While you’re at it: Don’t cheap out and use rock salt instead of water-­softener salt, even though rock salt costs half as much. It contains far more impurities that will clog up the works, and you could wind up needing to spend $600 or more for a new water softener. Make sure you always follow these home care tips to save you time, money, and stress.

How to DIY it: This job can be messy, so protect nearby surfaces by covering them with plastic or cardboard. Spray the springs with garage door lubricant (about 
$7 at home centers). Don’t use oil, grease, or other lubricants. They may be cheaper, or you may have them on hand already, but they won’t work as well and tend to pick up dust and grit—just what you don’t want on moving parts.

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