What Is a Water Softener and How Does It Work?

Water is water. It’s all the same, right? 

Not exactly. 

Water can be considered hard or soft. Hard water leaves a mineral residue behind, and it can be particularly noticeable after washing your clothes. Hard water can also leave stains on light-colored clothing.

You don’t need to live with hard water, nor do you want to. The reality is there is a vast difference between soft water and hard water. 

Today we’ll go into detail about the differences between hard water and soft water, and explain how the preferred remedy for hard water—a water softener—works. 

What Is Hard Water And Why Is It A Problem?

All water has minerals, but hard water contains high concentrations of minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. The good news is toxicity isn’t a concern, and hard water doesn’t have any odor or taste. Nonetheless, the mineral content has its own problems aside from taste or smell.

Cleaning can be difficult with hard water. In addition, clothing can develop rust-like stains after washing in the machine. Dishes, appliances, fixtures and bathroom showers, mirrors, and more will suffer from cloudy spots due to hard water residue that can be a pain to remove. 

Not only can spots as a residue be left behind, but appliances like tea kettles, Keurigs, and other coffee makers can end up with crusty mineral deposits in their innerworks. Also, washing yourself and your clothing can be difficult because soap does not lather up as it should, nor does it rinse off as well as it should. This lack of lather makes it difficult to feel clean and can leave your skin itchy and dry. White clothing can begin to look dingy and gray, and colored clothes faded and old from the wash, as mineral deposits stain the clothing you were trying to keep clean.

The most destructive effects of hard water are on your pipes and fixtures like faucets and showerheads. Over time, deposits build-up, clogging these fixtures and eventually building up pressure, resulting in costly plumbing repairs. 

It is possible that you have hard water and don’t even know it. To be sure, conduct a free water analysis test , and have your local water treatment experts perform a comprehensive analysis of your water. The results of this analysis will allow you to deal with any potential concerns proactively. 

Now that you know what hard water is, it is easy to define soft water. Water that has low levels of calcium and magnesium is considered soft. If you are running each side by side, you can feel the difference between the two. At that point, it makes complete sense which one is hard and which is soft. 

What Is A Water Softener?

A water softener is a device that is installed in your home to remove calcium and magnesium from your water. Water flows through a water softener where it is filtered. Then the softened water flows through the plumbing in the home. Since we use so much water in our daily lives, it makes sense to be proactive with a solution such as a water softener to prolong the health of your pipes and provide your family with clean, pure water. 

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Typically, water softener installation builds on your current plumbing. Therefore, there are many different options for water softener brands, and which you choose depends on your existing plumbing, home design, and preference. Also, the type of plumbing in your home may necessitate one style softener over another, such as if you have lead pipes. 

You will need a specialist to install a water softener. Usually, this solution is installed  at the water entry point to your home, such as in the basement. Additionally, you need salt and potassium chloride pellets to facilitate the regeneration process.

Calcium and magnesium are both minerals and are positively charged molecules. A filter in the water softener has negatively charged beads. Since opposites attract, similar to magnets, the minerals and the beads attract each other and stick together. These processes are called ion exchange processes. 

Next, the water softener system cleans itself with water and salt running through the resin beads. The positively charged water and salt cause the calcium and magnesium to detach and drain the system with the salty water. This cleaning process is known as regeneration and isn’t something that occurs every day. Instead, each softener design regenerates based on a specific interval, such as a certain number of gallons. 

Don’t Live With Hard Water

If you found yourself having any of the above problems, Independent Water Service, Inc can help. We offer free water analysis so that you know exactly what is in your water. Then, using the water test data, we can build a custom water solution for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule your free water quality test and reset assured your water is pure.