Your Guide to Keeping Your Water Softener Free of Salt Mushing and Bridges


Hard water is problem around the country. Nearly 85% of households throughout the United States are impacted by it. The level of calcium carbonate is what makes water \”hard,\” it is also how the level of hardness is measured. One grain of calcium carbonate is the equivalent of 17.1 milligrams per liter. Hard water in water heaters reduces their efficiency. For every five grains per gallon of hardness will reduce the efficiency of the water heater by 8%. This corresponds to an 8% increase in cost for every 100 gallons of hot water each day. If you live in an area with hard water and have a water softener in your home, you may want to keep it free of salt mushing and salt bridges.

Keep the water softener free of salt mushing and salt bridges.

When dissolved salt recrystallizes, it falls to the bottom of the brine tank and form a sludge and this is called salt mushing. It can be a serious problem for your water softener. When you have salt mushing the water can no longer correctly cycle through the regeneration process. This means the water stays hard but it also means a very problematic blockage in the tank can be created. If you are trying to deal with a salt bridge but you cannot break it up, you probably have salt mushing. If you have this problem, you have to empty the entire tank, scoop out all of the salt and replace the salt with new salt. That is the only way you can fix this serious problem.

When a hard crust is formed in the brine tank, an empty space between the water and the salt is formed. This is called a salt bridge. This prevents any salt from dissolving. Without the salt being dissolved in the water, brine cannot be made and then the resin beads are not able to do their job and the water goes unsoftened. Temperature changes that occur around the water softener, high humidity or the use of the wrong kind of salt cause salt bridges. If you notice your water is hard but the water softener is full, you may have a salt bridge. You can use a broom handle to press down on the salt and break up the bridge.

There are ways to prevent these problems:

  • Use high quality salt pellets. The likelihood that these problems will develop is greatly decreased by using these pellets. They are especially good at helping reduce the chances salt mushing will develop.
  • Do not overdo it with the salt in your brine tank. If you keep the level at half full, you will prevent the older salt from getting stuck to the walls of the brine tank.
  • Watch the humidity level around the water softener. When it is very humid, condensation can form in your brine tank. This is what leads to the formation of salt bridges.
  • Watch the kind of salt you use.
    Rock salt: This is the cheapest salt. It has impurities in it that can cause you to have a muddy tank. This decreases the efficiency of the machine. It also leaves your water full of impurities.
  • Solar water: This is more soluble than the rock salt and comes from the evaporation of sea water. You can get pellets and crystals.
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  • Evaporated salt: This is the best option for your water softener. It is very pure and is 99.99% sodium chloride.

As with many things, the higher the quality of the product you use, the fewer problems you will have. The lower quality salts leave more residue. This increases the chances that you will get salt mushing and bridges. This also means you will have to do more to maintain your water softener.

If you purchase the higher quality salts, either as salt or as pellets, you will reduce the chances that these problems develop in your water softener. You can also buy products to deal with these issues.

Of course, hard water is not the only water issue homeowners have. Many cities put chlorine in the city water. Whole house filtration systems should help with chlorine removal and improve the quality of the drinking water.

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