As the temperatures begin to drop, it’s time to consider what you need to do to keep your water systems running in top condition. Depending on where you store your water softener, you may need to take extra steps to protect it from the cold. Find out how to keep your water softener from freezing and maintain it over the winter.

Do You Need to Winterize Your Water Softener?frozen drop of water

A water softener will need winterization in environments where the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ve placed your water softener in a heated room, you can continue your usual maintenance routine. However, you may want to winterize your water softener if you keep it:

  • In an unheated indoor environment, such as a garage
  • At a property that you don’t use during the winter
  • In your unheated home when you leave for an extended time

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.

Steps to Winterize a Water Softener That You’ll Keep Using

Learning how to winterize a water softener is simple. You can prepare your water softener system for freezing temperatures quickly with the right materials. Visit your local hardware store to find pipe insulation wrap that will fit around your water softener connections. You can fasten the materials around pipes using heat-safe tapes, cables or zip ties. For a closer look at the process, follow the five-step guide below:

  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 Water Softener You Will Shut Down

In some cases, shutting down a water softener is the best move for the winter. This choice primarily applies to vacation homes or cabins that you leave unattended for weeks or months at a time. Disconnect and drain your water softener using the following ten steps:

  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.

Preventative Measures for Water Softeners

It’s a good idea to have a trained professional look over your water softener, especially if you’ll have it drained and disconnected for winter. This season is usually an appropriate time for a technician to assess common wear and tear parts such as pistons, screens and seals across your system. Additionally, changing out system filters and pre-filters is recommended before reconnecting your device in the spring.

Tips to Prevent a Water Softener From Freezing

Consider the following tips when preparing a home water softener for the colder months:

  • Keep it warm: If you use your water softener year-round and keep it in a relatively warm area, it may just need extra heat to get through the winter. Winterizing your water softener is, simply put, not letting it freeze! For the best results, maintain a temperature of at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid any part of the system freezing. You can use a space heater to heat the area around the water softener and check on the area’s temperature during the coldest times. For extra protection, you can also insulate (winterize) your pipes and equipment with a specialized wrap.
  • Drain the tank: If you don’t plan on using your water softener during winter, you can drain its tank to prevent freezing. This is best practice with outdoor water softeners. This will help both your water softener tank and drain hose from freezing over. Your local Culligan Water expert can answer any questions you have about winterization requirements.
  • Keep the water running: Water softener connections have a harder time freezing when water is moving. If you’ll be away from home for a few days, think about leaving the kitchen faucet dripping slightly. This trick can save you from dealing with water softener pipes bursting.

Call on Culligan Water for Your Water Needs

When you need water softener maintenance, repair or salt, count on your local Culligan Water expert to handle the job. They know how to service any system on the market, so we welcome owners of all water softeners to call on us for help. For questions about winterizing your water softener – give us a call!

To schedule a visit from Culligan Water, call us at 717-697-0657 or make an appointment online.