What Is a Soft Water Tank?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A soft water tank provides a medium for ion exchange to remove minerals from hard water. Minerals can impact the taste of water in addition to altering performance; scum and scale can form in kitchens and bathrooms, for example. In addition, the minerals can build up in the plumbing as well as heating tanks, causing early failure and other problems. Installing a soft water tank is one way to address a hard water problem.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Such tanks are typically positioned at an inlet point, to process water before it enters household plumbing. This is important, as it protects the plumbing from hard water. As water enters the soft water tank, it passes through a filter bed. The bed facilitates the collection of calcium and magnesium, allowing cleaned water to flow out and into the plumbing system. It can pass into heating tanks as well as emerging from taps on demand.

Over time, the filter bed in a soft water tank can start to become clogged. Water may flow slowly and impurities can develop. At this stage, it needs to be recharged or cleaned. Commonly, this is accomplished by adding salt to the tank and then flushing it. Replacements for filters are also available, as are professional cleaning services to maintain a soft water tank. The best option can depend on the size of the tank and the comfort level of the owner.

Using a soft water tank can cut expenses associated with plumbing problems, in addition to resulting in cleaner dishes and laundry. People may also find showers more pleasant without the heavy load of minerals, which tends to reduce foaming and create a scum. The initial cost of the tank can be high, and people need to consider factors like the flow rate when they make a purchase. It is important to purchase an appropriately sized and configured tank to obtain the best results with water processing.

As an alternative to a soft water tank, households can also arrange for water delivery. Tanks of softened water can be dropped off and exchanged with empties to provide a steady supply of water for tasks where high mineral content is not acceptable. This eliminates the need for tank maintenance, but can be more expensive in the long term, depending on how much water people use. People in buildings with a shared water supply might want to consider pooling resources to buy and maintain a softener for the whole building, as this can be a cost effective solution in the long term.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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