Q. Do water softeners need regular maintenance?
A. Most water softeners are fully automatic and need little-to-no maintenance outside of keeping salt inside the brine tank. Although you can use any brand or type of softener salt, the pellet salt makes a cleaner brine and the Solar Salt (sun dried crystals) reduces the possibility of a salt bridge. Pouring the salt in a slope inside the brine tank and not flattening it or covering the water completely is best in order to help keep a rock-hard salt bridge from forming. When the dry salt gets to the water level, simply add one bag in a sloping method. Although your softener may appear to be running, the resin inside may not be doing a good job of softening your water. We always recommend an annual check-up to make sure the programming is still correct, and the water is still soft by using a hardness test to check the water. We include this service with our yearly Reverse Osmosis filter change package. Outside routine check-ups, there are certainly instances when your softener could require periodic service, such as if you notice changes in your water quality, your softener salt levels stay the same from day to day, or you are getting spots on your dishes.
Q. My shower has a consistent drip when the water is turned off and/or only gets one temperature. How do I fix it?
A. It is very common for a shower cartridge to not function properly due to wear and tear. This is a part inside the shower valve that controls the flow of water to the showerhead. The cartridge is connected to a single handle that turns to allow the blending of hot and cold water. There are several signs of a cartridge needing to be replaced. (1) You have a drip or running water when you turn the handle to the off position. (2) You have a drip from the shower handle itself. (3) You feel the handle getting increasingly more difficult to turn (4) You are only getting hot water or only getting cold water.
To repair, identify the brand and model of cartridge specific to your trim kit so that the cartridge can be replaced. Once you have the part, the water will need to be turned off to the house so the handle can be removed, and the cartridge can be pulled out for replacement and lubricated inside the valve body.
Q. My water bill was extremely high last month. How do I check for leaks?
A. Typically, extremely high bills are due to irrigation, water main or slab leaks. A plumbing contractor will isolate many valves around the property and check the city water meter to determine where the leaks are coming from. To check for a main water line leak (between the meter and your home), you should slowly turn off your main water shut-off valve and check your city water meter to make sure it is not spinning (or counting up). With the water off to your home, it should not be counting up or spinning. If it is, there is a good chance you have a leak and a plumbing contractor should be called. Be careful if your main shut-off is a gate-style valve or older – if they are not used fairly often, there is always a chance it could break and fail to turn off. We always recommend replacing old or gate-style valves with a quarter turn ball valve.