What Is A Water Softener?

Quickly find answers to some of our most-asked questions below.

 


 

What Is A Water Softener?

The simplest definition for Water Softening is that it’s a process that removes minerals that cause hard water.
 

What Is Hardness In Water?

Hard water contains high concentrations of minerals, namely calcium and magnesium. Because of their chemical structure, both calcium and magnesium bond easily with other types of metals. Over time these bonds build up into something you can actually see, for example, the crusty residue on your shower head!

Effects of hard water on plumbing

In fact, that’s how “hard water” got its name, from the hardened mineral deposits this kind of water leaves behind. Over time these deposits can accumulate, clog, or even corrode pipes and cause major plumbing problems. Hard water deposits can build up in boilers and hot water heaters, making them less efficient and more expensive to use.

To make a long story short, hard water can leave lasting, negative effects on every surface it runs on, over or through.
 

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Water softeners use an ion exchange resin to remove hard water minerals from the water supply
Water softeners are like magnets

Believe it or not, Water Softeners are a lot like magnets. In a traditional bar magnet, one end is “positive” and the other is “negative.” So, let’s say you have two bar magnets and try to make both positive ends connect. What happens? They repel each other. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to get them to connect. But, what happens when you try connecting the positive end of one with the negative end of the other? They immediately connect, SNAP!

The fact that positive and negative things attract is the basic idea of how Water Softeners work.

Calcium and magnesium, the two key culprits of hard water, are both positively charged molecules. And, as the hard water pumps through the softening system, it passes through a filter filled with negatively charged resin beads. Just like with the magnets, as the hard water moves through the resin beads—opposites attract. SNAP!

And, this idea also applies when the system regenerates (aka, cleans) itself. During regeneration, water and salt (positively charged) flushes through the resin beads. Thinking back to the magnet example, the positive charges in the salt, calcium and magnesium all repel each other. The calcium and magnesium detach from the resin beads and drain out along with all the salty water.

 

How do you know if your need a Water Softener?

Look around your home for some of the most common hard water signs:

  • Mineral-like crust built up around your faucets or on your shower head
  • Soap scum build up in your sinks or on your shower walls
  • Stiff clothing after a load of laundry
  • Irritated or dry skin and dull hair after showering

There are also ways to professionally test for hard water. Contact your local Culligan dealer to find out more information about scheduling a free in-home water test.

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