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How Does A Water Softener Work?

A Stampede Plumbing professional explains how a water softener works to remove minerals from your home's water.

23 May How Does A Water Softener Work?

How Does A Water Softener Work?

A Phoenix plumber finishes a water softener installation.Hard water is a reality that many of us live with in our homes. Hard water leaves dishes splotchy and quickly wears away the softness of clothes. Is there a way to get rid of these irritating splotches and soften the water in your home? Yes! A water softener can be installed in your home’s plumbing system and eliminate the unsightly effects of hard water.

What makes water “hard?”

Hard water contains a high content of minerals, generally calcium and magnesium. These minerals have dissolved from the soil and seeped into the areas water supply, which means that some areas have harder water than others. Whenever this water undergoes the evaporation process it leaves these minerals behind on the surface of your glasses, faucet, or car. Whenever combined with soap these minerals leave behind soap scum, decreasing the overall effectiveness of the soap. Mineral build-ups of this type in pipes are a common cause of blockages.

For these minerals to be eliminated from the water, a replacement has to take place. Enter the water softener! The process of water softening deals with ion exchange and removing the hard minerals from your water.

How does ion exchange work?

A major component of a water softener is a resin tank. This tank contains polystyrene beads, which houses negatively charged sodium ions. The calcium and magnesium ions are positively charged, which allows for them to be replaced with sodium ions as the water flows through the polystyrene beads. This means that water is left with sodium ions and no hard minerals.

The swapping of the mineral ions continues until the polystyrene beads are saturated with calcium and magnesium ions. This is when the polystyrene beads need to be recharged.

What’s recharging and how is it done?

Recharging requires a brine solution for ion regeneration. Modern water softeners have an automatic regeneration mode while the older ones have a manual switch. In this phase, the concentrated brine solution is passed through the tank. Another exchange process takes place, but this time it’s the reverse of the softening process. The sodium ions are attracted to the beads as the calcium and magnesium ions in the beads move into the brine solution. The brine is then drained from the tank, leaving the polystyrene beads rich with sodium ions. The need for recharging will vary depending on the amount of water that runs through the softener and the hardness of the water.

Should I hire a professional for my water softener installation?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to water softener installation: the type of plumbing system and pipes that support your home, the kind of water softener, and the location of the water softener in your home. The water softener shouldn’t be installed downline of the water heater. Depending on where you live, you may actually need a permit for water softener installation! With all of these factors, its a difficult installation that could have damaging effects if done incorrectly. Contact the professionals at Stampede Plumbing Phoenix! Call (602) 379-0020 today to speak with a Phoenix plumber expert or schedule an installation!