How Does a Water Softener Work?

You’ve probably heard of a water softener, and if you live in an area with particularly hard water, then you’ve seen first hand how a water softener can make it much easier to manage. Water is considered hard if it contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, or other minerals that groundwater dissolves from soil and rock. The relative hardness or softness of water is measured by grains per gallon (GPG). Soft water has a GPG of 1 or below, and water is classified as hard when it has a GPG of 7 or higher.

The Softening Process

A water softener may seem like a complex machine, but it actually operates on a simple principal: replacing calcium and magnesium ions in the water with a more soluble ion, which is usually sodium. This transformation takes place in a large tank that is filled with small, negatively charged polystyrene beads. These beads bond with the positively charged sodium ions, and the sodium ions swap places with the calcium and magnesium ions as the water passes through the tank. Over time, the sodium breaks down and needs to be replaced with more water softener salt crystals. Depending on how much water you use and how large your tank is, this could be required as often as once a month.

The Problem With Hard Water

Hard water is troublesome for two main reasons:

  1. Dissolved minerals precipitate out of hard water and form scale, which can build up inside of pipes, water heaters, teakettles, coffee makers, and other types of machinery that uses water. When water is hard for a long period of time, scale will eventually cause 100% blockage in the pipes.
  2. Hard water makes it harder for soap to lather and the reaction it causes produces a sticky scum in the shower, sink, dishwasher, and washing machine.

If you live in an area that has hard water, then a water softener can make it much easier for you to bathe, clean, and perform any other water-related household task. For more information or to request an estimate, contact the experts at Ohio Valley Pure Water today!

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