Do your clothes come out looking stiff and faded post laundry? Does your skin and hair feel dry and itchy after a shower? If yes, you are probably battling a surprisingly common problem in U.S. households—hard water.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 85% of American households have hard water, including homes with city water and well water. So, what exactly is hard water, and how can you solve this problem?
Hard water refers to water that contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. Though hard water does not pose any serious health concerns, its effect on plumbing systems and appliances can range from annoying to highly destructive.
Fortunately, water softeners can remove minerals that result in water hardness and save you from having to prematurely replace damaged water heaters, faucet heads, and other plumbing appliances.
So, what is a softener and how does it work? What are the advantages of installing a water softener in your house? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and find out if a water softening system is the right option for your home.
What Is a Water Softener? How Does It Work?
As the name suggests, a water softener is a whole house filtration system that softens water by removing hardness-causing minerals like calcium and magnesium.
A typical water softener system consists of a short, wide brine tank and a tall, narrow water softener tank that is connected to the home’s water supply line. A narrow fill tube connects the brine tank to the softener tank. Additionally, a discharge hose runs from the softener tank to a nearby drainpipe.
Specially formulated resin beads are permanently sealed inside the softener tank. The removable lid on the brine tank allows you to fill it with salt or potassium chloride pellets as needed.
Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to soften water. This process works on a similar principle to bar magnets where the positive and negative ends attract each other. Here, the resin beads are negatively charged while the hardness causing sodium and magnesium ions are positively charged.
As opposites attract, the column of resin beads strips all the sodium and magnesium ions out of the water as it passes through the softener tank, allowing soft water to flow back into your home.
During the regeneration cycle, the highly concentrated salt solution from the brine tank enters the softener tank and restores the positive charge of the resin beads by eliminating the minerals which cause hardness.
4 Reasons Your Home Needs a Water Softener
Installing a water softener system in your home can save you a ton of money in the long run. The minerals in hard water stick to your pipes and appliances, forming a scale buildup that will eventually lead to clogging. This can cause irreversible damage, resulting in costly and time-consuming plumbing repairs. Hard water can also significantly reduce the lifespan of your dishwasher, laundry machines, and other similar appliances.
Enjoy Cleaner Hair and Softer Skin
The minerals in hard water remove natural oils from your skin, resulting in dry, itchy, and irritated skin. On the other hand, soft water contains fear minerals and allows your skin to retain moisture more easily. It can also help maintain your hair’s pH level, making it more soft and shiny.
Soft water can also help you save money spent on shampoo and conditioner. As soft water allows hair products to form a thicker and richer lather, you can fully and efficiently clean your hair with lesser products.
Brighter and Cleaner Clothes
The minerals in hard water can make your clothes look faded and dull. Water softeners can protect your clothes from these minerals and preserve their new, fresh look and feel. Soft water is clearly the better option for washing clothes as soft water dissolves detergents more easily. This means you use less detergent to do laundry and might not even need fabric softener.
Spend Less Time Doing Dishes and Cleaning
No matter how much you try or what soaps or detergents you use, hard water leaves your glass and silverware with white spots and streaks as soon as they dry.
With a water softener, you can get to the root of the problem and remove the minerals before they can build up on your dishes. Since there is more lather with soft water you can also get the dishes done faster.
Additionally, soft water also prevents soap film from accumulating in bathtubs and sinks, so you don’t have to spend time cleaning them often.
Water Softener Maintenance and Repair
With the right maintenance and care, your water softener system can protect your pipes and appliances from hard water for more than two decades. In addition to periodically refilling the brine tank with pellets, don’t forget to check the salt levels and clean the brine tank. Check the manual to find out which type of salt is most compatible with your system. It is also best to have a professional plumber regularly check and clean the water softener system to ensure it works properly.
Wondering if your home needs a water softener? Get your water tested for excessive minerals by a professional. At Armstrong Plumbing, our trained technicians conduct free in-home water inspections so you can decide what is right for you and your family. If you’re looking for reliable water softener installation, maintenance, or repair services in Phoenix, Arizona, contact Armstrong Plumbing—the Valley’s top plumbing professionals—to get a quote today!