Why use a Water Softener?

For people who have lived in the city or other parts of the country all their lives, the idea of a water softener may be foreign. Rural living in Central Ohio, however, is marked by hard water. Not only are people seeking reprieve from hard water showers and orange commodes—they also invest in a water softener to protect their pipes and appliances. Hard water creates mineral build up on everything from water heaters to washers and dishwashers, shortening their life span. Water softeners, one of the most common water treatment systems, are often installed to address this problem.

What is hard water?

Hard water is the common term for water that contains enough mineral to affect articles with which it comes in contact. One of the most common evidences of this is a white film on dishes clean out of the dishwasher, on sinks, and washers. Often soap does not suds much, and an invisible film covers skin after showering, leaving it dry and itchy. This mineral residue is not always white—it may be orange, red, or black.

How does a water softener work?

There are two explanations as to how a water softener works—one is the scientific one that chemists use, complete with little plus signs. The other is this simplified version: A softener has at least one resin tank that is filled with resin beads through which incoming water passes. As the water filters through these resin beads, they attract the hard minerals in the water, and the minerals stick to the resin while the water continues to flow through the softener to the water outlet. After a set amount of water has flowed through the mineral beads (the amount is determined by water hardness, the model of the softener, etc.), a “backwash” occurs. This is where the salt comes in. “Brine”—or salt water from the salt tank, flushes the media removing the mineral build up stuck to the resin beads thus preparing the resin to soften more water.

Are there different kinds of water softeners?

There are many brands and models of water softeners on the market today. They are not all created equally. There are self-install cheaper units, and then there are the longer lasting-quality brands. What each home needs will depend on the water and other specific variables. The best way to know what is best for you is to talk to a water softener specialist.