Water Softeners and Conditioners

OVERVIEW

Whenever the hardness of water is measured and exceeds 30 or 40 parts/million, there is a strong possibility that you are going to end up with a hard water scale especially in the newer instantaneous water heaters, eventually requiring the likes of services such as Kansas City water heater repair or local companies depending where you reside within the States. In order to protect water heaters in the presence of hardness, it is very important to look at a variety of different processes that Dime Water, Inc. offers.

One of the most popular ways of handling hard water is to install a water softener. The softener will remove the hardness, the calcium, and magnesium hardness and will replace it with sodium. The salts of sodium do not cling to metal surfaces. It is important to check out the most popular types of water softeners to make sure you can keep your water filtered properly.

In addition, soft water is going to allow you to use considerably less soaps and detergents and there have been numerous studies that point to the fact that in the presence of soft water the reduction in soaps and detergents over a period of time will actually pay for the water softeners.

In the production of our water softeners we use all American made components. Wherever possible we use components, which:

  • have a history of long life,
  • are constructed of non metallic materials (no internal corrosion).

We use active parts, particularly valves, which are well known and readilly available so that if service is required parts are universally available at very reasonable prices. By avoiding proprietary or unique components the after sale service is less expensive for the customer.

Click Here to Learn About Our Water Softeners

TECHNICAL EXPLANATION

HOW DO WATER SOFTENERS WORK?

The job of a water softener is to extract calcium and magnesium from water and replace it for (exchange it for) either sodium from the softener salt or potassium from a salt substitute called potassium chloride. The medium used to do this is called ion exchange resin, resin, or synthetic zeolite. The medium is also reasonably effective in removing clear water (ferrous) iron, manganese, copper, radium, aluminum and some other trace metals.

The resin is made from two materials: styrene and divinylbenzine. This material is impervious to most chemicals, can be operated at temperatures up to 212 F, pH from 1 to 14 and has a normal service life measured in decades if properly maintained. About the only thing that shortens the resin’s life are strong oxidizing agents such as chlorine or repeated freeze/thaw cycles. Removal of chlorine before a softener with activated carbon, KDF or a feed of sodium bisulfite will significantly enhance the resin’s life.

Once calcium and magnesium is exchanged for sodium or potassium through the softening process the water is referred to as softened water (not soft water, which is nature’s water before it has dissolved minerals into it). Water before softening is called hard water. The level of hardness is usually expressed in grains per gallon as calcium bicarbonate. A grain weighs 65 milligrams. A grain per gallon can also be expressed as 17.1 milligrams per liter. For domestic purposes, a remaining hardness of 1 or 2 grains per gallon is acceptable, commercial applications normally require 1 grain or less and high temperature boilers will need 1 mg/l or less of residual hardness.

The math required to properly soften water for boiler applications is quite extensive and requires the results of a complete water analysis to properly calculate. The technical staff at Dime Water, Inc. is prepared to do all of the calculations and recommend the proper equipment.

TECHNICAL OVERVIEW

The calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium all exist in the water as ions, which by definition are dissolved and cannot be seen. The hardness ions cause scale in pipes, soap curd, water heater failure, poor soap use, etc. Sodium and potassium do not cause these problems so there are aesthetic and financial benefits to softening water.

Standard beads of resin are about 1/64? in diameter and the color varies from almost white to black depending on the manufacturer. Made of a blend of 92% styrene and 8% divinyl benzene it is durable from just above freezing to boiling temperatures. The benzene compound is mildly soluble in water with free chlorine, so pre-treatment with activated carbon extends the life measurably. Plan on a resin life of 15 years + with proper care. The resin used is the same for commercial water softeners as well as residential.

Running water across the resin is called the service cycle. When all of the sodium is gone, the water softener is said to be exhausted. At that point sodium or potassium mixed with water called brine must be introduced in a process called regeneration where the calcium and magnesium is run to drain and is replaced with the sodium or potassium.

The resin capacity is considered used up when exhaustion is reached. Water hardness is expressed as grains or grains per gallon (GPG) or as mg/l and 1 GPG+17.1 mg/l. The capacity of resin is expressed as kilo (thousands) of grains per cubic foot. The normal capacity of resin is 30 kilo grains/30,000 grains per cubic foot.

As an example: Water containing 10 grains of hardness and a 1 cubic foot commercial or residential softener. 30,000/10=3,000 gallons.

This is the frequency or regeneration. Commercial water softeners should always be sized by a professional!

KEY NUMBERS USED TO SIZE AND OPERATE A WATER SOFTENER

  • To get 30,000 grains from a cu. ft. of resin, salt with 15 pounds of salt
  • To get 20,000 grains from a cu. ft. of resin, salt with 8 pounds of salt
  • One gallon of water added to salt will dissolve 3 pounds of salt and produce brine for regeneration
  • Intermittent max. flow ranges from 5 to 15 GPM/cu. ft of resin
  • People within a home in the US consume 60-75 gallons per day per person
PARTS

SOFTENER CONTROL VALVES

Used in a variety of contexts, control valves regulate the water flow based on signals received from system controllers by fully or partially opening or closing, which is done automatically by actuators.

Call to purchase Softener Control Valves: 760.734.5787

REPLACEMENT RESINS

Ion-exchange resins or ion-exchange polymers are widely used in different separation, decontamination and purification processes, being easily recognizable in the form of small white or yellowish beads. The beads are usually porous and provide a high surface area for trapping ions, with a concomitant release of other ions (ion-exchange).

Call to purchase Replacement Resins: 760.734.5787

BRINE TANK ASSEMBLIES

Sitting next to a water softener, brine tanks are plastic containers filled with brine and water saturated with salt (brine solution), which is a necessary part of the ion exchange process in a water softener. The salt level must always remain a few inches above the water level in the tank.

Call to purchase Brine Tank Assemblies: 760.734.5787

BRINE SAFETY VALVES

Part of the brine tank assembly, safety valves offer a positive shut off if the brine refill water and also ensure that you do not overfill the brine water, which can cause flooding. When the water gets to a preset height, the valve will shut off filling.

Call to purchase Brine Safety Valves: 760.734.5787

MAINTENANCE & REPAIR SERVICES

A water treatment system service and maintenance plan is an economical interference-free manner in order to ensure that the water treatment system is operating at the desired performance. Our approach is – on a local basis including much of southern California – to use contractors’ help. More often than not, we are able to provide a plumber or a licensed technician that will work on our behalf to get the equipment repaired. We are available from 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday to answer all your questions!

Dime Water, Inc. provides pre- and post treatment instructions with every system at the time of the shipment. Our staffed engineers will be in touch with you to answer all your questions about pre- or post treatment. If you have any questions, call and talk to our water treatment experts.

WHAT CAN YOU CHECK IF THE WATER SOFTENER IS NOT WORKING?

  1. Look for the bypass valve, almost all water softeners are installed with a bypass valve; the bypass valve might be open and that is why there is no soft water.
  2. Look to see if there is adequate amount of salt in the brine tank; the salt level always has to be above the water level, if not, you are not getting saturated brine you just regenerating with water and you are going to have hard water.
  3. Check the valve itself – the water softener is plugged in an outlet that’s on a switch, so when you turn the light off you turn off the water softener and there is no electricity to it and therefore the unit will not regenerate the way that it should.
  4. Especially if you are on city water the chlorine in the city water will eventually wear out the water softener resin so keep that in mind because it will shorten the life of the water softener.
  5. Water hardness can change so if your unit is set up for one hardness value and over a period of time the water hardness got greater, the water softener does not know that and you are going to end up with frequent hard water coming out of the unit.
  6. Check the controls, these might be set up improperly.
  7. Check the drain line – if you moved something around in your home or garage or basement you could have pinched or obstructed the drain line and once that is obstructed the unit will not regenerate properly, it will consume salt.

COMMON ISSUES WITH WATER SOFTENERS

System is not sucking water from brine tank

  • There is an injector that creates the suction; in the injector because of dirt in the water or iron in the water will often become plugged; the injector has to be cleaned
  • Over a period of time the tube going from the control valve to the brine tank can age and get a crack in it and instead of drawing in brine just draws in air
  • If for whatever reason your water pressure is gone way down then you are not going to draw in brine
  • Look for the obstruction of the drain line

Error code on the digital meter

Check the manual of instructions and see what different error codes mean, then correct the problem (there are about 2-10 codes that can appear approximately – there are no standard codes you need the manufacturer’s own manual)

Getting resin in the house after installing the water softener

This means either that the unit was installed backwards with the inlet and outlet reversed and that will cause the resin to go out (we put upper screens on our units to prevent this) or the lowest distributor got broken out of carelessness, also if the unit froze in transit that could cause the problem as well.

Possible of elevating the drain line above the water softener

It takes 21/2 feet of elevation to act as a 1 pound backpressure so if you got reasonable pressure in your home, meaning somewhere between 30-40 psi, the elevation of a drain for 8-10 feet is not going to make any difference at all.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: WHAT KIND OF FLOW RATE CAN I GET OUT OF THE UNIT?
Q: WHAT SIZE DO I NEED?
Q: WHAT IS REGENERATION?
Q: WHAT KIND OF SALT DO I NEED TO USE?
Q: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WATER SOFTENER?
Q: DO YOU OFFER COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENERS PARTS?
Q: WHAT IS A COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENER?
Q: HOW DO I INSTALL A COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENER?
Q: HOW MUCH IS A RESIDENTIAL WATER SOFTENER GOING TO COST ME AT DIME WATER INC.?
Q: ARE THERE RESIDENTIAL SOFTENERS THAT DO NOT USE SALT?
Q: HOW MUCH SALT YOU HAVE TO ADD FOR A RESIDENTIAL WATER SOFTENER?
Q: CAN ONE DRINK THE WATER FROM A WATER SOFTENER?
Q: HOW DOES A WATER SOFTENER HELP THE WATER?
Q: WHAT IS SOFTENER WILL NOT REGENERATE?
Q: WHAT IF SOFTENER WILL NOT REGENERATE PROPERLY?
Q: WHAT ABOUT RESIN DEGRADATION?
Q: I HAVE A SOFTENER, BUT MY WATER IS STILL HARD. WHY?
Q: WHAT KIND OF FLOW RATE CAN I GET OUT OF THE UNIT?

A: We have to ask first what your definition of soft is; soft for laundry applications is different than the soft for beverage producers for example. We have to guide people into telling us what level of residual hardness after softening is acceptable.

Q: WHAT SIZE DO I NEED?

A: We need as much information as possible from the prospective customer. What is the application? Finding out this we can closely estimate the flow rate and then we have to know whether they want softened water 24/7 or is there a window of time when we can take the unit out of service to regenerate it. If not and they want soft water 24/7 then we have to put in a twin or multiple unit to provide softened water while one (or more) of the units is regenerating.

Q: WHAT IS REGENERATION?

A: Regeneration involves a number of steps. Backwash to get rid of any dirt or debris what is collected on the top of the resin. The second step is to bring in a brine solution, which is a mixture of salt and water – dissolved salt and water becomes brine; once we get the brine into and through the resin the next step is to rinse it out of the resin followed by going to a rapid rinse to get the last of the residual brine out and also pack the bed of resin so that when the

Q: WHAT KIND OF SALT DO I NEED TO USE?

A: Today almost any kind of salt is acceptable.

Q: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WATER SOFTENER?

A: What a customer should look for is that the parameter of the flow requirement and the hardness is adequately matched by the water softener. You can get any amount of water through a water softener, but that does not mean that it’ll going to be properly softened and that you’ll going to utilize the resin efficiently. What has to be done is a good match done by somebody with a lot of experience that will guide you to the properly sized water softener for the flow requirement that you have, the hardness of your water and the level of softness that you want especially toward the end of the service run.

Q: DO YOU OFFER COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENERS PARTS?

A: Yes, for anything that we sell or have sold, we have the commonly needed repair parts in stock. We are able to diagnose the problem the customer might have even over the phone after we listened to the symptoms of the problems that they are experiencing.

Q: WHAT IS A COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENER?

A: Typically we go by the grains capacity and the overlap is about 60.000 grain water softener, which is a 2 cubic feet water softener that would be on the upper side for residential applications and on the lower side of commercial applications.

Q: HOW DO I INSTALL A COMMERCIAL WATER SOFTENER?

A: Dime Water Inc. offers basic instructions for that. There are 4 important things: There is an inlet and an outlet so raw water goes in through one port and good, softened water comes out on another port and then because of need for regeneration there is a drain line that has to be installed and more often than not there has to be an electrical connection to operate the control valve. W do offer solar type valves that have their own little panel that can be used to regenerate especially if it is an outside location.

Q: HOW MUCH IS A RESIDENTIAL WATER SOFTENER GOING TO COST ME AT DIME WATER INC.?

A: We try to sell value:

the value comes in selecting the best possible components when we build a system, the value comes in giving good technical advice to the customer prior to the purchasing of the unit, the value comes with us being behind the phones during the life of the unit should they have any type of question or problem that arises, the value comes for us not only having the parts in stock to repair the unit but letting the customers know what parts they need. Our units are completely assembled and tested before it goes out the door.

Q: ARE THERE RESIDENTIAL SOFTENERS THAT DO NOT USE SALT?

A: Not if you going to call it a softener; you can call it a conditioner and don’t use salt. Softeners by definition and by industry standard have to use salt.

Q: HOW MUCH SALT YOU HAVE TO ADD FOR A RESIDENTIAL WATER SOFTENER?

A: It depends on how hard the water is and how much water you use in your home. Conservatively the average use will be around 40 pounds a month.

Q: CAN ONE DRINK THE WATER FROM A WATER SOFTENER?

A: Sure, there is nothing wrong with it. It’s obviously got to be high is sodium, but if that becomes a medical concern, the studies say that sodium has to do with fluid retention; fluid retention constricts blood vessels and a constricted blood vessel is going to increase blood pressure. There are a lot of studies pro and con to that, but if it is an issue we can regenerate with potassium chloride.

Q: HOW DOES A WATER SOFTENER HELP THE WATER?

A: Some of the benefits of having soft water are:

  • needing less soaps and detergents
  • needing Less cleaning chemicals
  • soft water protects the water heater(hot water)
  • soft water protecting the plumbing
Q: WHAT IS SOFTENER WILL NOT REGENERATE?

A: Commercial Water Softeners will automatically initiate regeneration. This is done by timer clock set to regenerate specific days and times of the week that is convenient for the business operating hours. Metered control valves that actually count the number of gallons and only regenerating as needed are now frequently used as well. A timer, meter or sensor malfunction will result in failure to regenerate. Commercial water softeners that are not regenerating automatically can be set to regenerate manually until service or parts are available.

Q: WHAT IF SOFTENER WILL NOT REGENERATE PROPERLY?

A: In order for a commercial water softener to work efficiently, it must go through proper regeneration. Commercial Water Softeners contain a resin bed that has to come into extremely close contact with a strong salt (brine) solution, which breaks the chemical bond of harness minerals that is bonded to the resin beads. This incredible concentration of brine exchanges sodium ions for hardness ions. Failure to bring the resin bed into contact with a strong brine solution can be the result of many malfunctions. Such issues as clogged injectors, restricted or blocked drain lines, worn internal parts, dirty or worn out resin or parts can cause improper regeneration. Worn internal parts or debris caught internally can result in a complete rebuilding or valve overhaul to remedy the problem.

Q: WHAT ABOUT RESIN DEGRADATION?

A: It is normal to experience a 2% – 5% resin loss each year. Needless to say, the efficiency of a Commercial Water Softener will deplete at that rate as well. In locations where the water is highly chlorinated or the softener is grossly undersized, the resin can be destroyed even quicker. Chlorine will chemically break down the resin from perfectly round beads and fracture into a mixture that looks similar to mashed potatoes. This results in severe pressure loss and salty water from channeling. High flow rates passing through the resin will also cause the resin beads to fracture, shortening the life of the resin as well. This is why it is imperative to correctly size a Commercial Water Softener for capacity and flow rates.

Q: I HAVE A SOFTENER, BUT MY WATER IS STILL HARD. WHY?

A: When operating correctly, water softeners will produce less than one grain of hardness. In some applications for commercial water softeners, hardness of less than .25 gpg is required. It is crucial to have an understanding of the equipment and to understand water hardness to correctly diagnose the problem. Water softeners can be regenerating correctly but there may be a “hardwater bleed” that is being experienced because of worn O rings or internal parts. Most commercial water softening applications require very accurate soft water test kits to monitor low level hardness leakage.

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