FAQs About Water Softeners
Our water treatment company has compiled a selection of frequently asked questions and answers about water softeners and how they work.
Frequently Asked Questions About Water Softeners
- How does a water softener work? – The resin inside the mineral tank of a water softener system is designed to remove hard particles of lime and calcium through a simple ion-exchange process. The resin beads in the softener tank have opposite electrical charges than the dissolved particles of the incoming water, so the dissolved particles suspended in the water will cling to the resin beads on contact, ridding the water of the particles and softening the water. The resin can hold a limited amount of hard particles, so ensuring that your water softener system is the correct size is essential.
- Will a water softener make my water safe to drink? – A water softener will not purify your water, so the water must be safe to drink before it’s softened or conditioned. If you have concerns about the safety of your drinking water, contact your local EPA Certified Lab to ask about getting a bacteria test or a full lab analysis of your water. Our water treatment also offers this service for a nominal fee, and if you purchase a system from us, we pay for the test.
- Why does soft water feel slick or slimy in the shower? – Hard water usually contains calcium and magnesium. The presence of calcium and magnesium interferes with the cleaning action of soap and detergent by forming a scum that doesn’t dissolve in the water. Because these minerals react with soap and detergent, they limit the effectiveness of these cleaning agents. The scum can adhere to surfaces and make them appear dingy. An automatic water softener connected to your water supply pipes removes magnesium and calcium from water and replaces them with a trace amount of sodium. Sodium doesn’t react with soap or detergents, reducing the amount of soap you’ll need to use and ensuring clean surfaces.
- When do the resins in the Integrity Water Softener and Water Conditioner tank need to be changed? – With the proper treatment and maintenance, the average water softener won’t need its resins replaced for at least 20 years unless it’s used on heavily chlorinated water, in which case they might need to be replaced after 5 to 8 years.
- I see ads for “no salt needed” water softeners. How do they work without using salt? – Many dealers will advertise a “no salt” water softener and conditioner, but any brand of water softener can be operated without using salt. Instead, a salt substitute called potassium chloride is used. Potassium chloride is usually more expensive than sodium chloride, and it can be difficult to find in some areas. If you decide to use a salt substitute, increase the salt setting on your control valve by about 10 percent. Our salt-free water conditioners are environmentally friendly, and they don’t involve a lot of maintenance, electricity, or backwash. Integrity Water Treatment’s water softener systems are engineered and lab tested by Watts to ensure optimal performance and a long service life.
- How often do I need to add salt to the brine tank? – The more your water softener regenerates, the more salt it consumes. Typically, you’ll need to add 1 to 2 bags of salt to the brine tank every 8 weeks. You should add salt when you begin to see 3 to 5 inches of water above the salt level.
- What kind of salt do you recommend using, and do your water softeners and conditioners use potassium chloride instead of salt? – Our water treatment company recommends using Morton System Saver II Water Conditioner Salt because it’s 99.5 percent pure and has added cleaners to maximize the performance of your water softener and conditioner. You can also purchase Morton’s Potassium Chloride if you prefer to keep your water softener salt free.
- My valve appears to be operating, but the salt is not going down. What could cause this problem? – The salt might not be going down for several reasons. For instance, the valve might stop regenerating because of a mechanical problem, the system might be in bypass, and the brine refill control could be clogged.
- I have a working water softener, but I’m still getting iron stains. Why is that? – This problem can be caused by several reasons, including too much iron, a low salt setting, a dirty water softener system, and galvanized plumbing.
- I have a working water softener, but my water still has an odor. Why is that? – Water softeners don’t remove most tastes and odor problems alone. Well water odors are usually related to the presence of iron (metallic odor) or hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), and city water odors typically result from chlorine.
- I have very hard water and high iron levels. What kind of water softener do I need? – To offer the best solution, you’ll need accurate and reliable water quality test results. If you have a private well, you have several options for obtaining a water test. You can pick up one from the hardware store or request a complimentary water quality test from Integrity Water Treatment.
- How can I find out what is in my water, and where can I have my water tested? – If you have city water, contact the office that you send your water bill payment to request your current water record test results. If you have a well, hire our water treatment company to test for contaminants in your water.
- How can I determine what type and size of unit I will need? – Water softener and conditioner sizes are based on a few factors, such as the type and amount of dissolved minerals present in the water and your home’s water flow rate.
- What kinds of iron could be in my water? – Four types of iron are found in water: oxidized, soluble, colloidal, and bacterial. Oxidized iron contains red particles, soluble (“clear water”) iron is common and develops red particles after being exposed to air for a period of time, colloidal iron consists of microscopic red particles and creates cloudy water, and bacterial iron contains living organisms and is indicated by a slimy red film.
- Can the water softener cause pressure loss, and if so, what do I need to fix it? – A water softener will cause a little pressure loss because of the resistance from the resin bed, but excessive pressure loss can be caused by one or a combination of the following:
- An accumulation of sand from a well in the water softener tank
- Algae growth inside the softener tank
- Clogged plumbing as a result of debris from a water line repair
- Chlorinated water