What is the function of a water softener?
Basically, a water softener purifies water by removing hardness and minerals using an ion exchange process and adding some sodium or potassium. Typically, a water softener has a mineral tank containing resin balls and a brine tank containing salt. They can be combined in one tank or in two separate units. Users have the option of softening all water or just the hot water.
The resin granules are responsible for an ionic process that gets rid of particles contained in calcium and calcium salts. The water enters the softener tank, then flows into the beads and passes through them with the right amount of contact to remove unwanted elements and thus soften the water.
The electrical charge of the resin beads and the incoming water are opposite and this difference attracts the water particles that make the water hard and then holds them between the resin beads so that the device releases soft water. Once the resin balls are filled with suspended particles, the water softener automatically enters a regeneration cycle, which involves feeding water and then rinsing the hardened particles from the resin balls with a mixture of salt water or brine.
As only so many of these can fit, a regeneration or brine process is necessary. A quality water softener contains resin beads that last as long as the water softener. Under normal operating conditions replacement is not necessary. However, salt must be replenished regularly and experts recommend using a form such as a clean vending bead.
What does regeneration mean and can a water softener damage the septic system?
During the operation of a water softener, hardness particles build up in the resin layer of the water softener. When the buildup reaches a certain level, the softener automatically begins the process of mixing salt into the tank with enough gallons of incoming water to remove the particles from the resin layer. It then rinses the tank and is now ready to continue the water softening process.
Regeneration usually takes from a few to more than 30 minutes and can be heard from a distance. There are some who believe that regeneration is detrimental to their hydraulic/septic system, although under normal conditions it has no effect on the operation or life of the drain field or even the infiltration of the drain field soil. Therefore, water softeners do not pose a threat to septic systems.
Many water softeners include a 10-foot pipe that drains the water after regeneration. If more than 10 feet of drainage is required, an additional, appropriate drain line will be required. However, the drain will not be moved more than 30 feet from the softener. The amount of water used during regeneration varies considerably from model to model, but most average models use approximately 50 gallons per regeneration cycle.
Usually, regeneration is performed in the middle of the night when the water is not being used, but it can be set for any time of day that is convenient for you. If water is used during the regeneration, it comes directly from the well, which is a problem for some families. This problem is solved by using a dual tank, as it has a backup tank. While one tank is dispensing, the other is regenerating and vice versa. This ensures a continuous supply of soft water when water is needed early in the morning.