Hard water is a common problem in many households. It’s caused by high calcium, magnesium, and other minerals found naturally in the water supply. These minerals can cause problems with plumbing fixtures and appliances. It also has the potential to cause skin irritation. Fortunately, a water softener can help. Let’s take a closer look at what a water softener is and how it works.
What Is a Water Softener?
A water softener is a device that helps remove certain minerals, namely calcium and magnesium, from your water supply. When these minerals build up in the pipes of your home over time, they can cause scale buildup that can reduce water flow and clog plumbing fixtures. By removing these minerals from the water supply, a water softener can help prevent scale buildup while also improving the overall quality of your drinking water.
How Does It Work?
At its core, a water softener works by using an ion exchange process to remove unwanted minerals from the water supply. The device uses two tanks filled with resin beads coated with sodium ions to filter out unwanted particles like calcium. As hard water passes through the resin beads, the calcium and magnesium ions replace the sodium ions on the beads and are removed from the supply while fresh sodium ions enter into the solution. This process is repeated until all the calcium and magnesium are removed from the system.
The Benefits of Owning a Water Softener
A water softener is a smart investment for any homeowner seeking to improve their water quality, extend the lifespan of their household appliances, and save money in the long run. Here are the benefits of owning a water softener.
- Extended Appliance Life and Improved Plumbing: Hard water contains an abundance of minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, which accumulate in your plumbing and water-using appliances over time. These mineral deposits, also known as scale, can lead to decreased water flow, inefficient performance and ultimately, reduced appliance lifespan. Installing a water softener will minimize scale buildup, ensuring your appliances, such as dishwashers and water heaters, operate efficiently and last longer. In addition, your plumbing will benefit from less corrosion and blocked pipes, saving you costly repairs.
- Softer Skin and Hair: For those who struggle with dry skin and brittle hair, a water softener might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Hard water is known to strip the natural oils from your skin and hair, leaving them dry and even irritated. A water softener can help you achieve softer, healthier-looking skin and hair by removing the excess minerals from your water supply.
- Spotless Glassware and Dishes: Hard water spots on glassware and dishes can be frustrating and unsightly. The minerals found in hard water are responsible for the stains and build-up often seen on glasses, silverware, and plates. With a water softener, you can experience spotless glassware and dishes, as it prevents the formation of these stubborn stains. Furthermore, softened water is more effective at dissolving soap and detergent, resulting in cleaner, shinier dishes straight out of the dishwasher.
- Reduced Soap and Detergent Usage: Because softened water is more effective at cleaning than hard water, you’ll find yourself using less soap, shampoo, and detergent when you have a water softener installed. The minerals in hard water reduce the effectiveness of soap, so you have to use more to get the job done. A water softener can save you money in the long run by reducing the number of cleaning products you need to purchase.
- Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings: A water softener can also contribute to energy savings in your home. As scale builds up in your water heater over time, it can reduce efficiency and increase the energy required to heat your water. A water softener can prevent this scale buildup, keeping your water heater running efficiently and using less energy. Additionally, the reduced need for appliance repair or replacement can lead to significant cost savings over time.
Different Types of Water Softeners
Here are the three main types of water softeners with their advantages and disadvantages.
Salt-Based Water Softeners
Salt-based water softeners are by far the most common type of water softener on the market today. As their name implies, these systems use salt to remove minerals from your home’s water supply. However, it’s important to note that salt-based systems require frequent maintenance, as they must be refilled with salt every couple of months to remain effective. Additionally, since these systems add sodium chloride to your home’s water supply, they are not ideal for those who are trying to reduce their sodium intake.
Salt-Free Water Softeners
Many homeowners opt for salt-free water softeners as an alternative to salt-based systems. These systems use ion exchange—which involves exchanging calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions—to soften hard water without adding additional salts or chemicals to your home’s supply. The downside of these systems is that they don’t produce as much softened water as their salt-based counterparts. Additionally, they must be regularly cleaned and maintained to remain effective.
Magnetic Water Softeners
The third type of water softener is magnetic. These systems work by using powerful magnets attached to the outside of pipes containing hard water. When the magnets come in contact with the pipe’s walls, they create a magnetic field which causes mineral particles in the hard water to stick together and form larger particles. These particles can easily pass through plumbing fixtures without causing any damage or clogging up pipes and fixtures. This makes them an ideal choice for those looking for an efficient yet affordable way of removing minerals from their home’s water supply without buying and maintaining a traditional salt-based system.
Common Issues with Water Softeners
Like any machine, a water softener can experience issues from time to time, but nothing a simple water softener repair can’t fix! Here are some common issues with water softeners.
1. Salt Bridge Issues
A salt bridge is one of the most common issues that can occur with a water softener. This happens when salt accumulates in the bottom of the brine tank and forms a crusty layer that prevents new salt from entering the tank. This can cause problems with the unit’s regeneration cycle, resulting in hard water coming through your taps and fixtures.
2. Clogged Resin Beds
Another common issue is clogged resin beds. The beads in these tanks attract hard minerals over time, causing them to become clogged and reducing their effectiveness in treating your water supply.
3. Low Salt Levels
Low salt levels can also be an issue for water softeners because it affects their ability to treat hard minerals effectively. If you notice that your unit isn’t regenerating as often as it should or if it isn’t producing softened water anymore, then it’s likely due to low salt levels in the brine tank.
Call Professionals Today!
Absolute Services is a trusted source for all of your home service needs. We have you covered from electrical and plumbing services to heating, cooling, and even garage door repairs. Serving customers in the Louisville, Lexington, and Elizabethtown, KY Metro areas, we strive to bring detailed solutions to the most difficult projects while providing a friendly atmosphere throughout the experience. Call Absolute Services today to schedule a consultation.