Low-Maintenance Appliances: Water Softeners

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Water softeners are high-maintenance appliances, not because they break down but because you have to keep feeding salt into them. The only way I know to avoid this kind of maintenance is to live where “city water,” as we call it, is available. Indeed, city living indirectly avoids several maintenance problems. If you look into my typical country basement, you find four, yes four, tanks standing mutely in the corner waiting for me to turn my back so they can malfunction. There’s a pressure tank (the submersible pump is outside in the well), the water softener, the tank for the salt flush, and the water heater. The city dweller needs only the water heater. (Of course the chlorine in his water may be slowly killing off the urban society, but that is another matter not to concern us here.)

Timers on softeners often malfunction, and there are some little rubber and plastic seals in the mechanism that control the flow of water in and out that need to be replaced every eight years or more. You’ll know when it’s replacement time because the soft water won’t be soft anymore. The repairman showed me exactly how to replace those seals, but I always forget such things (on purpose, I think) and will have to call him back next time. Bye, bye another 20 bucks.

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