Water softener maintenance is normally recommended on an annual basis as well as for most other water filtration equipment. There may be some interim operational problems which can be diagnosed and remedied by the homeowner to avoid a water softener repair. To ensure proper operation and to maximize the useful life of your equipment, proper maintenance will provide consistent softened or conditioned water to your home. There are various brands of water softeners, some more efficient than others in terms of water usage and salt requirements. Some models are capable of softening or conditioning larger volumes of water, therefore estimating water usage prior to selecting a system is important. For higher levels of iron and/or manganese, an up-flow water softener (versus down-flow) is highly recommended to avoid damaging mineral build-up at the bottom of the tank. For complicated problems, contacting your water treatment service technician for water softener repair is your best option. See some common symptoms of potential problems with your water softener below. For information on water softener installation, see the lower section titled ” Installation of a Water Softener and Other Water Filtration Equipment“.
IF WATER SOFTENER IS NOT WORKING
Check to see if the water softener is “on” and working, that is, that the system has power, then:
- Check salt tank: Is there salt in the brine tank? If not, add at least a few bags salt to the tank.
- Check power to the softener: If the unit uses electricity to run a timer, be sure it’s plugged in to a live outlet and has power. Some water conditioners use a low-voltage transformer to power the control – be sure that device is present, plugged in, and working. Also, a power failure could cause the timer to be improperly set. Re-set the day of week and time of day on the water softener timer after an electrical power failure or after the softener has been powered “off” for a time.
- Check the water softener bypass valve: You want first to see that the water softener is not on “bypass” – is household water flowing through the unit? This valve is an option and may not be installed on your unit, but there may be standard plumbing valves or globe valves that accomplish the same purpose.
- Manually regeneration cycle: Then try a manual regeneration cycle – you’ll see on most units a lever you can push on the control box to start that regeneration process. Note: your home will not be delivered conditioned or softened water while the water softener is in the regeneration cycle, therefore, its best not to use water (or use as little as possible- flushing toilets is OK, etc.) in the home until the regeneration process is complete. This is why most programmed regeneration is set for late at night when water usage is much less likely.
- Feel & test the water supply: if you can’t get a lather when bathing the system may not be sufficiently treating the water.
OTHER WATER SOFTENER REPAIR SYMPTOMS
Without fully diagnosing, it can be very difficult to determine what is really causing the problem and whether of not a water softener repair is even necessary. This is where a service technician will be able to trouble shoot the situation and come to a determination and solution to the problem. While there are so many possible symptoms and problems a softener may experience, the following are a few that you may see.
- Excessive salt usage by the system, requiring higher than normal salt tank fill ups
- Staining on home fixtures even though the water softener seems to be running properly
- Mineral discharge from the water softener and into the home’s water supply
- Loss of water pressure downstream from the softener
- Hard water evidence observed right after a regeneration cycle.
INSTALLATION OF A WATER SOFTENER AND OTHER WATER FILTRATION
Iron and Manganese are naturally occurring minerals commonly found in New England’s water supply. Together, they are commonly referred to as “The Stainers” in the water treatment industry.
IRON can show up in two forms; Dissolved in solution (ferrous form – clear water iron, can’t see until it stains) or precipitated (ferric) particulate iron which you can see in the water. Typical symptoms of iron in your water include Red/Brown stains in sinks, tub, dishwasher, laundry and/or Metallic taste. Iron may also show up in the form of Iron bacteria. Although harmless, iron bacteria can form gelatinous growths that my plug pipes or break free in slugs of dirty iron-laden water with unpleasant tastes and odors. The EPA drinking water regulations set a recommended secondary maximum contaminant level of iron at .3 milligrams per liter. The reason they call it a secondary contaminants is that iron isn’t considered a primary health threat. See the link at Iron Article in Water Technology Magazine for more information on Iron in water and related water filtration challenges. A water softener will be effective in removing dissolved iron from the water. A water softener will also remove hard water minerals and provide you with soft water for cleaning, bathing, etc. An “up-flow” water softener is recommended for water that contains high levels of dissolved iron as the contaminant can build up in the lower section of the softener over time with down-flow systems. A water treatment professional can explain this more fully. Sediment filters are effective in removing particulate iron from the water and would typically be installed before the water softener.
MANGANESE also shows up dissolved in solution or precipitated (particulate) which you can see in the water. Typical symptoms of manganese in your water include brownish-black staining in the dishwasher and other plumbing fixtures. Manganese may also show up in the form of manganese bacteria. Although harmless, manganese bacteria can form gelatinous growths that my plug pipes or break free in slugs of dirty manganese-laden water with unpleasant tastes and odors. The U.S. EPA drinking water regulations set a recommended secondary maximum contaminant level of iron at .05 milligrams per liter. Manganese is also considered a secondary health threat, however at certain high levels, especially in children, can be a health threat. For more information on this topic, see the link at Manganese Article Water Tech Magazine. As with Iron, a water softener will be effective in removing dissolved manganese from the water. Also as with Iron, an up-flow water softener is recommended to prevent potential build up in the lower section of the water softener and potential need for a water softener repair.
HYDROGEN SULFIDE is evidenced typically by a rotten egg smell in your water. This may also be caused by high Manganese levels in the water as well. The rotten egg smell is easily correctable with a water filtration system design specifically for this purpose.