What Is A Water Softener System & How Does It Work?

Water Softener

A water softener is a whole-house water filtration system that eliminates hardness-causing magnesium and calcium minerals from your water through a process named ion exchange. A water softener addresses one of the most prevalent water problems: hard water. Hard water wreaks havoc on your body and your home’s systems.

Limescale builds up in your pipes, clogging them and decreasing water pressure. As a result, it dramatically shortens the lifespan of appliances like dishwashers, coffee makers, and ice machines. Additionally, hard water destroys hot water appliances. The higher the water temperature, the more calcium and magnesium will solidify and harden into solid deposits inside your hot water heater.

If you live in a hard water region, it can sound like your water heater installed in your home is popping popcorn. This is simply because the scale has conjoined itself to the heating component. As the heater’s temperature rises and the tank expands, the calcified rock deposits crusted on the heating elements start cracking and stretching. A hard water-induced scale is the culprit of that popcorn popping sound.

Without a water softener, laundry requires extra detergent to prevent it from looking dingy. Dishes will probably come out of your dishwasher streaked and stained. Filmy scum builds up on your shower curtains, soap and shampoo will not lather. Bathing in hard water in comparison to soft water makes your skin and hair itchy and dry.

The amount of time, energy, and money required to clean the detrimental side effects of hard water is tremendous. A Lone Star water softener is the best solution to the scourge of water hardness.

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Water Softener

Hard Water Softeners are similar to magnets. In a common bar magnet, one end is “positive,” and the other one is “negative.” So, let’s say you hold two bar magnets and attempt to make both positive ends join. You know they will repel each other. 

No matter how many times you try, it is impossible to unite them. But, what happens when you try joining the positive end of one with the negative end of the other? They instantly merge.

The fact that positive and negative things attract is the basic idea of how water softeners work.

Magnesium and calcium, the two chief culprits of hard water, are both +ve charged units. As soon as the hard water pumps through the water softening system, it moves through a filter loaded with negatively charged resin beads. So, similar to the magnets, opposites attract as the hard water passes through the resin beads.

This concept also applies when the system re-creates (aka, cleans) itself. During regeneration, water and salt (positively charged) flush through the resin beads. Thinking back to the magnet example, the positive charges in the salt, calcium, and magnesium all repel each other. The calcium and magnesium detach from the resin beads and drain out along with all the salty water.

How Do You Install A Water Softener? 

A hard water softener must be installed as adjacent to the water’s point of entry into the home as possible. This ensures the majority of your plumbing and appliances are reaping the benefits of carrying the softened water. It’s especially important to ensure your water softener is placed before your water heater, as hard water does the greatest damage to hot water appliances.

You must install your best water softener in a dry, level location, like a garage or basement. Most softeners have a bypass built into the inlet and the outlet. By turning a valve, you can bypass the softener if you have to provide some kind of maintenance to it or even while you’re working on installing it. 

If the water softener you pick doesn’t have a bypass, then it is smart to build one out of plumbing to bypass the equipment in case you need to maintain the unit.

Steps to Water Softener Installation

  • Position the water softener:- Always make sure that this water treatment system is correctly positioned for treating water at its best. The inlet should be connected to the water supply and the outlet should be facing the direction of the hot water appliances.  
  • Turn off the water usage supply to your house at the mainline:- To prevent leaks from springing during the installation process, shut off the water supply to your home.
  • Drain your pipes:- Open nearby faucets & the faucets that are present on the bottom floor of your house to ensure all water exits your home’s supply pipes.
  • Cut into the water flow supply mainline:- Using pipe cutters, cut into the main water line leading into the supply line. This is a whole house filtration unit, so you need to connect the inlet & outlet lines directly to the water’s mainline. 
  • Measure, cut & connect the pipes before:- Before attaching any pipes to your water softener, measure and cut your pipes to fit. If you are using copper pipes, solder on any nipples and fittings before connecting the unit to the bypass valve to avoid melting the plastic. Seal all threads with any good plumber’s tape. Plastic tubing like PEX can also be used. Though it may require additional adapters, flexible tubing is far easier to work with and can utilize push-to-connect fittings, saving you time and the hassle of soldering.
  • Clamp the drain hose:- The hard water softener needs to drain the wasted brine solution after its regeneration cycle. Clamp the drain hose securely and feed it into the dedicated drain, like a floor drain or utility sink. To prevent the hose from siphoning wastewater, all drain hoses must have an air gap. The end of the hose is at least two inches above the dedicated drain. An air gap may be used to achieve this and may be required depending on local plumbing codes.
  • Connect the overflow tube:- Overflow tubes are an additional precaution ensuring the brine tank does not flood and overflow. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific placement of this hose. The overflow tub might also expect an air gap.
If you have questions about water softening or buying a water softener or water softener installation costs, give Lone Star Water Services a call and we’ll walk you through the process. For any water quality concerns, talk to a water specialist at 512-805-1220


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