Water Softening

What is Hard Water?

As rain falls through the earth’s rock it dissolves many of the rock minerals such as calcium and magnesium, this calcium and magnesium remains dissolved in the water and is a component of many water supplies in Ireland, water which has a high level of calcium and magnesium is called hard water. Unfortunately as this water is heated (above 60°c) the calcium and magnesium come back out of solution and form hard deposits on surfaces, commonly called scale.

Problems caused by hard water

Hard deposits commonly called “scale” develop a thick coating on heating elements in boilers, electric showers, emersions, dish washers and hot water tanks. Soaps and detergents do not perform as well, so larger quantities are needed for the equivalent amount of cleaning. This in turn creates scum deposits which are challenging to remove. Boilers, dishwashers and washing machines which are operated with hard water need considerably more maintenance and cleaning.

Heating efficiency impaired

Scale created on heating elements diminishes their efficiency because of the increased time required for heat to get through to the water. Thicker scale means greater energy costs. Scale also insulates the elements from the water causing them to overheat and burn out more quickly, again increasing maintenance expenditure.

How do water softeners work?

Water softeners or water softening, perform by a process known as ion exchange. The hard water passes through a high quality cation exchange resin inside a pressure vessel. The resin removes the Calcium and Magnesium ions from solution and exchanges them for ions of Sodium. When the resin becomes exhausted it is regenerated by drawing a solution of common salt – called brine – through the resin. During this regeneration the hard mineral ions are then released from the resin and replaced again with those of Sodium from the brine. The surplus ions are flushed to drain along with the surplus brine. This regeneration takes between 60 and 180 minutes depending on the size of the softener, and can be repeated as often as necessary

Valve size

Control valve sizes are specified according to the flow rate required with the softening system, and within the exchange capacity limits of the softening resin. Pipe connection sizes range from 3/4 to 2″ for standard directly connected control valves with flow rates up to 18m3/hr. For certain high flow applications water is piped directly to the vessel through service valves, with water only being diverted through the control valve during regeneration.

Clarwick provide a range of softeners for the Domestic and Industrial Markets.