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When to Add Salt to Water Softener (and How to Add Salt)

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

A water softener is very helpful for those who struggle with hard water in their area.

Adding salt to your water softener is necessary for it to work correctly. The salt makes the ion exchange possible, and maintaining it is a simple and easy process to keep up with.

When Should I Add Salt to My Water Softener?

You should add salt to your water softener whenever the salt level in the brine tank falls below either the fill line present in the tank or is less than half full. This should typically be done every 6 – 8 weeks.

Most brine tanks have a fill line that can easily indicate whether the salt level is below the fill line.

The optimal salt level is the halfway mark for the brine tank, so if your salt level is below half full, then it is time to add more salt.

Adding Salt to Water Softener

Depending on the water hardness in your area, water softeners may go through salt faster or slower, so try to keep up a regular schedule of checking your brine tank, typically once a month.

If you don’t want to check the salt level manually, you can use a digital salt monitor. The monitor will alert you, usually by a connected smartphone app, that the salt level has gotten too low and needs a refill.

What Are Signs That Water Softener Is Running Out of Salt?

Sudden signs of hard water will indicate that your water softener is running out of salt, those being stains left by water on glassware and kitchenware, faded clothes from the washer, and dry skin and hair from the shower.

Without salt, the water softener will not be able to function, and you can suffer from the effects of hard water. If you use a water softener and are suddenly experiencing low water pressure, clogged drains, or white streaky stains in your tub or sink, you are likely running out of salt.

Check for “salt bridges” when checking your salt level. If you are experiencing signs that you are running out of salt, you may have a salt bridge in the brine tank which is hiding the real level of salt in the tank.

A salt bridge is a clumped together mass of salt that hovers over an air bubble, so it can look like your tank is half full when it’s time to add more salt.

How to Check Current Salt Level

Checking the salt level in your water softener is as easy as lifting the lid and looking in the brine tank. Your salt level should be around halfway, and if you see it below that, it’s time to add more.

You can check manually by lifting the lid and looking into the brine tank, but there are also options to check your salt level digitally or “hands-free.” A digital monitor is placed inside the brine tank and sends alerts to your phone when you need to add more salt.

Water Softener Salt
How to Check Current Salt Level

A digital salt monitor is an excellent option to ensure you keep your water softener working if you find yourself forgetting to check your salt level on a regular schedule or have suffered from hard water after forgetting to add salt.

Otherwise, manually checking is the easiest option.

How Often to Add Salt to Water Softener

On average, you should check your salt level once a month in the beginning, and then you will see the amount of time it takes for the salt to run down as a pattern over time. The regularity with which you add salt depends on your particular area, water usage, and your specific water softener.

If you have particularly hard water in your area, you will probably add salt more often. In addition, if you have high water usage (mainly for large families), that will also lead you to add salt more often.

The water softener itself is another factor, as the brine tank size and age of the water softener affect the schedule of adding salt.

Older water softener models generally require more salt than newer models. In addition, a large brine tank may need salt less often than a smaller tank.

Always check your salt level before adding any, and remember that the ideal salt level is about halfway or at your water softener’s indicated fill line.

How to Add Salt to Water Softener

Adding salt to a water softener is simple; you need to lift the lid of the salt brine tank and pour your salt in. Make sure to inspect the salt brine tank and the salt level before adding any salt.

When Should I Add Salt to My Water Softener
Adding salt to water softener

There are certain things to look out for in your water softener, like large clumps in the salt brine tank or “salt bridges.”

Salt bridges occur when salt clumps together into a solid mass on top of an air pocket. Because the clumped salt remains in place, it can appear that your salt brine tank is much fuller than it really is.

If you find yourself checking the salt level and it doesn’t seem to be going down for a while, check to see if the salt is loose or clumped together. Salt bridges can cause the level of salt to get too low accidentally because it can look like your tank is half-full when it needs filling.

You can chip away at a clump, and it should break apart fairly easily. Break it up until it is no longer in large clumps.

You should expect to go through around forty to fifty pounds of salt in a month, depending on the hardness of the water in your area and your water usage. If you find yourself adding salt often, you may expect to use more or less if you don’t need to add to your salt level too often.

Can I Fill My Water Softener to the Top With Salt?

No, you should never fill the water softener to the top with salt. Filling the brine tank with too much salt will cause salt bridges, which can negatively affect your water softener’s performance.

The ideal salt level for a water softener is around halfway, so only ever fill it to that level and only add salt if the level has dipped below the halfway point.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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