This post will provide users with everything there is to know about issues regarding hard water, how to convert it into soft water, and the benefits of water softeners. Our goal is to help you ascertain enough information about water softeners to choose the right system for your specific needs and the convenience that you desire.
What Is Hard Water
Most tap water comes from city municipal plants. This water is treated and usually safe to drink straight from the tap. The main issue with water like this is its hardness. Water is classified as “hard” if it has a significant amount of either calcium or magnesium or both. The amount of these minerals in your water is enough to cause a nuisance.
Hard water is an appliance’s worst nightmare. If you have hard water, you can see evidence of this by looking at your pots and pans. When you boil water and notice a ring of white powdery substance where the water has evaporated, this is the calcium that is left behind. You may also notice hard water stains and spots on your dishes and glassware when you use the dishwasher. Soap scum in your sinks and bathtub may also be present. With hard water your soap doesn’t lather well and your hair feels crunchy and dry when you wash it.
Hard water can also corrode your pipes lowering your water pressure and causing more headache and waste of money in trying to correct the issue. Your laundry can also become affected. Hard water stains can cause rust spots on your clothing. If left untreated, hard water can cause much damage to your home, costing you more money in the long run.
Piping and plumbing fixtures also have an aversion to hard water; in fact the damages can be downright astronomical to your household expenses. The damaging effects that hard water has on everyday items and plumbing can be very costly and often time causes items to have to be replaced or fixed repeatedly. The term hard water refers to raw water that has a high concentrated level of calcium and magnesium. When used in a residential setting, hard water usage can lead to clogged pipes, lime scale build-up on bathroom and kitchen fixtures, water spots on tea kettles, coffee makers, and dishes. Hard water can also do damage to appliances and clothes, leaving rust stains behind during laundry cycles.
Hard water also affects those in the water treatment business, as well as anyone who uses water in their work. In a commercial or industrial setting, hard water can damage bottling machines, piping, water treatment units and the membranes within, leading to calcium or ‘scale’ build-up. When water is hard it leaves behind a chalky white powder after evaporation. This is lime scale build-up which reduces the efficiency of industrial processing equipment, boilers, chillers, heat exchangers, including existing infrastructure.
Importance of the Water Softener Process
To counteract the effects of hard water, a water softener system is used to remove the calcium and manganese. There are many water softeners on the market that cater to a variety of water application needs. From residential to commercial to industrial applications, water softeners come in a range of capacities and sizes.
For commercial and industrial applications, water softeners serve to protect reverse osmosis systems, specifically the membranes inside. Hard water is not kind to a semi-permeable RO membrane. The mineral deposits of calcium and manganese in the water can build up on the membrane causing scale. This in turn decreases the flow of water through the membranes slowing productivity. Using a water softener before the RO system allows the calcium and manganese deposits or hardness to be removed so that the water does not clog the system. This step is crucial in the reverse osmosis process.
The way most water softeners works is that they use ion exchange to remove the calcium and manganese from the hard water. Resin media coated with sodium ions is used to swap with the calcium and manganese in the water. The minerals are removed and the sodium ions stay in their place. This softens the water, making it friendlier to use and easier on your household appliances and piping.
Since water softener systems have been in use for a long period of time in the water treatment industry this technology is extremely sophisticated and have a very high rate of success in reducing the hardness level.
Ion exchange works by using a chemical and physical process that filters the water through an exchange media called resin or zeolite. Generally, the resin is comprised of a sand-like substance with positively charged sodium ions, which replaces unwanted calcium and magnesium ions from hard water. As a result, the water that flows out of the system is now soft.
The benefits of ion exchange are broad with desired features such as quick results, broad range of tank sizes, simple and fast installation, low maintenance, and great reliability.
The resin is by no means a limitless place of trade. Once all of the available sodium ions are replaced with "hard minerals" (calcium, magnesium), the resin is exhausted and can no longer continue the water softening process. When this occurs, the water softener will be required to operate on an alternate cycle called regeneration. Subsequently, resin is then backwashed with a saline solution during this cycle.
Benefits of a Water Softener
If you already have a water softener, then you know the benefits of soft water. It’s healthy to drink; your clothes come out softer sans rust spots. When you wash your hair, it feels silkier and smoother. Your soap lathers better and hard water stains are a thing of the past. No more scrubbing sinks and tubs or pots and pans. Your drinking glasses will get their shine back without the annoying water spots. Investing in a quality water softener system is an investment to a healthier lifestyle.
Water softener treatment is the best way to ensure that your water will not leave behind deposits. It makes water soft enough to use without all the harsh minerals found naturally in raw water. In terms of water treatment systems and desalination units, having a water softener system can make the difference in the performance of your equipment. Water softeners remove the hardness from water so that it does not damage the membranes inside the units. Without it, calcium will build up on inside the membranes and ‘foul’ them, preventing them from doing their job properly and effectively, costing in the long run for their replacement.
The benefits of water softeners can be immense to your household or business. Here are the following perks that water softeners provide residential households:
- Longer-lasting appliances - no clogged shower heads or rusting on plumbing fixtures, including extended use of washing equipment, water heaters, etc.
- Fewer housework - spot free appliances, no scrums or stains on walls, softer and cleaner clothes.
- Higher quality bathing - softer, shinier and more moisturized skin and hair.
- Lower house-hold expenses - reduced fuel costs as energy efficiency is improved, less need for shampoos and soap for cleaning.
Water softeners also prove highly desirable for commercial and industrial applications.
Wide ranges of applications reap the benefits of water softeners such as - hospitals, hotels, car washes, office buildings, refineries, laundry mats, power and energy plants.
Equipment such as washing machines, industrial chillers, boiler feeds, and heat exchangers have a longer life span. Significant cost savings with fewer industrial chemical and cleaning products, as well as these benefits:
- A smaller amount of spotting water.
- Reduction of operating costs.
- Cutting back on energy and water use.
- No pressure loss.
Having a good water softener system, whether it’s for commercial, industrial or residential use, can and will save money and time in the long run. It will also prolong the life of appliances and applications so that replacements are few and far in between.
Selecting a Water Softener
After weighing the drawbacks and benefits of water softeners, you can decide the correct type of softening system for your application. It is important to have an analytical report of the influent water that you are dealing with, which should include the water hardness and salt dosage. You will also need to ascertain the number of cubic feed of resin per vessel along with the parts per million (PPM) of the hard water. Pure Aqua provides easy to use calculators for users to calculate the appropriate sized water softener and water hardness level of your water supply.