Water Conditioning

(TREATS: Hard Water)

Treating Hard water with Salt Free Conditioning systems (TAC Systems)

A salt-free water conditioner is a water filtration system that crystallizes magnesium and calcium minerals prevalent in hard water. These micro-crystals are unable to leave solution and attach to pipes and water heaters in the form of scale. Water conditioners do not remove hardness minerals, they physically alter them and render them unable to form scale build-ups. Traditional water softeners eliminate hardness minerals through a process called ion exchange that consumes Salt.

The added sodium content has led to some controversy surrounding water softeners. In reality, the amount of sodium added by water softeners is minimal and far less than popularly imagined. Salt-based softeners also go through periodic regeneration cycles to replenish the resin beads with sodium ions. This results in brine-heavy wastewater flushing into city water drain lines, which has instigated a water softener ban in some municipalities. In Massachusetts it is  illegal to discharge this brine heavy backwash into private septic systems.  All of this has led to a push for salt-free water softener alternatives. Unfortunately, this has resulted in misleading albeit creative marketing strategies. Water conditioners billed as “salt-free water softeners” are targeting those seeking a salt-free system, but the implication that softening occurs is inaccurate. Though these water conditioners do address many of the problematic aspects of hard water, they do not result in soft water.

How does a water conditioner work?

Water conditioners work through a process called template assisted crystallization (TAC). In template assisted crystallization, water flows through a tank of TAC media. This media consists of tiny polymer beads covered in craters called “nucleation sites.” These nucleation sites act as templates to form the hardness micro-crystals. When the hard water comes into contact with the media, the magnesium and calcium ions are caught by the nucleation sites. As more calcium and magnesium ions build up within the sites, small micro-crystals form. Eventually, when they reach a certain size, these crystals break off of the media and are released into the water.

These micro-crystals are stable and will retain their crystalline structure as they flow through your plumbing. They will not break off and attach themselves to your water pipes as scale. Scale is destructive and detrimental to household plumbing and one of the most common problems people living with hard water face. Scale prematurely ruins appliances like coffee makers, dishwashers, and laundry machines. The damage done to hot water appliances is particularly devastating, as the hotter the water, the faster the formation of scale occurs. Scale can also lower water pressure, restrict flow rates, and in dire cases, prevent water altogether from flowing through your home.

Salt-free water conditioners vs. water softeners

Salt-free water conditioners do prevent scale from forming in your plumbing. But, with a salt-free water conditioner or scale inhibitor, you will not see all of the advantages provided by a water softener. Water softeners physically eliminate the hardness minerals from the water supply and flush them down the drain. The minerals are barred from entering your home and damaging your water heaters and appliances. However, hard water damage extends beyond just scale. Laundry washed in hard water comes out of the machine stiff with dingy coloration. Dishes washed in hard water are foggy and come emerge from the rinse streaked with soap spots. Soap and cleaning products build up in a thick scum, as hardness minerals prevent soap from lathering properly.

A salt-free water conditioner will not address any of these problems. Hence, why the common trade name “salt-free water softener” is not only false, it is deceptive. Salt-free water conditioners do provide protection against scale, but to associate them with all the benefits afforded by water softening is patently dishonest.

Where should I use a salt-free water conditioner?

Pretreatment for a tankless water heater is one of the most popular and effective applications of a water conditioner. Installing an anti-scale filter before any hot water appliance is a smart investment, especially if your water is high in scale-causing calcium and magnesium. Hot water dramatically accelerates scale accumulation. If scale collects in your tankless water heater, it will suffer diminished efficiency and premature failure. Paying to descale a water heater is exorbitantly expensive and scale-ridden water heaters will send the costs of your energy bills skyrocketing. Scale attaches itself directly to the heating element of water heaters. So, when the temperature increases to heat up the water, it must first heat up all the scale encrusted on the heater.

Remove existing scale

Another appealing feature of TAC water conditioners is their ability to clear existing scale from pipes. The micro-crystals formed by the TAC media have a snowball-like effect on scale. As the crystals flow through your pipes, they tear apart and scrape up the existing scale attached to your plumbing.

What are the advantages of a salt-free water conditioner?
There are several advantages to salt-free water conditioners that set them apart from traditional water softeners.

1. Low maintenance

Salt-free water conditioners are very low maintenance systems. Installation is very simple, as the systems consist of either a single tank or cartridge. Since water conditioners neither backwash nor go through regeneration cycles, they do not need drain connections. They don’t require storage tanks for regenerating brine or control valves to monitor flow and initiate backwashing cycles. They don’t require salt or potassium and rarely demand any sort of service from a plumber. They are unlikely to have a dramatic effect on your flow rate.

2. Environmentally friendly

Since salt-free water conditioners do not go through regeneration cycles, they produce no wastewater. They don’t dump chlorides into the waste stream, which can be strenuous on municipal water treatment plants. They also save water since all the water processed by the water conditioner goes straight into your home or tankless heater.

3. Low media consumption

The TAC media in salt-free water conditioners only has to be replaced once every three to five years. Furthermore, it takes remarkably little media to sustain an entire whole-house water conditioning system. Unlike water softeners, salt-free tanks do not need to be filled with the media. Most whole-house systems only require between 5-10 liters of media to last them several years.

4. Diversity of applications

If you don’t want to install a whole-house system, scale inhibitors come in a variety of cartridge sizes and flow rates. This means you can install a single anti-scale filter cartridge in front of your tankless water heater or inline with your other water filtration systems. If you want a whole house system with more extensive filtration abilities, a whole-house chlorine reduction and salt-free conditioner system is available. This will both prevent scale accumulation in your home and improve the taste and odor of your water supply. The removal of chlorine and chloramines will also protect the TAC media and prolong the life of the system.

See brochure below describing our Salt Free Conditioning System


For more information or service please contact us at: 978-212-9191 or email us: service@truewaterquality.com

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