When purchasing a new water softener, you want to make sure you know how to maintain it so that it will last as long as possible. Proper maintenance begins at installation. The following tips can help you keep your new water softener in excellent condition.

Choose the right salt

Most water softeners use salt as the softening agent. Before the installer leaves, get their specific salt recommendations for the particular model you are having installed. Softener salt comes in three types -- rock, evaporated, and solar. While rock salt was the norm for most older softeners, it's best to avoid it in a new water softener installation. Rock salt contains many impurities, which can cause a build up within the softener. Solar salt comes from seawater and contains fewer impurities, but it isn't completely clean. Evaporated salt is evaporated out of water in controlled conditions, so it contains the least amount of impurities. In most cases, this is the best option. Just verify whether to use pellets or crystals in your particular unit.

Keep the resin beads clean

Water softeners contain resin beads, which is where the purification occurs. The salt is used to "charge" these beads for the softening process. Impurities within the salt, though, can collect in these beads and compromise the softening capabilities. This can make even a new softener perform poorly. A water softener cleaner is poured directly into the salt brine. It attracts these impurities so they are flushed out of the system, instead of collecting within it. The amount and frequency of cleaner application varies between models, so ask your installer or look at the manufacturer's guide to develop your resin cleaning plan.

Plan for annual maintenance

Once a year, your softener needs to be emptied and flushed. This ensures iron and other mineral deposits are completely flushed out so they don't end up clogging the tank. Depending on the exact type of softener, there may also be other filters that need to be serviced or replaced, such as a UV or micron filter.  Flushing also prevents problems like a harden salt crust or bridge, which can prevent a softener from working.  Failure to perform this annual maintenance can drastically reduce the lifespan of your new water softener. You may be able to sign up for an annual maintenance plan at the time of installation.

For more help or to get a new softener in your home, contact a water softener installation service in your area.