What is a Residential Water Softener?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2019
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A residential water softener is a water treatment product that is designed for use with plumbing systems designed for use in the home. Often, the ingredients found in this type of water conditioning system are either different from or included in lesser quantities than with conditioners designed for use with commercial or industrial water systems. The main function of the water softener is to decrease the effect of dissolved minerals within the water, allowing the water to work more efficiently with household cleaners and laundry products.

Most residential water softener products employ the use of salt and potassium to break down the mineral content of the water supply as it circulates through the plumbing system of the home. The action of these two ingredients is especially effective in breaking down calcium and magnesium that may be found in the water. Since these two minerals tend to counteract the foaming action of many cleansers as well as laundry detergents, breaking down the mineral content makes it much easier to use the water for the laundry and other cleaning chores.


Another benefit of residential water softener products is their help in preventing clogging and damage to the interior pipes within the plumbing systems. Hard water, or water that is loaded with high amounts of minerals, tends to leave deposits on the interior walls that can build up and minimize the flow through those pipes. Depending on the materials used to construct the pipes, the minerals may also hasten the degradation of the pipes, leading to costly repairs. By breaking down those minerals, residential water softener products help to keep the pipes clear, promoting a more efficient flow of water. At the same time, softeners reduce the effects of the minerals on the integrity of the pipes, saving homeowners a great deal of money on plumbing system repairs.

In homes where the source of water is from a well, spring, or similar contained system, some forms of residential water softener are added to the source prior to the water being pumped into the plumbing. In other situations, the softener is contained in some type of water filter, helping to neutralize the effect of the mineral content of the liquid as it passes through the filter. It is also possible to purchase softeners that do not rely on the use of salt. This can be especially important if members of the household are currently dealing with high blood pressure or some other form of heart disease. Retailers usually carry at least one brand of salt-free water conditioner along with several other products that do include salt as a major ingredient.



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