Basic Water Softener Maintenance

Maintenance and service on water softeners is pretty basic when it comes to the world of appliance upkeep.  The exception to this, however, is the initial installation of the water softener.  Determining the water hardness level, regeneration timing parameters, salt to use, and when to refill the salt so the softener can perform properly can be a bit tricky.  Proper water softener set up can make long term maintenance easier and the softener perform more efficiently and last longer.  

Ongoing Maintenance – Tips for Residential Water Softeners

Avoid Salt Bridges

Salt bridges occur when an empty space is created in the brine tank between the water and the salt.  This prevents the salt from dissolving in the water which is how brine is made.  Without brine the resin beads that soften the water are unable to do their job. 

The most common cause of bridges are high humidity, temperature changes, or using the wrong type of salt.  Salt bridges make it appear that the salt in your water softener tank is full.  Your water, however, will be hard because the salt is not dissolving to make brine.  To remove a salt bridge, use a long handle and slowly push the top of the salt downward.  A little bit of pressure is all that is needed to break up the solidified salt.

Prevent Salt Mushing

Salt mushing is more serious than salt bridges.  This occurs when the salt dissolves and then recrystallizes to form a sludge on the bottom or the brine tank.  This thick layer of sludge keeps the softener from cycling properly during the regeneration process.  Hard water remains and a serious blockage is created in the tank.  If you attempt to remove a salt bridge and it does not break up, salt mushing is probably the cause of your hard water problem. The only way to fix the issue of salt mushing is to drain the softener of all water, remove the old salt and sludge, and replace it with fresh salt. 

To prevent both salt bridges and salt mushing it is important to use high quality salt products as they greatly reduce the potential for problems.  Also, it is important not to overfill the brine tank with salt.  Keeping it only half-fill will prevent older salt from sticking to the walls of the softener tanks.  Preventing humidity around the water softener can also help. An environment with high humidity can lead to condensation in the brine tank which will cause salt to bond together.

Water Softener Salt

In choosing salt to use in your water softener you will be able to choose from rock, solar, and evaporated salt.  Rock salt is the cheapest however contains the highest level of insoluble minerals.  When this occurs, the result is a muddy tank which decreases the softening efficiency and leaves impurities in your water.  Solar salt is more soluble than rock salt.  Solar salt is obtained through the evaporation of sea water and is found in crystal and pellet form.  The best option for salt to use in your softener is evaporated salt.  This is obtained through the combination of evaporation and mining.  Solar salt is 99.99% sodium chloride and is the purest form of salt.

Salt with high levels of purity leave less residue thus lower the likelihood of salt bridging and mushing.  Purer salt results in less maintenance and high-quality salt in pellet form helps to eliminate bridging issues. Water softener salt delivery allows you to order top quality salt brand products that address specific issues such as high concentrations of iron, rust stains, and salt free alternatives like potassium chloride. 

Resin Bed Cleaning

Resin beads are routinely recharged by salt, but this doesn’t mean that the resin bed shouldn’t be flushed every few months with a cleaner designed for water softeners every few months to keep it in top shape.  Water softening units can become polluted with iron, silt, metals, and a variety of different organic compounds which decrease your softeners efficiency.  The process to reduce the ineffective resin is fairly simple.  You will pour the manufacturers recommended amount of cleaner down the brine well and manually regenerate the water softener.  The cleaner will be discharged during the normal flushing process during the softening cycle.  This action cleans the resin and helps the absorbency of calcium and magnesium.

Clean the Venturi Valve

The venturi and nozzle work to create suction that moves brine from the brine tank into the resin tank during regeneration.  Sometimes this valve can become plugged up with sand, sediment, or dirt.  A clean valve is imperative for water softening to occur properly.  This can be accomplished by unscrewing the cover of the valve, removing internal parts, and cleaning them all with soap and water.  Completing this process twice a year will help keep the process running smoothly and more efficiently. 

Periodic maintenance, regular upkeep, and monthly checkups all prevent major incidents from compiling and affecting the quality of the water running through your home.  Hard water leads to major expenses, like new appliances, plumbing issues, and more, when left untreated. 

The experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning have a solution to your homes unique water quality needs including: arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, rotten egg smell, fluoride, hard water, iron, lead, acid, tannins, radon, and more.  More information on our water treatment solutions including water softeners and conditionerswater filtration and purificationreverse osmosis drinking water, and iron & odor removal can be found online at https://reynoldswater.com.



What Do I Need to Know Before Purchasing a Water Softener?

There are several different options when it comes to treating the water in your home.  The decision on whether you choose to install a water softener, water conditioner, reverse osmosis system, water purification, or water filtration system all comes down to the quality of the water from your tap.  Depending on the minerals and contaminants that are in your water the treatment option chosen for installation will vary.  Below are the most commonly asked questions surrounding water softeners and water treatment options.

What is hard water by definition?

All water naturally contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium that dissolve in it.  Water that contains more than one grain of a combination of minerals is considered to be hard.  To determine what level of minerals can be found in your homes water bring a sample from each faucet into Reynolds Water Conditioning Co

What should concern me about having hard water?

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to having hard water is the scaling that occurs in pipes and fixtures.  Scaling occurs when water is heated and minerals re-crystalizing.  These scales then get into appliances that use water such as the washer, water heater, and dishwasher decreasing its lifespan.

Another issue made worse because of hard water is soap scum in showers, on your hair, skin, and even clothing.  Soap combined with hard water forms a scummy substance that accumulates.  Even after rinsing thoroughly soap scum deposits are still present.

Why do I need to soften the water in my home?

When your home has hard water, the installation of a water softener can often help.  Soft water is beneficial for a variety of reasons.  Not only does it prevent scaling, but it also allows you to use less detergent, reduces spotting on fixtures and dishes, helps to increase the longevity of appliances, and more.

Are there reasons I should not use a water softener?

If you are on a low sodium diet, you will want to consider a water softener alternative. Water softeners use a process of ionization using salt to soften hard water. Salt ions attract hard water minerals and deposit them on the water softener resin (simply put of course). Basically, the salt ions and mineral ions trade places with one another which is why the soft water contains extra salt. 

Do I need to soften water outdoors or on my ice maker?

Yes, the water in your ice maker should be softened prior to making ice.  Softened water does not leave scale deposits which water that has not been softened does. 

Irrigation systems are a personal choice.  If water is left untreated there is a high potential for outdoor staining to occur.  Hard water deposits minerals such as iron on to landscaping, siding, and outdoor furniture which overtime discolors the materials. 

The experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning have a solution to your homes unique water quality needs including: arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, rotten egg smell, fluoride, hard water, iron, lead, acid, tannins, radon, and more.  More information on our water treatment solutions including water softeners and conditionerswater filtration and purificationreverse osmosis drinking water, and iron & odor removal can be found online at https://reynoldswater.com.



Stain Control for the Rust In Michigan Irrigation Systems

Rust is a common element in water that is flowing through Michigan irrigation systems.  One way that homeowners can ensure that this rust doesn’t cause staining to outdoor furniture, landscaping, or siding is to install a water treatment system that offers irrigation stain control.  Reynolds Water Conditioning Company offers a system that is designed specifically for this purpose.  In these systems a concentration of a bio-degradable solution is injected into the irrigation stream as it enters the irrigation system.

Irrigation stain control water treatment systems help to prevent the formation of rust and red water staining outdoors.  The solution that is injected into the water is safe in preventing stains without harmful acids and chlorides.  Not only does the solution prevent staining it protects against corrosion, pitting, and plant life damage. 

Now that we know how we go about preventing future staining it is important that we remove the rust stains that have already formed.  Landscape rocks are one of the most versatile materials that can be used when creating a natural space.  When rocks are exposed to the elements a natural unattractive red staining can occur.  It can come from the rust in the irrigation water and from a chemical reaction between irrigation water and iron that can be present on landscape rocks.  Most stains can be removed by using an oxalic acid bath or a combination of powdered clay and liquid rust remover.  There are also a number of over the counter products that remove rust all of which can be found at local hardware stores

Cleaning Small Landscaping Rocks

To safely clean your landscaping rocks first removal the built-up dirt and debris. Place larger rocks in a bucket.  Put on some rubber gloves and safety goggles combining one gallon of distilled water with one pound of oxalic acid crystals.  Mix carefully with a wooden spoon until crystals are dissolved.  Pour the solution slowly over the landscaping rocks to avoid splashing.  Use enough solution to cover the rocks.  Let this sit until rust no longer remains.  Add baking soda slowly to the oxalic mixture to neutralize it.  This will cause the mixture to bubble and foam up.  Once this process stops you can remove the rocks from the bucket with rubber gloves.  This mixture can be disposed of down the drain.  Rinse the landscape rocks with a garden hose. 

Cleaning Large Landscaping Rocks

Rinse landscape rocks with a garden hose.  Put on rubber gloves and mix rust remover with powdered clay to make a thick paste.  Apply a thick layer to the stains with a spatula.  Allow the paste to sit for 24 to 48 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap or a large tarp to allow the paste to dry completely.  Once the mixture is dry you can scrape it off with a plastic knife.  The rocks should then be washed off with a garden hose.  If rusts or stains remain the process can be repeated. 

Tips for Cleaning Rust

  • Test the acid solution/paste on an area of hidden rocks before cleaning the lot.
  • If the paste leaves marks on the rocks use a wet cloth and polishing powder to buff them out.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
  • Work carefully to avoid splashing on your skin.
  • Use caution to prevent breathing in dust from the oxalic acid and removed paste.
  • While cleaning keep pets and children away from the area.

The experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning have a solution to your homes unique water quality needs including: arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, rotten egg smell, fluoride, hard water, iron, lead, acid, tannins, radon, and more.  More information on our water treatment solutions including water softeners and conditionerswater filtration and purificationreverse osmosis drinking water, and iron & odor removal can be found online at https://reynoldswater.com.