Understanding Water Softener Beads

Water softener beads, also known as resin beads, are used in water softening systems.

Water softener beads are made from resin, like this object

Simply put, water softener beads, or resin beads, after being charged with sodium, exchange the sodium with calcium from the water. When the bead has exchanged all its sodium and is full of calcium, it needs to be “charged” with sodium again. This restores the bead so it can again exchange calcium with sodium. By taking the calcium out and putting sodium into the water, it turns the water from being hard (calcium) to soft (sodium). This is a problem.

Water softener beads are generally housed in a long cylinder that is attached to your water softener. Often in smaller softener units it can be found in different shapes. Inside the cylinder the beads are stored in a membrane to keep them contained.

Water softener beads generally last about 10-15 years. However, they can wear out prematurely. Iron in water and organic coatings that get on the beads can often cause the lifespan of a softener bead to shorten. If you find the effectiveness of the water softener decreasing then you would want to have your unit serviced to make sure all is well.

Also, while it doesn’t happen a lot … membrane breakage does occur. There is only one way to clean up water softener beads after a membrane has broken … flush them out and clean the filters.

Maintenance and Repair of Water Softener Beads

There are several ways to fix water softener beads. The simplest method is to call the service department of the company you purchased your water softener and have them fix the problem. If you are a do it yourself type person you can look into replacing the water softener beads or cleaning them with a resin cleaner. If you have to replace them, do some shopping around as some companies charge substantially more for the bead than others.

A friend who owns a laundry mat put a large and expensive water softener into his laundry mat only to come in one day and find all his washers clogged up. When he unplugged the filters they were full of little beads, water softener beads. It took him three days to get all of the beads out of his plumbing system. He pulled the entire system out of his laundry mat. Later he found Aqua Magnets Water Conditioning units. In the eight plus years he has used Aqua Magnets water conditioning he has never had to clean his boiler or clean any hard water build up off his equipment.

Many people have found the same solutions that are offered by water softener systems but without the problems by using Aqua Magnets Water Conditioners.

[Image Credit: otisarchives4]

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