Sunday, May 26, 2013

Do I Need a Water Softener?

If you live in an area with hard water, you may notice mineral build-ups around your faucets and even in your pipes and appliances. Hard water can also leave your skin dry and irritated. If you're considering a water softener, a local Ontario plumber can help you choose a model and install it for you. Here's what you need to know.

What is soft water and do I want it?

Soft water is basically water that's been processed to remove high levels of dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and sulfates. Most people choose to have a water softener installed to get a richer soap lather and many proponents will tell you you'll save money with less soap and detergent. Whether or not this is actually true, you will find reduced build-up that can harm your pipes and hot water heater.

There are some downsides to soft water, though. Water softeners generally require both electricity and softener salts, which can get expensive. Soft water may also cause corrosion in your water pipes and, as there may be health risks to drinking water treated with a great deal of ionized salt, it's a good idea to make sure you don't have softened water supplied to your drinking faucets.

How water is softened

Softening water has four steps:

  1. First, the water softener has a tank filled with resin beads, which are coated with sodium ions. When hard water enters, these beads work like a magnet and attract magnesium and calcium ions and exchange them for sodium ions.
  2. The resin beads will, over time, get satured with the mineral ions from your water and need to be regenerated, which is done through a control valve on the tank.
  3. When the beads are regenerated, a brine solution is flushed through, re-coating the beads with sodium ions.
  4. This brine solution will also carry away the calcium and magnesium ions removed from your water and send them down the drain.

There are many symptoms that let you know you have hard water, including requiring a lot of soap to wash dishes, noticing stains or buildup on your faucets or finding your water has a strange taste or smell. If you're interested in having a water softener installed, contact the professional Corona plumbers at Inland Empire Plumbing today!

Image: wdherron/Flickr