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How Does a Water Softener Work?

water-flowing-from-tapHard water is one of the most common types of water quality issues homes encounter. No matter how well water is purified at a water treatment plant, hard water minerals (magnesium and calcium) can seep through ground water and into the municipal pipes carrying the freshwater to homes.

Fortunately, hard water isn’t a health hazard. But it is a major plumbing hazard, leading to build-up in pipes and damage to appliances such as water heaters. Installation of a whole-house water softener is the best way to combat hard water if you notice symptoms of it in your house. Our water treatment experts are here to help you with water softener installation as well as other water softener services.

The Water Softener at Work

What does it mean to “soften” water, really? It means counteracting the hard water minerals by making calcium and magnesium ions switch places with ions that won’t cause problems in water. In most cases, this means sodium ions. Sodium won’t create scale inside pipes, nor will to cause trouble with creating soap lather. It’s just a good all-around substitute.

The way a water softener does the ion swap is with an ion replacement tank filled with small beads made of resin. These beads are negatively charged to bond with positively charged sodium ions. The incoming water for a house, as it passes through the water softener, runs across these beads. The sodium ions switch places with the hard water ions, which have a stronger positive charge (in other words, the beads will bond to these ions and release the sodium ones).

Eventually, all the sodium in the beads will be gone, and at this point the water softener enters the regeneration cycle that soaks the beads in brine, which is a solution of salt and water. The leftover brine is flushed away, removing the calcium and magnesium ions and leaving the beads with plenty of sodium ions to keep softening the water.

If you want more options for water treatment in Cleves, OH or elsewhere in the Cincinnati area, call on Ken Neyer Plumbing, Inc.

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