How Does Water Conditioning Work?

February 11, 2020

A water softener is a type of whole-house water filtration system that cuts out calcium, magnesium and other minerals from your water supply using a process known as ion exchange. Hard water can cause a lot of problems in your home, including clogged pipes, decreased water pressure, shortened lifespan of water-based appliances and less efficient and effective cleaning processes. There are some areas that have more issues with water hardness than others, meaning people in those areas can find great use for a whole-house water conditioning system.

So, how does water conditioning work in Columbia, TN? “Ion exchange” may sound like a complicated concept, but the theory behind it is actually pretty simple. When hard water flows into a mineral tank, it runs across a bed of resin beads made out of polystyrene that are charged with sodium ions. The beads are anions, meaning they contain a negative charge. The calcium and magnesium in the hard water has a positive charge (cations). The opposite charges attract, with the minerals being attracted to those beads like magnets. When the water flows through the resin, the minerals remain behind attached to the beads, and the “softened” water then flows into the home.

There are several main components of a water conditioning system:

  • Mineral tank: The mineral tank is the chamber where the actual water softening occurs. There is a supply line that runs the hard water into the tank, where it flows over the resin bead bed. The beads extract the calcium and magnesium, then the water exits through the tank to flow out into the pipes and appliances in your home.
  • Control valve: The control valve is what controls how much water flows through the tank and into your home. There is a meter inside the valve that keeps track of how much water enters the mineral tank. Over time, the capacity of the resin beads to soften your water will decrease. The control valve creates a regeneration cycle before the beads become too overloaded with those minerals that have been left behind. Factors that go into determining when this regeneration cycle will occur include the size of your house, the hardness of your water and how many people you have using your water on a regular basis.
  • Brine tank: The brine tank assists in the regeneration process as described above. This smaller tank sits right next to the mineral tank, and holds a highly concentrated salt or potassium solution to restore the positive charge to the resin beads. You will manually add more salt into the brine tank in block or pellet form. This salt dissolves in the water, and when the control valve indicates that the resin capacity has diminished, that salt solution gets transferred from the brine tank to the mineral tank to restore the resin beads.

If you’re interested in learning more about how water conditioning works, we encourage you to contact Action Electric Motor & Pump Repair. Our team specializing in water conditioning systems in Columbia, TN looks forward to answering your questions soon!

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