Have you noticed your water softener isn't working as efficiently as it used to? Look inside. If you see a crusty salt buildup in the brine tank, that's a salt bridge and it's a common issue. Fortunately, there’s a fix for that, and you can easily do it yourself!
Especially when the humidity is high (hello, Minnesota summer!) or if there is too much salt in your brine tank, salt pellets will stick together, forming a solid crust that creates an empty space between the salt and the water in the bottom of the tank. Now the water softener cannot make brine because the salt cannot reach the water to dissolve. When there’s no brine, the resin bed cannot regenerate effectively. The salt just sits there, and your water is no longer softened. That won’t do! So here’s how to remove a water softener salt bridge.
Remove a Salt Bridge in 7 Steps
- Turn off the water supply to your softener. It doesn’t matter whether you do that by adjusting the bypass valve or simply shutting off the incoming ball valve (shut off valve).
- Locate a long tool you can use to break up the salt bridge. A broom or mop handle usually works great.
- Insert the end of the handle in the brine tank and use it to chip away at the salt crust. Think “gently but firmly.” Do not use more force than necessary, and be very careful not to touch the inside of the brine tank itself. You want to break the salt bridge, not the tank. That said, if the broom handle isn’t doing the job, look for something else to use that might be heavier and/or sharper. Keep in mind, some brine tanks have platforms on the bottom at various heights - be sure not to break them.
- As you work, use something like a plastic container to scoop out salt chunks at the surface.
- Once you have all the salt out, use a wet/dry shop vac to remove the water from the bottom of the tank.
- Now add fresh salt to the tank – not more than half full – and turn the water back on.
- Add about 10 inches of water back in to the tank.
- Set your water softener to regenerate (check your owner’s manual to learn how, if necessary), and you should be enjoying soft water again soon.
Maybe your salt is at fault
If you’re having repeated problems with salt bridges, the salt itself might be your problem. Not all water softener salt is the same – not by a long shot! It comes in different shapes, sizes, and purity levels. Quality counts, so your water softener can work as efficiently as possible and your family can enjoy the softest, best-tasting water possible. Read here to learn what type of water softener salt is best for your system.
What if the problem is not a salt bridge?
As with all appliances, over time your water softener may develop other problems. That’s why regular inspection is so important. Our troubleshooting guide can help you diagnose (and, often, easily remedy) the problem. And of course, you can always give us a call for help at any time.