Several homeowners in the US have incorporated water purification systems into their home as a way of eliminating the negative impact that molecules such as magnesium, iron, and calcium can have on many different household elements. These particles are found naturally in the soil and tend to be more heavily concentrated in the Midwestern states than those near the Coasts. As water moves through the ground, it dissolves the ions and carries them to residential neighborhoods where they enter the home through local supply lines. Once in the home, the water is exposed to oxygen and heat which causes ions to precipitate out of the water forming scale deposits on bathroom fixtures, damaging appliances, resulting in decreased lather of detergents, and resulting in a dry and itchy skin. In cases where these issues have become a concern, homeowners are often inclined to purchase and install a water softener that can remove or alter the ions so that they do not cause any more problems.
The amount of upkeep required to keep a softening system functioning properly over the long haul will likely depend on the type of product being used. In general, most homeowners choose to purchase the salt-based systems currently available on the market because they are more efficient, but they also can come with higher maintenance requirements. Most salt-based softeners are constructed of two tanks that work together to completely remove the ions that are creating problems. The first tank contains a unique resin bed that draws particles from the water and joins them as they travel through the reservoir. Over time the resin bed will become saturated and needs to have the ions removed to continue to function properly. This is accomplished through a regeneration cycle that pumps a concentrated salt solution through the resin bed removing hardness causing ions and carrying them to the drain.
Salt-based water softeners have become more advanced over time and are now far more efficient than they were just a few years ago. Most of these products come with a computerized head that monitors the volume of water flow through the tank and initiates regeneration cycles based on consumption. The salt in the auxiliary tank will be used up over time and does need to be replaced on a daily basis for the system to continue working properly. Homes that use high volumes of water or that suffer from moderate to severe hardness will usually need to check the salt level every two to four weeks to make sure that it has not fallen below the water line. Salt that has been specially designed for softener use can be purchased at most grocery stores across the country in 40-pound bags.
Other issues that could arise with a salt-based system include the use of additives to remove high levels of iron from the water, the presence of bacteria in the water, and the formation of a salt bridge near the bottom of the auxiliary tank. Aside from the sanitizing of the softener following a bacterial issue, these steps can be performed by most homeowners. If bacteria are discovered in the water, the product may need to be disconnected from the primary plumbing network to be serviced. It is recommended that a professional installer is hired to perform this work. Many companies also do the job as part of their service guarantee when they are recruited to conduct the initial water testing and product installation. Water softener maintenance can become tricky in some situations, and it is well worth the additional expense to have the product professionally installed and serviced.
Individuals who experience low to moderate levels of hardness and who are concerned about potential impacts that salt-based systems can have on the environment may want to consider using a system that does not use salt. There are numerous salt-free alternatives on the market that claim to use a variety of techniques to soften water. Some of these products attach directly to the outside of water pipes while others may require a dedicated line that redirects water through the system before being sent to the primary plumbing network. One of the significant benefits associated with these products is the fact that they require little to no upkeep and are sometimes easily installed without professional help.