Celebrating World Water Day – March 22

Reflecting back is a great way to determine where you are going! It’s hard to believe that last year on World Water Day 2017 we started this journey to give. We saw a need, it touched our hearts. and became personal to our family. We wanted to help. Clean water is often a “luxury” taken for granted in my life and the lives of my children. Yet…to so many others clean water is a basic need that goes unmet.

​We partnered with a local organization Chances for Children and pledged that for every water softener sold, AZ Water Solutions would donate a filter and bucket for a family in Haiti. Our hope was to make a real and meaningful impact to help others. And thanks all our customers we’ve been able to donate $1,000 and impact 250 families in Haiti thru our partner Chances for Children.

​Looking back brings us hope as we move forward, continuing our commitment to helping others one filter and bucket at a time. Will you join us?

Components of a Water Softener

​Each component of a water softener plays a significant role in the process. The efficient operation of the entire system is dependent on the functionality of the individual components. Although there are different brands of salt-based water softeners, generally they all work the same. Whichever choice you make, there are the same essential components found in all machines.
These key components are necessary for the performance of your water softener.

​Below is a list of the water softener components and what role it plays in eliminating hard water.

The valve is probably the most important part of a water softener. The valve is located on top the resin tank, and it monitors the amount of water that has been softened. This determines how much water has gone through the resin inside the tank and whether the resin has reached capacity for the ion exchange. This type of valve is called a “smart valve” because it knows automatically when to initiate the regeneration and backwash process. The regeneration and backwash process clean out the resins and recharges them with sodium ions. Based upon the pre-determined settings for capacity, the valve will start this process when those limits are reached. If the frequency is set the according to demand or time, the valve initiates the process based on these factors. The valve settings also impact the efficiency of the entire unit along with determining flow rates and gallons per minute.

Resin Tank
The tank contains beads, known as resin, which facilitate ion exchange. They soften hard water by taking the calcium and magnesium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Potassium can also be used as an alternative.
Once the resins have softened enough water per the valve settings, they are rinsed and cleaned using the salt brine. The brine provides more sodium ions which are taken in by the resin, and the calcium and magnesium ions are backwashed out of the system.

Brine Tank
The brine tank is where the salt is stored and is usually a separate bin that sits next to the resin tank. The water is filled to a lower level than the salt and is saturated with sodium ions. We refer to the water as salt brine. The brine water is used to regenerate the resin by providing it with sodium ions and relieving them of calcium and magnesium ions.
It is important to check the level of the salt in the tank monthly to ensure there is enough salt in the tank. Bins should be filled no more than 2/3 of the way full. This ensures maximum concentration. There is a control on the valve that regulates the amount of water into the salt tank.

The loop plays a critical role in separating water that goes from the main water valve into the house from the water used outdoors. This ensures softened water is not used on outdoor applications such as irrigation or for filling pools. The loop allows you to save money and energy by only using softened water for the proper applications inside your home.

Drain Line
The drain line is used to remove the water from the regeneration and backwash process out of your home. Often times it will connect directly to the drain box behind your washing machine. In some scenarios, the drain line can be run directly outside into the sewer washout box. It important to check your drain line for cracks. Dry and brittle drain lines can lead to leaks if they break. If you are replacing an older water softener…. you may want to consider replacing the drain line as well.

Electrical Outlet
It will be important to have an electrical outlet nearby. The valves will plug into this power source.

Why You Need a Water Softener?

Hard water causes inconveniences and damage that could escalate, eventually costing money and time. Indications of hard water include:

  • A build-up of scale on appliances – The excess calcium and magnesium minerals in the water builds-up in dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines. The accumulation can result in reducing the lifespan of the items.
  • Irritable skin or hair – Naturally occurring oils on your skin are used to nourish and protect your skin. Water high in minerals block pores and prevent the release of natural oils. This can lead to irritations and dryness.
  • White spots on dishes, glass shower doors, etc. – The minerals in hard water leave unwanted residues on surfaces which require extra cleaning to remove.

Click here to get a Quick Quote on a Water Softener for your home today!

How Does a Water Softener Work

​​Ever wonder just exactly “how” a water softener works to remove the hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) from your water. Well, keep reading! By the end of this blog post I hope you will have a solid understanding of why it’s important to have a water softener and how it works.

Naturally occurring calcium and magnesium minerals in the water can result in numerous issues for a home. The presence of these elements in the water is commonly referred to as “hard water”.

​Some of the implications include:

  • Scale build-up on faucets
  • “Spots” on glassware and glass shower doors
  • Clogged pipes with scale build-ups
  • Damage and extra wear and tear on appliances

If you have experienced any of the above, finding a solution to your hard water problem is critical. The most effective way to deal with hard water is by installing a salt-based water softener. It is designed to eliminate the hardness from the water in your home. The functionality of a water softener is embedded in its ability to impact the entire water supply of a house. There are numerous sizes of water softeners you can choose from, depending on how many people are in the house and how much water is consumed in the household. Regardless of size, all water softeners generally work the same way. All water softeners are connected to the main water supply valve in a house via the loop. This way, all the water used indoors will be treated by the softener. If the home does not have a loop installed, no problem. Often times soft water loops are retro-fitted to a home in order to facilitate the use of a water softener.

The Three Steps to Water Softening
A successful water softening process is comprised of three steps. Here is a high-level overview and we’ll dive into more detail of each step as we move thru this blog.

  • Ion Exchange
  • Regeneration & Backwash
  • Fill Cycle

Step 1 – Ion Exchange Process
As the water enters the house and passes thru the loop, it goes directly into the resin tank. While in the tank, the water completes an ion exchange process. This refers to the exchange of the calcium and magnesium ions with the sodium chloride (salt) ions (potassium may also be used) in the resin.
The resin attracts and binds to the hard-mineral ions and release a sodium ion into the water. The softened water is then distributed thru the plumbing system via the cold-water supply lines to all areas of the home. Another line carries the softened water to the hot water heater to provide softened, hot water throughout the house as needed. The actual ion exchange process is very simple…but critical to fully remove the hard minerals. Don’t be fooled…without salt in the process the hard minerals are not removed and remain in the water flowing thru your house.

Step 2 & 3 – The Regeneration and Backwash Process
The regeneration cycle is when the brine water from the salt tank is pumped through the resin, replacing the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions. In the backwash cycle all the brine that has passed through the resin and the hard minerals are drained out of the system. Once the resin has facilitated the exchange of ions for a specific amount of water consumed or duration of time, the system will need to regenerate (or restore) the resin bed. If the resin becomes full of calcium and magnesium ions, there are no more receptors for them to bind to. There is basically no “space” available to receive the ions and the process of water softening will be futile. Regeneration revitalizes the resin bed with more sodium ions to continue the softening process.

The regeneration cycle is typically programmed during initial installation within the valve setting to occur when demand for water is low, usually late at night. Water in the salt bin, also known as the salt brine, is released into the resin tank. During this process, there is a 2nd ion exchange in which the resin bed releases the calcium and magnesium ions, and they bind to the sodium ions that are in the brine water.
There are two methods of regeneration depending on the functionality of the valve…up-flow and downflow of the water. The type of water flow regeneration a machine provides could make a significant difference in the overall efficiency of the because it impacts the number of times the salt tank needs to be refilled and the amount of water used in the process. The valve type on the machine will determine if the water softener uses an up or down flow. Some machines have valves with the capability to utilize both flow types depending on how you set the valve.

  • Up-flow – The connection between the resin tank and the salt tank is strategically placed to allow the brine water from the salt tank to be pumped from the bottom of the resin tank to the top. When it reaches the top, the brine water is transferred to the drainage system and is backwashed (emptied) out of the entire system. With this process, you reduce the amount of water and salt used to clean the resin bed since it takes one run-through to get it ionized.
  • Downflow – The brine water from the salt tank goes into the resin tank from the top and needs to flow to the bottom of the tank, then move back to the top where it is backwashed (emptied) out of the system. In this type of system, there is a need for a second rinse of the resin bed since the brine water as taken the calcium and magnesium ions has passed through the ionized resins. This increases the likelihood of another ion exchange happening.

Flow rates measured in gallons per minute (gpm) during the regeneration and backwash cycle, is also important to consider. The higher the flow rate (gallons per minute) the shorter the overall cycle time. Flowrates also impact the overall water pressure of the house if other demands for water occur at the same time.

Determining the Regeneration and Backwash Frequency
Most water softeners come with two options to set the frequency of the regeneration and backwash cycles. In the first option, demand-initiated regeneration, the valve is set to run the cycles automatically based on the number of gallons of water softened, as monitored by the valve. For instance, the valve might be preset upon installation to initiate the regeneration and backwash process once the resin has softened 1500 gallons of water. This accounts for peak periods of water usage, say when there is company visiting and adjusts the cycle to run accordingly since the demand for the amount of water softened will increase. The opposite is also true. When out of town for vacation, the monitoring system in the valve will recognize that less water is being softened…and delay the backwash and regeneration cycles. This ensures the process only occurs when necessary. This is the most user-friendly and efficient method.

The other option is to run the regeneration and backwash cycles based on a set number of calendar days. In this example, the valve controls would be set to run the cycle every 5th day at 2 am, regardless whether the resin bed needed refreshed. For households that do not use a lot of water, a calendar setting will lead to usage of more water and salt than necessary because it’s running on a set calendar vs actual usage. On the other extreme, if water usage is peaked…the resin bed may fill up quickly and stay full for several days before the selected calendar date to run. This will degrade the performance of the machine to provide softened water because the resin bed is full.

The basis for setting how often the regeneration and backwash cycle can occur is also dependent also on the size or capacity of your water softener. Large capacity water softening tanks (as measured in terms of diameter and height) with a larger quantity of resin grains will have more capacity for an extended timeframe between cycles. For example, a smaller 32,000-grain machine will need to run the cycle more often than a 64,000-grain machine.
It is recommended to consult a local water softening professional to provide a proper analysis for sizing and installing a water softener. If the units are improperly sized or designed there is a potential for not having softened water when needed or impacts on the overall flow rates for all water needs in the home.

Step 4 – Fill Cycle Process
The brine water in the salt tank is refilled with water automatically by the valve. Salt is added manually to facilitate the creation of the next batch of brine.

Maintaining a Water Softener
It’s important to maintain a water softener to ensure optimal performance for many years. Generally, maintenance includes keeping an eye on the levels in the salt tank. Salt should only fill the tank 2/3 of the way. Periodically check the salt levels in the salt tank. If the salt falls below 2/3 of the tank height, simply add more salt. It is recommended to check the salt tank monthly. Check your valve for drips and leaks. If you notice any leaks call your installer right away. Putting the system into “by-pass” mode is also recommended when being gone from your home for extended periods of time (i.e. snow-birds)
Keep in mind a salt-based water softener is the preferred method for protecting your home against harmful build-up from minerals in the water. However, the salt-based water softeners will not provide water filtration for your home (i.e. chlorine removal, improve taste, odors, etc.) For whole house water treatment system options contact AZ Water Solutions today.

Water Softeners – Nuts & Bolts

In our previous blog post we talked about why having a water softener is important. In this post, we’ll share some key things to know when purchasing or replacing a water softener and share some insider tips and tricks!

Keep in mind, in general, all water softeners essentially do the same things – remove the hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) from the water. It’s a simple chemical process of ion exchange. The ions in the hard minerals move out of the water and onto the salt (or potassium). The tank will then regenerate (clean itself) and backwash (drain out the hard water).

Want to know an insider secret? Essentially all water softeners work the same way…so why pay thousands of dollars more for “brand-name” products and commissioned sales people when most products have the same result – soft water? Yes…there are companies out there that will try to tell you magnets work or “conditioners” work. Beware, unless there is salt (or potassium) involved it will not
remove the hard water. Those companies claim it will “reduce the effects of hard water”, but it does not remove the hardness. You’ll still have spots and build-up…bottom line!

Tank Size – What size is best for my home?
Most water softeners have two main components…the tank and the valve. Knowing the correct tank size is important when purchasing a new unit. Water softeners are sized based on the amount of water used. Simply – the number of people using the water in your house will determine the size of water softener you need. Water softener tanks come in many sizes based on the amount of “media” inside the tank. That media is measured in grains per thousand. Here’s a quick reference chart:

  • 32k grains – serves 1-3 people
  • 50k grains – serves 3-5 people
  • 64k grains – serves 5-8 people

Be sure to check the tank size (i.e. amount of grains) when purchasing a water softener. Many companies will offer a 20,000k grain tank which is completely undersized for most homes…but the price is much less…that is why! They use these low prices to bait you and then will upsell you to a much more expensive unit. We don’t offer undersized 20k grain softeners.

Electronic Valves – What’s their job?
The other key component to know about when purchasing a water softener is the valve…more importantly what it does. Electronic valves control the unit. These “smart valves” actually monitor, and track your water consumption. Based on the consumption rate the valve will automatically “know” when it’s time to regenerate (clean) the tank and backwash (drain) the hard water out. That means you can’t “set it and forget it”. This type of valve is called “on demand” and prevents unnecessary cycles from running reducing water waste. All of our water softeners come equipped with “on-demand” valves.

Other types of valves are referred to as “timed” units. They are programmed to regenerate and backwash at a set time and day…not on demand. There are a couple of concerns with this approach. First, if you use extra water between regeneration cycles you could be using hard water…. defeating the purpose. Another concern, it’s possible you could be regenerating too soon and wasting water with pre-mature cycles.

Warranty – The True Reflection of Quality
It’s important to understand the warranty offered for your unit. It will also offer you a priceless piece of information…the quality of your unit. If the manufacturer only offers a 1 to 5-year warranty…that’s a reflection of their quality. These are typically called “disposable” water softeners. Do you really want to pay thousands of dollars for a “disposable” unit? Many big box softeners (GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore) have
brand name recognition but often come with short lives that barely last longer than the 1 to 5-year warranty. Quality parts and manufacturing do make a difference and it’s reflected in what the warranty offered. Our water softeners come standard with a 25-year warranty on the tank without the inflated name brand pricing.

Hopefully, this post has helped you know more about what to consider when buying a new water softener. We are happy to answer questions and help you select the tank size that is best for your home and family. Keep in mind, all our units include “on-demand” electronic valves and 25-year warranties on
the tank. Click here to contact us or call us now at 480-375-1512. Mention this blog for a special discount!

Water Softener Basics & Benefits

The more I have the opportunity to talk with people and help them with water solutions for their homes and families, I get lots of questions about what a water softener does and the benefits of having one in your home. In this blog I want to address those questions and keep it simple! There’s lots of detailed info out there that you could spend reading for hours (and hours)…but straightforward and simple works for me! So here are the basics about water softeners.

The “job” of a water softener is to remove the hardness from water. Certain parts of the country (like Phoenix and surrounding areas) have naturally occurring hard water. That means we have a lot of calcium and magnesium in our water sources which causes the hardness. Have you ever seen that grey/green “junk” build up on your faucets, shower head and other fixtures…that is the “hardness”. Not only does the hardness damage your fixtures…it can also wreak havoc on your appliances…including your dishwasher, laundry machine and hot water heater! Yikes…all very expensive to replace / repair. Soft water will extend the life of those appliances and reduce repairs…saving you money! In addition, the “hardness” in the water is the culprit for those pesky spots on your dishes and film on your shower doors.

A water softener system with salt (or potassium) can significantly reduce the hardness of the water in your home! Not only will it extend the life of your fixtures and appliances…it provides additional benefits as well. The health of your hair and skin will get a major boost too. Hard water can damage your hair and leave it feeling dry and straw-like and your skin drier. Soft water allows your shampoo/conditioner to work more effectively and really “clean” and moisturize your hair with less minerals to interfere. There’s less soap residue that can lead to dry, itchy skin. Softened water does a better job rinsing, unclogging pores and letting moisture into your hair and skin.

Finally, soft water requires over 50% less detergent to do the same amount of laundry. Detergents do not mix well with hard water, so by using soft water instead your detergent is able to go further. This means you won’t have to purchase detergent nearly as often, but you’ll be getting even cleaner results. Soft water also helps keep your clothes bright and last longer.

Have more questions…give me a call. I love helping folks find what’s right for their home and families’ water needs! We also love giving back…check out how each water softener purchased changes the lives of children and families with our filter / bucket donation thru Chances for Children in Haiti.

Choices and Chances

Choices I’m filling water jugs as we rush out the door to soccer practice for my girls. I’m thinking to myself…”hurry up and fill, we need to go”.

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks…I should be ever so thankful that I have water and all I have to do is turn on the faucet. And not only do I have water…I have CHOICES! I can choose from the city tap water that runs right into my house or I can choose from the reverse osmosis faucet right by my sink. I can trust whole heartedly that my reverse osmosis water is pure, safe and clean. I can rest assured knowing it has been filtered and is the highest quality of drinking water available. And even my crystal clear ice cubes bouncing around in the jug are top notch quality.

As I’ve been preparing for World Water Day on March 22nd it’s been on my heart and mind that so many women, children and families don’t have the same opportunities. I am so thankful because:

  • It’s not necessary for my daughters to wake up at dawn and walk one or more miles to the closest water source and then back home.
  • It’s not necessary for my daughters to spend hours waiting in line for access to a community well in the heat of the day.
  • It’s not necessary for my daughters to worry about whether their water contains bacteria and other disease causing organisms.

So yes….within minutes while those water jugs filled my heart was filled with the desire to help. As a mom…how can I not help other mothers, children and families? How can I not seek out opportunities to share the living water with others? How can I not teach my girls to get involved? How could I not do something?

Chances for Children was founded by local folks here in Scottsdale that have a heart for others. What started as an orphanage in Haiti in 2008 has grown to provide feeding programs and clean water, education, medical clinics, job creations and strengthening communities through faith. This was it…the CHANCE to help.

AZ Water Solutions is honored to partner with Chances for Children. Our commitment is for each water softener sold a Sawyer PointOne Filtration Unit with bucket will be donated to Chances for Children in Haiti. We will help…will you join us?

Revelations 21:6 (NIV) – “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life”