Why You Might Need a Water Softener

Water is an essential commodity that we cannot do without, but when it is not clean, and soft, it can be a cause of many problems. We are all exposed to the dangers of using water that is full of compounds and impurities which not only threatens our health but also has the potential of driving the cost of maintenance and repair of appliances out of control.

Fortunately, water softening systems are designed to improve the quality of water by eliminating impurities and compounds that cause daily irritations, corrosion of appliances, and damage to plumbing lines. Some of the things you do not want to deal with at home are dry skin and hair, stains, scum, bad odor, funny water taste, low-lathering, and costly repairs and replacement of appliances when they fail.

Whereas most industry experts agree that hard water is not a serious health concern, they are in agreement that the extent of the hardness can significantly affect the quality of life. This expertly prepared buying guide will help you choose the best water softener to help solve your hard water problems.

What is a Water Softener?

You can get a water softener install to eliminate hardness from the water and make it usable. Hard water refers to water that has minerals such as carbonate, manganese, calcium, and magnesium.  Some of the telltale signs that you have hard water in your home are soap or shampoo that doesn’t lather well, stains and spots on utensils and fabrics, dingy laundry, scale deposits on the coffee maker, and a ring on the bathtub. If these are some of the things you have noticed, you might be the right candidate in need of a water softener.

In a survey conducted by the American Geological Department, over 85% of U.S homes have challenges of hard water. The degree of hardness is quantified by grains of mineral per gallon (GPG) or sometimes expressed as parts per million of minerals (PPM). Ideally, 1 GPG is an equivalent of 17.1PPM.

What Is Hard Water?

Typical hard water is that which contains more than 1 GPG of dissolved, but realistically, water containing GPG of up to 3 is considered relatively soft. To be sure what level of water hardness you are dealing with, it is important to buy a water test kit. Alternatively, you can take your water to a reputable laboratory for testing.

Problems Associated with Hard Water

As earlier hinted, hard water is less a concern of health than of the massive cost that goes into repairs. In many cases, the problem of hardness remains hidden until you see your plumbing systems beginning to malfunction or water-using appliances begin to fail. Ideally, when hard water containing minerals is heated and left to recrystallize, it forms scales that are responsible for clogged plumbing, which can reduce or stop the flow of water.

In the same breath, scale lime deposits also have a serious effect on water-heating appliances, including dishwashers, coffee makers. This increases the repair and replacement expenses. According to experts at Water Research Council at New Mexico State University, water heaters and other water-using appliances are 30 percent less efficient when using hard water.

Water Softener Types

There are varied types of water softeners used to correct the problem of the hardness of the water. The most popular of whole-house water softening systems or ion-exchange also called “cation exchange” unit – to review some of these water softening systems, click here. Here are some of the technologies available for your consideration. The following will explain the differences.

Salt-Based Iron Exchange Softener

It is engineered to remove hardness by cycling water through two tanks one of which contains special resin beads and the other featuring brine. As the title suggests, this system works on the principles of iron exchange in which water is softened by substituting sodium (salt) for hard minerals

Salt-Free Water Softener

This system uses potassium-chloride as the alternative to salt. If you are a home that is concerned about salt intake, then this is the type of softener you might want to consider this system. As a descaler, this system doesn’t eliminate water hardness but instead protects the surfaces of the appliances and plumbing from the effects of mineral deposition. This type of softener is not as efficient as salt-based or other conventional water softening systems, but there is a general agreement among people that this type of water treatment could be worth considering than having no water softening unit at all.

Dual-Tank Water Softening Systems

It features one regeneration tank while the other tank is being used. If you have been grappling with problems of water softening units that fail or live in a region where water hardness is a real problem, it may be a smart move to buy a dual-tank water-softening system with two tanks for your home.

A Dual-tank unit works in such a way that one tank regenerates as the other is in use, this ensures a continuous supply of soft water in your home. Because dual tank softeners operate on demand, they can be customized to provide solutions to people with fewer water needs. You can find systems with adjustable valves that are meter-controlled. If you are looking to buy a dual-tank system, consider the amount of space you might need and the location. You will also need to consider drains for backwashing. Consider the National Sanitation Foundation certification as well as warranty. A good water softening system is one that should last 15-20 years or more.

Water Softener Size & Features

What distinguishes a water softener from another is its size and features, so you want to choose your softener unit based on your water needs and the softening technology you prefer.

Tips on Selecting the Right Size of Water Softener

Whether you are buying or leasing a new water softening system, choosing one that is of the right size that suits your home needs is critical. Basically, you want one which will handle all your home but which is not unnecessarily too large or overly expensive. But the ability of the system to rid the water of hardness is what matters most. Water softening units come in different sizes, each with a unique rating of the number of grains of hardness they can eliminate from the water. The trick is to find a unit that will recharge once to give softened water that can last three days before the next recharge.

Sizing the Water softener for Your Home

To determine the size of the softener you need to buy, multiply the number of family members by 75 (average water usage per person per day in gallons). You can now multiply the product by the number of grains per gallon (GPG) of hardness as determined from the water test so as to figure out the right size of the softener you need.

Water Softener Features & Controls

It is important to acquaint yourself with the essential features of water softening units before you buy or rent one. You will need to check out the amount of salt needed for recharging, how long each cycle takes, and whether it requires refilling of salt.

Finding the Right Water Softener Vendor or Company

It is advisable to get at least two quotes from some of the best vendors or water softener companies. Ensure to get quotes that are based on similar features and specifications such as type of controls, regeneration cycle, and the warranty period given to the control valve and the resin tank. It is wise to work with a reputable company. This way, you are confident of getting a top-quality product backed by a reasonably longer warranty. You will also need to find an experienced plumber to help you with the water softener installation.