What's the Difference Between a Water Softener and a Water Conditioner?

What’s the Difference Between a Water Softener and a Water Conditioner?

December 29, 2020

As you search for the ideal water treatment system for your home in Columbia, TN, you’ll realize you have a variety of options available. Two of the most common choices for homeowners are water softeners and water conditioners. Note that these are not interchangeable terms—they are different types of systems that accomplish different tasks with your water.

Let’s take a look at each of these types of systems so you can determine which is the ideal solution for your home.

About water softeners

A water softener is the best method to address hard water. They use the reverse osmosis ion exchange process to remove certain minerals that create hard water. The ion exchange systems remove dissolved mineral ions from the water, replacing them with sodium ions in the process.

Each of these systems features two tanks: a primary tank with resin beats coated with sodium ions, and a second tank with a salty brine solution that regenerates the resin in the primary tank during usage.

Water hardness happens due to water passing through the soil and picking up some of the mineral ions contained within it. Those ions bind themselves to the water molecule, and without the ion exchange system, it’s nearly impossible to break this bond. As the water goes into the primary tank, the mineral ions get attracted to the resin beads, and in attaching to the resin beads they displace the sodium ions in the system. As a result, the sodium ions then bond to the water molecules, which ensures a balanced charge to the water.

Eventually the resin beads gather so many dissolved materials that the system is no longer capable of removing more of them, which means the salty water from the brine tank must fill the resin tank to displace those mineral ions. The mineral-laden water gets flushed out of the system through a drain line.

About water conditioners

The majority of water conditioners are sodium-free, and are designed to remove substances that could have a negative impact on the taste or smell of your water. These substances are often different than the minerals that cause water hardness, and can include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorine, chloramines and various organic gases. These systems can also be used to take lead out of water.

The way the system works depends on the style of water conditioner you have. In some systems, the conditioner filters out substances from water as it passes through. Other types of systems alter the structure of minerals found in the water, using template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media in a manner similar to a water softener. Conditioners that use TAC media are the most effective at reducing scaling from hard water.

The choice of water conditioner for your property will depend on your goals with your water. Some people are concerned about chlorine or lead exposure, while others simply want to remove a strange smell.

For more information about water conditioners vs. softeners in Columbia, TN, contact the experts at Action Electric Motor & Pump Repair today.

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