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Water Softeners Part 2 How They Work

hard water spotsPart 1  Recap: Hard Water

In Part 1 of our series on water softeners, we discussed the effects of hard water on your pipes and appliances. We also noted how hard water reduces the effectiveness of soap and detergents and leaves chalky-white streaks and spots on dishes.

Of all the solutions we explored, water softeners provided the most efficient and cost-effective means of getting the unwanted minerals out of your hard water while still leaving it palatable.

 

Water Softener Componentshard-water-solutions, water-softeners

Three basic components comprise a water softener system.

  1. Mineral Tank-This is where the action is. The mineral tank constitutes the heart of the water softening system.  It contains the resin beads necessary in the ion exchange process that removes calcium and magnesium from your hard water.
  2. Brine Tank-The brine tank holds an aqueous solution usually containing a very high concentration of sodium. Sometimes the sodium is replaced with potassium, depending on the needs of the homeowner. The brine tank plays a key role in the regeneration cycle, which we’ll discuss in a later paragraph.
  3. Control Valve-This important component of the system determines when it is time to clean the resin beads that have been accumulating calcium and magnesium from the hard water flowing though the system. We’ll compare the different types of control valves and timers available in a later paragraph, also.

How Does It Work?

Calcium and magnesium in hard water create lots of problems. Water softeners remove the calcium and magnesium from the hard water and replace them with a mineral that doesn’t cause scaling. The minerals trade places through a process known in chemistry as ion exchange. We’ll talk about the process in common terms, but for those interested in the science behind ion exchange we found a You Tube video and a website that give a great explanation.

 

Ion exchange–trading scale-producing calcium and magnesium for non-scaling sodium or potassium.water softeners, sodium chloride

  • Polymer resin (like plastic beads) fill the mineral tank. These beads are covered with sodium or potassium  ions.
  • Hard water flows into the mineral tank.
  • Because of their electrical charge, calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water attach to the negatively-charged resin beads.
  • Sodium or potassium ions detach from resin beads and release into the water when calcium and magnesium attach.
  • Softened water circulates back into the household supply.

What happens when the resin beads “fill up” with calcium and magnesium ions?hard-water-solutions, water-softeners

This is where the control valve and brine tank come into play. Calcium and magnesium eventually saturate the resin beads. This means that the beads can no longer attract these ions. They need to be cleaned. Water softeners clean the resin beads in a three-stage process called regeneration. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Backwash

The control valve reverses the water flow. This removes all debris  from the mineral tank and flushes it out the drain.

Step 2: Recharge

In step 2, brine (very salty water) from the brine tank pumps into the mineral tank and flushes the resin beads. The high concentration of salt in the brine forces the calcium and magnesium ions to detach from the resin beads. Calcium and magnesium ions move back into the water. The salt (either sodium or potassium ions) then attaches to the resin beads. Finally, the salty water, now filled with calcium and magnesium ions, flows into the drain.

Step 3: Rinse

Water softening resumes once recharging finishes. The mineral tank fills with hard water and ion exchange begins. When calcium and magnesium once more saturate the resin beads, the control valve initiates the regeneration process.

As you can tell, the control valve manages the entire process. In order to make the best choice, you need to know what’s available for you. Homeowners have a choice of types of valves to use.

Types of Control Valves

water softeners, hard water solutions

Automatic water softener control valves fall into three categories.

Some use an electric timer. The timer flushes and regenerates the water on a regular schedule regardless of the ion concentration. During the regeneration phase with this kind of timer, softened water is not available.

Another type of timer uses a computer. The computer monitors how much water passes through the mineral tank. When the pre-determined volume of water is reached, the computer starts the regeneration process. Systems with a computer timer generally reserve resin beads. This means that some soft water is available during the regeneration phase.

The third type of automatic timer uses a mechanical water meter. The water meter determines water usage. This means no water is wasted and the mineral tank recharges only when necessary.  When you add second mineral tank to this system, you can have soft water even during recharging.

hard water solutions

Take Your Pick

Water softeners come in all shapes and sizes, but each one provides you with a simple solution to your hard water problems. Not sure what’s best for you? Give us a call. We have the water treatment experts who can determine the perfect system for you.

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Water Softeners Part 1 Hard Water

What is Hard Water?

hard water scale

Water Hardness scale by Danial David, image source courtesy: alchetron.com

Hard water is water that contains minerals. How do the minerals get into the water? As water flows through the ground it partially dissolves minerals through which it flows. Dissolved mineral particles, such as calcium and magnesium, then flow along, suspended in the water. Although calcium and magnesium are the most common minerals found in hard water, some water also contains ferrous iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide gas. Water treatment experts measure the hardness of water based on how many grains of contaminant are found per gallon of water.

Is Hard Water Really a Problem?

   The short answer?

YES!

calcium depositsHard water can cause a number of problems. Chalk-like calcium and magnesium leave residue on the insides of pipes known as scaling. Scaling will eventually clog pipes and cause serious plumbing problems.These minerals also reduce the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. Calcium and magnesium prevent soap and detergent from dissolving completely. They also bond with the undissolved soap and detergent to form a sticky coagulated curd.

 

hard water spots

This clumping of soap and detergent makes rinsing difficult. stained sinkHair washed in hard water eventually becomes dull and listless. Dishes, clothing, and even cars sport chalky-white streaks and spots.

Ferrous iron creates the nasty-looking rust stains in your sinks and manganese, often found with ferrous iron, leaves even nastier-looking black stains. Sometimes hard water also contains hydrogen sulfide gas. You’ll know your water has this problem if it has that characteristic “rotten egg” smell.

So, What Can You Do if You Have Hard Water?

hard water

You can deal with your hard water issue in a few different ways. 

Filters: Some people choose to use home water distillation or reverse osmosis appliances. Others install water filters either under the sink or on the faucet. While distillation and water filters can improve the taste of drinking water, they are far too expensive to be practical solutions household-wide.

hard water solutionsAdditives: Powdered chemicals such as Borax and baking soda, prove useful in reducing hard water problems in laundry. Even so, they make water undrinkable. They can be harsh on clothing and sometimes contain phosphates harmful to the environment. These issues also make them a non-reliable solution for treating hard water on a large scale.

hard water solutions

Descaling: Speaking of scale, descaling is another option many people choose for dealing with the damaging effects of hard water on pipes and fixtures. Descaling addresses the results of hard water on pipes, shower heads, and faucets. It uses industrial strength chemicals to “eat away” at the calcium, lime, and rust deposits. One problem with descaling is that once you add it into your main water line, you have to be sure to flush the whole system thoroughly before drinking water or bathing.  The other problem is that the chemicals can also potentially cause corrosion to your pipes themselves. If you want to descale your pipes, your best bet is to call a professional.hard water solution

Water Softeners: By far the most popular method of dealing with hard water is a water softener. They use a process of removing damaging minerals from the water without adding any corrosive chemicals. Water softeners come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit any situation. Easy to use, water softeners provide demineralization on a large scale and are unquestionably the most cost-effective means of dealing with hard water.

 

How to Know if You Have Hard Waterhard water test

This DIY test may give you semi-accurate results, but if you want to know for sure how many and which kind of minerals are in your water, you need to get it tested. Hardware stores and many online stores sell test kits you can use to test your water. Of course, your plumber can provide the most accurate testing — for free. If you do have hard water, you definitely want to talk to your plumber about options for dealing with the situation.

 

 

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3 Tips to Save Money With Water Purification Devices

Some of the water purification devices on the market are not really purifiers, at all. If you aren’t careful about which water purification device you choose, you could waste a lot of money and end up with little or no protection. Here’s how to tell the difference.

1. High Priced does not always mean high quality.

Most of us are used to paying more to get more, but when it comes to a water purification device; price has nothing to do with quality. The most expensive systems on the market include a reverse osmosis (RO) step.

Now, I’m talking only about systems that are designed for use by homeowners with a public provider. If you have a private well or other private source, you need laboratory testing to determine contaminants and then you can design an effective system.

If reverse osmosis is your only choice to remove specific contaminants, then you will also need to include other steps. Some companies’ advertisements make it seem that RO is all that you need, when nothing could be further from the truth.

People who are serviced by a public provider do not need an RO step in their water purification devices. There are less expensive, more effective options.

2. Low Priced might not do the job

On the other end of the spectrum are cheap products like the Brita water purification device. While the system does remove chlorine and some other common contaminants, it does not remove chlorine byproducts, commonly referred to as THMs.

THMs or trihalomethanes are known carcinogens. For many years, we were told that the amount released during the chlorination process was safe for consumption. The first studies that showed an increased cancer risk from this level of consumption were withheld from the public.

Now, we know that one of the reasons we need water purification devices in our homes is because of THMs and the increased cancer risk that accompanies them. If a water purification device does not include a multi-media adsorptive block, don’t buy it. No matter how cheap it is, it is still a waste of money.

3. The Best Water Purification Devices.

The best systems include several steps to remove the widest range of contaminants. First, granular carbon to reduce chlorine and other chemical contaminants, then a multi-media block to further reduce chemicals and get rid of the ones that are not trapped by carbon, alone.

The block should have a sub-micron sized porous structure to prevent water from circling around the granules, which would result in less effective contaminants removal. The structure also removes illness causing parasitic cysts that can be deadly.

The best water purification device also includes an ion exchange step to remove lead and other metallic ions. Heavy metals are exchanged for potassium and sodium, to both improve the taste and the healthfulness of your water.

These are not the most of the least expensive systems. The price is around a hundred dollars for a kitchen counter top purifier. People who install water purification devices like these save thousands of dollars per year by not buying bottled. It’s the safest and most economical choice for your family.

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Considering Installing A Water Filter?

Okay, you’ve tested your water or know it can be better and you’re considering purchasing a water filter. You’ve seen water filters attached to faucets in other’s homes, but did not realize how many different kinds of filters there are and how differently they can be installed! This quick read article can hopefully assist you in sorting your thoughts and narrow your choices. They are listed from simplest technology to most complicated and basically in order of value as well. If any hesitation regarding the right choice for your home and family, consider calling your local water treatment professionals.

What If I Just Purchase Bottled Water?

What if you’d rather not deal with the fuss getting a water filter that does or doesn’t do the job and just purchase bottled water? After some research you’ll find that bottled water is one of the least cost effective, environmental and healthy options available for clean water. The cheap plastic, often containing BPA and other unhealthy elements, can easily leach into the water itself and the water is not much cleaner than tap water when you consider all its pitfalls.

Pitcher Filters

Water pitchers that contain a water filtration system within the lid can be easy traveling or quick options, but over time the charcoal filters can get very expensive quickly. It does not remove all toxins or the worst kinds from the water and requires constant filling to keep up with your family. Faucet attachments that contain the same filtration (charcoal) are just as ineffective and costly. There are better options on the market.

Reverse Osmosis Filtration

This technology is also a charcoal filter that needs replacement parts over time, but runs the water through more than the previous options. It removes major contaminants, including arsenic, chlorine, heavy metals, and other bacteria. It usually attaches below the sink and has a holding tank. It can be more time efficient than the previous options, but still takes an hour to make one gallon of drinking water. It’s got the same cost con associated with the replacement filters and is worst socially because it wastes a ton of water that it rejects during its process.

Water Distilling At Home

Water distillers are very effective at removing chlorine, heavy metals, bacteria and other toxins from your drinking water. Unfortunately they are large and expensive. They use a lot of electricity which only adds to its cost. Due to a loss of mineral deficiency from using certain filters, you can experience negative side effects. This is something to consider when going with this or any of the previous filtration options.

Solid Block Carbon Filters

This technology is the answer to previous issues with other filters. The pitcher filters and faucet filters use the same kind of technology except the charcoal in theirs is not solid and that’s where they remove less toxins. Solid block carbon filtration systems are units that take up some counter space, but remove the most toxins with the least amount of replacement. The unit itself can be costly, but the filters cost less than previous options do over time. The best thing about this option is that it does not require electricity or running water and will make any water safe, including rain water, pond water, and even salt water. It even removes food coloring from water and comes out clear!

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4 Reasons to Buy A Whole House Water Filter Before Christmas

Reasons to Buy A Whole House Water Filter Before Christmas

One of the ways that pollution can affect you, your family or friend in the comfort of your home is your water source. Water pollutants or contaminants may come in the form of harmful chemicals or microorganisms that can prove dangerous to your health and the health of your loved ones. This is the reason why you should own a water filtration system in your home.

With the aid of a water filtration system, you will not have to worry about buying individual filters for your bathroom or kitchen. Just have the water filter fixed in your plumbing system and you get clean water from all water sources inside or outside the house in an instant. Doing this, you are fully prepared for Christmas holiday.

Here are the reasons why whole house water filter is necessary prior to Christmas holiday:

REASON #1: Friendly Water for Laundry Purposes

For homes without water filters installed in their water system, one of the common challenges is washing the clothes without getting the fabric damaged or discolored. A whole house water filtration system is the solution to this. With the use of a filter, harmful chemicals that destroy your clothes are gotten out of the way. Your visitors enjoy cleaning clothes using filtered water.

REASON #2: Guest Friendly Showers and Baths

Another advantage of a water filter in your home is keeping your skin free from harmful bacteria or microorganisms that may be carrying diseases. Without a water filter, these elements can get in direct contact with your skin, causing your skin to feel dry, itchy and even smell bad. With the use of a water filter, you will be able to keep your skin healthy especially when using showers and baths. It is easy to host a guest during a holiday without worry.

REASON #3: Cost Efficient and Safe Water for Drinking

Perhaps the number one benefit a water filtration system can offer you is pure drinking water. The tap water you and I drink is very likely to be contaminated with any of the following: live bacterium and viruses and toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. The list of impurities in our water is enormous. You could pay a lot of money for bottled water that doesn’t solve the problem of your shower water. When you have a water filter for the whole house, there will be no need for you to buy pure drinking water from the market. All you need is to open your faucet and presto! You have clean water ready to drink and use it to prepare healthier coffee or tea.

REASON #4: Get Water Filter Now

A water filter is easily installed on your faucets or shower head creating safe drinking and showering water. In many sections of the country, water coming from the treatment plants is still not properly filtered when it reaches your house. That’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Every day there are stories about people getting sick from the water they drink. To avoid this, just hire an expert to install whole house water filters systems in your home. By putting up a water filtration system for your whole house, you are ensuring the overall health of your entire family and not just your own. It is quietly efficient, and it gives you peace of mind. Get a water filter now for your house to make Christmas holiday more enjoyable.

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Why You Should Break Your Bottle Water Drinking Habit Today!

 

Many of us belong to the world’s growing bottled bottle consumers group which is a growing billion dollar industry. Actually, bottled water sales are much more than even milk products, juices or coffee sales. As contributors to this industry we have not only resolved to have filtered water in portable small bottles but also increased the gigantic volume of plastic needed to be recycled globally.

In fact, bottled water is having hazardous impact on our environment, health and surroundings. How many of the bottled water is actually natural spring water’ from the Alps or wherever it is claimed to be from? It is more likely to be bottled in a factory that treats water by adding chemicals to sort of clean the water of harmful impurities to make it safe for drinking. Yes, that is the reality. Add more chemicals and bottle that water so that it is drinkable and market it with the picture of natural spring water sources. Let us look at some of the reasons why you need to break your water bottle habit today.

Is Bottled water what it claims to be?

Mostly the tap water and bottled water may have very less variation in terms of its minerals; chemical composition etc. may be lesser chlorine content. Who knows? If not anything else, for a fact the water in that bottle is absorbing the plastic by just being stored in it and that does not sound healthy either. There is no solid evidence to prove the fact that bottled water is healthier or cleaner than tap water in terms of where is sourced from or how it is actually packaged for consumption.

Tap water is way cheaper than bottled water

When you are not even sure about what is actually different in your bottled water when compared to tap water, why would you want to pay for that? So, what is the business strategy of these bottled water companies? They obviously don’t go to natural spring sources and get that water to the plant for treatment with chemicals. Rather, they just use the readily available tap water and bottle that after treating with more chemicals. Yes, it is a profitable idea.

Recycling issues with plastic water bottles

Globally recycling plastic is being considered serious but despite various measures are being taken but, it is not followed consistently. We are all contributing to this plastic waste and pollution by using that bottled water and not bothering about recycling.

Oil is cheaper than bottled water

When considering big branded bottled water, it way more expensive than even oil. So, though convenient it is not a cheaper option to buy bottled water. When considering crude oil prices globally, bottled water comes out as more expensive. Also, noteworthy is the fact that much oil resources are wasted trying to transport bottled water from one location to another.

Bottled water can be hazardous to health

Water stored in the plastic bottles can have hazardous chemicals leeching in to it that then is consumed by buyers not knowing that they are paying for an unsafe product. Many water treatment plants packaging bottled water may not be strictly adhering to safety regulations. Gradually, consumption of bottled water over time can lead to harmful chemicals ingestion and affect our health. On the other hand tap water does not have leeching of harmful chemicals from plastic and is treated to reduce chemical contaminants. BPA or bisphenol A is a chemical in plastic water bottles that can cause serious health concerns over time.

All the above reasons mentioned above should convince you to add an item to your wish list before next Christmas. Install a water filter system in your home and office. Get rid of your plastic bottled water habit for better health and overall benefit of the environment. Your family will have safer and cleaner water at all times and you will do your health a big favor. Get the economical choice of installing an under the sink water filter in your kitchen to begin with or a whole house water filter system on a larger level for better quality of life. Do your part; for your family and the environment as a whole.