What You Don’t Know About Water Softener Systems

hard-water

Soap scum.  Stiff clothing.  Clogged pipes. No matter what you try, it’s hard to get your surfaces clean.  Scale builds up.  Dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots on them.  All of these problems occur because of hard water, a frustrating but fixable situation.

The term, “hard water,” refers to water with a high mineral content. The most common minerals that cause water hardness are calcium and magnesium.  As water is absorbed into the ground, the minerals are pulled from the earth and eventually end up in a household’s water supply.  Hard water can clog household plumbing.

Water hardness, or how much of a mineral is present in water, is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L).  Water up to 1 GPG is considered soft, water; from 1 to 3.5 GPG is considered moderate, and water 3.5 to 7 GPG is hard water. Kits used to test water hardness can be purchased at a pool supplier or from a water softener dealer.

Many water softeners plug right into the household water supply.  Ionic exchange water softeners consist of negatively charged plastic beads, a brine tank, and a regenerating system with a timer or other monitoring device.  Sodium or potassium chloride is added to the brine tank when regeneration is necessary.  Home water softeners range in price from $400 to $1,200, and the salt ranges from $5 to $7 per bag.  Price depends on type, size, and type of softening agent. Alternatively, magnetic water softeners consist of only 2 magnets attached to the outside or inside of water pipes. Find out more about the options available here.

Water softeners work by replacing ions of the minerals that cause hardness with “softer” ions.  Water is filtered through charged plastic beads and the magnesium or calcium ions are replaced with sodium or potassium ions.  In the case of magnetic water softeners, magnetic energy causes chemical changes in the minerals.

Using water softeners poses no health risks, except for those who are on sodium-restricted diets.  Keep bottled water on hand for cooking and consumption, or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to soften.  Potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride. There are also no health risks associated with choosing not to soften water.

Magnetic Water Softeners

magnetic-water-softenersWith the array of choices we have for softening hard water, it can be difficult to decide which method will work best. Therefore, cost is one factor to consider as well as how the unit is set up, its size and its softening capacity.

Testing water hardness is as simple as getting a water test kit from a pool supplier or an establishment that sells water softener systems. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). Water that measures 3.5 to 7 GPG is considered hard water.

Magnetic water softeners rely on the use of ordinary magnets. The magnets are mounted opposite one another, either outside or inside a water pipe. The water flows between these magnets, through the magnetic field, which affects the ions. A chemical reaction takes place, altering the molecular structure of hard water minerals.

This reaction will take one of two forms: Magnetic or electrostatic. During a magnetic process, the collision process of magnesium or calcium ions is sped up. This takes place in a cool environment, and as a result, lessens the buildup of scale. In contrast, during an electrostatic process, an electrical charge forces the ions to repel one another. The ions are not able to bond and form scale. The main functions of magnetic water softeners are applicable in heating and cooling.

Magnetic water softeners are the subject of much debate, and magnetic water softening systems cannot usually be purchased via retailers. The effectiveness claims made by manufacturers are often backed up by anecdotal evidence, though scientific studies have been done. The outcomes are inconclusive. While it is acknowledged that magnetism does, indeed, alter the hard minerals, the exact effects on the water are unclear. The consensus is that scale formation can be reduced by magnetic treatment; however, the reduction of scale appears to be minimal, roughly 10 percent. An advantage to using a magnetic water softener is that it is a non-chemical treatment.

When it comes to magnetic water softeners, being an educated consumer is the best policy. Explore different types and manufacturers. Compare prices. Other things to consider are what type of environment the water softener will be set up in, the size, installation, and construction of the unit.

Ionic Exchange Water Softeners

ionic-exchange-water-softenersIt can be difficult to decide which method for softening hard water is best because there are a number of choices available. Cost of a water softener system – from $400 to $1,200 — can be a factor, as well as how the water softener unit is set up, its size, and how much water it will soften before requiring maintenance.

Household water can be tested using a water test kit from a pool supplier or a water softener vendor. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). Water that measures from 3.5 to 7 GPG is considered hard water.

Ionic exchange water softeners consist of a brine tank, a filtering unit, valves to direct the flow of the water and a meter or timer to indicate when the filter needs to be recharged. Recharge cycles can be set to occur at certain times, based on water demand for the household, or it can be done manually. There are also semi-automatic systems, which let the user know when the softener needs recharging.

Ionic exchange water softeners work by replacing ions of the minerals that cause hardness, calcium and magnesium, with sodium or potassium ions. This occurs when water is filtered through negatively charged plastic beads, which have been soaked in brine. The magnesium or calcium ions are attracted to the negatively charged beads, which are flushed with brine, driving off the calcium or magnesium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Finally, the water containing the hard ions is discarded.

Using ionic exchange water softeners poses no health risks for most people. But those who are on sodium-restricted diets should either keep bottled or non-treated, filtered water on hand for cooking and consumption or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to soften their water. It should be noted that potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride.

Summary

As you can hopefully see, there are a number of options for softening water in your home and if you think you need such as system then it is well worth doing your homework before committing. We recommend checking out specialist sites, such as Water Softener Authority (http://www.watersoftenerauthority.com) for up-to-date information and product reviews.

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