How Often Do I Need To Add Salt To My Water Softener?
Your water softener works diligently all day long to remove the minerals that make up hard water. Whether you’re showering, drawing a pot of water for cooking, or filling a cool pitcher for lemonade, all of the water that you use in your home needs to first pass through your softener. That’s a lot of responsibility for one appliance!
While a water softener requires very little maintenance or monitoring for it to continue to deliver consistently soft water, it does require regular additions of softener salt to its brine tank. If you’re a water softener owner, you are likely familiar with the routine of dumping bags of salt into the short tank next to your softener. But, with life being as hectic as it often is, it can sometimes be difficult to remember to add another bag of salt to your brine tank. What happens to your water softener if you forget to add salt? Are there better ways to remind you to check the salt levels in your tank?
Running Out of Salt
To know what can happen to your softener and home if your brine tank runs out of salt, it’s important to first understand how a brine tank works. When the resin media inside of the water softener becomes too full of hardness minerals and cannot capture any more, the brine tank fills with water and soaks the salt, dissolving it to form a brine solution. This brine solution is then drawn into the media tank where it rinses and cleans the media, sending all of the captured hardness minerals to the drain, making the resin ready to do its job again.
Think of a brine tank as a fuel tank and salt as the fuel. Just like your car, if there’s no fuel in its tank, it won’t run. Without a proper concentration of brine to recharge the resin media inside, your softener will start to get less effective and hard water will begin to bypass the softening media, making its way into your home. Once all of the salt runs out of your brine tank, your softener will attempt to recharge the resin media using raw, hard water instead of a salt solution. This will be ineffective and your home will then be supplied with hard water until the resin can be cleaned again.
At this point, you may start to notice some of the telltale signs of hard water begin to surface, such as residue around your faucets and fixtures, needing to use more soaps and detergents than normal, or difficulty getting a lather in a shower. If the problem is addressed, hardness-related buildup can damage your water-using appliances, including your water softener itself!
How often do I need to add salt?
While the best way to prevent any of the issues above is to just make sure your brine tank is always adequately full of salt, it still can be tricky to know how often your tank needs to be refilled, or how much salt you need to add each time. Several factors directly contribute to this, including:
- Amount of Hardness in your Water: The amount of hardness in the water being supplied to your home can influence how often your softener must regenerate. In extra difficult water, there are more hardness minerals in the water that your softener must capture. As a result, your resin will become exhausted faster and will need to be cleaned more often. This means that more brine solution will be required and salt will need to be added more often.
- Water Usage: Water usage is a similar factor to how much hardness is in your water. If your home uses more water, it means that more water must be treated by the softener. And that means refreshing the media and using brine solution more often. If you have periods of heavy water usage, such as when you have guests over for the holidays, your softener will need to regenerate more. This is why it can be difficult to even roughly schedule when your softener needs regular salt additions.
- Brine Tank Size: This one’s a no-brainer. If your brine tank is bigger, it means it can hold more salt and needs to be filled less often.
With these three factors alone, you can imagine that most households have different schedules in regards to adding salt. Some homeowners refill their brine tank every few weeks while some do it every few months.
Monitoring Your Salt
To ensure that your water softener has enough salt to operate properly, the brine tank must be always at least 1/3 of the way full. When adding salt, a good rule of thumb is to fill the tank to the half-way point. Since we’ve established that it can be difficult to predict when your tank may need refilling, there are two ways that you can monitor when it’s time to add salt.
- Manually: This simply requires visiting your system regularly, lifting the lid off of the tank, observing the salt level, and adding salt as needed. Once you feel relatively confident in your home’s water usage, it may be easier to predict roughly when it’s time to start checking the tank.
- Using a Salt Monitor: The easiest way to know when it’s time to refill salt and to ensure that your tank is delivering the correct amount of brine solution is to use a WaterCare Salt Monitor. This device connects to a port in your water softener and uses electrical conductivity to detect how concentrated the brine solution is. When there is not enough salt in the brine tank, an audible and visual alert will display on the softener, prompting you to add more salt. Watch the video below to see exactly how this process works!
Staying on top of filling your brine tank is important for keeping your water softener working as it should. If your current softener seems to swallow salt by the pound or isn’t delivering the quality of water you expect, it may be time for an upgrade. WaterCare’s line of high-efficiency softeners coupled with our unique Salt Monitor can save you trips down to your brine tank while providing the peace of mind that your softener is working properly. Call us today to learn more!