A water softener is designed to remove the hardness of water to make it kinder for you and your home. The dissolved mineral ions are replaced with benign salt ions to prevent scale buildup, plumbing pipe corrosion, dry skin issues, and a wide variety of other problems. In this article, we will take a closer look at the contaminants that a water softener can remove.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water has an elevated concentration of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and to a certain extent, iron too. Water naturally picks up minerals as it makes its way to your home because it’s a highly effective solvent. Approximately 85% of American homes are supplied with hard water from private wells and municipal water suppliers. The most obvious physical signs of hard water are water spots on dishes and the accumulation of scale on a shower door. The only way to fix a hard water problem is to install a water softener in your home. The most effective water softening method uses an ion-exchange process.

How Does an Ion-Exchange Water Softener Work?

The incoming water is directed into a media tank that’s filled with resin media balls that hold a positive charge. This charge is created by a coating of salt water brine that’s held in a nearby brine tank and flushed around the media tank. As the water comes into contact with the media, the hard mineral ions are attracted to their surface. At this point, an ion-exchange process takes place, and the mineral ion is swapped out for a salt ion.

This system works well, but eventually, the accumulation of mineral ions on the resin media balls will degrade the efficiency of the ion-exchange process. To solve this problem, the system conducts a regeneration cycle which places the system into a standby mode. While the water softener is not working, the tank is flushed with the brine solution to clean the mineral ions away and recharge them for continued softening. When the regeneration cycle has completed, the water softener goes back into an active mode, and water softening begins again. To minimize the disruption, the regeneration cycle is usually run when people are asleep using a timer or demand-initiated system.

What Does a Water Softener Remove?

A water softener can only remove dissolved calcium and magnesium. If you have a problem with iron rich water, it may be possible to install a water softener with a built-in iron filter. But, in many cases, people opt for a dedicated iron filter system. If you have problems with other types of contaminants, it’s necessary to install filtration systems designed to deal with those problems. Most homes have more than one filtration and softening system to handle the unique water conditions in their area. For this reason, we advise homeowners to invest in professional water testing to understand the makeup of their water.

If you want to install a water softener or filtration system in your home, contact your local water treatment specialist.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.