You might think hard water is a weird phenomenon, but it’s one of the most common problems found in most households. Hard water is basically just water containing high concentrations of certain minerals like magnesium, calcium and other elements. Your local water supply usually obtains these minerals in pipes, soil, rocks, etc.
However, you don’t have to worry. Having these minerals in your water supply does not make it unhealthy and toxic to drink. They also would not affect the water’s quality in any way. No, their point of destruction zeroes in on your household.
Due to these concentrated minerals, hard water causes white, milky spots to appear on your surfaces. You’ll also most likely see these spots on some silverware and kitchenware.
Not to mention, these spots are also annoying and difficult to clean and remove. It turns out that hard water also reduces the cleaning abilities of most cleaning agents. Hence, you’ll also notice that your laundry agent doesn’t clean as much as it used to or the fact that your shampoo lathers poorly.
Moreover, hard water inflicts massive damage on plumbing systems. As hard water passes through these channels, it also leaves behind these milky crusty deposits. Overtime, these deposits build up to the point of restricting the water flow and clogging the whole system.
These mineral deposits also affect your home’s appliances. As a matter of fact, these build-ups are the number one causes of the short lifespan of some appliances.
With these, hard water has a potential of becoming a dangerous and serious problem if left unattended. Luckily, there are ways to combat and stave off the effects of hard water. One of these is by installing a water softener into your home.
Water softeners are basically your line of last defense against hard water.
To determine if your water supply is hard, you’ll need to get your water tested, either by yourself or by a laboratory. Your water is moderately hard if it has a 3.5-7 GPG and is very hard when it has a 7-10.5 GPG.
There are numerous types, sizes and styles available in the market; however, they contain the same parts and work in the same way.
The best water softener is one that will meet and match most of your needs and expectations. Finding it will take a lot of trial and error as well as extensive research.
The Water Softening Process
Water softeners are often installed in locations where water enters your household. This could be in your garage, basement, closet, etc.
While they vary in several sizes and designs, water softeners usually consist of a mineral tank, a control valve and a brine tank. These three components comprise of a system that removes and reduces the level of mineral concentration in your water, monitors the water’s flow and regenerates and cleans out the whole device.
The mineral or softener tank is responsible for the softening process and thus, is attached to your water supply line. This tank is filled with resin beads that facilitates the ion exchange process.
As water passes through the tank, the resin beads bind with the positively-charged minerals. With this, they are effectively removed from the water and replaced with the sodium ions from the resin beads.
The now-softened water then exits via a discharge hose. Through the direction of the control valve, water is then distributed throughout the household.
While a water softener may add salt into your water, this amount does not affect the water’s quality nor does it affect your health negatively.
Overtime, these resin beads will reach their maximum capacity and thus, becomes ineffective in capturing these minerals. At this point, there is now a need to clean out and regenerate the mineral tank through a process called brining.
A water softener automatically initiates this process once the system reaches a pre-programmed limit. What this limit is depends on the water softener’s size and capacity.
During the brining process, the brine tank releases a concentrated brine solution which is usually made up of salt or potassium chloride. This solution is then released to the mineral tank to wash off the minerals stuck in the resin beads.
Once it’s done, the system flushes out these mineral deposits and excess water out of the water softener via a discharge hose. Newly-cleaned, the resin beads revert to their former state of efficacy.
At some time, the brine tank will also run out of salt. As such, the user needs to add more salt or potassium chloride pellets inside. The frequency of adding these pellets will depend on the household’s water demand.
Keep in mind, however, water softeners only aim to soften water. As such, it does not filter all the contaminants and debris. You’ll need to install another system that specifically deals with those issues.