How Does a Water Softener Work?
What is a Water Softener & What Does it Do?
A water softener is a home appliance and home water treatment system that is used to purify and soften hard water. It is attached to your main water supply and consists of two water tanks which are filled with a sodium based resin. As water flows through the system, impurities are removed before it enters your home.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water which contains excess minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The hardness of water is ultimately determined by the area in which you live. Living with hard water can cause major problems for every day live and can cost a lot of money. Problems caused by hard water can only be permanently solved by a water softener system. Some common issues include:
- Limescale in your home – which can appear as white crusts on your taps and dirty on your shower screen.
- Blocked pipes, taps and shower heads.
- Reddish brown stains on porcelain.
- Dirty silverware and glassware.
- Clothes than seem dirty even after washing.
- Damaged appliances such as washing machines, boilers and kettles.
- High energy bills.
- Low water pressure.
- Bad tasting water
- Excess time and money on cleaning
- Dry skin, skin irritation and eczema.
- Lack of lather when showering & using soap or shampoo.
Over 60% of the UK is classed as having hard water. Some of these areas include the North East, Teesside, North Yorkshire, Hull, Leeds and Wakefield.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
Water softener systems work using a process called ion exchange (reverse osmosis). They generally consist of water tanks/vessels which contain a sodium-based resin and work in the following ways:
1. Attached to the Main Water Supply & Flow.
When installed, a water softener unit is directly attached to your household plumbing, at the mains supply.
2. Hard Water Minerals Flow Over Sodium Coated Resin Beads.
From the mains supply, hard water flows through the vessel and over the resin beads.
3. Reverse Osmosis Ion Exchange Takes Place
Minerals such as magnesium and calcium are positively charged. The sodium coated resin contains negatively charged ions. As hard water passes through the softener, the excess calcium and magnesium bind to the resin. They are extracted and replaced with sodium.
4. Water Is Softened and Flows into Your Home
As sodium replaces magnesium and calcium, the water becomes softened. Soft water now freely flows into your home.
5. Resin Regeneration
Gradually, the resin becomes saturated with the hard water ions. Once saturated, the beads become exhausted and need regenerating. To do this the water softener creates a high concentration sodium solution. The concentrated saltwater solution is flushed through the vessel and hard minerals are detached and cleared out down the drain.
Calcium and magnesium ions cause water to be hard and they interfere with the action of household soaps and detergents. The sodium which is used to replace these harmful minerals does not react negatively with soap or the skin. It is in a low concentration and softens the water to remove limescale and improve drinking quality.
6. Constant Soft Water Supply
Our water softener systems contain two water tanks. These tanks work independently - meaning as one tank becomes saturated, the other will begin to work. As a result, there is always one tank working and one regenerating – giving you a constant flow of water and water softening.