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Water Softener Maintenance Q&A

Royal Domestic Water Softener Under Sink

Welcome to our comprehensive Q&A all about water softener maintenance! If you’ve ever experienced the effect of hard water in your home, then you’ll know how important it is to keep your water softener in optimal condition. To ensure you continue to enjoy the benefits of soft water, we’ve assembled a collection of frequently asked questions and expert answers that will help you understand everything you need to know about water softener maintenance.

Don’t have time to read all of the answers? No problem, use the Q&A index below to skip to the question you need an answer for.

Do Water Softeners Need To Be Maintained?

Water softeners like all household appliances, can benefit from regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. Regular maintenance ensures operational efficiency and prolongs appliance lifespan. With proper maintenance procedures you can prevent early breakdowns and expect your water softener to last upwards of 15 years.

Do Water Softeners Require Servicing?

If regularly maintained, then water softeners should not require regular servicing. Services usually include the cleaning of injectors and replacement of valve seals, which is something that would be suggested after 10 years or more. Pistons can fail due to sediment build up, which can be avoided by installing a pre-filter (suggested for areas with high sediment or regular building works such as London).

How Do I Know If My Water Softener Needs Maintenance?

When your water softener requires some TLC there will often be signs you can look out for. If you notice any of these then we suggest following the troubleshooting steps listed further down. For now, some of the most common signs to look out for include:

  • The water no longer feels soft
  • You’ve noticed a reduction in flow rate
  • Your water softener is not regenerating
  • Change in water colour (eg brown or discoloured)
  • It is using more or less salt than normal

Can I Maintain My Water Softener Myself?

In short, yes you can! Maintaining your water softener is simple and you can prevent unnecessary repairs by performing regular checks. Here are some things you should be doing to maintain your water softener:

  • Check salt level and top up if required (Weekly) – This is the most important step, as all water softeners require salt to operate. In most models the salt level should be kept above the water line at all times, but below the overflow. By checking this on a weekly basis you can ensure the system is always kept full of salt.

  • Perform a visual inspection of the brine tank (Monthly) – It’s a good idea to regularly inspect the brine tank, making sure that there are no obvious cracks or damage and that there are no salt bridges or mushy salt in the bottom of the brine tank. Any salt bridges should be broken up and any mushy salt removed. By performing a visual inspection monthly you can prevent potential leaks or problems before they arise.

  • Clean out the brine tank (Every 6 Months) – When the salt level is low, remove any remaining salt and wipe down the inside of the brine tank. You can use a small drop of washing up liquid with a soft non-abrasive sponge, being sure to rinse away and empty out any soapy residue. By cleaning out the brine tank every 6 months you will reduce sediment build up, preventing potential blockages.

  • Use a resin cleaner (Every 6-12 Months) – Again, when the salt level is low, use a measured dose of water softener resin cleaner and perform a regeneration cycle. This will remove any build up of sediment, iron and manganese from inside the resin bed that isn’t otherwise cleaned during a normal regeneration. This is particularly important if your water has a high iron content or if you have a private water supply. By using a resin cleaner every 6-12 months you will prevent any iron and manganese build up on your resin bed, giving a longer service life.

  • Check water hardness (Every 12 Months) – Use incoming water from an un-softened tap and perform a water hardness test. This will allow you to check the settings on your water softener and adjust them if your incoming hardness has changed, ensuring it is running as efficiently as possible. By checking water hardness every 12 months you can ensure your system is running as efficiently as possible and is setup correctly.

Want To Find Out How To Maintain Your Water Softener? Here’s 5 Quick Tips

How Do I Know If My Water Softener Is Using Too Much Salt?

Over time you may notice that your water softener is using more salt than it used to. This is often because the mineral profile of your water has changed, or the settings have been altered. If this is the case, we suggest performing a water hardness test using water from an un-softened tap. Check the test results against what is entered into the softener, then adjust accordingly.

There are a number of other reasons why your water softener might be using more salt than normal including higher water usage (which could be due to guests staying or even a water leak that you don’t know about). Alternatively, if the water level is higher than usual in the brine tank this could indicate a clogged brine draw tube or injector in the valve that needs cleaning or replacing.

Why Is My Water Softener Not Working?

If your water softener is not working, then we suggest following the troubleshooting steps in the system manual, or using our troubleshooting guide below. Once you’ve followed the steps, identified the cause and taken the recommended actions to resolve any issues, we would always suggest verifying that your water softener is working properly again by using a water hardness test, for peace of mind that your water is soft.

My Water Softener Is Not Regenerating Properly?

There are a number of reasons why your water softener might not be regenerating properly. It is always best to start with the basics and verify that the softener is plugged in and powered on (if an electric model). Next check the settings are correct for your water hardness, you can verify this by using a water hardness test. Improper regeneration could also be caused by blockages within internal pipework or the valve of your softener, you should only attempt to change turbines or take apart pipework if you are competent, otherwise it’s time to call in a professional.

How Do I Clean My Water Softeners Resin?

Did you know that over time sediment and contaminants such as iron and manganese can build up in the resin bed of your water softener? These are not cleaned during a normal regeneration cycle and can lead to discolouration, unpleasant odours and even system breakdown. Here’s a full guide on How To Clean Your Water Softeners Resin Bed for more details.

How Do I Clean My Water Softeners Brine Tank?

Over time the brine tank in your water softener can become saturated with dirt, sediment and mineral build up. For this reason it is suggested to completely empty the brine tank of salt and clean it every 6-12 months. To clean the brine tank, use a small drop of washing up liquid with a soft non-abrasive sponge, being sure to rinse away and empty out any soapy residue before replacing the salt.

Why Is My Water Softener Leaking?

If your water softener is leaking, then there could be a number of causes. Firstly, identify exactly where the leak is coming from. Common reasons for a leaking water softener include a build up of salt bridging inside the brine tank, faulty piston seals or a broken float valve. If you are unable to identify the source of the leak then shut-off the water supply using the bypass and call in a professional plumber to help with diagnosis.

How To Diagnose A Water Softener?

When it comes to diagnosing your water softener, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, most manufacturers provide a comprehensive product manual which details troubleshooting steps to follow for most issues. In this case our first suggested step would be to check the product manual, however if that is not possible then we’ve given a few examples of problems, possible causes and how to resolve them below (in order of complexity):

ProblemPotential CausePotential Fix
Water Is Not SoftCause #1 Water softener is bypassedSwitch bypass to closed position
 Cause #2 No power (electric softeners only)Ensure unit is plugged in and powered on
 Cause #3 No salt in brine tankAdd salt to brine tank
 Cause #4 Salt bridge or mushing in brine tankBreak up salt bridge or remove mushy salt and replace
 Cause #5 Control valve malfunctionReset or replace control valve
 Cause #6 Improper settings in control valveCheck settings and verify with a water hardness test, adjust if necessary
 Cause #7 Internal valve or distributor problemReplace problematic part
Water Softener Is Not RegeneratingCause #1 No power (electric softeners only)Ensure unit is plugged in and powered on
 Cause #2 Meter in control valve blocked or defectiveRemove any blockages and replace turbine
 Cause #3 Improper settings in control valveCheck settings and verify with a water hardness test, adjust if necessary
 Cause #4 Blockage in internal pipeworkRemove tubing, clean and replace, verify by running a manual regeneration
Regeneration Cycle Stuck Or Running ContinuouslyCause #1 Brine solution not being drawn into resin tankRemove debris from brine tank, brine line or injector
 Cause #2 Improper settings in control valveCheck settings are correct according to system manual
 Cause #3 Low water pressureInstall a booster pump upfront of the system
Water Softener Is LeakingCause #1 Incorrect installationCheck and tighten all connections
 Cause #2 Worn out partsIdentify source and replace faulty parts or seals
Discoloured Water, Debris Or Unpleasant OdoursCause #1 Sediment or iron build upEmpty and clean the brine tank, use a resin cleaner to clean the resin
 Cause #2 Bacteria growthClean and disinfect the whole system
 Cause #3 Resin beads have reached the end of their lifespanReplace the resin
Water Softener Using Too Much SaltCause #1 Improper settings in control valveCheck settings and verify with a water hardness test, adjust if necessary
 Cause #2 Not enough water in the brine tankCheck for salt bridge or mushy salt, break-up and/or replace
Low Water PressureCause #1 Scale buildupClean system plumbing, control head and brine tank
 Cause #2 Sediment buildupEmpty and clean the brine tank, use a resin cleaner to clean the resin
 Cause #3 Resin blockage in existing plumbingDisconnect exit plumbing, clean and replace
 Cause #4 Improperly sized systemVerify capacity needed for your property and replace system if necessary

Have More Questions About Water Softener Maintenance?

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding water softener maintenance then you can contact a member of our team at any time. Give us a call on 01622 933 853 or submit your query on our Support page. Alternatively, you can also contact us through our live chat (Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm).

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