The terms “hard” and “soft” water are often thrown around the plumbing and heating industry, but to the average homeowner, it can get pretty confusing. It actually has nothing to do with texture at all – instead, it’s all about the minerals in your water. As you can imagine, hard water has a bunch of minerals (calcium and magnesium), and soft water has less. Here’s a chart that will tell you how hard or soft your water actually is.
What’s wrong with hard water? It’s not toxic or harmful to your health, but it can damage your pipes and other metal appliances (think kettles, pots, pans) with a residue called scale (pictured below). That’s where a water softener comes in. A water softener works almost like a filtering system, but instead of just getting rid of the minerals in the water, it replaces them with sodium ions. (If you want an in depth, technical look into how the water-softening process works click here: http://home.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm)
The Lowdown on Water Softeners
Now, there are a few different ways to control how your water softener runs, and the one you choose determines how much soft water will be available to you during the recharging process.
- An automatic regenerating system recharges on a regular schedule using a timer, but soft water is not available while recharging . This is the most popular type of system.
- A computer-controlled system recharges based on how much water passes through the system, which allows for some soft water access.
- Mechanical water meters are different because it uses no electricity to recharge, using only a meter to check water usage. With this system, soft water is available at all times, even during recharging.
The water softening process can appear confusing at the surface, but it’s really not all that hard (ha!). We encourage you to call the experts here at Greenwood for any and all questions you may have about the process. We’ll check your water, diagnose the problem, give you solutions, install the system, and routinely maintain it for you. We’re just a quick phone call away!