How to Tell if Your Water Softener is Working
The effects of hard water tend to be subtle, and the symptoms only noticed over time. Installing a water softener to combat water hardness may be just as subtle starting out (depending on how bad your water’s been). So, how can you tell if your water softener is actually doing anything? How can you tell it is working?
Getting to Know Your Water Softener
First off, let’s recall what water softeners are actually doing, and then consider what the noticeable effects are of this water treatment on you and your home.
Minerals such as calcium and magnesium bind together and build up within your pipes, appliances, and plumbing fixtures, resulting in clogging, rusting, corrosion, and more.
There are a few different types of water softeners that use different methods to ultimately reach the same conclusion – eliminate the damage done by some of those pesky minerals carried into your home through your water.
Water softening systems either remove these minerals altogether, or neutralize the bonding of said minerals so they don’t build up within your pipes, appliances, and on or around your plumbing fixtures.
Types of Water Softeners
Salt Based Ion-Exchange Softeners typically consist of two tanks, utilizing resin beads to attract and bind with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, thus removing them and restricting them from continuing to flow through your home’s plumbing system. The beads must then be regenerated (cleaned from their prior use) in order to be reused again.
Salt Free Water Softeners do not use resin beads as ion-exchange systems do, therefore don’t need to go through a regeneration process to continue being effective.
These types of water filtration systems crystalize minerals such as magnesium and calcium through a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC), removing the ability of these minerals to attach to your pipes and scale in your water heater.
Your water flows through a tank of polymer beads forming micro-crystals which capture magnesium and calcium ions. When captured, these ions remain crystalized as they flow through the rest of your plumbing system, unable to attach and scale like they normally would.
Reverse Osmosis Softeners further filter your water by passing it through a semipermeable membrane dedicated to removing contaminants from your water, including chlorine, fluoride, lead, and even proteins produced by bacteria.
RO systems are also typically easy to maintain as they are conveniently accessible and normally require a simple filter change.
There are different types of RO systems you can install in your home plumbing system, and the water treatment process looks different depending on which one you choose.
Magnetic Water Softeners are one of the newest water softening technologies available. Similar to the salt-free systems, they neutralize the bonding of hard minerals in your water, as opposed to altogether removing them. The bonding of these minerals is neutralized by creating a magnetic field around your pipeline.
How to Tell if Your Water Softener is Working Correctly
Some of the red flags that your water softener isn’t working are the basic symptoms of hard water you’d see if you never had a water softening system in the first place.
These hard minerals bond and build up within your pipes, appliances, and fixtures, resulting in corrosion and clogging in your pipeline, in your drains, scum build up on and around your faucets, shower heads, drains, drinking glasses, toilets, rusting your appliances, and even your silverware.
Hard water makes your soap much more insoluble, meaning it is more difficult to dissolve and to ultimately do its job. As a result, your skin may become dry and itchy.
Sometimes the mix of the minerals in your water can even result in unpleasant, even metallic taste or an odor – like rotten eggs – in your water.
Because of the corrosive nature of hard water and the buildup of these minerals throughout your plumbing system, the free-flow of your water is consequently dampened by clogs and corrosions throughout your pipeline, among your drains, in your faucets, etc. A water softener sets out to eliminate the ability for these minerals to build up, therefore resolving any onset water pressure issues coming your way.
Water Softener Testing
There are a few ways you can test your water’s hardness directly to see if your water softener is working as it should.
You can purchase water hardness test kits, which can be as simple as a test strip you submerge in your water and analyze the results directly on the strip itself.
The Soap Test
A DIY method of testing your water’s hardness is called the Soap Test. Try lathering soap on your skin with your water. If it’s softer water, you’ll see many bubbles; if your water’s hard, then the soap will stick to and film over your skin as opposed to the soapiness you’d expect.
Phoenix Water Softening Services from Deer Valley Plumbing
Our professional plumbers here at Deer Valley Plumbing have been at the frontlines fighting water hardness in the Valley for decades. Holding fast to tried-and-true plumbing methods, as well as keeping up with the latest, cutting-edge technologies, we’re able to meet all your plumbing needs and unlock the fullest potential of your home’s plumbing system.