A water softener is a system that is used to make hard water soft. It works by removing minerals from water using a process of ion exchange. Hard water has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. When you’ve had water in your home, you face some of the following challenges:
Negative Effects of Having Hard Water
- Clogging of plumbing pipes because of the accumulation of limescale.
- Hard water makes it hard to use soap because soap does not lather well in hard water. Besides, liquid detergents do not dissolve in hard water.
- When cleaning with hard water, clothes and surfaces don’t look clean because hard water leaves water spots behind.
- Hard water will shorten the life of electrical appliances such as water heaters and washing machines.
- Water heaters tend to consume more energy when you have hard water.
Many people who have water that has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium also tend to have a high concentration of iron in their water. Water that is rich in iron leaves brown stains on your sink and toilet bowls. Worst still, your clothes will never look clean when you wash them with iron water.
To reduce the impact of hard water, the most convenient and effective method is to install a water softener. The water softeners work by converting the calcium and magnesium ions into crystals which are more stable and harmless. The final processed water is soft and tests better. The treated water does not produce curd when it combines with soap. Let’s dive dipper and see the benefits of hard water.
Benefits of Having a Water Softener
- It becomes easy to do your cleaning because the soap and detergents lather easily in soft water.
- You’re able to maintain cleanliness because clothes, glassware, cars, silverware, mirrors, tiles, sinks and toilets don’t get stained by hard water.
- You’re able to preserve electrical appliances such as water heaters and washing machines because hard water tends to reduce their efficiency.
- You get to save on energy costs because soft water gets heated faster than hard water.
- Increase the life of your plumbing fixtures such as pipes and faucets. This is because unlike hard water, soft water does not clog pipes and faucets.
Do I need a water softener if I use city water?
It depends on the city you live in and the kind of water you’ve. Here’s the deal, you should know that it does not make any difference if the tap water is from the city or well. All water comes from the ground.
If your city gets water that is rich in magnesium and calcium you’ll need to install a water softener. According to EPA, hard water is a big headache affecting 80% of households in the United States. You test if your city water has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. Check out the map of water hardness below.
Types of Water Softeners
There are two types of water softeners. These are salt-based water softener and salt-free water softener.
A salt-based water softener works by a process of ion exchange where calcium and magnesium ions are replaced by sodium and potassium ions. Salt-based water softeners are very effective in removing hardness from water. The only disadvantage of the salt-based water softeners is that you’ll need to keep on adding salt periodically.
The resin which is used as an ion-exchange bed also needs to be regenerated periodically. Some salt-based water softeners combine the function of a water softener and that of the iron filter. They are installed with an iron filter to filter out iron if it is present in water. They are called water softener iron combo.
Salt-free water softeners don’t use salt to remove hardness. Instead, they use a process of electrolysis. Because of this, many people don’t consider them to be water softener but consider them to be water conditioners. The main advantage of a salt-free system is that they are not as expensive and they are easy to install and operate. The main disadvantage is they are not as effective as a salt-based water softener.
How to Choose a Water Softener
Before you run out to buy a water softener, you should do your due diligence. You should choose from major brands such as AFW, Fleck, and Whirlpool. Also, check companies that have certification from WQA. You should also know the right size of the system you want to avoid having low water pressure if you’re using a whole house water softener.