Water SoftenerA water softener is a device that helps to filter certain minerals from water such as magnesium and calcium while most regular softeners will only remove these minerals; there are other that can also filter manganese and iron ions; collectively these minerals are responsible for the unpalatable taste of hard water and the ugly stains that it leaves on the bath tub, sink and other surfaces. Even though hard water does not pose any health hazards, its effect on ceramic and other surfaces is one of the primary reasons why people choose water conditioning devices that soften water.
The cause of stains is the reaction between the metal ions found in hard water and soap; hard water makes soap lather less and causes visible rings of accumulated ions on surfaces such as bath tubs. Both magnesium and calcium found in hard water accumulate in the form of deposit on surfaces if hard water is used for prolonged periods of time. It is common to see such build up in metal boiler and pipes ad even inside tea kettles. In particularly severe cases, these deposits can even lead to corrosion and destroy the equipment. Because these deposits act as a thermal insulator; they make metal equipments susceptible to over heating.
How do water softeners work?
One of the most popular and common type of water softener is a device which has an ion exchanging resin compound. There are three types of water softeners based on the type of salt used in them: sodium, hydrogen or potassium. A water softener has a resin bed through which the water is passed for conditioning. The resin has a negative charge so it attracts positively charged metal ions. Univalent hydrogen, sodium and potassium are used in these resins to attract divalent calcium and magnesium ions. However, his type of ion exchange means that for every metal ion that is drawn out of the water a salt ion is added to it.
Over time, the resin depletes due to the loss of salt ions to water as it is passed through the resin. However, the resin can be regenerated by passing a type of brine through it. Depending on the type of resin in the device, different brines can be used for the purpose such as sodium chloride for a sodium resin, hydrochloric acid for hydrogen resin and potassium chloride for the potassium resin.
However; these brines can prove detrimental to the environment if released in bulk quantities; so in many countries and cities, brine from large water softening plants has to be captured so that it can be disposed off appropriately. One of the primary problems that you may encounter with such water softeners is the over loading of sodium in water if the fluid was too hard to begin with. There can be as much as 250 mg of salt per litre of eater if the water was very hard.
Regeneration of water softeners:
There are three ways to regenerate water softeners, you can either user a meter, a timer or do it manually. Using a meter is the easiest and most convenient way to track the amount of water being used. Usually, a meter will be based on the number of users and how hard the water is. This is one of the most popular devices for water softener regeneration and also the most efficient
Timer: If you use a timer, you will be setting the regeneration function on a set schedule such as once a fortnight; a timer is more affordable but is not as efficient as meter regeneration systems for the efficient use of salts.
Manual: In this form of regeneration, the user needs to go in and regenerate the softener as need be; however, there is no automatic tracking which can make the task cumbersome. This method is affordable and efficient but it is not suitable if large amount of are softened by the unit.
Installing a water softener:
You will receive specific instruction with the water softener that you purchase, it is imperative to follow these manufacturer guidelines to ensure that the unit works properly. Even though the instructions are model specific; there are some considerations that are common to all types of eater softeners such as:
The location of installation: This is a very important factor of the installation process; if you intend to house the tank indoors, ensure that the area you choose is dry and not prone to temperature fluctuations. If the model of water softener has two tanks, make sure that both are placed close to each other with the brine tank being the most accessible because you will need to refill it from time to time.
If you intend to install the unit outdoors, choose an area that is away from direct sunlight, you can also purchase a jacket for the tank that can protect the unit from harsh sunlight and other environmental factors.
The electricity outlet: You will need to have an electricity outlet within 50 feet from the water softening unit.
Drain: You will also need a drain in the vicinity of the unit installation area that is at least 1 ½ inches wide.
Media installation: If your water softening unit des not have the media installed, you will need to do this on your own; the installation of the media will depend on the size of the tank and the availability of a turbulator in the unit. If you have a particularly large tank of 64,000 grains or a unit that does not feature a turbulator, you will need a gravel underbed. With the gravel in place, you will be able to install the media easily.
Connecting the tanks: The next step is to connect the brine tubing with the water softener control valve; connect the brine tank overflow; this can be done with the help of 5/8 inch tubing that runs from the brine tank to the drain.
Finally program the control for water softening and run the backwash cycle. Ensure that there are no loose fitting and leaks. Test the unit by making it run through a cycle of water to make sure that everything is properly connected and the unit is working as desired.