Water softeners are essential devices in your home. For many people, they’re an eternal part of their lives. They help eliminate chemical substances and heavy metals, prevent pipes from clogging and reduce water use frequency. There are different types of water softeners available to suit the needs of different homes and businesses. Here we will discuss how water softeners work, their various types, and how to have one installed.
How Do Water Softeners Work?
Water softeners remove specific minerals from the water supply, and they accomplish this through a process called ion exchange. This process occurs in a small chamber inside the water softener, also known as the brine tank. In the brine tank, water flows over a resin bed. Resin is a material that forms a negative charge when it is submerged in water. This negative charge attracts positively charged mineral ions (such as calcium and magnesium). They are then released from the resin, leaving behind soft water. The resin can become saturated with these minerals and can be “regenerated” by adding fresh salt to the brine tank.
Different Types of Water Softeners
The following are four common types of water softeners:
1. Ion exchange water softeners
This type of water softener uses the ion exchange process in its most simple form. An electric current passes through a resin bed to break up the salts and minerals. The negatively-charged resin attracts the positively-charged ions and is then released into the water supply through diffusion. This process allows for more consistent performance, requires no salt regeneration cycle, and requires no electricity for operation.
2. Salt-free water softeners
This type of water softener uses a unique resin bed made of a highly porous material called zeolite, manufactured in an abrasive process. The brine tank that holds the resin bed is filled with salt water, and the resin bed is immersed in it. As the resin absorbs the salt, it becomes saturated, meaning that all the salts are released from the resin and evaporate. This process is more expensive when compared to other softeners and requires a regeneration cycle to remove excess minerals.
3. Portable water softeners
This type of water softener is small, usually weighing less than thirty pounds, and can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. It uses the same ion exchange process as most other water softeners. They require salt regeneration since they do not have a built-in brine tank. They work by using a unique resin bed similar in composition to the one in salt-free water softeners. The resin bed comes in two parts: one sits inside the unit, and another sits in an external brine or salt water soak container.
4. Magnetic water softeners
These water softeners use a magnetic process to remove minerals from water. This process uses a resin bed that is also manufactured using an abrasive method. The results are the same as ion exchange water softeners, except that they require no salt regeneration and no electricity to operate. They do not need a brine tank since they do not use salt in their regeneration cycle.
How Water Softeners Are Installed
Whole-home water softeners typically require professional installation. When outfitting your home with a new water softener, your technician will perform the following steps:
- They will need to perform some essential plumbing work. The plumbing work will include running new faucets and pipes in the water softener system. Stainless steel is typically used, as is plastic or galvanized piping. Most experts recommend using galvanized piping instead of steel because it is less prone to corrosion.
- The technician will then connect the water supply pipes and pressure relief valve. This is important because it will ensure that the water softener has a constant water supply and will release it steadily. It is also essential for the technician to check that the line to your plumbing fixture starts small, with gradually larger diameters as you move further away from it. A good installation will follow this structure to avoid ending up with the line either experiencing clogs, leaks, or both.
- Last, your technician will connect the water softener system to your main water and electrical supply. This is done using an electrical supply line like those you can find at a hardware store. Water softeners require a special electrical plug to operate, as well as a transformer to lessen the voltage so that it is safe for the water softener’s resin. After installing these parts, the technician will turn on the power, check for leaks, and correct any issues they find until there are no more leaks or problems.
Having a water softener installed for your home will ensure that your plumbing and appliances operate flawlessly. It will also save you money on plumbing expenses and maintenance costs and reduce chlorine intake in hard water areas. Water softeners are the best way to improve your drinking water in today’s world, especially if you have children or pets at home.