If your plumber installed a water softener to reduce calcium scale in your water heater and on your plumbing fixtures, then it is vital that you use the correct type of salt in it and actively monitor the system for the formation of salt bridges.

Here is the necessary information to ensure that you properly care for your new water softening system:

Proper Salt Selection and Why It Matters

Your home's water softener uses the salt that you add to regenerate its internal resin bed. It is important that you add the right type of salt into your water softener so that it can effectively regenerate the resin bed. Using the wrong type of salt in your softener will result in the formation of salt bridges and failure of calcium removal from your water.

You must only use the salt type that is recommended by your water softener's manufacturer. Water softening salt is sold in three different varieties:

  • solar salt crystals

  • evaporated salt pellets

  • natural rock salt

Using the incorrect type of salt can cause contaminants to build up inside of your softener's tank and necessitate that it be professionally cleaned and serviced.

Recognizing and Preventing Salt Bridge Formation

As its name implies, a salt bridge is a hard bridge structure that forms out of your water softener's salt above the brine tank. Salt bridges are a serious problem because they prevent new salt from falling down into the brine tank. Without the salt, the brine tank is not able to regenerate the resin bed so that it can effectively soften your household water.

You can be alerted to the formation of a salt bridge by recognizing the following signs that your water softener is not working correctly:

  • white scale buildup on plumbing fixtures

  • spots on clean dishes and glassware

  • soap products not forming ample suds

  • water softener isn't using salt as quickly as in the past

When you see these signs, then you should remove any excess salt from the holding tank and check for a salt bridge at its base. If you find a salt bridge, then you should carefully chip it out using a household knife. Remove the chunks of salt and dispose of them or they may clog your water softener's brine tank again.

Finally, you can prevent the formation of salt bridges in your new water softener by never overfilling the salt holding tank and controlling the humidity in the area where your water softener is located. If the area your plumber installed your water softener is humid, such as a basement or mudroom, then you may need to run a dehumidifier in the area to prevent the future formation of salt bridges.  

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