We often don’t think much about a water softener or the maintenance that is required when owning one. Besides adding some salt every now and then there isn’t much you need to do so we push the thought to the back of our mind. It’s only when something goes wrong that we really start to think about the system.
About the Water Softener
No matter how many tanks you have or what kind of water softener you have, they all work the same. The “hard” water goes into a resin tank where beads collect the minerals from the water. Without these minerals the water is known as “soft” water. It then passes through the system to give you the water you desire.
The resin beads occasionally have to be cleaned. On a preset schedule, the softener stops the inflow of water so that the salt water from the brine tank can “clean” the resin beads. It does this by dissolving the accumulated minerals that are on the beads and then flushing them down the drain. This system is called a “recharge” or a “regeneration” and is necessary to keep the resin beads clean so they can keep catching the “hard” minerals from the water.
Types of Water Softeners
When deciding on the best water softener to get, it’s important to look at the different types to ensure all your needs are being met. The most commonly used type is an ion-exchange unit or “cation exchange” as it is also known but there are other types that are also important to understand.
Salt-Based Ion Exchange Softener
This water softener cycles the water through two tanks. The first tank is one with resin beads and the second tank has the brine. It softens the water by substituting sodium for hard minerals like calcium and iron.
Salt-Free Water Softener
In this water softener, a potassium-chloride salt substitute is used instead of sodium. For those concerned with salt intake, this might be a better option. This type of water softener doesn’t reduce the minerals but prevents them from being deposited as scale to the surface of the water. This treatment is not as effective but is better than no water softener at all.
Magnetic Water Softener
This is the more controversial option of water softeners. According to the manufacturers, this device clips onto the incoming pipe and sets up a magnetic field. The electromagnetic properties of the calcium-carbonate minerals will be changed so they are repelled by pipes and each other.
The upkeep of a water softener is not difficult. There are several options out there from the basic ion-exchange to a dual tank water softener so that pesky recharge doesn’t affect your water usage. Finding the best water softener for your needs takes a bit of research and talking to experts. Once you compare prices and features, it will be easy to find the right one for you and your family.
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