Water softeners work by creating a brine from the water and the salt you add to the brine tank. It is important to have just the right amount of salt. It can be tempting to add as much salt as possible when it comes time to fill your water softener’s tank. Those bags of salt are heavy, and let’s face it, it’s one more household chore to take care of. You don’t want to have to do this any more often than necessary. Unfortunately, overfilling the tank can lead to some pretty serious problems.
Properly filling your water softener’s brine tank will allow the water softener to function efficiently. You want it filled to the correct level, and you want to fill it before it gets too low. The amount of salt directly affects how the water softener performs. If you understand how this works, you’ll have a better idea of when to add salt and how much to use.
How Much Salt Should You Use?
Typically, you want the salt in your brine to fill the tank no less than 1/3 and no more than 2/3 full. In most cases, you’ll need a salt level of at least 1/3 of the brine tank for it to create the brine that your water softener will need to function properly. When the salt level falls below 1/3, your brine won’t be strong enough to do its job.
The brine runs through the water softener’s resin, where it is diluted. If the brine isn’t at full strength to begin with, the water softener’s resin won’t regenerate efficiently. If you add too much salt, you’ll face a variety of problems.
Too much salt can create something called salt bridges. These are formed within the brine tank. A salt bridge is a hard crust that appears between the salt and the tank’s water. That crust makes it difficult for the water softener to regenerate properly, and it affects the water softener’s entire process.
A salt bridge doesn’t allow the salt to dissolve in the water. The saltwater that your softener needs to work won’t develop. The resin beads that are needed to soften the water can’t work without the proper brine.
In addition to adding too much salt, salt bridges can form due to high temperatures, elevated humidity levels, or if you use the wrong type of salt. You’ll know if you have salt bridges if the tank looks full but your water isn’t soft.
Salt mushing is a more serious problem than salt bridges. It’s the result of the dissolved salt in the tank crystallizing. Once this happens, you’ll find a salty sludge at the bottom of the brine tank.
This dense layer of sludge doesn’t allow the water softener to regenerate as it should. Your water will stay hard, and you’ll have a blockage in the tank. Once you have salt mushing, our team needs to remove all of the water from your tank. Next, we’ll remove the old salt and replace it with new salt.
If your water softener’s valves are leaking or the controls are set incorrectly, the softener will use twice as much salt as it normally would. As a result, you’ll have too much salt in the brine. You’ll end up wasting salt when this happens. That excess salt in the brine will overflow and will be wasted before it ever gets to the regeneration stage.
This happens when the concentration of brine that flows through the tank’s resin is too high for the regeneration process. It could also happen when the brine flows for too long and causes the excess salt to simply go down the drain. All of this can be avoided by having us properly program your water softener and make sure that the resin demand and regeneration cycle match.
Check the Salt Levels
At first, you’ll want to check your water softener’s tank at least once a week. This allows you to get a good idea of just how much salt your water softener uses on a regular basis. Use this information to develop a routine for adding just the right amount of salt without overfilling it.
Once you have a good idea of how much salt your water softener uses, it’s only necessary to check your salt level every two to three months. Checking the salt level is easy to do. Remove the lid from the brine tank and take a peek inside. If you can see water at the bottom of the tank, you know it’s time to add more salt.
Before adding that salt, loosen any encrusted salt that you find stuck to the sides of the brine tank. Fill your tank to the proper level. For best results, use salt pellets that are available at your local home improvement store instead of salt crystals. Crystals may contain dirt and other unknown elements that can interfere with the performance of your water softener.
Other Signs of Using Too Much Salt
If there’s too much salt in your water softener, you’ll notice your water is still hard. This is because the softener isn’t able to properly remove the minerals from it. You’ll begin to notice a scale buildup on your appliances and fixtures.
You may start to have a problem with soap scum, too. Soap scum is a film that develops on surfaces when hard water and soap mix together. It can be unsightly and is very hard to remove. In some cases, it can clog the drains.
You might experience decreased water pressure. The high salt content is preventing the water from flowing through the system at the rate it should.
Your clothes may not be getting as clean either. High salt content stops your laundry detergent from dissolving properly. Odors, dirt, and stains won’t be removed.
You may even find that your water softener’s regeneration process is taking longer than it should. This makes it harder for the system to remove the unwanted minerals from the water.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, we can help. We’ll check the level of salt in your brine tank and make the necessary adjustments needed for the system to function efficiently. We can also provide advice on the ideal amount of salt needed for your water softener in order to get the best possible results.
Your Indianapolis Water Softener Experts
Cooper’s Water has been providing Indianapolis residents with water softeners, filtration, reverse osmosis, and plumbing services since 1980. Schedule an appointment with us whenever you are experiencing issues with your water pressure, your pipes, or your fixtures. When you reach out to us for help, one of our plumbing experts will arrive at your home fully prepared and ready for anything. We’ll quickly diagnose the problem and get to work on the repairs. We handle installations, maintenance, and repairs for all of your major plumbing needs. Call Cooper’s Water today to learn more.