Water softener abstract
A self-regenerating ion exchange water softener has a lower tank
for a resin chamber and an upper tank for a regenerative salt chamber,
with an opening positioned between them, and with a restrictive
pressure-sensitive valve, sensitive to pressure of water in the
resin chamber, having a restricted opening limiting flow of water
upwardly into the regeneration chamber or downwardly into the resin
Water softener claims
What is claimed is:
1. A self-regenerating ion exchange water softener, comprising:
(a) a resin chamber constructed to enclose a space for containing
an ion exchange water softening resin, (b) said resin chamber having
an inlet provided with a control connected to a source of softenable
water under pressure for softening said water by contact with said
resin in said chamber, and said resin chamber having an open outlet
for use of said softened water, (c) a salt chamber located above
said resin chamber and containing a water-soluble regeneration salt
capable of regenerating said resin, (d) a fluid flow connection
extending up and down between said salt chamber and said resin chamber,
(e) a normally-open pressure-responsive valve positioned to control
flow through said connection, said valve being positioned to sense
an increase of water pressure in said resin chamber and to close
said valve in response, and said valve having (f) a restricted passageway
of reduced flow capacity to provide limited flow of pressurized
water upwardly from said resin chamber when said pressure-responsive
valve is subjected to pressure, to thereby mix said softenable water
with said water-soluble salt in said upper chamber, and to relieve
the pressure of said softenable water in said resin chamber upon
closing and control, causing the resulting salt solution to flow
downwardly by gravity at a limited flow rate to said resin chamber
through said passage to mix with said resin and regenerate the same.
2. The water softener defined in claim 1 including a pressure-sensitive
normally open drain valve at the bottom of said resin chamber.
3. The water softener defined in claim 1 including a by-pass and
outlet, with control valve, for optional use of untreated water
without passing through said resin chamber.
4. A method of self-regenerating an ion exchange resin which comprises
introducing softenable water under pressure into a tank that contains
said resin, in response to said pressure expressing a controlled,
limited water flow from said tank upwardly to an upper chamber containing
salt, to mix with said salt to make a salt brine therein, and then
relieving said pressure in said resin tank to cause said brine to
flow by gravity downwardly into said resin tank to regenerate said
Water softener description
 This invention relates to an ion exchange water softener,
particularly a self-regenerating water softener, wherein an ion
exchange resin, after being depleted through use in water softening,
is automatically regenerated by the simple act by the user of turning
the water on for purposes of use, and turning it off after use.
This invention further relates to an automatic method for regenerating
 It is not new to regenerate a zeolite bed used for water
softening, or to use a brine, such as sodium chloride brine, to
regenerate a zeolite bed contained in a tank. The patent to Duden
U.S. Pat. No. 1611422 discloses a typical apparatus having a tank
for the zeolite, a separate tank for salt and water, and a further
separate compartment for the brine that is used to regenerate the
 The devices of the prior art involve a substantial amount
of piping and valving, and require considerable manipulation on
the part of the person using the softened water.
 It is an object of this invention to avoid all such complications,
and to make the regeneration of the zeolite automatic, as a simple
on-off valve is turned on and off for the purpose of use of the
 Another object of this invention is to provide a self-regenerating
ion exchange water softener of any size or shape, which is not required
to be permanently connected into the plumbing system of a house
or factory, but which can be moved from place to place as desired,
merely by being connected to a source of raw water under pressure.
 Other objects and advantages of this invention, including
the simplicity and economy of the same, will further become apparent
hereinafter, and in the drawings of which:
 FIG. 1 is a side view, partly in section, showing one embodiment
of the invention, and
 FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a normally-open pressure-responsive
valve comprising one component of the self-regeneration system in
accordance with this invention.
 The specific forms of the invention selected for illustration
in the drawings are intended to be exemplary only, and the following
description is not intended to define or limit the scope of the
invention, which is defined in the appended claims.
 Turning now to FIG. 1 a water softener has a raw water
inlet 10 for pressurized raw water leading into a resin chamber
11. A remote, user-controlled valve 12 is provided at any convenient
location to open up or shut off the flow of incoming water so that,
when the user desires to use soft water, it flows upwardly through
the resin chamber 11 and is treated accordingly and delivered to
the place of use. An upper valve 13 and a lower valve 14 are provided
in chamber 11. They are both normally open, automatically closing
valves in response to pressure. Thus, when water is requested by
the user, it is introduced into the inlet 10 the pressure inherent
in the raw water closes the valve 13 and the valve 14 causing the
incoming water to flow upwardly through the resin chamber 11 with
the treated water flowing out the outlet 15 for use.
 According to this invention, the upper valve 13 is provided
with a restricted opening, providing a leakage passageway 16 causing
a limited amount of water to leak into an upper salt chamber 17
thereby making brine within the upper chamber 17. When the incoming
water is later turned off after use by the user at valve 12 the
brine chamber 17 which is located above the resin chamber 11 performs
gravity leakage of the brine that was formed in the chamber 17
causing that brine to flow by gravity downwardly into the resin
chamber and thus automatically recharging the resin in chamber 11
in preparation for its next use.
 At the user's option the by-pass valve 20 may be switched
to an open position, causing untreated water to flow under its own
pressure into the inlet 10 and directly out of the outlet 15 without
being treated by the resin in the chamber 11.
 An important feature of this invention is the automatic
upward leakage of water into the salt chamber 17 coupled with the
production of brine therein, followed by automatic gravity downward
leakage of the resulting brine after the water pressure has been
turned off by the user. This saves the user the annoyance and trouble
of manipulating a complicated network of pipes and valves, and going
to various locations in a building to do so, just to place the water
softening system in use, or to disconnect it from the existing plumbing
circuits if desired.
 It will be appreciated that the use of the valve 20 is optional.
Further, the pressure closing lower drain valve 14 is optional in
the sense that the automatic regeneration takes place even if the
drain valve 14 is permanently closed. However, if the user desires
to empty the resin chamber 11 after every usage of water, a normally
open valve, which is pressure sensitive to close, may be used instead.
 In FIG. 2 the valve 30 is in the optional form of a so-called
umbrella valve, with an orifice disc 31 which slows down the flow
through the valve when it has been opened under the influence of
raw water pressure. The size of the orifice in the disc can be optimized
in order to pre-select a suitable velocity of flow for the creation
of brine in the upper tank 17. This, also, controls the rate of
flow of the formed brine, downwardly after the pressure has been
turned off by the user's actuation of the valve 12.
 It will be appreciated that many different forms of flow
restrictive means may be used for the purpose of this invention,
including the concept of deliberately fitting the valve loosely
in its opening in a manner to permit slow leakage upwardly while
the resin chamber 11 is under pressure, and downwardly when it is
not. As another example, a restricted passageway may be cut through
threads that are used in connecting the valve into its opening between
the upper and lower tanks to provide leakage. Other means of obtaining
such a restrictive flow will become immediately apparent to those
skilled in the art, including the use of a valve that is incapable
of closing instantly and therefore provides a time-regulated amount
of water leakage into the upper salt tank before it completely closes.
Similarly, such valve may be designed to open slowly when the water
pressure is shut off, thereby controlling the rate of flow of brine
down into the resin chamber 11.
 The self-regenerating system of this invention can be employed
by fitting it into a built-in plumbing system in a home or factory
or example, or can even be a portable system needing only to be
connected into a source of raw water under pressure. This greatly
contributes to the utility and ease of use of the self-regenerating
ion exchange water softener of this invention.
 Although this invention has been disclosed with reference
to specific forms, many variations may be incorporated into actual
practice. A few variations have already been discussed herein. The
use of an automatic drain for the brine after it has completed the
resin regeneration step is optional, as are many other features,
so long as the conversion of salt to brine during use of the softened
water and the automatic gravity delivery of the resulting brine
to the regeneration chamber are actuated automatically when the
user turns the water on and subsequently turns it off.
 These and other equivalent components and method steps are
all intended to be included within the spirit and scope of the invention
as defined in the appended claims.