Home Home Improvement How Does a Water Softener Work? A Quick Guide

How Does a Water Softener Work? A Quick Guide

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A whopping 85 percent of American households have hard water so, chances are, you’re one of them. This means that your area’s water supply is high in minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.

None of this is harmful to your health, but hard water does cause problems. It can easily stain your appliances, sinks, and tubs, for example. And some people find it dries out their skin and affects their hair texture, too.

One way to fix this problem is with a water softener. But you don’t want to install one and let it work without answering the following question: how does a water softener work?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Water Softener? 

Based on the above information, you can probably guess what a water softener is. This system removes calcium and magnesium from the water before it flows through your home’s faucets. As such, it saves you the headache of having to deal with hard water that causes a build-up in your pipes, limp hair, dry skin, and streaky dishes, even after they’ve been through the dishwasher.

A water softener requires a three-part system to clean your water. There’s a mineral tank, where calcium is removed from the water. The control valve monitors how much water flows into your home, and the brine tank keeps the filtration process going by making sure the filtration beads don’t run out of power.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

That all sounds good, of course, but you still want to know how the water softener actually works. The scientific process, called ion exchange, is an interesting one—each of the above-mentioned tanks plays a pivotal role in stripping minerals from your water supply.

First, water passes through the mineral tank, which contains resin beads charged with a sodium ion. As such, the beads carry a negative charge. Meanwhile, the minerals in hard water, such as calcium or magnesium, have a positive charge.

If you’re familiar with the chemistry basics, then you can probably guess how the water softener works. The hard water flows through, and its positively charged—and undesirable—mineral elements are attracted to the negatively charged resin beads. They latch onto the beads, thus leaving de-mineralized waters to flow through into the next tank.

And that’s how it works, whether you’ve got a freshwater system or this salt water softener. It’s a feat of science and one that keeps your water supply as soft as you like it to be.

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Your water softener is a self-regulating system, and its resin beads are durable. You just have to keep the brine tank full of the sodium required to charge the beads. And you’ll have to run a regeneration cycle every so often to rinse the beads of their pent-up minerals.

Other than that, though, your water softener should last for decades without any big problems. A lot of that traces back to the answer to the original question: how does a water softener work? It’s a perfectly tuned scientific system and one that can revolutionize your home.

And, if you need more home advice, don’t forget to check back with us for the latest tips and tricks to make your home eco-friendly.


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