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What Is a Salt Bridge?

| BooAdmin | Uncategorized


If you're a homeowner with a water softener, you may have heard of the term "salt bridge." Knowing what a salt bridge does, how it affects your water softener, and what you can do to prevent a salt bridge can help you keep your water softener working efficiently. 

Know How Your Water Softener Works

Hard water contains excessive amounts of calcium and magnesium, which can leave behind a coat of scale on plumbing, glass, and fixtures in the home. To soften the water, your water softener must remove the extra minerals.

Water softeners work by flushing water with a sodium-saturated brine. When the water is flushed in this way, the water softener exchanges the extra magnesium and calcium for sodium. In order to keep the water softener functioning, homeowners must periodically add more salt to the tank so the softener can continue to make brine. 

When Your Current Water Softening System Fails to Meet Expectations

| BooAdmin | Uncategorized

If you live in an area with mineral-rich water, you may have already invested in a water softener to diminish the negative impact of these mineral ions on your faucets, sinks, and water-using appliances. Indeed, allowing untreated hard water to flow through your home can reduce the lifespan of certain appliances and increase the risk of corrosion and lime scale buildup in your pipes. 

When Your Current Water Softening System Fails to Meet Expectations

However, you may find yourself feeling underwhelmed or even disappointed with the performance of your water softening system after its installation. For many households, an underpowered or otherwise unsuitable water softener can create more problems than it solves, leaving you frustrated and searching for solutions. 

Read on to learn more about some of the potential reasons behind your dissatisfaction with your current system and what you can do to resolve these issues. 

Problem #1: Your Water Softener Is Underpowered

Water softening systems come in a wide variety of sizes and capacities, from small softeners that attach to a single water faucet (like a kitchen faucet) to whole-house softeners that process the entire household's water to remove mineral ions before this water is pumped through the home's pipes. 

While most hardware and home supply stores that sell water softening systems have graphs and guides that can give you some idea of the water softener capacity that's right for you, these types of generic guidelines often won't tell the whole story.

Everything from frequent cooking to a habit of taking long, hot showers can increase a home's water usage, rendering the recommended guidelines (which tend to be based on household size and not much else) of only limited use. 

On the other side of the coin, purchasing a water softening system that is too large for your home's needs could lead to future maintenance problems, as it's unlikely you'll be going through water softener salt (for ion-exchange softeners) or permeable membranes (for reverse osmosis softeners) as frequently as you should be to ensure everything is in good working order. 

Some signs that your water softener isn't capable of handling your home's water softening needs can include:

  • A buildup of salt inside your water softener's brine tank
  • Too-frequent cycling or recharging (far in excess of the manufacturer's recommendations)
  • Sputtering or low water pressure when you turn on your faucet
  • Frequent refills of the salt or potassium tablets in your ion-exchange softening system
  • Frequent changes of the permeable membrane for your reverse-osmosis softening system

If you've noticed any of these problems, you may find that the best answer lies in simply upgrading your existing water softener to a larger model with a greater capacity. However, you'll want to get a second opinion from a water softener installation company before proceeding. 

Problem #2: Your Water Softener Is Clogged

Just like other appliances, your water softener is vulnerable to the scale and buildup that can be caused by lime, calcium, magnesium, and the other minerals that tend to be present in hard water. Without regular maintenance and periodic cleaning, your water softener may be at risk. 

For homes whose pre-softened water has a high iron content, periodically cleaning the resin bed is a must. Over time, the iron within the water will eventually create a buildup of bacteria in the resin bed—the part of the softener responsible for removing hard water particles and replacing them with sodium or potassium. 

Cleaning this bed is usually as simple as running a liquid iron cleaner through your system, followed by a manual regeneration cycle that purges the wastewater tank. You may immediately notice an improvement in the smell and taste of your water after cleaning the resin bed.

Another problem can rear its head when the resin tank injector—or the part of your water softener responsible for moving the salt into the resin tank—becomes clogged with salty sediment.

Cleaning the resin tank injector can usually be as simple as turning on the bypass value (to shut off the water to your softener), running the manual regeneration cycle to remove any salty water already inside your softener, and removing the caps on the softener head. Often, you'll be able to spot the clog immediately.

Problem #3: Your Water Softener Is Low-Quality

In some cases, you may not be dealing with a maintenance or capacity issue, but the realization that your water softener just isn't as high-quality as you'd hoped.

If this is the case, upgrading to a higher-rated system may be the best option. Although there are various fixes you can undertake to try to improve the performance of your existing water softener, it's all but impossible to transform a cheap system into a higher-end one. 

By contacting a highly-rated and reputable water conditioning company and seeking a system that can meet your family's specific needs, you should find yourself in a much better position to choose a water softening system that will work for your household well into the future. Contact DuPage Water Conditioning for more information on installing a new system.

What Water-Softening Systems Work Best for Cooking?

| dupage-water | Uncategorized

If you pride yourself on your cooking skills and enjoy searching out new recipes and techniques to try in your home kitchen, you're probably already aware of how important high-quality ingredients are to palatable, presentable, and generally high-quality food.

What Water-Softening Systems Work Best for Cooking

One important ingredient you use frequently is water. Hard water can affect the taste and texture of food, so those who live in areas where the water is hard, or full of extra mineral content, may gravitate toward purified or distilled water for use in baking and cooking in order to avoid the mineral taste that can sometimes overpower the other ingredients.

Some types of minerals present in hard water can even affect things like the speed with which yeast rises or the heat at which you'll need to stir-fry freshly rinsed vegetables to avoid scalding.

Read on to learn more about how various water-softening systems can impact the taste and mineral content of tap water as well as to learn about some of the best water-treatment options for enhancing your home cooking.

Water's Effect on Food Taste and Texture

Water may be seen as the blandest of ingredients, a liquid essentially providing a blank canvas on which to paint the color and taste of various foods. However, the composition of your home's tap water (or even the distilled or purified water you use) can have a dramatic impact on your food.

For example, the chlorine used to purify well water and some municipal water can, in high concentrations, leave your food tasting like bleach. Even in lower concentrations, vegetables boiled or blanched in chlorine-heavy water can appear pale and soggy. 

The minerals in hard water can also affect the way proteins in flour absorb water, causing you to over stir certain baked goods in an effort to create well-mixed dough. In other cases, these minerals may bind to the yeast you use, impeding its ability to rise and creating doughy (rather than fluffy) breads, cakes, and doughnuts. 

Certain minerals in water, particularly iron and copper, can also affect the color of the food you prepare. Iron-heavy water can sometimes create a reddish hue in your foods while water with a high sulfur content can make food appear yellow or smell faintly like rotten eggs.

For these reasons, identifying the minerals most commonly present in your own water supply and finding the right water-softener system to remove these minerals can be the key to creating consistently high-quality baked goods and other food products. 

Reverse-Osmosis Water Softeners

These water softeners operate by forcing water through a permeable membrane. While this membrane is thin enough to allow pure water molecules through, it will block iron, calcium, and sodium molecules that have the potential to affect your water's taste and color.

You'll need to periodically replace this permeable membrane to ensure it remains able to filter out any impurities in your water; however, unlike ion-exchange water softeners, which require regular replacement of the sodium or potassium pellets used to exchange mineral ions, this type of water softener shouldn't need any additional maintenance. 

Reverse-osmosis water softeners are quite popular among those who, for whatever reason, don't want to add any additional sodium or potassium to their water supply.

Even though ion-exchange water softeners deposit only trace amounts of sodium or potassium into the purified water they generate, these small amounts may be enough to alter the final product for those who use very strict recipes with little room for error.

Many who are on low-sodium diets or who don't want to alter the amount of salt or other ingredients used in certain time-tested recipes also gravitate toward reverse-osmosis softeners to remove impurities. 

Ion-Exchange Water Softeners 

Unlike reverse-osmosis water softeners, which rely on a permeable membrane to physically filter out sediment and minerals, ion-exchange water softeners essentially "trade" these mineral ions with sodium or potassium ions instead. This "softens" the water by removing minerals while still keeping the water molecules intact. 

Ion-exchange water softeners are among the most common types of household water softeners and are ideal for busy families. By simply refilling your water softener with rock salt or potassium pellets every few weeks (or months), you'll be able to maintain a constant supply of mineral-free water with little to no extra effort. 

These water softeners can also benefit those who have trouble maintaining a healthy balance of electrolytes or who suffer from heart palpitations or other heart-related issues.

Even adding trace amounts of sodium or potassium to one's water source can be enough to improve sodium and potassium levels in the blood, with no discernible difference in the water's taste or texture. 

Regardless of which type of water-softening system you choose, by removing the minerals and other particulates in your home's tap water, you can ensure that you'll never again find yourself bemusedly staring at a fallen quiche or lumpy loaf of bread with no idea where you went wrong.

Telltale Signs You Are Living With Hard Water

| dupage-water | Uncategorized

Hard water is a common issue in households across America, and millions are dealing with the cost and headache of this irritating problem. However, even if you've heard of hard water, you may not know whether your pipes are plagued by minerals or how to tell whether you should invest in a home water-softener system.

Telltale Signs You Are Living With Hard Water

Luckily, there are several telltale signs associated with hard water. If you notice any combination of these signs, your home could be suffering from some of the issues often associated with hard water, including pipe damage, increased energy consumption, and a dishwasher that must work overtime to get your dishes clean.