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How a Water Softener works

A water softener is necessary when a home has “hard water”. Hard water contains an abundance of calcium or magnesium. This can cause two major problems. It can make “scale” form on the inside of the pipes. The calcium and magnesium permeate out of the water and stick to the pipes; this reduces the flow through the pipes causing the pipes to eventually clog. Another problem caused by scale is it reacts with soap to form a scum and reduces the soap’s ability to lather; this is turn makes showering less effective.

A water softener replaces the calcium and magnesium ions in the water with sodium ions. To replace the ions the water in the home runs through a chemical matrix or through a small bed of plastic beads. These beads are covered with sodium ions. The beads only contain calcium or magnesium and eventually stop softening the water.
Next regeneration takes places: the beads are soaked in a stream of sodium ions. The water softener creates a brine solution and flushes it through the beads. The brine replaces all of the calcium and magnesium that was built up with sodium. The leftover brine and all of them calcium and magnesium are flushed out through a drain pipe.

Read more about installing a water softener in your home.