Media or resin is what is inside your water softener to make it function correctly and produce soft water. A water softener is a pretty cool idea that makes your clothes softer, allows soap to become more soapy and work better, plus a host of other pros to having this item in your home. Your house could either have hard water or soft water. There are minerals in water and if they stay in the water, this is called hard water. If you have a softener, then the softener removes these minerals and creates soft water. Basically, the water travels over the media inside your water softener tank. As the water travels over the media, the minerals stick to the media. So when the water leaves the system, it has no minerals and is now soft water. The media has an opposite charge of the minerals and that is why the minerals stick to the media. The system needs to recharge the media and clean the tank, this is called rejuvenating. The salt is what is working to rejuvenate the media and give it the properties to remove the minerals. This is why you have to add salt to a water softener. The salt just regenerates the media. However over time the media breaks down and needs to be changed. There are two ways to tell when you need to change the media. First, your hardness of water increases. You can also lose water pressure throughout the house. Media should last an average of 15 years, but it depends on your water conditions. Okay, so let’s get into changing the media.
Tools Needed to Change Media in your Water Softener
- Two pipe wrenches for water supply
- One large pipe wrench to remove head from unit
- Teflon Tape
- Phillips and Flathead screwdriver
- A friend would be nice
- Ear plugs so you don’t have to listen to your friend complain about the job at hand
Shut Water Off to Unit
Make sure your water to the unit is in the off position. You should have a shut off valve in the line right before the softener. If not, check by your water main that is inside the house. You should also have a bypass value right behind the water softener, leave this open.
Uplug the Water Softener
Turn on Faucet to Relieve Water Pressure
Check Filters or Screens
Sometimes your media is okay, but something worked its way into the softener and might be blocking a screen. Media is expensive, so just check the screens or injectors first to make sure nothing is blocked. See your owners manual for more information on how to check those items
Remove Water Supply from Softener
Now that the pressure is relieved from the system, you can move your bypass to on, so the water doesn’t go though the system. Now remove both water lines that are on the softener. Once you remove the lines, you can also turn the water back on in the house so others can use the bathroom or sinks. Just open the water shut off/on valve slow to make sure the bypass value is working correctly and not leaking. Also remove any other lines you have connected to the unit such as the brine tank line and waste line.
Move Softener into Open Area
Remove Softener Head Unit
Remove Center Pipe in Water Softener
Now that the head is off, the center pipe/tube will just pull out. Some of the media will also come out and can become messy. There should be a screen on the bottom of the tube. If not, no big deal. Just make sure when you dump the media out, you find the screen. It is large and easy to see.
Dump Media Out
Before you dump it out, take a sample. Media are small round pellets that are hard. Feel them in your hand. If they are still hard, your media might be okay. If you can squeeze them in your fingers and they loose shape, your media is bad. Media is biodegradable and safe. You can dump it in a large trash bag and throw it out or dump it in your yard somewhere. It does take a while for it to break down. If you are not sure if your media is bad, dump it in a large container in case it turns out to be another problem and not your media. Then you can reuse it.
Run water inside the tank and clean the screen and pipe out.
Put Pipe Back in
Make sure the screen is attached tightly to your tubing when inserting this back into the tank.
Add Media to Unit
Secure Head Unit Back on
Put the head back on the tank. Make sure the head and tube that is in the tank line up.
Attach Water Lines to Unit
Make sure all fittings are clean and you use Teflon tape for the threads to prevent leaks.
Plug Unit Back in
Plug unit back in and make sure you have all your settings.
Turn Water Supply on
Turn the water supply back on and make sure nothing is leaking. Turn the water on slow to prevent water hammer. Also, have a faucet open somewhere in the house.
Check Water Throughout the House
Turn faucets on around the house and let the air run out of the pipes.
Run a Rejuvenation Cycle on the Unit
Your media needs to have a charge in order to work, so make sure you run a cycle.
Test the Water
Take a test kit after the system rejuvenates and test your water hardness.
One good idea is to have a camera by your side and take some pictures as you work through this process. That way when you are putting the system back, if you don’t know where something goes or you need a reference, you can always go back and look at your pictures.