Residential Water Softener Salt Bridge Removal And Prevention

Posted on: 9 December 2015

Water softeners are a necessary household appliance in homes that have very hard water, such as those that utilize well water sources. Water softeners are generally reliable and do not require much maintenance other than a yearly cleaning. However, one issue that you may have from time to time with your water softener is the formation of a salt bridge. Since a salt bridge will prevent your home's water softener from working properly, it is important that you understand this problem and know how to resolve it.

Salt Bridge Basics

Your home's water softener has a resin bed contained within it. The resin bed is a collection of small plastic beads that are able to attract sodium and chloride ions. The salt you add to your appliance regenerates the bed with sodium ions to exchange with the calcium in your water to make it softer and less harsh on your plumbing fixtures and water heater. 

If the salt in your softener becomes too wet above the entrance to the regenerative area of the softener, known a the brine tank, the salt can form a bridge. This bridge prevents salt from entering into the brine tank and properly regenerating the resin bed. This will lower the quality of your household water. 

Salt Bridge Elimination

In order to remove the salt bridge and get your water softener working properly again, you need to manually break up the salt crust that has formed. To access it, remove the salt pellets from your appliance. Place them in a bucket for reuse.

When you reach the lower layer that has formed into the salt bridge, then you can break it up using the handle of a broom or a screwdriver. Be very careful not to damage the machine and only chip at the salt to release it. Once the salt bridge is broken, remove the large chunks from it and dispose of them so they do not jam the machine. Replace the salt pellets you removed previously. 

Once you have finished this procedure, then you need to press the "regenerate" button on your water softener so that it can regenerate the resin bed and function correctly. Until the resin bed regenerates, there will not be softened water in your plumbing.

Salt Bridge Prevention

If you have frequent problems with salt bridge formations in your water softener, you should ensure that your softener is located in an area that is not excessively humid. The humidity causes the salt to become damp and leads to the breakdown that causes salt bridges.

Finally, you should not overload your water softener with salt pellets. Fill it only to the proper fill line. This will also help to avoid salt bridges caused by excessive pressure on the lower salt and a buildup of humidity from the brine tank. Contact an appliance service for more information.