Archive for January, 2013

Water Softeners

Jan. 10th 2013

How a Water Softener Works

Before the water enters your faucet in your sink or tub, it’s in the ground. During this time water accumulates soluble pieces of whatever passes through it like dirt. In some cases this can make it unfit to consume. However, in most cases the water contains minerals like magnesium and calcium found in the Earth. Unfortunately, for many homeowners this makes the water hard.
That’s why you may wonder why the dishes you washed were spotless when wet, but filled with spots when dry. Hard water simply makes detergents and soaps ineffective. Instead of completely dissolving the detergent, the water makes it combines with the minerals. It’s like having two unwanted houseguest in your bedroom. Together the minerals and soap cure.
Besides making the dishes look horrible, hard water makes your skin feel sticky, your hair lifeless and your clothes trapped with dirt. Let’s not forget about your plumbing system. The magnesium and calcium build up in the pipes and reduce the flow to your faucets.

The Solution: Water Softener

To eliminate hard water, you need to get rid of the magnesium and calcium make the water hard. You have some options such as chemical treatments. However, many homeowners choose to use a water softener.

A water softener consists of mechanical device fitted into your house’s water supply system. When in use, the device infuses sodium and takes out the minerals. It’s a simple process referred to as ion exchange.

How the Ion Exchange Works

In the water softener’s mineral tank there are tiny polystyrene beads. These beads are typically called zeolite or resin. They carry a negative charge to lure the magnesium and calcium (which have positive charges) out of the water. As the water travels through the mineral tank, the calcium and magnesium cling to the beads. The sodium ions are positive, but don’t carry strong charges. That’s why a brine solution is needed. The solution is flushed throughout the tank where the beads are located. Since the beads are already saturated with the minerals, the large amount of sodium ions is good enough to eliminate the minerals from the beads. The sodium ions then travel into the water.

The water softening process isn’t completed yet because the water inters another phase called 3-pahse regenerating cycle. The first phase reverses the flow of water. It flushes out the dirt from the mineral tank. Next, the sodium gathers on the beads to replace the minerals. The magnesium and calcium are flushed down the drain. Any additional brine is flushed from the tank and the brine tank refills.

Generally, there are no health concerns regarding sodium entering the water. However, if anyone in the house is on a sodium-restricted diet plan, he or she may not want to drink the water. Also, some homeowners don’t like the taste of the somewhat salty water that’s been treated. If you or anyone in your household falls into one of these categories, you can install a water dispenser which bypasses the softener. Another option is using potassium chloride instead of salt.

Is Hard Water The Problem?

For many homeowners the answer is yes. However, if you want to make sure hard water is actually causing the problem before you buy a water softener, that are test kits. These kits help you figure out the water’s hardness which is measured in grains per gallon, or GPG. Hard water ranges from 60 to 120 GPG. When hard water is the problem, a water softener is often the solution for homeowners.


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