What is Water Softener Resin?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2015
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A water softener system often is an integral part to homes that have particularly hard water that can stain sinks and break appliances over time. It typically is not necessary, but it is preferable to many who do not want to risk water stains and possibly clogged pipes. There are a few main parts to this type of system, and water softener resin is one of the most important. In fact, it is the main component of the system and largely is responsible for softening the water. It works by filtering out certain unwanted impurities.

Water softener resin makes hard water softer by eliminating magnesium and calcium ions from the water that is piped into the tank. It has a major role in each of the three processes that help make soft water. The resin typically is in the form of beads that carries a negative charge, and they are stored in the mineral tank in most water softeners.

To start the process, the resin is saturated with sodium ions. Water from the pipes then passes through the resin inside the mineral tank, and the magnesium and calcium ions stick to the resin. Meanwhile, the sodium from the water softener resin mixes with the hydrogen in the water.


The next phase also involves resin in a major role, except this time it is reversed. The job of the resin in this phase is to eliminate the magnesium and calcium ions that it previously captured, and hold onto the sodium ions that it eliminated in the first phase. Finally, in the third phase, some of the water is transferred to a different tank, called the brine tank, where it is rinsed and mixed with salt.

There are two main kinds of water softener resin. The fine mesh resin can trap myriad minerals like iron, which often evade other types of resin. This kind usually is used by those pulling their water from wells. On the other hand, hi-cap resin usually is best for typical homes in the city, which is why it can be found in most water softener systems.

Water softener resin usually lasts about 20 years. If a water softener fails to soften water, it typically is not the resin that is at fault unless it has not been changed in years. Often, the salt and general softener mechanism should be examined first to determine the issue. If neither of those is the problem, then it could be time to see if the water softener resin needs to be replaced.


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Post 3

@donasmrs-- If the softening system is fairly old, it probably does need new resin. I have never changed the resin myself. My husband does it an it saved us a lot of money last time. So if you can do it yourself, I recommend that. You can probably find instructions on how to do it on the manufacturer's website or you could call them for help. But getting the resin online or from the store and adding it yourself is much better when you're trying to cut down on costs.

Our softener resin was golden color beads. I think most of them are the same and work with most systems and manufacturers.

Post 2

We moved into our house six months ago and the water is very hard despite the fact that there is a water softener. I would have it re-serviced but I can't afford it until summer. Should I go ahead and change the resin and see if it makes a difference?

I'm not sure if the resin is the problem. I have no idea when resin was last put into the softener.

Post 1

I think our water softener system uses a hi-cap resin. We had the system put into place a few years ago after hard water basically ruined our washing machine. It clogged all the pipes and little parts in the machine with hardened minerals. We ended up getting a new washing machine because getting the parts replaced and fixed was going to cost almost as much as a new machine.

In order to prevent this from happening again, we decided to invest in a water softener system using resin. It seems to be doing well. I've definitely noticed a difference in the water after we got the water softener though. There is a difference in how the clothes come out, there is even a difference in the softness of my hair.

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