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How Does an Ion Exchange Water Filter System Solve Hard Water Problems

Ion exchange water filtration or water softeners can provide fresh clean water and soap that lathers without staining in sinks. 


When shopping for a water filtration system for your home, you’re likely to consider an ion exchange system. Ion exchange is a water treatment method that eliminates undesirable contaminants and replaces them with another less objectionable substance with the same type of electrical charge. You don’t need to have taken Chemistry 101 to understand the basics of this process. Put simply; it works like this: Minerals and other contaminants are stripped from your home water supply and are replaced with a benign substance, like salt.

One of the most common ion exchange filtration systems for home water use is a water softener. Water softeners are often installed to remove calcium and magnesium, which cause hard water. They also remove iron, manganese, and other contaminants. Water softeners work by switching the positively charged minerals with other less harmful positively charged minerals, such as sodium. Water flows into the water softener, flushing over small plastic beads, known as resin. These beads carry a negative charge, which attracts the positively charged minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as the water passes through the tank. The minerals are replaced with positively-charged sodium that comes from a salty brine solution stored in the water softener. Once the resin is saturated, the water softener flushes and recharges the resin.

Water softeners are effective, efficient and affordable ways to remove contaminants, but there are some things to consider before installing one. A home needs a safe way to dispose of the waste brine. If not disposed of properly, it could cause contamination of a well or other water body located downhill from the softener disposal area. Also, the process will not work properly if there are certain particles in the water, such as clay or iron bacteria.

Softening adds a slight amount of sodium to the home’s water, which can be a health concern for some. The sodium levels are small enough not to affect most people, but it may be too much if you’ve been prescribed a no-salt diet from a doctor. If you need a no-sodium source of water in the home, you can install a faucet that runs untreated water from the kitchen sink. You can also replace the sodium resin with potassium chloride resin.

There are many high-quality water softeners available, but before purchasing, make sure you consider the pros and cons of buying a proprietary product. Companies like Culligan and Kinetico are considered high-quality systems, but they are limiting because all future service on the system must be done by technicians employed by these enterprises. Skillings & Sons typically recommends purchasing a non-proprietary water filter or softener, such as one made by Water Right. This Wisconsin-based company makes their equipment and parts in the United States and has earned a reputation for innovation. One such innovation is their Sanitizer Series, which instead of plastic resin to filter water, uses a crystalline media that is impervious to chlorine, backwashes in less time and at greater flow rates.

With more than 250 years of combined experience at Skillings & Sons, we have seen a wide variety of water quality problems in the homes we service throughout New England. Whether it is an ion exchange system or another filtration device, the key to finding the right system is correctly identifying the problem. This ensures the homeowner has a long term solution and years of high-quality water coming into the home. Contact us today to discuss water filtration systems for your home.