San Antonio, has some of the hardest water in the United States. This means that it’s full of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Water is considered hard if it has more than 7.1 mineral grains per gallon. The average in San Antonio is 17 grains per gallon.
The irony about hard water is that though it is good for a person’s health, it’s terrible for the plumbing pipes in both commercial and residential buildings. Hard water leaves glassware dull looking and spotted. It shortens the lifespan of water-dependent appliances such as dishwashers, coffee makers, water heaters and washing machines. It makes laundry detergent less effective, which makes clothes dull and causes them to wear out faster and helps to create a scum around bathtubs and sinks that’s hard to get rid of. It also leaves hair and skin dull. In extreme cases, hard water can lay so much scale inside the pipes that the entire system may need to be replaced.
But our plumbing professionals have a remedy for hard water. It’s called a water softener, or an ion exchange unit.
Water softeners are systems where calcium and magnesium are exchanged for sodium ions. First, the hard water comes into the building through the fresh water line. Instead of being sent to the fixtures, it is directed into a tank filled with resin beads filled with sodium ions. The sodium ions are exchanged for the calcium and magnesium, and the water flows up out of the tank and continues through the fresh water lines to shower heads, faucets and other fixtures.
Softeners are equipped with controllers that monitor the gallons of flow. After a certain number of gallons, the controller initiates a backwash cycle. Some systems start the backwash cycle after a certain amount of time.
The tank where the ions are exchanged is connected to a brine tank that is filled with water and rock salt. This brine tank is where sodium ions are created. During the backwash cycle, untreated water flows in the opposite direction through the resin beads and is discharged via a drain. The controller then turns on the recharge cycle. The brine is pumped through the resin beads, which removes the calcium and magnesium and recharges the beads with sodium. The beads are then rinsed with untreated water. At the same time, the brine tank is replenished with fresh water.
Over time, the rock salt is depleted and needs to be replaced. A home owner can do this very easily themselves. This can be done on a monthly or quarterly schedule.
Water softening systems can be installed at a pre-plumbed loop the builder put when building the house. Or a house can have the plumbing loop installed by Simple Water Softeners.
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