What Is a Water Softener and What Does It Do?

What is a water softener? 

A water softener is a whole-house filtration system that removes hardness caused by calcium and magnesium minerals from your water. This is done through a process called ion exchange. Hard water can be very destructive in your home. As scale builds up in your pipes the become clogged and decrease water pressure. This can lead to shorter lifespans of expensive appliances like washer machines, coffee makers, ice machines, and dishwashers..

Hot water appliances are affected and destroyed by hard water. As water temperature rises, more calcium and magnesium solidify and harden into solid deposits inside your hot water heater. A common symptom is the water heater making a popping sound like popcorn. This is because scale has attached itself to the heating element. As the temperature of the heater rises and the tank expands, the calcified rock deposits crusted on the heating elements start cracking and stretching. Hard water-induced scale is the culprit of that popcorn popping sound.

Without a water softener, laundry needs extra detergent to prevent it from appearing dingy. Dishes will come from your dishwasher streaked and stained. Filmy scum builds on your shower curtains and your shampoo and soap won’t lather. Bathing in hard water leaves your skin dry and itchy and your hair lifeless and sticky. The sheer quantity of time, energy, and money necessary to wash up the harmful side effects of hard water is dizzying. A whole house water softener is the only solution to this treachery of water hardness.

What Does A Water Softener Do? 

The ion exchange method is the only method that really softens water, by extracting the minerals which cause lime-scale from hard water. This process eliminates the hardness causing components; calcium and magnesium from your water. When the hard water enters into the nutrient tank, it flows through a bed of round resin beads. These plastic beads, are charged by sodium ions. The resin beads are anions, meaning they have a negative charge. The magnesium and calcium minerals possess a positive charge, making them cations. As the hard water passes through the resin, the beads catch a hold of these mineral ions and remove them from the water. After the bead seizes the nutrient ion, then the sodium ion is released. The column of resin strips all the hardness from the water as it moves through the mineral tank, and softened water flows outside in your home.

What are the components of a water softener?

A water softener is made up of 3 components: a control valve, a mineral tank, and a brine tank. These three work together to remove the minerals from hard water, monitor the stream of water, and periodically clean out the system through a regeneration procedure.

1. The mineral tank 

The mineral tank is the chamber where the challenging water is softened. The water supply line feeds the hard water to the tank. The water seeps through the bed of resin beads, depositing the water-hardening calcium and magnesium ions. The water exits the tank soft and flows through your pipes and out to your home’s appliances.

2. The control valve 

The control valve measures the amount of water passing through the mineral tank and in your house. The valve houses a meter which monitors the quantity of water going into the mineral tank. As tough water flows through the nutrient tank, then the resin beads exchange their sodium ions for hardness ions. Over time, this increases the capacity of the resin to keep to effectively soften water. Before the beads become too burdened with mineral content to continue removing calcium and magnesium ions, then the control valve automatically initiates a regeneration cycle. This maximum capability is pre-programmed into the control valve’s onboard computer and is based on a range of factors, such as the dimensions of your residence, the number of occupants, along with the hardness of your property. Control valves are demand-initiated controls, which permit water purification components to be extremely efficient.

3. The brine tank

he brine tank assists the water softening system in regeneration. It’s a shorter tank that sits adjacent to the nutrient tank. The brine tank holds an extremely concentrated solution of salt (or sometimes potassium) to restore the resin beads’ positive charge. Salt is added to the brine tank in the form of pellets or cubes. These dissolve in the water in the base of the tank. After the control valve accomplishes the softening capacity of the resin is diminishing, the hefty brine solution is pulled from the tank and flushed through the resin from the mineral tank. If the brine tank runs out of salt, the water passing through the unit will no longer be softened.

Smart Water Treatment Technology has the best water softener system for your home. Give us a call and talk to one of our specialist to find out more.

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