Finding mold growing in your water softener brine tank can be alarming. Left unchecked, mold can spread spores through your home’s air or water supply, causing potential health issues. Fortunately, with the right steps you can eliminate brine tank mold for good.
This comprehensive guide will teach you how to inspect for mold, remove existing mold, disinfect your tank, and prevent future mold growth. With a little elbow grease and proper maintenance, you can keep your water softening system mold-free.
Why Mold Grows in Water Softener Tanks
Before getting into mold removal, it helps to understand what causes mold to grow in water softener brine tanks in the first place. There are three key factors that create an environment suitable for mold:
Moisture – Small amounts of water from the brine solution can accumulate in the tank. High humidity also increases moisture. This gives mold the dampness it needs to thrive.
Minerals – Salt, calcium, and other minerals used in the softening process also settle in the tank. Mold feeds on these mineral deposits.
Lack of Cleaning – Not regularly scrubbing and disinfecting allows mold colonies to take hold and flourish.
By controlling these conditions, you can prevent mold growth. Proper installation and maintenance keeps your brine tank drier, cleaner, and less hospitable to mold.
Health Dangers of Water Softener Mold
Mold may seem like a harmless nuisance, but it can pose some serious health risks that shouldn’t be ignored.
Allergic Reactions – Mold spores can trigger allergy symptoms, asthma attacks, and skin or sinus irritation in sensitive individuals.
Respiratory Issues – Inhaling the microscopic spores can cause congestion, coughing, trouble breathing, and worsening of conditions like COPD.
Toxic Effects – Some types of mold release mycotoxins that have toxic effects throughout the body, especially if inhaled in large amounts over time.
Spreading Spores – Airborne mold spores circulate through your ventilation system, potentially reaching every room in your home.
The young, elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to these mold dangers. But even healthy people should take precautions around heavy mold growth.
6 Signs You Have Mold in Your Brine Tank
Sometimes mold infestations start small and spread rapidly if left unchecked. Look for these common signs:
- Dark stains on the plastic or metal surfaces
- White residue or slimy film coating the bottom or walls
- Dirt, debris, and grit that is difficult to scrub off
- Strange musty smell coming from the tank, especially when opened
- Salt clumping together from moisture
- Slow or blocked brine flow to the resin tank
If you notice one or more of these indicators, inspect further and begin mold removal steps. Early treatment prevents more extensive growth.
How to Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank – Step-by-Step
Cleaning a brine tank yourself is totally doable with some basic equipment. Here is a step-by-step guide:
- Protective gear – gloves, goggles, mask/respirator
- Old towels
- Brine tank scrub brush
- Garden hose
- Dish soap
- Household bleach or other disinfectant
- Salt pellets to refill
Draining & Disassembling Tank
First, you need to access the entire interior surface area. This requires partially disassembling the tank.
- Turn off water supply and unplug softener
- Disconnect brine line to resin tank
- Remove brine well cover if possible
- Scoop out as much old salt as you can
- Tip tank to drain all remaining brine/water into bucket
Scrubbing & Rinsing
With the tank emptied, you can start scrubbing away mold and buildup:
- Create a mild bleach solution with 1 cup bleach per 1 gal water and apply generously inside tank
- Use scrub brush to work solution over all interior surfaces
- Pay close attention to corners and crevices where mold lurks
- Rinse tank thoroughly with garden hose
- Fill tank partially and shake with soapy water, then rinse again
Repeat the scrubbing process if you see any remaining mold or residue. Bleach kills mold but manual scrubbing removes the dead spores.
Disinfecting & Drying
After physical removal, apply disinfectant again to sanitize all surfaces.
- Swish a 50/50 vinegar and water solution around tank
- Spray down with hydrogen peroxide and let sit 10 minutes
- Dump out liquid and rinse away vinegar smell
- Allow tank to air dry completely for 1-2 days
The tank must be completely dry to prevent new mold growth. A dehumidifier nearby speeds up drying time.
Once fully dry inside, you can start reassembly:
- Replace brine well cap if removed
- Reattach brine line to resin tank
- Reconnect valve to water supply
- Slowly add new salt pellets
- Turn on water to fill tank and check for leaks
Run a manual regeneration to flush the system. Your tank is now mold-free and ready for service!
All-Natural Mold Removal Solutions
For those wanting to avoid bleach and harsh chemicals, natural remedies work well to kill brine tank mold:
Vinegar – The high acidity kills mold and breaks down hard water deposits. Use undiluted white vinegar full-strength for maximum effect.
Hydrogen Peroxide – This bubbles away mold and dissolves that slimy film. Let it sit for 10+ minutes before rinsing.
Baking Soda – Acts as a scouring powder to lift mold and neutralize musty odors. Make a paste with water to scrub.
Sunlight – Ultraviolet rays naturally destroy mold with exposure over time. Letting the tank sit in sunlight could provide enough antimicrobial effects for mild cases.
Condensation control – Keeping humidity low is key. Dehumidifiers, ventilation, and air conditioning prevent the dampness mold depends on.
How to Disinfect a Brine Tank After Mold Removal
To ensure mold is eradicated for good, proper disinfection after cleaning is a must. Here are proven ways to sanitize a brine tank:
Bleach solution – 1/2 cup of regular chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of warm water kills mold. Rinse thoroughly. Vinegar solution – Equal parts vinegar and water removes hard water buildup where mold grows. Commercial cleaners – Mold removal products with antimicrobial ingredients work well for tough buildup. UV light – Portable UV wands shine germ-killing ultraviolet light directly inside the tank for whole-system disinfection. Hot water rinses – High heat kills mold, so rinse with the hottest water possible after cleaning. Replace parts – If any pieces like the brine valve show extensive mold damage, replace them to fully disinfect the system.
Repeat disinfection weekly or monthly to prevent mold from returning. Maintenance cleaning is much easier than letting it get out of control and having to deep clean the tank again.
Putting Your Water Softener Back Together
Once mold is removed and the tank fully disinfected, the last step is reassembly:
- Inspect seals & gaskets – Replace any worn or cracked parts that compromise the seal.
- Check alignment – The brine line, valves, and fittings should connect properly without leaks.
- Refill with salt – Pour new solar salt pellets to the fill line to avoid bridging.
- Run manual cycle – Initiate a manual regeneration to flush clean water through all lines.
- Clean resin tank – Follow manufacturer’s directions to backwash resin bed and sanitize any mold that may have spread there.
- Test water flow – Make sure soft water flows smoothly to your household pipes once again.
Take your time with careful reassembly and double check for leaks or obstructions in flow. Slowly resume normal operation.
6 Tips to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Softener
Reoccurrence is common if the underlying causes of mold aren’t addressed. Here are proactive ways to stop mold in the future:
Sanitize regularly – Add sanitizing cleaners when you refill salt to disinfect as you maintain. Prevent buildup.
Dehumidify space around tank – Use fans, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning to keep relative humidity under 45%.
Elevate tank off floor – Raise tank with cinder blocks to improve airflow and drainage. Reduce moisture contact.
Insulate cold water line – Wrap incoming line with foam to prevent condensation and moisture inside tank.
Check for leaks – Fix any plumbing leaks or o-ring/gasket seals that allow moisture intrusion.
Treat with inhibitors – Adding antibacterial products to the brine solution prevents microbial growth.
With diligence and preventative care, your battle against brine tank mold will be won! Never let mold fester, threaten your health, or damage your softening system again.
When to Call a Professional for Brine Tank Mold Removal
In severe cases of neglected mold growth, professional cleaning and replacement may be needed:
- Pervasive mold throughout tank and internal parts
- Medical vulnerability where DIY mold removal poses health risk
- Inability to fully access or disassemble tank for proper cleaning
- Repeated mold recurrence indicating larger issue
- Major water damage or brine tank corrosion from leaks
A water treatment specialist has industrial-strength chemicals, heavy-duty equipment, and expertise to remediate extensive mold and restore your water softener to full working capacity.
The cost of professional cleaning averages $200-300 but is worth it to fully solve persistent mold issues and prevent destroyed components from contamination spreading to other home systems.
With attentive care and maintenance cleaning, your water softener can run smoothly for years with no mold in the brine tank. Follow the steps outlined in this guide and you’ll resolve any existing mold issues while keeping your system mold-free long-term.
FAQs About Mold in Water Softener Brine Tanks
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions homeowners have about mold growth in their brine tanks:
Is all mold dangerous to my health?
How can I prevent mold when installing a new water softener?
What temperature kills mold?
Does salt in the brine tank prevent mold?
Should I seal cracks and crevices inside the brine tank?
Can I use my water softener if there is mold in the brine tank?