sure about your iron levels, contact your local water utility and ask them for a recent reading. If your water does contain iron, use a rust remover such as Iron-Out once a year to clean the resin bed of your water softener. You can find these products at your local home improvement store for about $10 – just check the label to make sure they’re designed for use in water softeners. The resin bed is located at the bottom of your resin tank (the taller of the two tanks that does not contain salt). Always adhere to your owner’s manual and the rust remover’s instructions when cleaning the resin bed.
Restart your water softener. When you’ve finished cleaning your softener, run your softener through a manual regeneration by activating the regeneration/recharge button you located in step #2. This will manually drain the wastewater in the water softener and start a fresh cycle.