Winter Weather Maintenance For Your Water Softener

Can cold weather harm my water softener?

The winter temperatures we get in WNY and the Finger Lakes Region can get quite cold! Depending on where you store your water softener, you may need to take extra steps to protect.

A water softener filters out minerals like calcium and magnesium that harden your water with residue. With these minerals in your water, you may experience a buildup in your pipes that decreases water pressure and may damage household appliances — such as coffee makers, dishwashers, ice makers and any other machine that uses water.

Water softeners collect hard water in a mineral tank full of resin beads that are negatively charged with a sodium ion. Because sodium and calcium are positively charged ions, this process enacts an ion exchange that traps the unwanted minerals in the resin beads. Any water that passes through the tank becomes mineral-free soft water.

Without proper protection, cold weather could cause substantial damage to your water softener. In frigid temperatures, unattended water in your softener can freeze. When this happens, you risk the potential for burst pipes that can cause flooding and damage to your house and possessions.


What happens when a water softener freezes?

Water softeners rely on various connections for smooth operation. If temperatures dip below 32 degrees, it’s possible for pipes and distribution tubes to crack or separate. These breaks may result in water escaping the system where it can flood your home.

Checking on water softeners during winter can save you from a huge mess and costly repairs. You’ll want to make sure that water can move through your system freely. If your water softener is used throughout the year, ensure surfaces, tanks, inlets and outlets are free of ice. You’ll want to winterize your water softener to stop system components from working harder than they have to during the coldest points of the season.


6 Common Signs of a Water Softener:

  1. Your water softener is cold to the touch.
  2. Ice is accumulating around water softener surfaces.
  3. Pipes and connections leaving the water softener are coated in ice.
  4. Blocks of ice are lodged in drainage lines.
  5. Your water softener runs louder than normal.
  6. Water softener electronics power off on their own.

Preventative Measures for Water Softeners

Culligan technician bringing in salt to service customer’s water softener in home.

Different measures can be taken whether or not you will be using your water softener for the season.

  1. Move to your water softener.
  2. Take the insulation wrap and cut it so that it fits securely around pipes.
  3. Place the insulation wrap around one pipe. The wrapping should cover both sides.
  4. Secure the materials in place using your preferred tape or cable.
  5. Repeat the process for each pipe running to and from the water softener.

Winterizing a softener in a vacation home or cabin that you are leaving unattended for weeks or months at a time:

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Release pressure in the softener by using a kitchen or bathroom faucet.
  3. Remove the softener from the bypass.
  4. Remove the valve from the tank.
  5. Drain the water from the collection tank using a siphoning device.
  6. Allow any remaining water to settle at the bottom of the tank. Wait about five minutes.
  7. Drain the rest of the water in the collection tank.
  8. Unplug the device to power down the system.
  9. Disconnect any remaining inlets and outlets from the softener.
  10. Place covers over inlet and outlet openings to prevent dirt or insects from getting inside the tank.