How Does a Water Softener Help Your Carpet Get Cleaner?
Contributions from howstuffworks.com
We call water "hard" if it contains a lot of calcium, magnesium or other minerals. Groundwater acquires these metals by dissolving them from surrounding soil and rock. Industry measures water hardness in terms of grains per gallon (GPG) or milligrams per liter (mg/L).
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If your water tests at 1 GPG (17.1 mg/L) or less, then you have soft water. Hard water is around 7-10.5 GPG (120 - 180 mg/L), and very hard water is above that [source: Water Quality Association].
Hard water causes two problems:
1. Dissolved calcium and magnesium precipitate out of hard water as scale, which builds up on the insides of pipes, water heaters, tea kettles, coffee makers and industrial machinery. Scale reduces flow through pipes and is a poor conductor of heat. Eventually, pipes can become completely clogged.
2. Hard water reduces soap's ability to lather, whether in the shower, sink, dishwasher or washing machine, and reacts with soap to form a sticky scum.
Carpet cleaners using a truckmounted steam cleaning system, will usually tap into your outside water faucet. Even if you have a water softener in your home, it is not connected in any way to your outside faucet. So if the company does not have an onboard water softener, he’ll possibly be cleaning your carpet with hard water.
For a professional carpet cleaner, that means two problems. One, hard water will clog the pipes and water pump in our truckmount, making it a less effective cleaning machine. Your carpet won’t come as clean as it could if the machine were operating optimally. Two, hard water also makes cleaning products much less effective. As stated above, hard water reacts with cleaning products, even forming a sticky scum. Is this what you want left in your carpet? Hard water reduces cleaning effectiveness. And it also leaves a hard, crunchy residue. Have you ever experienced stiff carpet after it has been cleaned? We clean with soft water at the Best Carpet Cleaning in Boulder, CO 80304.
Turning Hard Water Soft
Water softeners operate on a simple principle: Calcium and magnesium ions in the water switch places with more desirable ions, usually sodium. The exchange eliminates both of the problems of hard water because sodium doesn't precipitate out in pipes or react badly with soap. The amount of sodium this process adds to your water is quite small -- less than 12.5 milligrams per 8-ounce (237-milliliter) glass, well below the standard set by the Food and Drug Administration for "very low sodium"
The ion replacement takes place within a tank full of small polystyrene beads, also known as resin or zeolite. These negatively charged beads are bonded to positively charged sodium ions. As the water flows past the beads, the sodium ions swap places with the calcium and magnesium ions, which carry a stronger positive charge.
So why do you load up water softeners with salt if the plastic beads do all the work? Over several cycles, calcium and magnesium replace all of the sodium in the beads, after which the unit can no longer soften water. To fix this problem, the softener enters a regeneration cycle during which it soaks the beads in a strong solution of water and salt, or sodium chloride. The sheer amount of sodium in the brine solution causes the calcium and magnesium ions in the beads to give way, and the beads are recharged with sodium. After regeneration, the water softener flushes the remaining brine. We regenerate our truckmount water softener with 10 lbs. of salt every 100 hours the machine works. Let us show you the diffeence at the Best carpet cleaning in Boulder, CO 80304.
What YOU Get
Stiff and crunchy carpet that didn’t come very clean is not what you desired when you called a carpet cleaner, but that’s what you get with hard water. However, the results of having a properly maintained water softener, within a truckmounted steam cleaning system, are clean, soft and fluffy carpet. The kind you bought!