Proper maintenance of a water softener is a requirement if you want to ensure that your unit is working correctly. Salt systems are prone to salt issues that can affect softening quality and ability. Fortunately, by understanding these issues, you can avoid them completely or at least quickly fix the problem if one does occur. The following guide can help.
Bridging and Mushing
The first issue, salt bridging, occurs when salt forms a crust instead of dissolving into the brine tank of the softener. This creates an empty space between the salt crust and the water beneath, which means the water is able to pass through the softener without coming in contact with the salt and being softened.
Mushing is similar to bridging, except that the salt gathers at the bottom of the brine tank beneath the water instead of dissolving. This is more of a salt sludge than a crust. This sludge not only prevents the softening process, it can also cause blockages in the tank that lead to mechanical difficulties.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to prevent both bridges and mushing.
Use high-quality salt. Avoid rock salt, which contains impurities that can speed the formation of a bridge or mush. Evaporated salt is the purest option, so it is the least likely salt type to cause issues inside the softener.
Fill the tank appropriately. Overfilling increases the chances of the salt dissolving poorly. Your softener should have a fill line or specific indicator of some sort for the salt level. Refer to the owner's manual if necessary.
Watch for condensation. Humidity around the softener can cause condensation to develop inside brine tank, which increases the chances of the formation of a salt crust and eventual bridge. If you notice condensation in the brine tank, consider using a dehumidifier.
Perform routine cleanings. Each manufacturer has specific instructions for flushing out the resin bed and the frequency that it should be done. Generally, a softener cleaner should be poured through the brine tank about twice a year, and then run a manual regeneration cycle as directed in the manual. Then, clean the valves by removing them and washing them in hot water to remove any salt or mineral buildup.
For bridging, the fix is simple. Press down on the salt bridge with a clean item, such as a sturdy wooden spoon, and break it up.
Mushing requires that the softener is completely drained and that all the old salt and the sludge beneath it is removed. Any residue will then need to be cleaned out of the brine tank before fresh salt is placed back into it.
For more help, contact Johnson Water Conditioning or a similar company.