How Do Water Softeners Work?

How do water softeners work? This is a common question for persons looking to buy a water softener system. Before you actually go out and buy a water softener system, it is best to understand how water softeners work.

Yes, you may know that a water softener system will change your "hard water" to "soft water" but there is more to how water softeners work than just the basic information.

First off, there are two main types of water softeners: salt water softener and salt less water softener. We will now look at why you need to know how water softeners work.

How Do Water Softeners Work: The Importance of Knowing

how do water softeners work

Water is called “hard water" when it contains a high level of Calcium and Magnesium.

Calcium and Magnesium may cause "scaling" because Calcium and magnesium precipitate and attaches to the inside of pipes and appliances. Scaling will clog pipes and affect flow rates as well as increasing energy bills and machinery repair costs.

Hard water also makes your clothes much more difficult to wash. In other words, hard water will take you twice as much or more detergent to wash the same set of clothes than using soft water.

Most water softeners use sodium to replace the calcium and magnesium in the water because sodium does not lather or precipitates.

Sodium is used because plastic beads have a negative charge and pull the calcium and magnesium minerals from the water which have a positive charge.

Let us now take a look at the process of how water softeners work.

How Do Water Softeners Work: The Process

how does a water softener work

There are three main parts of a water softener: mineral tank, brink tank and control valve.

Firstly, the water enters your house through the main water line and flows into the mineral tank or ion exchange tank. Inside the mineral tank is where the most important part of the water softening process takes place.

As water enters your house, it passes through zeolite (chemical matrix) or a set of tiny plastic beads. These beads or zeolite are wrapped with sodium ions so when the water passes through the zeolite or plastic beads, the sodium ions switch places with the calcium and magnesium in the water.

Ultimately, the zeolite and beads will be comprised of only calcium and magnesium and no sodium. When there are no sodium ions in the Zeolite or beads, the water softener will need to regenerate.

The next stage is the regeneration stage which takes place in the brine tank. In this stage, regular salt is used to make a strong brine solution, which will remove the calcium and magnesium ions from the beads or zeolite and replace them back with sodium ions.

All the excess water, along with calcium and magnesium is, flushed out of the system.

Regeneration can be metered or timed. Metered regeneration is automatic and means that your water softener regenerates based on past water usage and calculates then determines when the best time to regenerate is. Timed regeneration is manual and you will have to set the times when you feel best that your softener should regenerate.

After this is done, Calcium, Magnesium and other undesirable minerals are flushed away.

Once the sodium ions have filled the zeolite or beads the softening process begins.

The water that will now enter your house is filled with sodium salts, so now you will need less detergent to wash and your skin will feel smoother and look better.

The control valve, which is a computerized meter, coordinates the regeneration process.

When the beads are filled with calcium and magnesium, the control valve reverses the flow of water so that the water softener system can drain the contaminated water. The control valve is also responsible for pumping the brine solution to regenerate the plastic beads.

Knowing how a water softener works will help you troubleshoot your water softener the next time around if you have any problems. Besides, if anyone asks you "How do water softeners work?, you will be better able to tell them.

Also Read:

Saltless Water Softeners

Water softener Troubleshooting: Fix Any Problem

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