Nearly 90% of American homes use hard water. So the chances that you live in a place with hard water are high. Water hardness comes from dissolved magnesium and calcium. Although drinking hard water causes no health problems, it gives an unpleasant taste of metal and damages household appliances.
Water softeners help remove the minerals that cause water hardness. Contrary to what some believe, softening water doesn’t mean purifying it. So, is a water softener worth the investment? We’ll consider the pros and cons of getting one. But first, let’s see how you can tell if the water in your house is hard or soft.
According to the U.S Geological Survey, soft and hard water has the following concentrations per liter of calcium carbonate:
- Soft water has 0-60mg/L.
- Moderately hard water has 61-120mg/L.
- Hard water has 121-180mg/L.
- Very hard water has 180mg/L and above.
Hard water in the U.S varies by state and city. If you use underground water, there are higher chances that it’s hard water. As water passes through the soil and rocks, it dissolves the minerals making it hard.
If you’re not sure whether you use hard water, you can use a testing kit to measure or ask your municipal water supplier. Alternatively, you can take it to a laboratory in your local area for testing. However, you can still tell whether you have soft or hard water without testing.
A basic sign of water hardness is how it reacts with soap. Hard water uses more soap or detergents in cleaning. Whether you’re washing your hands, laundry, or hair, you’ll see less lather and more soap scum.
If the hardness of the water is too high, it might irritate your skin when bathing and washing. In addition, you’re likely to use too much soap, and it will take longer to form lather. This means you may not achieve high cleanliness, your skin will feel dry, and your hair will be lifeless.
When you wash your clothes with hard water, they don’t look clean enough. They may look faded and wear out faster. You’ll also suffer an economic loss because of using too much detergent and soap.
Hot water increases the chances of calcium deposits on surfaces. So your dishwasher, shower head, coffee maker, and water heater are likely to have scale buildup. With time, your plumbing systems will start to clog. The water heater will become highly inefficient and consume more power. Appliances that use hot water will wear out faster, causing you financial loss. Your kitchenware, bathtub, and sinks are also likely to have stains.
Water softeners can save you from financial losses in various ways. These include:
- Using less soap and detergents when washing
- Reduced maintenance and replacements of appliances like water heaters, coffee makers, pipes, and dishwashers
- Lower power bill from improved efficiency of the water heater
- Lower water bill since soft water is more efficient at cleaning
In addition to financial savings, you’ll also take less time in cleaning activities. Your clothes will look nicer and feel softer. And so will your skin and hair. Soft water will make cleaning your utensils easier, and you won’t have stubborn stains on them.
Using a water softener will come with a few challenges. First, you have to buy them, install them, and incur ongoing maintenance costs. However, the operating cost will differ depending on the type you use. Some of the common types include:
- Ion exchangers: It uses salt to remove calcium and magnesium. As the water passes through the resin bed, the sodium ions replace the calcium and magnesium ions. Maintenance work involves replacing the resin bed periodically.
- Water distiller: Distillation is rarely used in homes. It involves heating the water to cause evaporation and condensing the steam into water.
- Salt-free water softener: It crystalizes calcium and magnesium using chemicals like potassium.
- Reverse osmosis: It forces water through a semi-permanent membrane that filters contaminants, purifying the water and removing hardness.
- Magnetic: It uses magnets placed outside the pipe to pull or alter calcium ions before entering the home water supply.
Water softeners produce wastewater that adds to your septic tank. If the wastewater is released into the environment, it may end up in lakes and streams, affecting aquatic life. Lastly, drinking soft water regularly reduces your sodium/potassium intake. These two chemicals are linked to hypertension and other diseases.
Most people living in areas with hard water prefer to use water softeners. The benefits outweigh the cost. If you’re looking for a water softener in Ambler, contact PlumbPRO Services. We can help you with procurement, installation, and maintenance. Also, feel free to drop us a question or comment.