Hard water is present in about 85% of the U.S.1 As water passes through rock and soil, it picks up calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. While hard water does not pose any significant health risks, it can cause limescale in plumbing pipes and lead to blockages; it also leaves stains on dishes, fixtures, and clothing. For home and property owners dealing with hard water, asking the question “What does a water softener do?” is one of the first steps toward finding a solution.
The Purpose of a Water Softener
A water softener works by filtering out hard water minerals. It is particularly beneficial in areas where concentrations of calcium and magnesium are high. Using a process called ion exchange, the device allows the ions associated with the minerals to be removed and replaced with others based on their charge. For example, calcium has a positive charge and the resin material used in a water softener has a negative charge.
The Water Softening Process
Water flows into the inlet of the water softener. The device produces softer water by attracting positively charged mineral molecules with negatively charged resin beads. The beads attract minerals similar to how a magnet works. Hard water minerals are exchanged for sodium ions. The water that flows through the outlet emerges softer.
The system can also regenerate (or clean) itself once the resin beads have reached their capacity. During the regeneration process, water and salt or potassium (positively charged) are flushed through the resin. The salt, calcium, and magnesium repel each other and the minerals are forced away from the resin beads and drain away.
How Do I Use a Water Softener?
In addition to knowing, “What does a water softener do?” it’s important to use it correctly. This ensures you see the greatest benefits from it. After installing the unit, make sure it’s set to the hardness of your water supply (which is why water hardness testing is beneficial) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for filling the secondary tank with sodium or potassium chloride. Wait a few weeks after installing copper plumbing before running the water softener; a mineral layer will form and protect the copper lining.
What Can a Water Softener Do for My Home?
A water softener can prevent soap scum from collecting around sinks, faucets, and shower walls. Removing the minerals also enables soap to lather more easily, allowing it to clean more effectively. Since hard water minerals can clog plumbing, build up in dishwashers and washing machines, and leave mineral crusts on plumbing fixtures, a water softener can contribute to a cleaner-looking home and fewer mishaps and repairs. Hard water can also lead to dry skin and dry, frizzy hair, so a water softener can be good for your hair and skin as well.
Contact Sky Heating & Air Conditioning
We offer a wide range of plumbing services in Portland and The Dalles. From unclogging drains to fixing leaky pipes, installing new sinks or toilets, to repairing and replacing water main and sewer lines, our licensed technicians can do it all. Hard water can take a toll on your plumbing. Allow us to find solutions that improve water quality and save you money over time. To get started, call 503-673-9083 today.