Having hard water is a fact of life for many households across the US – You must have heard about it, but do you know exactly what it is? Hard water may be due to several reasons. First, the water supply agency in your area does not treat the water to remove the chemical compounds that make it hard. The second reason is when there are calcium and magnesium present in your plumbing system.
While such water, in most cases, is not bad for your health, they have a negative effect on the health of your plumbing system as well as shorten the lifespan of all domestic appliances that heat water.
Problems associated with hard water
• The buildup of scales on plumbing appliances and fixtures: You very likely have hard water if you notice this. Mineral deposits will appear on your shower-head and faucets as well as on appliances such as your dishwasher and coffee pot. Apart from being unsightly, this buildup can cause a foul taste to your water.
• Dry hair and skin: Taking a shower can leave your hair feeling slimy and your skin feeling dry as soon as you step out from the washroom, because of the surplus of magnesium and calcium in the water. The water is not able to nurture your skin or hair in the least, so when you dry both, your hair may feel brittle and your skin may feel cracked when you dry both as the water is not able to nourish your hair or skin at all.
• Faded clothes: Apart from stripping away the color from your clothes much faster, hard water impacts your clothes washer too. Your bedding and clothes may even feel scratchy because of the excessive mineral substance.
• Stained bathtubs and sinks: You can rest assured that your bathtubs and sinks will be stained by the mineral remainder from hard water begins to stain your sinks as well as bathtubs.
• Frequent plumbing repairs: Steel pipes cannot handle such water well. The buildup of minerals will eventually damage them and the flow of water will be impacted too. It can also lead to corrosion and other pipe problems, forcing you to get the pipes repaired quite often.
• Unsightly dish-ware: Have you ever observed white spots on your glassware and dishes when you take them out of the dishwasher? You know who the culprit is.
Integrating a water system into your plumbing system is the only solution.
Different types of soft water systems:
• Salt-free water softeners: Salt-free systems do not remove hard minerals from the water. They neutralize the hard minerals to stop them from bonding with each other, creating the buildup that leads to hard water. Such systems are more expensive, but work out cheaper in the long run. They also do not require weekly upkeep as the ion exchange system does. Even though this system is compact, quite a few of them boast of a multi-stage filtration process that removes impurities such as chemicals and bacteria from the water as seen in this system here.
• Ion exchange water softening systems: Also known as salt-based filtration systems, they are the traditional types of water softening systems that most people use. They feature high rates of flow and are meant to supply soft water to the whole house. The resin inside these systems attracts magnesium and calcium from the water and replaces them with sodium ions in a process known as ion-exchange. You can regenerate the resin with the help of when the resin runs out of positively charged sodium ions. You will have to carry out the regeneration process once a week.
• Magnetic water softeners: They are the latest hard water treatment systems. Instead of removing the hard minerals, these gadgets neutralize the hard minerals and prevent them from bonding together, keeping them totally soluble. Such systems are easy to install and are much more affordable. You will not have to turn off the water supply or cut any pipes while installing them. You only need to wrap them around your existing pipes and the water will be conditioned by the magnetic field. Remember, you may need to connect the unit to your home’s power outlet. The only disadvantage is that the water becomes hard again, usually after two days.
• Reverse osmosis water softeners: These systems remove hard water causing minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Some of these systems feature additional steps to re-introduce healthy minerals into the water, making its taste pleasant. These units typically have their faucet through which the treated water flows. Such types of water softeners employ high pressure to force the water through an RO membrane filter.
Points to ponder before purchasing a water softener
• Check the service flow rate of the device in gallons per minute. Most water softeners can produce 15-20 gallons of softened water. However, this is not the real rate. For the real amount of treated water, you have to consider the number of appliances in your house and the water hardness.
• Check the cross-link percentage of the resin. Although 8 is good, opt for 10 if you can afford it.
• Check the efficiency of the best water softener and choose the system that removes 3,333 to 5,000 grains (the quantity of scale the unit can remove in a cycle before regeneration is required) per pound.