Water Softeners

            In the United States, there are many areas where the water that is used in homes and throughout the city is considered to be hard water.  It is said to be “hard” because there is magnesium, calcium and other minerals that have been dissolved in the water which can make it feel unpleasant.  It can also stain your plumbing fixtures such as bathroom and kitchen faucets as well as tub spouts, shower heads, and shower handles.  It appears as a dry white film, most of the time in a circular pattern.  At first, you may be able to clean this residue off of the outside of the faucet, but over time the stain can become permanent.

            The hard water will also start to collect on the inside of faucets and start to cluster making a mineral deposit that can clog up water supplies or even cause the handles on faucets to stop turning or be difficult to turn on.  The different parts and pieces can be taken out and cleaned off, but eventually, they will get worn down and need to be replaced.  Installing a water softener will remove these minerals that cause the water to be hard and help to make plumbing fixtures last longer than those that have hard water passing through them.

            There are different types of water softeners on the market today,  but for a while the only type of softener available was the ion exchange softener.  This type of unit uses a two tank system, one tank is called the mineral tank, where the ion exchange occurs, and the other is called the brine tank which contains a salt water solution.  The mineral tank contains beads that are negatively charged and so they attract the positive charge that is found on magnesium, calcium, and other minerals found in water. 

Over time the material will collect in the mineral tank and it will need to be flushed out with the water found in the brine tank.  Many tanks come with an automatic time that will flush the system on a regular basis.  When you have this type of softener, you will need to buy salt pellets that need to be added to the system periodically so that it will continue to work properly.  When the water passes through the system, it becomes “softened” and will come out of the taps and other water using appliances, clean and free from minerals.  Since it uses sodium to soften the water, these systems are not recommended for those who are on low-sodium diets.

If you happen to be on a low-sodium diet and want a softener, there has been a development of a new type of system over the past years.  A new system incorporates the use of Citrus instead of sodium to soften the water.  The Citrus is used to make the minerals soluble so that the water will not contain them.  It uses a filter system so for it to work correctly, the filter should be switched out every six months.  No matter which kind of softener you chose, you can be sure that your fixtures will last longer when you have one. 


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