Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Disinfecting or Deodorizing Your Water Softener

Disinfecting or deodorizing your water softener may not be something you will ever need to do. However, every few years, you may want to let it run to empty and clean out the bottom as rocks, dirt and other weird items can end up in your softener due to contamination of the salt pellets or bags you use. 

Since we purchased our home 21 years ago, there has been a problem with mildew growing in the water softener salt drum if I let it get empty of salt. I don't know if this is a problem with everyone's or just because mine is an older unit.

Frankly, I am surprised that mine is still going strong considering how old it is. Over the years, I have had a few floods or things break on the softener but I can usually tell when it runs out of salt due to build up in the toilets, sinks and showers as the hard water leaves rings and mineral build up. 

For this reason, I really like having a water softener. I think I rinse cleaner and enjoy not having the harder water rings in the toilets to clean. 

At first, when I would smell the horrible mildew smell, I would just dump a few tablespoons of bleach into the water and let it sit and it would clean that mildew or mold right up. However, one day I came home to a spraying nightmare from near the top of the softener cylinder and the shut off valve was stuck and I didn't have the power to shut it off. 

Since I was stronger than my ex that way, and knew more about fixing things, I didn't think he would be the best person to help shut it off. My best friend lived a few houses away and her husbands nickname was "moose" for a reason. He was well over 6'4" something and was built like a moose. He came over and had it shut off in no time. 

Once it was shut off, I called the plumber and having a $75 bill just for them to show up, I asked if someone there would be able to talk me through what was mostly wrong and how to fix it. 

They told me there is a triangle shaped metal piece at the top of the cylinder and it has three screws on it. After I explained that I used bleach to clean it out, they knew exactly what was wrong. 

The bleach eats away a washer type triangle ring that sits inside that metal triangle and so you can't use anything caustic that way to clean out the water softener. 

I knew from having a whirlpool tub as well that you can't use any oil based products in it as they will also break down the rubber washers in the jets. So, with that information, I had to come up with another solution. 

Hydrogen peroxide that you can get from any grocery or drug store is 3 % peroxide and if you dump a cup in (or less if you took out any water) and let it sit, it will kill mold and mildew. 

It is easy to use and you shouldn't need to do it often if you keep up on keeping your salt storage tank full. I can tell when my salt is getting low as my clothes washer starts to make the clothes smell mildewy and that is my cue to getting more salt for the softener. 

I want to share a few other things. I have found black dirt in the bottom of the softener as it is in the salt pellets and will collect at the bottom of the barrel. Also, I have found a few odd plastic things in there as well so I think those came from the plant where they bag the salt. You can pull the little plastic shelf at the bottom of the tank up sliding it up the inside until you can clean it out. I use a shop vac or my carpet cleaner to suck all the water out which usually brings up the gunk and mud as well. I have then dumped buckets of clean water in to rinse it and then sucked that up as well starting fresh. 

Also, No one says the softener needs to be ugly and stand out. I cover mine with a table cloth for a round table and put decoration on it as it is in my laundry room. Usually, it is in some kind of utility room but since mine is in my laundry room, I decorated it with the red, white, and blue patriotic theme I have in there. 

Lastly, if you have spraying water out of the top, try shutting off the valve and unscrewing that triangle piece and seeing if it is that washer part as the part will be a few dollars at most where having a plumber come could cost you well over $100. 

Just a reminder, never use any oil substance like essential oils or any bleach product in cleaning out your water softener as it will cause damage at some point. 

I know lots of people that bypass their softener due to the stress of having to keep up on the salt and the cost as well but maybe someone just needs to start a "softener salt" company where they come once a month and fill up your softener for $10 a month. Could be a good business for someone needing a little extra cash! I told my sister she should have my nephews start it up. I think I would pay $10 a month not to have to carry those heavy bags down the stairs and dump them!

Lastly, I hope you never need this information but water softeners WILL take out nuclear particulates in your water!!! It will taste salty and you can then run it through a smaller filter to take out the salt or use it for cooking or filter it though some charcoal but I learned this from a nuclear specialist so it is a good thing to have around if that did happen. 

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