With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.
When you install a water softener in your home, you will quickly appreciate the difference it makes to your life. The effectiveness of soap and detergent is improved, scale disappears, soap scum is no longer noticeable, and appliances are protected. But, like any piece of complex equipment, a water softener requires regular maintenance to work efficiently. Many people pay little attention to their water softener and other filtration equipment until it fails. It makes better sense to adopt a proactive approach to protect your investment. In this article, we will take a closer look at preventative maintenance for your water softener system.
Professional Water Softener Maintenance
Most water treatment professionals offer some kind of preventative maintenance to protect water filtration and softener systems. After all, when you’ve made a significant investment to improve your water quality, it’s natural that there would be specialists to work on that equipment.
Even if you have a high-end water softener with low maintenance requirements, it’s a great idea to arrange an annual inspection. Over time, your needs may change, power outages and other events can have a huge impact on your regeneration cycle. Other water using appliances in your homes, such as the water heater or a well pump can also affect how your water softener functions.
When your regeneration cycle isn’t optimized for your home, you may be wasting a lot of water. Over time this wasted water can have a major impact on your utility bills. It’s tempting to attempt water softener maintenance yourself to “save money,” but this can be counterproductive. Water softener components are sensitive, and it’s all too easy to damage them if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Private Well Users
If your home is supplied with water from a private well, the water softener performance will rely on the health of that well system. A prime example would be a water softener that doesn’t receive a sufficient volume of water due to a faulty pressure tank. If these types of issues are left for too long, it can cause damage to the well system and the water softener.
Because a water softener is not visible, it’s easy to forget it’s there, and it doesn’t get any attention until it stops working. If you neglect your water softener as a well owner, you may find that the cost of the eventual repairs will be significant. A total equipment replacement can be expensive, and this makes preventive maintenance a bargain in comparison.
A Preventative Maintenance Plan
If you check with your local water treatment specialist, it’s likely that they have a preventative maintenance plan. There are some common water filtration and softener components that wear out over time. These parts need to be inspected regularly to ensure that they are working efficiently or they could fail. A good preventative maintenance plan should could the following services:
- A full check and cleaning of the brine tank.
- A test of your raw and treated water for softness.
- An inspection of the proper salt levels.
- A change of the pre-filters and filters in the system.
- A check to make sure all of your meters are reading correctly.
- A check and change of parts that wear out frequently, such as seals, screens, injectors, and pistons.
- A check of the water flow rate to make sure that the water softener is receiving an adequate volume of water.
- A check of the brine tank to ensure that no salt bridging has occurred.
- A validation of the regeneration schedule.
- A verification of the water conditions to find any changes from the previous service.
- A replenishment of acid neutralizing filter media.
- A thorough cleaning.
These are the twelve basic tasks that you can expect to be completed, although the exact checklist can vary depending on the kind of equipment you have installed. If you have additional filtration systems, such as reverse osmosis (RO), ultraviolet (UV) light, and others. An annual checkup for all your water treatment equipment, and it makes good sense to get every system checked at the same time. If you enroll in a preventative maintenance program, you will get a reminder to make sure your system checks are up to date.
Protecting Your Investment
Installing a water softener represents a significant investment in your home. It makes good economic sense to install this equipment because it will protect your plumbing system and water using appliances. But, this comes at a price, and the best way to protect this investment is to schedule some regular maintenance. When your water softener is well maintained, smaller issues can be identified before they develop into more serious problems. Generally speaking, larger repairs are more disruptive, and they are more expensive to fix. In extreme cases, neglected equipment may even require an earlier than expected replacement.
Optimizing Your Water Softener
Programming a water softener can be simple if you have a modern unit. Older water softeners can be trickier to program, and if the system isn’t optimized, it can be extremely wasteful. Changes in your home life can have a major effect on how your softener performs. As an example: if your family has grown recently or a child has left for college, your water usage will change dramatically. Every time a regeneration cycle occurs, water is used for flushing the mineral content from the surface of the resin media. But, if the regeneration cycle is occurring too frequently, you will be wasting a large volume of water for no good reason. This will be reflected on your utility bill, and this can be a significant amount over an entire year.
Peace of Mind
One of the best things about a preventative maintenance program is the peace of mind it will give you. When you have become used to having soft water, it’s hard to imagine dealing with hard water problems again. Preventative maintenance will reduce the chance of an unexpected failure and limit the amount of down time.
If you’re interested in a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, contact your local water treatment specialist today.