Updated January 22, 2024

Water is an essential resource that we use in our daily lives for a variety of purposes, from drinking and cooking to cleaning and bathing. However, hard water can cause a range of problems, from clogged pipes and appliances to dry skin and dull hair. That’s why investing in a water softener system for your home is essential. Keep reading as we discuss the benefits of having a water softener system, how it works, and what to consider when choosing the best one for your needs.

What Is a Water Softener and How Does It Work?

A water softener is a device that helps remove hard water minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, from the water supply. A water softener works by using an ion exchange process to replace the hard water minerals with sodium or potassium ions.

The water softener system typically consists of a mineral tank, a brine tank and a control valve. The mineral tank contains resin beads that are coated with sodium or potassium ions. As hard water flows through the tank, the hard water minerals are attracted to the resin beads and exchanged with sodium or potassium ions, which do not cause the same problems as hard water minerals.

After a period, the resin beads become saturated with hard water minerals, and the water softener enters a regeneration cycle. During this cycle, a brine solution, usually made of salt and water, is introduced into the mineral tank to wash away the hard water minerals and recharge the resin beads with sodium or potassium ions.

The control valve is the brain of the water softener system. It regulates the flow of water in and out of the mineral tank and controls the timing of the regeneration cycle based on the amount of water used in the household. Some modern water softeners are equipped with smart sensors that can adjust the regeneration cycle based on the household’s water usage patterns, which can help conserve water and salt usage.

Benefits of a Water Softener System

A water softener can provide a range of benefits to your home. The following benefits are the most common.

Reduced Buildup of Scale and Soap Scum

Hard water contains high levels of minerals that can build up inside pipes, appliances and fixtures. This can lead to clogging, reduced water flow and damage to appliances. Additionally, soap and detergents do not lather well in hard water, resulting in soap scum and reduced cleaning efficiency. Soft water, on the other hand, does not contain minerals that cause buildup or interfere with cleaning, making it easier to maintain a clean and hygienic home.

Increased Lifespan of Appliances

Hard water often affects appliances such as water heaters, washing machines and dishwashers. Mineral deposits can cause damage to heating elements, reduce the efficiency of the appliance and eventually lead to breakdowns. Hard water minerals can also cause clogs that impair overall functionality that will lead to needing to replace your appliances prematurely. A water softener can help prevent these issues by removing minerals from the water.

Energy Efficiency

When hard water is heated, the minerals in the water can form a layer of scale on the heating element in your hot water heater. This layer of scale reduces the efficiency of the heating element and can increase energy consumption. With a water softener, the mineral content of the water is reduced, leading to improved energy efficiency and lower energy bills.

Improved Skin and Hair Health

Hard water can cause irritation, dryness and damage to the hair and skin. Soft water is gentler on the hair and skin, reducing the need for moisturizers and hair conditioners. It can also improve the effectiveness of soaps and shampoos, resulting in cleaner and healthier hair and skin.

Better Tasting Water

Hard water can have a metallic or bitter taste due to the minerals in the water. Soft water, on the other hand, has a more neutral taste and can improve the taste of food and drinks that are prepared using water.

Environmental Benefits

Using a water softener can have environmental benefits as well. A water softener can reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint by reducing the need for harsh cleaning chemicals and increasing the lifespan of appliances.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Water Softener

There are several factors that should be considered when selecting a water softener, including the following:

Water Hardness

The level of water hardness in your area is an essential factor to consider when choosing a water softener. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG). The higher the water hardness, the larger the water softener capacity required to remove the hard water minerals effectively.

Water Usage

The size of the water softener you choose should be able to handle the amount of water used in your home daily. A smaller water softener may be suitable for a small household, while a larger one is required for a larger family.

Regeneration Type

Water softeners use different methods for regeneration, including timer-based, meter-based, and on-demand. A timer-based regeneration system regenerates at set intervals regardless of water usage, while a meter-based system regenerates based on the amount of water used. An on-demand regeneration system regenerates only when necessary, and this depends on how hard the water is. The choice of regeneration type will depend on your water usage and lifestyle.

Type of Resin

There are two types of resin available: cation exchange and anion exchange. Cation exchange resins remove calcium and magnesium ions, while anion exchange resins remove sulfates and nitrates. The type of resin required will depend on the specific minerals present in the water.


A more efficient water softener will use less salt and water, saving you money on operating costs in the long run. Look for water softeners with a high-efficiency rating and Energy Star certification.

Maintenance Requirements

The maintenance requirements of the water softener should also be considered. Some water softeners require more maintenance than others. Look for water softeners with easy-to-replace components and user-friendly controls.


The cost of the water softener will depend on several factors, including the size of the system, the type of resin used, and the efficiency rating. Look for water softeners that offer good value for money and are within your budget.

Contact the Professionals Today!

Looking for top-notch plumbing, heating, electrical, cooling, and air quality services in Grimes, IA and the Des Moines Metro Area? Look no further than Golden Rule. Our team of experienced and highly skilled technicians provides you with the highest level of service and expertise in all areas of home comfort. From plumbing repairs and installations to heating and cooling system maintenance and upgrades, we’ve got you covered. Plus, our air quality services ensure that your home’s indoor air is healthy and clean. Contact Golden Rule today to schedule your service appointment and experience the difference.

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