What is water softening resin?

The water softening resin eliminates calcium and magnesium ions, making the water softer.

A water softener system is often an integral part of homes that have especially hard water, which can stain sinks and break appliances over time. It’s not usually necessary, but it’s preferable for many who don’t want to risk water spots and possibly clogged pipes. There are a few key parts to this type of system, and the water softening resin is one of the most important. In fact, it is the main component of the system and largely responsible for water softening. It works by filtering out certain unwanted impurities.

If a water softener fails to soften the water, it’s usually not the resin’s fault, unless it hasn’t been changed for several years.

The water softening resin makes hard water softer by removing magnesium and calcium ions from the water that is piped into the tank. It plays an important role in each of the three processes that help make water soft. Resin is typically in the form of granules that carry a negative charge and are stored in the mineral tank in most water softeners.

To start the process, the resin is saturated with sodium ions. The water from the pipes then passes through the resin inside the mineral tank and the magnesium and calcium ions adhere to the resin. Meanwhile, the sodium in the water softener resin mixes with the hydrogen in the water.

Decreased water availability is a common effect of hard water in pipes.

The next phase also involves the resin in an important role, only this time it is inverted. The resin’s job in this phase is to eliminate the magnesium and calcium ions it previously captured and retain the sodium ions it eliminated in the first phase. Finally, in the third stage, some of the water is transferred to a different tank, called a brine tank, where it is rinsed and mixed with the salt.

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There are two main types of water softening resin. Fine mesh resin can capture a myriad of minerals such as iron, which often eschews other types of resin. This type is usually used by those who draw water from wells. On the other hand, hi-cap resin is generally better for typical city homes, so it can be found in most water softener systems.

Water softening resin usually lasts for about 20 years. If a water softener fails to soften the water, it is usually not the resin that is at fault, unless it has not been changed in recent years. Often, the salt and general softener mechanism must be examined first to determine the problem. If none of these are the problem, then it may be time to see if the water softener resin needs replacing.

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