Water softeners are an absolute must for your home. This is especially important if you have been experiencing “hard water” contaminants in your home’s water supply.

The name “water softener” is quite literal in explaining what it is actually used for.

Water softeners take hard mineralized water with high concentrations of calcium and magnesium and separate the hard water ions. This provides you with “soft water” for your taps and showers.

female taking a shower
Water Softeners can turn your shower from ‘feels like mini rocks’ to a waterfall

It’s always a great idea to have your water softener prepared for the cold weather. This is especially important when a harsh winter with many storms and freezing temperatures are predicted.

I have prepared this quick guide to help you winterize your water softener. This guide is meant to help you prepare your water softener for the winter season.

This is so you may avoid any unnecessary damage to your water softening equipment, your pipes, or any other part of your property.

Alright, with all basic introductions out of the way let us start learning about what you need to do to prepare and winterize your water softener!

Why Do I Need a Water Softener?

As explained, water softeners quite literally remove hard water ions from your water to soften it up.

So now you may be asking yourself, why do I need to soften up my water? Isn’t it fine the way it is? Well it certainly may taste fine to you but there’s a lot more going on with your water supply than you may actually not know about.

Hard water ions are made up of minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron to name a few.

Over time if left unchecked, these minerals can cause rusting in your pipes and can also leave a crusty residue which slows down and even clogs up your water from flowing through your pipes like it normally does.

Crusty shower head
Hard water can leave you with crusty residue on your shower head.

If you’ve ever personally experienced that crusty residue inside your shower head or your taps, then you know just how annoying it can be to have hard water running through and damaging your pipes

Too much crusty residue buildup can lead to your pipes getting clogged which is never a good sign as it can further lead to even more serious long-term damage.

So, if you don’t already have one, what are you waiting for? If you do have one, then continue reading and I will explain what you need to do to prepare for a harsh winter!

Why Do I Need to Winterize a Water Softener?

Water softener helps to prolong the lifespan of your pipes. It does this by taking out hard water molecules from your water supply. These can cause corrosion and clogging.

Water softener also provides you with clean and safe water, free from contaminants, making the water safe to use. These same pipes however are in danger of being damaged and potentially even bursting due to freezing temperatures in the winter.

Winterizing your water softener helps to ensure that you get through harsh winters without any pipe damage. Extreme cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze up and burst. This will cost you a lot of money in damage repairs.

To avoid such a disaster, I would highly recommend winterizing your water softener!

When Do I Need to Winterize a Water Softener?

Winterizing a water softener can depend on a number of situations.

If the water softener is kept in an area of an occupied home that receives sufficient heating and insulation such as a basement, then there is no need to worry as you won’t have to winterize it.

The situations in which you should winterize your water softener are the following:

  • Your water softening unit is installed in an unheated area with low to no insulation such as a garage
  • You have a water softener unit in a summer home which you need to prepare for the winter as you will not be present to look after it.
  • You are planning on going on an extended vacation during the winter for a relatively long period of time and do not have anyone to look after your property for you while you are gone.

Your main goal is to ensure that you have taken enough precautions. This is important so that your water softener is safe during extremely cold temperatures in harsh winters.

If you live in an area that does not experience a winter with extremely cold below freezing temperatures, then you don’t have to worry about winterizing your water softener as it should not be affected and should still function as intended if you leave it be.

How Do You Drain Water Out of a Water Softener?

If any of the situations mentioned above apply to you or if you are preparing yourself for a future situation in which you would need to winterize your water softener then you should carefully mimic or study the following steps to disconnect, drain and store your water softening unit safely for the winter.

  1. Put the unit into its regeneration cycle until you notice the system backwashing into the drain. This is the process that allows the water softener unit to get rid of any remaining hard minerals in its tank after it has separated them from your water supply.
  2. If there is a manual bypass for your water softener unit, put it into the bypass position which is used to completely shut off the supply of water to the main water softener unit.
  3. Remove the unit from the bypass valve and proceed to remove the valve from the tank. This step will have you disconnect the water softener unit and prepare it for the next steps which will lead to the safe storage of the unit.
  4. Siphon the water from the media tank using any compatible type of plastic tubing and allow the tank to sit for 5 to 10 minutes after siphoning. This step is to make sure that the unit is completely free of any water which may be able to freeze while the unite is stored for the rest of the winter.
  5. Unplug the water softener and switch off the main power supply. It is essential to make sure that you do this for safety reasons as well as to save on your electricity bill.
  6. You can leave the brine tank in the cold if the majority of the water has been scooped out of it due to the high salt content. If not, then store it in a warmer area. Even though the salt content can prevent ice from forming, too much water can still stop the salt from doing its job, and ice will still form in extremely cold temperatures.

Does Softened Water Freeze?

Softened water does indeed freeze if it’s not allowed to run through taps for long periods of time.

If your water softener unit is currently in an occupied house, always make sure it is kept in a warm location. Keep it well insulated and ensure that it is receiving sufficient heating.

Make sure to do thorough checks on the unit during cold weather. This is so you may avoid any unnecessary freezing, which can potentially lead to some costly repairs.

male checking water softener unit
Make sure to check your water softener during the cold winter to avoid costly repairs.

Your softened water will not freeze if the brine tank is kept above freezing temperatures.

It should still be okay slightly below freezing temperatures as well due to its high salt content. However, it is best not to take any chances and to make sure that it is kept in a well-heated location.

Making sure that your water runs regularly is also another way to prevent softened water from freezing up.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it! Now you have the knowledge to prepare your water softener for any upcoming harsh winter temperatures.

Make sure to follow the steps mentioned above to safely disconnect your water softening unit and store it for the winter.

Do not skip any of the steps to ensure that the whole process goes smoothly as you would not want anything going wrong with your costly equipment.

I cannot stress how vital it is to have this information as it could help you save a ton of money on costs associated with pipe damages and plumbing!

If you enjoyed reading this article, then be sure to give some of our other articles a read. You never know what kind of hidden gem you might find!

Thanks a lot for sticking around!

– Craig