How to Maintain a Water Softener

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Water softener maintenance begins with checking the hardness of the system, and continues with checking the brine tank. Learn about the test kit used to determine the hardness of water with help from a master plumber in this free video on water softeners.

Part of the Video Series: Water Softeners
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Video Transcript

The first thing you want to do in maintaining your soft water system is check the hardness in it. It's one of the things that will tell you besides the obvious signs of maybe using more soap or maybe you'll feel like your skin is not as soft, it tells you kind of wherein you're at your system because there's so many things that can happen. The salt ridge in the bottom of the tank, the brine tank and then the different things like that that malfunction in the water softener. This is a pretty simple test and if it's something that you don't want to do your self, once again, there's a lot of technicians that will help you out and get you an idea where your soft water is. Okay, testing the water here, we pulled out, we've pulled out some tap water from a lavatory sink and we're going to dip this out in this little vial here. What we do first is we take this exact sample because every thing's measured out. This is a pretty simple kit. It's one that I'd recommend if you wanted to get one, the simpler the better, in my book. You pour, you pour this in to this. You get one of the little packets and what we do is we open it up and pour it in and we're checking the water for its color here. Now, we drop the solution in which is a triton solution. You just take the little dropper and that it comes with and count it up, one drip at a time, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and as you can see it's turning blue, the solution itself. We're at about fourteen parts per million. This is a pretty high level for water hardness here. It's not the highest that I've seen but at this level, you definitely want to look for having your water softened, without a doubt. So, there is our simple test in coming in first and foremost in starting our water softener maintenance. Okay, always check the depth of the tank. We do with my broom handle. Usually I just get my thumb and then maybe I'll put a little mark on their, a piece of tape or something, take off later. But then you take it in there and you kind of plunge through and crunch through the salt, make sure that you're down all the bottom 'cos salt ridges can't form in there with water coming in and water will not fall to the bottom where it actually pulls the water from when it does its regeneration system. So, you sometimes it's good to go ahead and knock that around to make sure you're getting your salt all the way in the bottom of the tank. Now, of course cleaning the tank is an important step. What we do is go ahead and vacuum it up, get it down to a low low level, vacuum it up, go ahead and wipe it out, it's not critical that this thing is spit shiny, obviously, it's an open air system and nothing can really grow in salt brine. There's no real hazard of that. Basically, what it's doing is they're regenerate your resin at that, when that time comes in your system depending on how it's at. So, what we have there is a clean brine tank. The next thing we check for obviously is the time settings. In this particular model, this is how we set the clock. You just push the button, once, it has a little PM indicator over here in the top left hand corner. You push it to the time frame that it is. Right now it's about twelve o'clock PM and there we have it set. This only goes by the hour. If you're at the half hour or anything like that, it's not critical and a lot of them are this way. So, you know, don't stress that you have to have it at the exact time. Another thing that you need to do is power does go out sometimes so periodically it's good to check the computer itself or the clock, the mechanical clock because all of these run off of power. You need to go ahead and check it to see where it's at because if the power is off for four or five hours and then after a month or so, you know, you end up with a eight hour period and you haven't regenerating in the middle of the night when you're not hearing it, and it'll start in the middle of the afternoon or vice versa. Depending on your sleep schedule and how that affects you in your listening. Sometimes the water softener is in the garage, it doesn't make any difference to the people but still it's a good idea to go ahead and check the computer and the clock is one of the settings that's part of the maintenance of this system. With the water softener, it's pretty hands off when it comes to the computer itself. Of course, you wouldn't mind wiping the top off to get the dust off and making sure everything kind of works and if there is any questions that are beyond you feel your ability is, with your manual, call your, call your certified technician to come in and help you out because there's a lot of guys that will. But anyway, your resin tank is hands off, hands free, don't need to touch it, after a certain period of time. Average life of these tanks that I've seen is about ten to fifteen years. Some of them go a little bit longer, some of them go last. It depends on how hard your water is and how much it gets used. So, there's a lot of variations that make a thing last or not last. Once it comes to that point and some guys will say that you can go ahead and change your resin out. It's such a project to do something like that, it's good to go ahead and think about getting a new system at that point anyway. So, when it comes to that, that's how that works. Some thing you do need to do in the system like this is go ahead and exercise the valves because when you don't they end up drippin', kind of like what that one is doing on this side here. And if you exercise 'em about once a month, this right here by the way is a bypass valve. What this does is it takes the house water coming in and it bypasses it and runs it right back out the pipe to where your running just regular water outside back right back into your house. You're not using the soften water with that bypass pushed in. Exercising this keeps the oil rings nice and lubricated inside. Any valve that you have in your house, it's a good idea to exercise it at about once a month. If there's ever a problem within the system itself, your water softener, the tubing coming pass this to where you have water coming out, that shouldn't be or it's leaking or dripping, you can simply push the bypass in and the water will once again go back into the house and it takes this out of loop. Now, that's not meaning that it's going to stop dripping instantaneously. It may take a minute or two for it to stop just because the water pressure's built up in there. Once you hit the bypass and you're sure that there's little indications on the sides of these valves that you can see that says, push the bypass or push to operate water softener, you'll be able to know right away whether you've got it in the right for bypassing the system itself. That's only in an emergency or in the case that you're going to be taking the system out or taking the head off to rebuild it which is a major task as far as something beyond what the normal home owner would do.

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