To understand why your water softener may be using too much salt, it is necessary to look at the design of a water softener. The basic working principle behind a water softener is that hard, calcium, and magnesium-rich minerals are removed from the water through the exchange for sodium ions in the brine solution. As more salt dissolves into the water, there is less room for calcium and magnesium.
When the size of the Calcium Carbonate Crystals (CCS) become small enough to fit through the membrane, they pass into the brine solution in a process called “foul.” At this point, a brine tank will begin to fill up with CCS until it becomes full. If a water softener is not properly sized, it will continue to add salt to the tank in an effort to remove more CCS, but this only leads to excessive salt usage and can even damage the unit over time.
Heavy Metals to Blame?
Another reason for high salt usage may be due to the presence of other minerals that are not removed by the softener. Iron and manganese, for example, can cause problems even after a water softener has been installed. In these cases, a separate filter may be necessary to remove these minerals from the water before it enters the home.
If you are experiencing high salt usage and believe your water softener is not properly sized, it is best to have a professional water technician inspect your system. It is possible that there are mineral buildups in the softener that need to be removed or that the unit may require re-calibration. Ensuring your water softener is sized properly will not only save you money on salt, but it will also protect the unit from damage caused by excessive usage.
Another possible reason for high water softener usage is that you may be using more water than usual. Perhaps a faucet has been turned on accidentally or perhaps the front load washer is not completely full before use. In either case, this can contribute to excess salt usage—the higher the volume of water passing through the softener, the more salt is needed to achieve the desired results.
If you have a water softener with a resin bed, it is also possible that the resin capacity has been exceeded. This means that the resin beads have become saturated with salt and are no longer able to soften the water. In this case, it will be necessary to either replace or regenerate the resin beads.
If your water softener is using too much salt, take a look at the reasons listed above and see if any of them may be applicable to your situation. By troubleshooting the problem, you can save yourself both money and aggravation in the long run.
The Control Head Was Reset
It is also possible that the control head was reset while your water softener was in regeneration mode. Usually, this means turning up the salt meter to 40% capacity even though it may already be at 100%. If you find that your water softener is using too much salt after a power outage or other equipment problem, try to determine if the control head was accidentally reset.
Incorrect Programming of Control Head
If the control head was not accidentally reset, check to see if it has been programmed incorrectly. If you purchased your water softener from a dealer, this is unlikely. However, if you purchased the unit privately or through an online supplier, you may have received incorrect programming information.
If your water softener uses too much salt after checking all the possible causes listed above, contact your dealer for service. An experienced technician will be able to inspect and correct any programming or sizing issues and get your unit running properly again.
It is also possible that the injector is clogged, preventing the correct amount of salt from entering the brine tank. In this case, a professional should clean or replace the injector so that the softener can function as intended.
While a water softener does require some salt, there are many possible reasons that it may be using too much. By checking for mineral buildups or leaks and inspecting any other possible causes, you can troubleshoot the problem and determine what the best solution is to get your water softener working properly again.
If these tips do not resolve the high salt usage issue, contact your dealer for service. A professional technician will be able to inspect and correct any programming or sizing issues and get your unit running properly again.