wikiHow to Maintain Your Water Softening System

Abrasive ‘hard’ water currently affects 85% of US and 60% of UK households, carries elevated levels of calcium and magnesium and is the known cause of lime scale build-up.

For homes in some geographical locations, a water softener system is a vital household appliance, and though they can generally last for a long period of time with very little maintenance, it’s advisable to carry out regular checks to keep it functioning optimally.


  1. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 1
    Check the Salt Level. Salt is an essential part of the water softening process, as it regenerates the resin beads to prepare them for more softening. Without this process, the beads would remain ineffective.
  2. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 2
    Add Salt Regularly. the amount of salt required can differ from system to system, and this information can ordinarily be found in the owner manual. However, as a general rule salt should be added if the level is under half-full.
  3. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 3
    Know What Kind of Salt to Add. Your water softener will use one of three types of salt: Tablet, Granular, Block. In the majority of cases, this will be determined by the water softener manufacturer, and again, guidelines should be provided in the user manual. However, tablet salt is generally the most common type of salt used, because it dissolves most easily and won’t build up sediment in the brine tank.
  4. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 4
    Carry Out Regular Inspections. You should check your system every 2 – 3 months for one key sign: a solid build-up of salt in the brine tank. This is ‘bridging’, and means that the salt may not be coming into contact with the water, stopping the resin beads from regenerating, and therefore not softening the supply.
  5. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 5
    Break Up Salt Bridges. bridges can be broken up quite easily as a temporary fix using a long broom handle. However, once a bridge has formed for the first time, this will continually happen at a much faster rate, so a thorough clean should be carried out as soon as possible.
  6. Image titled Maintain Your Water Softening System Step 6
    Clean The Brine Tank. More traditional water softeners (especially electrical), may require cleaning every 6 to 12 months depending on the age and condition of it. However, even though n, it’s a good idea to carry out inspections of traditional electrical every three to four months and, though not mandatory, drain, empty, and clean it out annually. The latest non-electric, block salt softeners should require very little or no maintenance at all certainly for the first 5-10years of life depending on its warranty.


  • It’s advisable to check the level of salt in the salt holder about twice a month by either lifting the lid of your system to access the brine tank (some models may be designed slightly differently) or if you have an electronic softener checking the water softener LED display.
  • If you live in an area of high humidity, it’s advisable to keep lower levels of salt in the tank and refill little and often. Warm, close conditions can contribute to the formation of a salt bridge, which essentially prevents your system from working optimally because it prevents the salt from coming into contact with the water.
  • When you clean out the tank of a traditional electrical softener, make sure you allow all the salt in the system to dissolve before scrubbing thoroughly with soapy water and filling it back up again. This way you can be sure there’s no build-up of residue.

Things You'll Need

  • Water softener
  • Broom
  • Soapy Water
  • Salt

Article Info

Categories: Plumbing Drains Waste and Vents