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Water Softeners: The Basics

We’ve all heard the terms “hard water” and “water softener,” but many of us have never actually understood what it means or what they do. In this week’s blog we’re going to give you a breakdown of the basics behind water softeners so you never have to wonder again.

Water is referred to as hard if it contains a high amount of calcium or magnesium. Hard water can cause “scale” (a hard film) to form on the inside of pipes, water heaters, kitchen appliances, etc. The scale reduces the flow of liquids through pipes and does not conduct heat very well, frequently resulting in clogged pipes. When mixed with soap, hard water forms a sticky scum rather than the foamy lather we’re all used to. Because most of us use soap to cleanse every day, this can be an inconvenient and unpleasant experience.

Though some people choose to redo the entire filtration system of their house in order to fix a hard water problem, most people opt for the simpler and less expensive option of using a water softener. Water softeners work by replacing the calcium or magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions. Sodium ions do not cause scale to build up and react normally with soap, solving both of the most common hard water problems.

Water softeners replace the ions by running the water through a small bed of plastic beads. The beads catch the magnesium or calcium ions and replace them with sodium ions as they pass through until the beads contain nothing but magnesium and calcium. The water softener is then loaded with salt (sodium chloride) and the water is once again flushed with sodium ions to replace any existing magnesium or calcium ions that were not caught in the first round.

The idea behind water softeners is easy, but purchasing one and putting it into action is even easier. If you’re having hard water problems, give us a call, we’ll help you explore your options and fix that stubborn hard water problem for good.