It’s the number one reason customers send water ionizers back to a company for repair – and it is 100% preventable. The technicians I spoke with agreed that most issues they address at the repair facility are related to buildup inside the water ionizer.
In most instances the issues are directly related to source water with high TDS (total dissolved solids) but over time, if not properly maintained, any water ionizer will start having issues related to buildup.
When water has a high TDS concentration you see things like spotting on dishes, glasses, surfaces. Scale buildup around plumbing fixtures is a good example of how excess minerals can build up around key components inside a water ionizer.
At some point this kind of buildup inside the machine will start to affect the performance of the water ionizer. If not addressed, you’re looking an eventual issue with your machine that can only be resolved by sending it to a repair facility. And you should know that while a few companies may take care of cleaning your machine for you at no charge, at least once, you should be prepared to pay $50- $70 for a “Power Clean” service.
Performance issues related to defects in the machine, parts or workmanship are covered by warranty however cleaning your water ionizer is considered routine maintenance. Performance issues related to improper care and maintenance of water ionizers are not covered by any water ionizer company.
Over the years I’ve worked with a number of water ionizer customers experiencing issues related to hard water. I’ve also watched every company begin to establish new recommendations and protocols for customers in hard water areas. So it was no surprise to hear the technicians I spoke with say “hard water” or “TDS,” almost without taking a moment to think, when asked what issue they saw most in machines coming in for repair.
Here are a few key points made by some of the leading technical departments in the industry:
Loss of Performance – Maybe you notice the water doesn’t taste quite the same. Maybe you notice a difference in how you feel. Whatever the reason, you decide to test the water using the reagent drops that came with your machine and discover that the water isn’t as alkaline as it was when your machine was new.
Over time, scale will build up on the electrodes, no matter how efficient the machine’s automated cleaning cycle or how often it runs.
Visible Mineral Deposits – If you see mineral scale deposits building up at the tip of the main dispenser hose of your water ionizer, it’s a pretty good bet you’ve got similar buildup occurring inside the machine. Soaking the dispense hose in white vinegar will help dissolve deposits on the dispenser hose to make removing them easier.
Increase in Automated Cleaning – If you notice that your water ionizer’s automated cleaning cycle seems to be running much more often than it used to, or you repeatedly get messages that the electrodes need cleaning, you’ve probably got a mineral buildup issue.
In most cases, following the recommended cleaning protocol for your machine will remove the scale buildup causing these issues.
Some companies have a one-time use cleaning cartridge. Some companies have a “do-it-yourself” flush or soak procedure that you can follow using citric acid crystals or vinegar. If you’re in a hard water area you need to do this cleaning at least at every filter change (6 months for most machines). In some areas you may need to clean more often.
Leaks or the inability to get your machine to run long enough to get a glass of water, much less run a cleaning cartridge, are definite game changes for any water ionizer owner. This is when most owners pick up the phone and find out that they will have to send their machine in for diagnosis and repair.
Again, some companies will handle this issue under warranty once, and advise you on how to prevent the issue in the future. After that, it’s up to you to follow their guidelines to ensure the long-term performance of your machine.
Recommendations vary based on both brand and your source water. You can find the general cleaning recommendations for most companies in our Cleaning Procedures Comparison Chart.
This Cleaning Procedures Comparison Chart lists water ionizer brands in alphabetical order and provides basic information about the recommended cleaning protocols, including recommendations for users in hard water areas.
Remember, if you are seeing mineral deposits at the tip of your main dispenser hose, or have noticed a change in flow rate through either the main or drain spout, there’s a good chance that buildup is also occurring inside the machine.
If you notice this type of building happening frequently, you should contact technical support for your machine to discuss treatment options to reduce fast-recurring buildup.
I can’t imagine a day without my water ionizer. I use it for everything from making coffee first thing in the morning, to my last glass of antioxidant water before bedtime – with a lot of food prep and cooking in between.
If I had to be without my water ionizer for 10 – 14 days (the amount of time it takes for your machine to reach the repair facility, to be diagnosed, repaired, tested and then shipping time back to you) I would be completely lost.
To me, it’s worth the extra time it takes to clean my machine every time I replace the filters.