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Archive for February, 2021

How to Clean Your Water Softener System

Posted by Rayne Water

Water softeners are designed to eliminate calcium and magnesium ions from your water. This prevents scale and mineral build-up in your appliances, promotes cleaner, brighter laundry, better drinking water, and just feels better on your skin and hair. However, your water softener system will eventually need cleaning and maintenance. Over time, iron and other minerals can build up in the resin tank and salt can potentially clump up. That can result in water hardness. Mold can eventually form in the tank, which can present some serious health issues.

These are things people tend to forget when they wonder how to choose a water softener. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help you avoid more expensive repairs or complete breakdowns. For the uninformed, cleaning a water softener system can be intimidating or daunting, but it is much easier than you think. Learn how to clean a water softener tank below.

How Water Softeners Work

A water softener comprises a unit connected to the plumbing where your water enters your home. The unit uses a porous plastic resin tank, which attracts the calcium and magnesium ions as water flows through it. The process releases sodium ions to maintain the electrical charge in the resin. Over time, the sodium ions will release into the household, which can cause an excess concentration of calcium and magnesium ions to stick to the resin.

This is where the brine tank comes in. Every few days, the resin gets rinsed by a concentrated solution of saltwater from the brine tank. The saltwater covers the resin in sodium again while displacing and knocking loose the magnesium and calcium ions. The calcium, magnesium, and any excess saltwater get flushed down the drain, leaving your water softener back to normal.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of components at work here, which leaves a lot of room for potential cleanup and water softener maintenance issues. When considering the pros and cons of water softeners, the water softener maintenance is an essential thing to factor in.


Cleaning the Resin Tank

The resin tank is the main component of your water softening system. An unclean or malfunctioning resin tank can result in brown water appearing in your drinking water. That is usually a sign of iron, manganese, and other minerals building up in the resin tank. Iron is the plentiful mineral in the earth’s crust and is a common component found in groundwater. While you generally shouldn’t have to deal with iron from a municipal water supply, it can be common if you get your water from a well.

Water softeners are good at removing that iron from the water, but over time, the mineral can collect on the resin bed and discolor the water. Remember, as iron oxidizes, it turns into rust. The iron molecules also reduce the resin’s ability to soften water and can cause blockages. Eventually, your resin tank may not be able to remove iron or other minerals at all.

The good news is that you can clean iron out of your resin tank using an iron-removing cleaner. These are readily available at home goods stores. These cleansers work by altering the chemistry of the iron and rust, making them soluble in water, which allows the minerals to easily flush out of the water softening system.

The process usually involves pouring the resin cleaning solution directly into the water in the brine tank or brine well and starting a regeneration cycle. Read the instructions on the cleanser that you use. You generally want to keep running a regeneration cycle until the water runs clear and tastes clean. Heavy iron buildup in the resin will require multiple cycles.

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Cleaning the Brine Tank

  1. Shut off the water going to the water softener and unplugging all of the hoses connected to the brine tank.
  2. Drain the brine tank by either running a regeneration cycle or using a wet vacuum to remove all the water and remaining salt. This is also why it’s best to clean the brine tank before a salt refill.
  3. Mix a simple cleaning solution comprising a couple tablespoons of dishwashing liquid or detergent with up to two gallons of water. Avoid using any harsh chemicals. Gentle, natural ingredients are always better.
  4. Dip a bristle brush into the cleaning solution scrub the inside of the tank, focusing particularly on the base of the tank and any corners where salt might have accumulated.
  5. Rinse the tank out with clean water.
  6. Reconnect all of the hoses and plugs.
  7. Refill the brine tank with salt and water. Set the control valve to run a regeneration cycle that night.

You can use household bleach in lieu of a cleaning solution to clean and rinse your tank. Short-term exposure to bleach should not have any drastic effects on the resin beads, and bleach can work effectively to sanitize your system and eliminate any bacteria. However, make sure you heavily dilute the bleach. Strong concentrations of bleach will degrade the resin beads and potentially wear down components in the tank. You generally want to stick with about 50-100 mg of bleach for every liter of water.

Bleach can also be used to break down any mold in either of your tanks. Some water softener units allow you to run a “bleach cycle”, but make sure you read the owner’s manual.

Salt Bridges and Salt Mushing

One of the most common issues in a brine tank is the formation of a salt bridge. Salt bridges are essentially a crust appearing on top of the salt. While all the salt below gets used up normally, the salt bridge remains, which also creates the illusion that your brine tank is full. This can lead to people not refilling their brine tanks, which results in resin beads that are rinsed only with water.

Salt bridges can form based on a variety of factors, including humidity, overfilling the brine tank, or simply using the wrong type of salt. To clean out salt bridges, shut off the water going into your water softener system and break down the crust using a broom handle, mop, or whatever tool you have handy. Scoop out the chunks of the salt bridge as the water is generally unable to dissolve larger pieces of salt. Vacuum out all of the water and salt remaining in the tank before refilling the tank with salt and running a regeneration cycle.

Along with salt bridges, you may experience salt mush comprising a thick gunk forming at the bottom of the brine tank. This sludge comprises salt impurities that have not fully dissolved in the water. As it accumulates, salt mush can obstruct the water intake valve in the brine tank, which can eventually cause the tank to overflow. Salt sludge can also prevent the resin beads from getting properly recharged with sodium ions.

There isn’t an easy or pretty way to clean out salt sludge. You will have to scoop out all the sludge and then perform a general brine tank cleaning.

When you ask yourself “how much is a water softener system”, make sure that you also consider the cleaning and maintenance necessary. Cleaning out your water softener tanks is not difficult or pricey, but it is necessary to extend the life of your water softener system and ensure clean, soft water throughout your home.


How Much Is a Water Softener System?

Posted by Rayne Water


*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Water is one of the most important components of everyday life. You need it to live, and you need it to cook, clean, bathe, and more. Unfortunately, not all water is created or distributed equally. As it originates from ground reservoirs, water passes through mineral deposits before it makes its way to your tap. That often results in your home’s water containing varying levels of heavy minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are mostly harmless in the concentrations found in water, they can affect the quality of your water. Your water may taste different or leave a film on your skin and dishes. At worst, hard water can contribute to scaling and mineral deposits in your pipes, which can cause clogs and other plumbing issues.

As a means of reducing hard water, many homeowners invest in water softener systems. Knowing how to choose a water softener comes with plenty of important factors, but the price tag tends to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. How much does a home water softener system cost? Read on to learn more.

How Does a Water Softener System Work?

A water softener system usually comprises two units, a resin tank and a brine tank. These are connected to the pipes that take water into your property. The resin tank is filled with resin beads that are coated in sodium positive ions. These mineral ions attract calcium and magnesium ions in the water, causing them to stick to the resin beads. The demineralized, softened water flows into your home.

The sodium ions get knocked into the household water, and over time, the resin beads lose their sodium and become saturated in calcium and magnesium ions. In order to replenish the charge and remove the calcium and magnesium ions, the unit has to rinse the resin beads with a saltwater solution from the brine tank. The salt (sodium chloride) in the saltwater displaces the calcium and magnesium while covering the resin in sodium ions again. The excess saltwater, calcium, and magnesium get flushed out of the system, and the water softener system continues its regular operation.


The Cost of a Water Softener System

Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $4,000 for a water softener unit and for the installation costs. That is a huge swing, and the two main factors that affect the water softener price are the type of unit and the installation.

Types of Water Softeners

There are a handful of different types of water systems that use different mechanisms to soften water. The three main types are distillers, reverse osmosis units, and whole-house systems.

Distillers purify water through a steam process that effectively separates water from any heavy minerals. While this process is effective, it is slow and can generally only purify a few gallons of water per hour. Due to their smaller size, distiller systems can cost less, but they can struggle with larger-scale applications and are better reserved for single-use applications, like only for drinking water.

Whole-house water softener systems generally use the ion exchange process described above. These are hooked up directly to incoming water sources and offer an efficient means of softening water that enters your home. These types of systems can range in pricing, and are typically easy to install and maintain. However, it is strongly recommended to have a professional water treatment installer conduct the work.

Reverse osmosis systems are also a popular option. These systems are designed to purify water and filter out minerals and impurities. They work by forcing water through a special, semi-permeable membrane. There are several steps of filtration involved to produce clean, well-filtered water. However, while reverse osmosis systems are effective, they tend to use a lot of water, and the process of filtering hard water can wear out the reverse osmosis membrane much faster. Some households combine reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange water softeners, which allows for higher-quality water while extending the longevity of the reverse osmosis system.

Installation Costs

Based on the size and complexity, most water softener units will require a professional installation, and in a lot of cases, the labor involved with an installation will cost more than the unit itself. Larger commercial water softeners will require a larger investment due to scale.

Your specific water softener cost with installation will vary, but for a salt-based ion exchange system, you can expect to pay about $400 for an installation. A dual-tank system may cost about $600 to install, while a higher-end dual-tank system will cost upwards of $1,000 to install based on the scope of work required.

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Other Costs to Factor In

Even after your installation, you have to consider the maintenance involved. Regular maintenance is a natural part of any water softener system. It is absolutely worth learning how to clean a water softener unit, which can help to extend the life of your system, prevent clogging and scale buildup, and prevent more costly repairs.

The other main cost of using a water softener is the salt. You generally need to refill the salt tank every 4 to 6 weeks depending on capacity. A 40-pound bag of salt will run you approximately $5-10 per month. However, if you have to watch your sodium consumption or otherwise do not want to use salt, you have the option of using potassium chloride. While potassium works in the exact same way, it can cost you quite a bit more. A 40-pound bag of potassium chloride can cost you upwards of $35.

The actual quality of your incoming water can also affect how much you spend. Along with going through your salt and resin faster, harder water and larger families may just require a more efficient water softening process or system. Essentially, the higher your hardness level is, the more you will have to spend towards a softener tank.

In general, for a whole-house system, pricing can vary based on the size of the plumbing, size of the family, size of the house, and quality of the water. A water softener system can also prevent mineral deposits from building up in your plumbing, which can contribute to costly damage, corrosion, and clogs. You can contact your local Rayne representative and receive a free in-home estimate to ensure you are getting the best system for your needs.

The upfront and ongoing costs are definitely something to consider when weighing out the pros and cons of a water softener. However, for most homeowners, the investment is well worth it for soft, purified water that tastes better, feels better on skin and hair, and promotes cleaner laundry. But, you can always choose both with a whole house water filter and softener combo. Talk to us today for more information!


Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

How to Choose a Water Softener That Is Right for You

Posted by Rayne Water

Hard water can be an issue for many households. While the accumulation of hardness minerals in the water is mostly harmless to the health, it can affect your everyday comforts, from the taste of your drinking water to the way your laundry feels. Hard water can even leave your skin and hair feeling unpleasant out of the shower. However, in its worst cases, hard water can contribute to mineral deposits and scaling in your pipes and plumbing. This can contribute to corrosion, clogs, and damage, all of which can lead to costly repairs.

Many homeowners invest in a water system such as a water softener to improve their incoming water hardness quality. As effective as a water softening system is, figuring out how to pick a water softener can seem daunting and confusing. There is a lot to consider. Read on to learn more about choosing a water softener for your home.


Determining Your Water Softening Needs

The size of your water softener and the type of water softener that you get is determined by your daily water consumption and needs along with the hardness level of your water. At the same time, a single person living on their own, likely will not have the same water consumption as a family of five.

To determine the hardness level of your water, talk to your local utility company or contact your local Rayne representative.. They should have that information on hand. You can sometimes find this information online through official annual reports, but it’s a good idea to call your water provider directly to get the most up to date information.

If they don’t have that information or if you get your water from a well, you will have to test your water yourself. Most home improvement stores have easy-to-use testing kits that can accurately tell you the water hardness in grains per gallon (GPG). Comprehensive well analysis reports can also be conducted by your local Rayne representative.

Similarly, you can check your utility bill to determine your average water usage. There generally shouldn’t be too much fluctuation from month to month. If you don’t have that information available, simply multiply the number of people in your home by 75 gallons per day.

Multiply your daily household water usage in gallons by the grains per gallon, and you get a pretty good idea of the grains of hardness that your water softener needs to remove in a day. You can then choose the right water softener that can handle that capacity.

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Considering the Regeneration System

Ion exchange water softener systems are the most common type of water softener system. They are efficient and use special resins to pull calcium and magnesium from hard water. The process of an ion exchange water softener also requires a “recharge” or regeneration cycle using a concentration of saltwater, which recoats the resin bead in sodium ions. Generally, the more water that you use, the more time spent softening water and the more regeneration cycles that you need. When you ask yourself, “how much is a water softener system”, you also need to factor in the regular salt refills.

A good salt based water softener will effectively soften the water while maintaining proper salt efficiency usage. The two types of regeneration cycles available are timer and on-demand. On-demand softeners allow you to run a regeneration cycle whenever a certain amount of water has been processed, counting the gallons used. A timer softener runs a regeneration cycle (as you can guess) on a timer, usually once a night or once per week which can result in unnecessary regeneration.

On-demand softeners are significantly more efficient. Your water usage and needs can fluctuate, meaning that sometimes you may not need a regeneration cycle every night. That can ultimately save you in salt and water costs.

It’s also a good idea to mark your calendar to check the brine tank regularly to determine when to refill the salt softener tank. It is also a good idea to learn how to clean your water softener system to increase overall efficiency.

It’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of water softeners as you make your decision on which water treatment system is right for you. If you still aren’t sure which model to go with or need help measuring your water softening needs, consult the Rayne Water team for more in-depth information.

Rayne Water is an highly experienced water softener company that has been providing clean water since 1928. We are proud to provide our service and keep your home and community safe from drinking clean water.