Why Is My Water Softener Sweating?

Why Is My Water Softener Sweating?

Water softening systems can bring a range of benefits, helping to filter out magnesium and calcium. But one of the most common downsides is that the pipes can sweat. But what causes your water softener to sweat?

Sweat is the result of condensation. It occurs when the cooler pipes of the water softener attract moisture from the warmer surrounding air. Usually, this isn’t a problem. Though it can leave puddles of water and increase the risk of mold, which can lead to serious health issues.

If your water softener is sweating you aren’t alone. But that doesn’t mean that you have to put up with the condensation. Read on to learn more about how to stop your water softener from sweating.

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Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know

What Causes a Water Softener to Sweat?

The sweat on a water softener is caused by a process known as condensation. The water in the water softener is cooler than the surrounding air. Because of this, warmer air will be attracted to the system, forming beads on the cool surface, which resemble sweat.

The amount of sweat you can expect will depend on the temperature in your local area. The hotter the surrounding air is, the more condensation will form.

How To Tell If It’s Sweat or a Leak?

A little condensation on your pipes usually isn’t a big issue. But a leak within the system will be. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to tell the difference between the two, here are some methods you can use:

  • Check the humidity levels. A high humidity reading will tell you that it’s likely to be sweat. But if the humidity levels are normal, or low, it might be a leak. Ideally, the humidity levels should be between 30 to 50 percent.
  • Wipe the pipes clean. The next thing to try is using a cloth to wipe down the pipe. You can then watch how moisture forms on the water softening system. You might notice it beading up, indicating a sweating pipe. On the other hand, you might notice a dribble of water. This method can also help you pinpoint the source of the leak.
  • Look at your water bills. Sometimes, you might notice that your water bill has been rising, despite usage remaining the same. This can be a strong sign that there is a leak somewhere on the property.

A leak within the water softening system can indicate severe problems. It’s best to make sure that you contact a plumber as soon as possible.

Is It a Problem When Your Water Softener Sweats?

It’s normal for a water softening system to sweat. Most of the time, this won’t be a serious problem. But there are a few potential issues to look out for.

First, you might find that there is water pooling around the base of the unit, due to the sweating pipes. Thankfully, there is an easy way of solving this problem. You might want to consider laying a towel around the base. This will absorb the water drops.

The bigger problem, though, is mold and mildew. These will be attracted to damp spaces and will love the high-humidity environment created by sweating water softener systems. Here are some of the signs that you have mold in the area:

  • A damp smell
  • Cracking or peeling paint
  • Fungal spores or growth
  • Respiratory problems
  • Water stains

It’s best to take action as soon as you spot the fungal growth. This can sometimes eat through organic materials, like wood. If you aren’t careful, this can lead to potential structural damage.

Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to significant health problems, especially if you have respiratory problems. For example, it can lead to a coughing fit or you might have a skin rash or a sore throat.

If you have mold around your water softener, you will need to use a mixture of soap and water to get rid of it. If the mold proves tough to dislodge, you can use bleach. When you are doing this, you should take some safety precautions, this includes:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Wearing gloves
  • Opening a window, particularly if you are using bleach

If the mold is too established, you might want to call in a professional to help you remove it. Though it might be a few hundred dollars, you can rest assured that they will completely remove it, stopping the fungal spores from spreading throughout the house.

Thirdly, it is possible that a sweating pipe could create a fire hazard. This occurs when the water droplets fall onto exposed electrical wiring. This can create short circuits. Thankfully, this is rare. As long as you don’t have any exposed wires you don’t need to worry about the possibility of sweating pipes starting a fire.

How to Stop a Water Softener from Sweating?

First, you will need to come up with a way of temporarily stopping the water and lowering the risk of mold. A good way of doing this is by placing a pan under the system.  This will catch the sweat dropping off the pipes. You can add a few drops of bleach. This helps stop mold spores from germinating.

If you want a permanent way to stop the water softener from sweating, there are a few options that you can explore. First, you might want to put a neoprene or foam sleeve around the system. This stops the surrounding air from coming into contact with the cooler pipes, blocking the formation of condensation.

These tend to be fairly easy to install. You just need to wrap them around the pipes and use the Velcro strap to hold them in place. The downside is that you might have to have them custom-made, to fit your pipes. If you want, though, you might be able to make it yourself.

Final Thoughts

Sweating pipes are a normal side effect of installing a water softening system. Most of the time, they are benign, and you will just need to use a towel to mop up a small puddle of water. But if they turn out to be a problem, creating mold and mildew, you can use a neoprene or foam sleeve to stop the sweating.

Chief Guru

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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