A water softener is an effective solution to eliminating the damage plumbing systems endure due to the effects of hard water. Hard water is common in the US affecting approximately 75% of the population. This water is labeled hard because it contains high levels of certain minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are damaging to plumbing pipes, fixtures, and appliances and harsh on the hair and skin of homeowners. We will discuss how a softener works, the benefits of installing one, and the maintenance requirements for reaping these benefits.
How A Water Softener Works
Water enters your home from the public water supply through water service lines in your home. After passing by the shut-off valve it enters a tank that houses a bed of negatively charged resin beads. As the hard water passes over the beads the positively charged mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged resin beads and attach themselves. As these opposite charges engage, the minerals are eliminated from the water supply. The now soft water exits the tank to be safely used throughout the home. This soft water is much more agreeable to plumbing systems and their components.
Benefits Of Soft Water
The benefits of installing a water softener are many. Softeners prevent the buildup of limescale frequently found in pipes, appliances, faucets, and showerheads. Limescale appears as a hard, chalky deposit that can accumulate and narrow the lining of pipes. The removal of minerals allows water to flow through pipes unobstructed and decreases the chance of costly plumbing repairs.
Appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines contain heating elements that are sensitive to hard water. The minerals can attach to these elements reducing the efficiency of the appliance as well as the overall life span of the entire plumbing system.
Water softeners remove the minerals that cause skin and hair to feel brittle and dry. Water softeners leave homeowners with more manageable and softer hair and smoother skin.
Maintenance Of A Water Softener
Maintaining a water softener is relatively simple. Salt is used to regenerate the resin beads in the tank so one step for maintaining water softeners is to be certain salt levels remain adequate in the brine tank. A bag of salt a month is the average usage but monitor your tank to meet your specific needs. Over time these resin beads become full of the minerals it attracts and will need to be cleaned. The use of a commercial resin bed cleaner will suffice. Flushing the bed periodically is helpful as is washing the brine tank every year to ensure proper functioning of all water softener components.
Determining the hardness of your water is the first step and requires a simple water test. You can purchase a home test kit and complete the test yourself or call on the services of a professional testing service. Once you determine your water is hard you should consider installing a whole-home water softener. After installation and for the life of the system, regular testing of the water should continue to be sure your softener is doing the job you intended.
A water softener will condition your water and remove unwanted minerals. This ensures the plumbing pipes, fixtures, and appliances are not being damaged by hard water and that the entire plumbing system will function optimally. A softener will extend the life of appliances such as hot water heaters and dishwashers as corrosion within the pipes is reduced. Owning a water softener is an investment in your plumbing that will pay off for years to come.