A water softener removes minerals prevalent in your water that create water hardness, this is one of the most common water quality issues experienced by most homeowners. Hard water can be known to damage appliances, leave stains and nasty build ups in your kitchens or bathrooms and can dry out both your hair and skin. Water softeners are used frequently to reduce the impact hard water has on your home and body, allowing your appliances and heaters a longer life span.

What is a water softener?

In essence, a water softener system is a whole house filter that removes excess hardness minerals, such as magnesium and calcium from your water. The process in which it does this is called an ion exchange. As hard water causes such problems in your home, it can really affect anything that touches your water, from your dishwasher to your heating system. Hard water can be seen to impact your life by having to use extra washing detergent as you wash your clothes, running your dishwasher multiple times to have sparking plates and cutlery. Simple things that may go unmissed or not treated if you are not aware of your water being hard. Whole house water systems give you the ability to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to check, clean and re-buy your favoured household appliances. 

How do water softeners work?

Water softeners work through the ion process. This helps eliminate all the calcium and magnesium build ups found in hard water. This build up is caused when the water flows through mineral tanks, it goes through a lot of resin beads. These are plastic beads that are usually made from polystyrene and sodium ion. They have a negative charge, but the calcium and magnesium have a positive charge, as you know opposites attract making them stick to one another. 

As the hard water is pushed through the system the beads remove these minerals from the water, stripping all the hardness from the water. This then allows the water that flows through your house and that is used in your appliances to be soft water. This then reduces all of the issues associated with hard water and allows your home to feel the positive effects of this instantly.

Water softeners are made up of three main components: the mineral tank, the control valve and the brine tank. They work in unison to remove all the minerals from your hard water and then monitor the waters overall flow into your home. They also clean the system periodically to ensure there are no faults or issues. 

The mineral tank is the first component and it takes in the hard water from the source. This is where the water flows through the bed of resin beads and the magnesium and calcium is removed. When the water leaves this tank, it is soft and can flow through your pipes and appliances with ease.

The control valve then measures the amount of water that passes through your mineral tank and into your home. This valve has a metre that tracks the volume of water entering the mineral tank over time it regulates the capacity of resin in the tank to ensure the water is still being softened effectively. The valve has an onboard computer that can monitor many different factors, such as the size of your home, how many people live there and the hardness of your water. This allows your house to have the best water every time you use it. 

The brine tank mainly helps with the water softening systems regeneration. This is a much shorter tank that usually sits next to the mineral tank, it holds highly concentrated salt or potassium solutions that help to restore the resin beads and their positive charge. You should add salt or potassium to the brine tank manually over time, they usually come in pellets or blocks and dissolve in the water at the bottom of the tank. 

Once the control valve has registered the softening capacity of the resin is getting low, the solution is then drawn out from the tank and flushed through the mineral tank. It is very important that you keep the brine tank with enough solution in it otherwise the process will not work correctly.

Is a water softener worth it?

Water softeners are definitely worth the installation if you are dealing with a hard water supply. The impact this can have on your home can be catastrophic overtime, so it is good to deal with the issue as soon as possible. Homeowners must remember the initial costs and upkeep that is required to keep your water softener systems up to date, this can range anywhere between $600 to $1500 initially. Nevertheless, these systems do last for a long time, ranging to over 20 years so they are a good investment. Your monthly upkeep costs are mainly to keep the brine tank filled with salt. This requires around 40lbs of sodium chloride pellets that are around $20 to $25 a bag.

These systems are worth the fees and installation if your home really does experience a lot of hard water build ups and it implicates your everyday life. It is a conversation that you must have with your family and ensure that your really want and need one. However, the risk and overall expenditure is very low when considered to other water purification systems, so it is definitely a viable option. Make sure you have done your research and have found the right brand to go with. Look out for the warranties of these systems and ensure that you are purchasing one with a reputable name in case of any issues down the line.