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What Is a Salt Bridge?

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Salt-Bridge

If you're a homeowner with a water softener, you may have heard of the term "salt bridge." Knowing what a salt bridge does, how it affects your water softener, and what you can do to prevent a salt bridge can help you keep your water softener working efficiently. 

Know How Your Water Softener Works

Hard water contains excessive amounts of calcium and magnesium, which can leave behind a coat of scale on plumbing, glass, and fixtures in the home. To soften the water, your water softener must remove the extra minerals.

Water softeners work by flushing water with a sodium-saturated brine. When the water is flushed in this way, the water softener exchanges the extra magnesium and calcium for sodium. In order to keep the water softener functioning, homeowners must periodically add more salt to the tank so the softener can continue to make brine. 

When Your Current Water Softening System Fails to Meet Expectations

| BooAdmin | Uncategorized

If you live in an area with mineral-rich water, you may have already invested in a water softener to diminish the negative impact of these mineral ions on your faucets, sinks, and water-using appliances. Indeed, allowing untreated hard water to flow through your home can reduce the lifespan of certain appliances and increase the risk of corrosion and lime scale buildup in your pipes. 

When Your Current Water Softening System Fails to Meet Expectations

However, you may find yourself feeling underwhelmed or even disappointed with the performance of your water softening system after its installation. For many households, an underpowered or otherwise unsuitable water softener can create more problems than it solves, leaving you frustrated and searching for solutions. 

Read on to learn more about some of the potential reasons behind your dissatisfaction with your current system and what you can do to resolve these issues. 

Problem #1: Your Water Softener Is Underpowered

Water softening systems come in a wide variety of sizes and capacities, from small softeners that attach to a single water faucet (like a kitchen faucet) to whole-house softeners that process the entire household's water to remove mineral ions before this water is pumped through the home's pipes. 

While most hardware and home supply stores that sell water softening systems have graphs and guides that can give you some idea of the water softener capacity that's right for you, these types of generic guidelines often won't tell the whole story.

Everything from frequent cooking to a habit of taking long, hot showers can increase a home's water usage, rendering the recommended guidelines (which tend to be based on household size and not much else) of only limited use. 

On the other side of the coin, purchasing a water softening system that is too large for your home's needs could lead to future maintenance problems, as it's unlikely you'll be going through water softener salt (for ion-exchange softeners) or permeable membranes (for reverse osmosis softeners) as frequently as you should be to ensure everything is in good working order. 

Some signs that your water softener isn't capable of handling your home's water softening needs can include:

  • A buildup of salt inside your water softener's brine tank
  • Too-frequent cycling or recharging (far in excess of the manufacturer's recommendations)
  • Sputtering or low water pressure when you turn on your faucet
  • Frequent refills of the salt or potassium tablets in your ion-exchange softening system
  • Frequent changes of the permeable membrane for your reverse-osmosis softening system

If you've noticed any of these problems, you may find that the best answer lies in simply upgrading your existing water softener to a larger model with a greater capacity. However, you'll want to get a second opinion from a water softener installation company before proceeding. 

Problem #2: Your Water Softener Is Clogged

Just like other appliances, your water softener is vulnerable to the scale and buildup that can be caused by lime, calcium, magnesium, and the other minerals that tend to be present in hard water. Without regular maintenance and periodic cleaning, your water softener may be at risk. 

For homes whose pre-softened water has a high iron content, periodically cleaning the resin bed is a must. Over time, the iron within the water will eventually create a buildup of bacteria in the resin bed—the part of the softener responsible for removing hard water particles and replacing them with sodium or potassium. 

Cleaning this bed is usually as simple as running a liquid iron cleaner through your system, followed by a manual regeneration cycle that purges the wastewater tank. You may immediately notice an improvement in the smell and taste of your water after cleaning the resin bed.

Another problem can rear its head when the resin tank injector—or the part of your water softener responsible for moving the salt into the resin tank—becomes clogged with salty sediment.

Cleaning the resin tank injector can usually be as simple as turning on the bypass value (to shut off the water to your softener), running the manual regeneration cycle to remove any salty water already inside your softener, and removing the caps on the softener head. Often, you'll be able to spot the clog immediately.

Problem #3: Your Water Softener Is Low-Quality

In some cases, you may not be dealing with a maintenance or capacity issue, but the realization that your water softener just isn't as high-quality as you'd hoped.

If this is the case, upgrading to a higher-rated system may be the best option. Although there are various fixes you can undertake to try to improve the performance of your existing water softener, it's all but impossible to transform a cheap system into a higher-end one. 

By contacting a highly-rated and reputable water conditioning company and seeking a system that can meet your family's specific needs, you should find yourself in a much better position to choose a water softening system that will work for your household well into the future. Contact DuPage Water Conditioning for more information on installing a new system.