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Water Softening in Your Home: How it Extends the Life of your Plumbing and Appliances


If you notice areas of soap scum around your home (tub & sinks), if your towels are becoming hard and stiff, or if you have a hard time getting a nice sudsy lather in the shower, you may have hard water problems. Some people will tell you that a water softener is a luxury, others will tell you that they are necessary if you have a private well with extremely hard water. However, even people living in the city can have hard water coming from the tap. City water is required to treated for impurities, but they do not remove hardness minerals because they are not harmful to your health. There’s more in your home’s water than just H2O. Water quality differs depending on where you live and whether you’re getting water from a municipality or a private well. Both sources are known to contain hardness minerals.

The modern home’s plumbing system and appliances depend on soft water. High efficiency appliances cannot run as designed when they suffer from mineral build up due to hard water. Hard water can cause dishwashers and washing machines to have a much shorter lifespan due to scaly build up causing the machine to become less efficient. Because of the hard quality of water that many homes deal with, home owners often make the decision to install a water softener in their home.

Typically, minerals enter the water source because groundwater will dissolve rock like limestone, or metals, like iron and the remnants will then travel with the water until it is in your home. The dissolved solids in your water can cause a scaly buildup on everything from dishes, to pipes, to the heating elements of your appliances, to your own body. Soap scum and clogged, corroded plumbing are usually the result of hard water. Water softeners remove these hard minerals making it easier to clean your home and your laundry, while prolonging the life of appliances that use water. Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove the unwanted calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese and replacing them with sodium ions. Hard water enters from the valve head and flows down through the resin, exchanging hardness ions for sodium ions. The soft water flows up the riser tube to your plumbing fixtures.

You may wonder what happens to the hardness minerals that are removed from your water and are now inside your softener’s tank. That’s where regeneration, the second part of the water softening process takes place. Regeneration is how a water softening system cleans itself of the unwanted minerals and recharges itself, so it can continue the exchange process, providing your home with soft water. All water softeners come equipped with secondary storage tank. This is where the home owner will add water softening salt. Water is then added to the tank to create a salt solution called a brine. This component is known as the water softener brine tank. During the regeneration process, the water softener will take the brine solution into the softener tank and the ion exchange process happens again, only this time in reverse. The media gets a bath in the salt solution. Hard minerals caught in the resin (or zeolite) are released and the media gets replenished with sodium ions. The water softener is also cleaned and disinfected during regeneration. Finally, water containing the hard minerals and other waste gets flushed out of the system.

If you have questions about your homes water quality or how a water softener can help in your home, give American Rooter Plumbing a call today.

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