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What to Do If Your Water Softener Runs Out of Salt


Getting a water softener is the best way to get rid of the problems and inconveniences hard water can cause throughout your home. Ensuring that your water softener’s brine tank is filled with the appropriate kind of salt at all times is an important part of keeping your system operating efficiently.

If you’re considering getting a water softener, or if you’ve recently inherited one in a new home, there’s important information that you should know about making sure your softener always has the right amount of salt to run effectively and provide the cleaner, softer water you need.

Can a Water Softener Work Without Salt?

Typical water softening systems need salt in order to regenerate and produce soft water. Without sodium, the softener can no longer effectively remove calcium and magnesium from your water, allowing hard water back into your pipes and home. While salt-free systems do exist, they typically condition rather than soften water. They can address some but often not all of the issues hard water causes.

How Often Should You Add Salt to Your Water Softener?

It’s quite easy to check and see if you are in need of more salt. The salt level is easily viewable by lifting the cover of the brine and looking inside. Normally, the tank should be about half full. If it is at a lower level – or if the salt looks wet or is below the water level – it’s time for a refill. It’s recommended to check your brine tank at least once a month and add salt as necessary to help your water stay softer and cleaner

Can You Add Too Much Salt to a Water Softener?

Yes. Water softeners, when overfilled with salt, can have buildup and solidification within the system. The brine tank should not be completely full, as this can prevent the system from regenerating properly. Watch out for:

  • Bridging: When salt builds up and solidifies into a large mass at the top of your tank, it can be easy to mistake for a full brine container. Instead, however, there is an empty space beneath this mess, which negatively impacts the salt concentration and can impede effective regeneration.
  • Mushing: When mushing occurs, salt condenses at the bottom of the brine tank, which can also lead to poor regeneration and limit the effectiveness of your water softener.

These issues are easily resolved with basic maintenance and cleaning to restore your water softener to optimal condition. While softening systems are capable tools, it’s always advisable to monitor and replenish your brine tank’s salt on a regular basis.

Which Salt Is Good for Water Softeners?

There are a variety of salt types that can work well in most water softeners, including rock, pellet, solar, or “evaporated” types. All rock salt, regardless of source, contains insoluble material that collects at the bottom of the salt storage tank and requires periodic clean-out. If purified salt products are used, the salt storage compartment will require less frequent clean-out, but you must check more frequently for bridging.

The right kind of salt for your system depends on the type of softener you have as well as personal preference. Your service provider can help you understand which salt is best for your unique situation, as well as how much you’ll need based on your system, water usage, and the level of water hardness in your home. Older models may be less efficient and require more salt, while newer smart water softeners have technology that makes them more efficient, as well as monitors for easy salt-level tracking.

Water Softener Salt Monitoring

Upgraded water softening systems have specialized tools to ensure longer lifespans and better water with increased convenience. From salt monitoring and low-salt alerts to demand-based regeneration and remote diagnostics sent directly to your service provider, optimized systems can make your life easier and ensure soft water is always flowing throughout your home.

Can I Get Water Softener Salt Delivered?

If you’re worried about running out of salt, it may be a good idea to schedule regular water softener salt delivery. Adding salt to your water softener on time can reduce stressors and give you peace of mind knowing your water will be hassle free. The simplified process of having salt delivered to your home:

  • Removes the inconvenience of last-minute salt purchases and water softeners failing to remove hard water minerals
  • Saves you time and the hassle of carrying heavy bags
  • Gives you a regularly scheduled opportunity for maintenance checks on your softening system.
  • Add awareness about your water softener’s lifespan. Regular maintenance and salt additions keeps your softener working to the best of its ability for the longest time possible and can give you insight into when it’s time for a new appliance.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Wondering what salt is doing in your water softener in the first place? You aren’t alone. Water softeners deal with the issues relating to hard water – water with too much calcium and magnesium – that may be plaguing your home, such as:

  • Difficult-to-clean limescale and mineral buildup
  • Damage to or inefficiency of water-using appliances
  • Dry hair and itchy, irritated skin

Here’s how water softeners work. When water enters your home, it flows into the main tank of the softener, which is filled with small objects called resin beads. These beads attract the hard water minerals to keep them out of the water that flows through your home.

However, to keep them working as they should, these beads need to be regularly cleaned through a process called – that’s where the salt comes in. The softener’s second tank is filled with a salt water (brine) solution. During regeneration, the brine solution flows through the resin tank, rinsing the calcium and magnesium from the beads and flushing the hard-water minerals from the system.

 Let Culligan Help Solve Your Water Softener Salt Needs

Your Culligan dealer can help you figure out exactly how much salt you need and when you should get deliveries, tailoring the salt delivery process to your needs rather than a certain date that may not fit with your brine tank’s needs. Ensuring your water softener doesn’t run out of salt can help your technology work to the best of its ability and reduce the risk of costly repairs and replacements. Our water experts are prepared to answer any questions you may have about water softeners and salt.

Contact us today to test your water hardness and to learn more about the water softener options available to you and how they can best benefit your home.

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