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The Why and How of Water Softeners

You may live in an area that has "hard" water. Hard water means there is a high concentration of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium in your water. Unfortunately, hard water can wreak havoc at your home or business on water mains plumbing, drains, appliances, equipment, and your and your family's hair and skin.

How Water Softeners Work

A water softener system contains a material called ion exchange resin, which works to remove hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from the hard water supply. The water softener consists of three basic components:

  1. The resin tank, containing the ion exchange resin.
  2. The brine tank, containing salt which is dissolved from brine.
  3. The control head, which determines when regeneration is to take place and which controls the operation of the valves during regeneration.

Hard water from the water supply passes through a bed of media beads that attract and strips minerals from the water, producing "soft" or demineralized water. At certain intervals, a water-softening salt is fed into the tank to flush away the trapped minerals, and the salt ions also help continue to draw the extra minerals from your hard water. After your mains water is softened, it is distributed for use throughout your home or business. A family of four may use up to 40 pounds of water-softening salt per month.

Water Softener Advantages

Water softeners offer many advantages that a householder or business may enjoy. For example, your plumbing including your hot water tank won't build up lime scale which would usually reduce overall system water pressure. You will also use less detergent and dish soap when you use a water softener as the alkaline minerals are removed, and soap can sud up normally and clean dishes and clothes more effectively.

You will notice several health benefits from water processed through a water softener. For example, your skin and hair will retain more moisture, and you will use less soap and shampoo. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne will also improve, and you will notice your hair stop becoming brittle and falling out.

As for business advantages, using soft water will prolong the life of industrial equipment such as pressure washers since damaging lime scale will not build up in it, which would be the case if the owner used hard water.

Water Softener Disadvantages

Using water softeners has only a few disadvantages. For example, you will need to purchase and refill water-softening salt on a periodic basis. Also, the fact that water softeners add salt in the softening process may not provide a good source of drinking water for an individual who has sodium sensitivity and/or high blood pressure. The solution to this is to simply install a drinking water filter with a drinking water tap in your kitchen, which will deliver fresh tasting filtered water for drinking and cooking.

Water Softener Brands

The UK has a sizable number of major water softener brands, including Hague Maximizer, Harveys, Ecowater, Kinetico., Simplesoft.  All of these manufacturers come with their own features, capacities, price points, and warranties. There are electric and non-electric options, and all come with advantages and disadvantages.

If you live or do business in a hard-water area, you will definitely benefit from a water softener from a reputable manufacturer. Your hair and skin health will improve, you will use less soap and detergent, and plumbing and industrial equipment will last longer. Water softeners just make sense.