In essence, a water softener treats water by removing the hardness plus minerals via an ion exchange process, and adding some sort of sodium or potassium. Usually, the softener has a mineral tank containing resin beads, as well as a brine tank containing salt. These may be joined in one tank or two separate units. Users have the choice to soften their whole water supply, or only the hot one.
The resin beads are responsible for the ionic process which gets rid of the hard particles found in calcium and lime scale. Water enters the tank of the softener, then flows toward and over the beads with just the right quantity of contact, so it can take away unnecessary elements and thus, soften the water.
The electrical charge of the resin beads and incoming water opposes each other, and this difference draws the softened hardening water particles, then keeps them amidst the resin beads in order for the appliance to release soft water. Once the resin beads become filled with suspended particles, the water softener automatically goes into a regeneration cycle, which entails bringing in water, then flushing out the hardened particles of resin beads with the use of a salt-water or brine mixture.
Since they can only accommodate so much, the regeneration process or brining is needed. A quality water softener contains resin beads that last as long as the water softener. Granting that conditions are normal, there is no need for replacement. However, the salt supply has to be replenished on a regular basis, and experts recommend to use a form that is as clean as a sale pellet.
What does regeneration mean and can a water softener hurt a septic system?
During the operation of the water softener, hardness particles accumulate in the softener’s resin bed. Once the buildup goes up to a particular level, the softener automatically starts the process of mixing salt inside the tank with many gallons of incoming water in order for the particles to clear off the resin bed. Then it flushes the tank, and is now ready to repeat the process of softening the water.
It usually takes a few to more than 30 minutes for regeneration to take place, and its operation can be heard from a distance. There are people who think that regeneration hurts their pluming/septic system, though under normal conditions, it does not affect either of their operation or life span, or even drain-field soil percolation. So, water softeners are not a threat for septic systems.
A lot of water softeners include 10 feet of hose which drains the water after regeneration. If draining is needed more than 10 feet away, this would require an additional, matching draining line. However, the drain should not be moved beyond 30 feet away from the softener. The amount of water used in regeneration differs widely among models, but majority of average models use around 50 gallons in every regeneration cycle.
Usually, regeneration takes place in the middle of the night, when water is not being used, or it can also be set to occur at any time of the day, whenever convenient. In case the water is used while regeneration takes place, it comes directly from the well, which is a concern of some families. This is addressed by a dual-tank, since it has a reserve tank. While one tank dispenses, the other one regenerates and vice versa. This allows soft water supply to be continuous when someone needs water during the early hours of the morning.