If you're new to dealing with a water softener, you may not fully understand how to care for it and address potential problems. The fact is, water softeners are pretty low maintenance, but they do have some special requirements. For example, if you're starting to see symptoms of hard water, like dry skin and discoloration or mineral deposits, it may be due to problems with the salt in the brine tank. Here are two common reasons for this and tips to deal with them.
A salt bridge is a solid formation of salt that's crusted and hardened in the brine tank. It can be the result of high humidity in the area or even due to significant temperature fluctuations in the room. Sometimes, using the wrong type of salt in the tank can cause it as well.
When a bridge forms, on the salt, it leaves a gap between the salt and the water. This keeps the salt from actually dissolving, which means that your water doesn't get treated. You'll end up with still-hard water flowing through your pipes.
A salt bridge can be tough to recognize in cases where your brine tank is full, because you may actually have loose salt sitting on top of the bridge. That makes it harder to see. To find out if there's a bridge in your tank, you can take a broom handle or long wooden rod and mark it about an inch or two below the depth of your salt tank. Then, put the rod into the salt tank, pushing straight down gently. If you can still see the pencil mark and the rod has stopped against something hard, that means there's a bridge there. The salt should be loose all the way down, and you'll have to break up the bridge if it isn't.
Push against the salt bridge with the rod to gently break up the clumps. Move the rod around in several places to ensure that it's broken up. Don't hit it hard, and don't bang on the outside of the tank, either. Both can damage the tank. Contact a company, like Water-Pro, for more help.
Sometimes the salt you buy can absorb water that soaks in above the water level. It usually happens in really absorbent salt, because it draws the moisture upward. When that happens, larger salt pieces will actually deteriorate into small granules. With salt above it that's still intact, the added weight causes those smaller pieces to compress into a block. This isn't like bridging, because there's no space between the salt and the block in this case. If you try to break up a salt bridge and it doesn't break at all, that's when you know you've got a problem with mushing in the tank. You'll have to actually clear the whole salt tank out and replace the salt completely to fix this problem.