Each component of a water softener plays a significant role in the process. The efficient operation of the entire system is dependent on the functionality of the individual components. Although there are different brands of salt-based water softeners, generally they all work the same. Whichever choice you make, there are the same essential components found in all machines.
These key components are necessary for the performance of your water softener.
Below is a list of the water softener components and what role it plays in eliminating hard water.
The valve is probably the most important part of a water softener. The valve is located on top the resin tank, and it monitors the amount of water that has been softened. This determines how much water has gone through the resin inside the tank and whether the resin has reached capacity for the ion exchange. This type of valve is called a “smart valve” because it knows automatically when to initiate the regeneration and backwash process. The regeneration and backwash process clean out the resins and recharges them with sodium ions. Based upon the pre-determined settings for capacity, the valve will start this process when those limits are reached. If the frequency is set the according to demand or time, the valve initiates the process based on these factors. The valve settings also impact the efficiency of the entire unit along with determining flow rates and gallons per minute.
The tank contains beads, known as resin, which facilitate ion exchange. They soften hard water by taking the calcium and magnesium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Potassium can also be used as an alternative.
Once the resins have softened enough water per the valve settings, they are rinsed and cleaned using the salt brine. The brine provides more sodium ions which are taken in by the resin, and the calcium and magnesium ions are backwashed out of the system.
The brine tank is where the salt is stored and is usually a separate bin that sits next to the resin tank. The water is filled to a lower level than the salt and is saturated with sodium ions. We refer to the water as salt brine. The brine water is used to regenerate the resin by providing it with sodium ions and relieving them of calcium and magnesium ions.
It is important to check the level of the salt in the tank monthly to ensure there is enough salt in the tank. Bins should be filled no more than 2/3 of the way full. This ensures maximum concentration. There is a control on the valve that regulates the amount of water into the salt tank.
The loop plays a critical role in separating water that goes from the main water valve into the house from the water used outdoors. This ensures softened water is not used on outdoor applications such as irrigation or for filling pools. The loop allows you to save money and energy by only using softened water for the proper applications inside your home.
The drain line is used to remove the water from the regeneration and backwash process out of your home. Often times it will connect directly to the drain box behind your washing machine. In some scenarios, the drain line can be run directly outside into the sewer washout box. It important to check your drain line for cracks. Dry and brittle drain lines can lead to leaks if they break. If you are replacing an older water softener…. you may want to consider replacing the drain line as well.
It will be important to have an electrical outlet nearby. The valves will plug into this power source.
Why You Need a Water Softener?
Hard water causes inconveniences and damage that could escalate, eventually costing money and time. Indications of hard water include: