Forgot to add water softener salt. Did I break it?
June 18, 2010 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Forgot to add salt to the water softener. Did I break it?

I could not remember the last time I added salt to the water softener so I popped the lid off to check it. There is no salt in there at all, just some silt-y looking water at the bottom.

Can I pour new softener salt right in there on top of the standing water?
Is there some procedure I should follow before adding salt?

Help, please.
posted by mcbeth to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Yeah, you're fine. There's water at the bottom of the softener all the time, you just can't see it when it's full of salt. If it's been out for a while, it may take a few recharges for your water to get as soft as before, though.
posted by zsazsa at 1:07 PM on June 18, 2010

If you don't mind my piggybacking... I've never had a water softener before but we have one now. Basically a big plastic tank where you dump salt in. Do you just, like, fill it most of the way up and then refill it occaisonally? Seems weird but is that basically how it works? Does it matter what kind of salt you put in it? Is it normal for the water to leave sort of a residue when it boils away (or is that the stuff in it that makes it "hard" in the first place, mineral deposits and what not)
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:18 PM on June 18, 2010

I use the potassium pellets to keep salt out of my drinking and plant water, but it doesn't seem to be more than personal preference.

While a plumber was out doing other work on my house, he checked the water softener and told me it had too much salt. He explained that keeping it full will cause the salt/potassium in the bottom to form into a solid chunk in the bottom. Then you end up having to break it up. Since then I keep mine about 1/4 to 1/2 full. On occasion I forget and let it run out...
posted by krisak at 1:25 PM on June 18, 2010

Rusty...Actually, the part that does the softening is the resin bed inside the softener. It's that big, torpedo-shaped tank inside the bigger salt tank. Your raw water constantly moved through this resin bed. The resin beads collect impurities. When the softener recharges, it floods the salt tank and creates a brine. It then flushes the brine through the resin bed, cleaning the beads of impurities.

Over time, salt will accumulate at the bottom of the tank. Some brands of salt are better than others, in our long experience. We've found that the store brands are a lot worse in this respect than is the most common national brand, Morton. We've not run into the "solid puck o' salt" problem when we use Morton, and we tend to fill the tank pretty full. The store brands we've tried were pretty bad when it came to this.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:39 PM on June 18, 2010

I ran into a similar problem and called the manufacturer's phone number on the side of my water softener. A patient person there walked me through the steps to add salt and reset the salt levels. They told me I didn't have to clean it if I didn't want to, nor did I need to go through anything special before dumping in the salt. I just dumped in salt and pressed a few buttons to reset the salt level and it seems to work just fine.
posted by lbo at 4:04 PM on June 18, 2010

My friend installs water softeners and the like for a living and did ours too. His tips, only add salt when it is at least 2/3 empty to prevent the salt at the bottom from clumping. Ideally you should need to add two 40 - 50 lbs bags each fill up. Second tip, buy the pellet salt that's been compressed into bullet like shapes. The cheaper stuff is irregular and compresses easily.
posted by saradarlin at 10:14 PM on June 18, 2010

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