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Ten facts about water softeners a customer should know before buying

Written By: Marjorie Cliff Picard

Residents in areas that have hard water are likely aware of the problems which can arise from its use. Hard water contains calcium, magnesium and other dissolved minerals. The deposits collect on dishes, inside appliances, in showers and in pipes. The efficiency of hot water appliances can be lowered.  So, should a water softener be considered? Here are some facts and tips to consider:  

  1. According to Angie’s List, 85% of Americans have hard water problems. Purchasing a water softener may not be necessary. The water may not need treating. The customer should have a water conditioning firm or the local water company test and analyze the water. Both should do it for free. There are also home testing kits available.
  2. When purchasing a water softener, the size of the tank must be calculated. The average person uses 80 gallons a day. If there are four people in the family and two bathrooms, that would equal 320 gallons.  Hardness in water is measured in grains. Usually, 10 grains is average.  A system which can handle 3200 grains is needed for the average home of four.
  3. Water softeners need to regenerate occasionally to be sure the water stays soft. Some regenerate automatically, some are on a timer, and others are done by hand.  Automatic regeneration is the most flexible. The hand method requires a person to start it, and timed starts must happen at the same hour every day. Salt has to be replenished periodically. The right type must be used. A system using potassium must also have the right pellets.
  4. Hard water is safe to drink. Soft water contains sodium, which is a concern for those watching their blood pressure. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, there is so little sodium in the water treated by a softener that it is not of concern.  However, if a patient is on a VERY LOW sodium diet, he or she may have only the hot water softened, leaving the cold water to be used for drinking and cooking.
  5. According to some environmentalists, the salt that is discharged into the water system can be harmful to plants, soil and the water supply. Salt does not wash away or sink into the soil. It may be used to irrigate parks and agriculture. A purchaser must water down his property frequently and thoroughly to dilute and push down the salt. The soil may become compacted, nutrients may be lost and rivers and lakes may be affected. Some areas have restricted the use of the salt-type water softeners. 
  6. There are several types of water softeners that do not use salt. They are: a)template assisted crystallization process, which is considered promising, b)capacitive deionization, c)electrically induced precipitation, and d)electromagnetic water treatment. There are also water softeners that use potassium and other minerals instead of salt.
  7. Before a purchase is made, make sure you research the company. It should be reliable and offer you a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied.  Installers should be certified by the Water Quality Association.  Angie’s List warns customers to be on the lookout for “fly-by-night companies.”
  8. Installation may cost several thousand dollars. A system can be leased for $40 to $100 per month, according to Consumer Reports.
  9. Potassium chloride is used in water softeners to avoid salt use. They are equally effective. However, they are several times more expensive.
  10. Water softening reduces energy consumption. Laundry costs may be cut in half, and a dishwasher may cost 70% less to run.

 

Choosing the Best Water Softener for Your Home

Written By: Delia Tallesen

Water softeners are made to extract minerals that make water hard. When rocks and minerals pass through the pipes, clogs form that are difficult to remove. Soap is not likely to work properly in hard water. Also, unsightly deposits could show up all over the porcelain bathroom surfaces. To improve the flow of water, people use softening agents to dissolve the minerals. There are certain factors to consider when choosing the best water softener for the home.

Water Usage

Water softener users should determine the average amount of water that they consume every day. Most households use dozens of gallons per day. They should calculate the right numbers based on the number of household members. It is important to select a softener than softens the right number of gallons each day.

People must know the average number of grains to clean out every day. An average of 10 grains for each gallon is recommended. The daily grain average should be multiplied by the daily gallon average. It is important to know these exact numbers to buy the right softening device.

Water Testing

First, people should test the hardness of the water using a kit. The test is designed to check for different types of minerals present, such as

  • iron
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • copper
  • zinc

It also measures the precise amounts of each mineral. The more substances found, the more softener that is needed for a thorough removal.

Ease of Cleaning

Any water softener must be easy to use and clean. The solubility is the degree to which the chemicals dissolve in the water. A rock salt softener is barely soluble, so cleaning out the pipes is required. For people who do not want to do cleanings, evaporated salt is made containing the soluble sodium chloride.

Convenience

Every water softener is made with a specific level of convenience. Two common types of softeners include
· automatic
· demand initiated regeneration

An automatic device includes a timer that works at specified times of the day or stops working once the softening is finished. A demand initiated regeneration softener works when there is a demand for softening. This type of device is ideal for people with water needs that vary throughout the day. 

Customer Reviews

Buyers of water softeners must look over the reviews of all the effective brands and models. They can compare and contrast the most favorite softeners and ignore the most hated ones. Some sites have domestic experts who perform thorough tests on products and write in-depth reports. The point of reviews is to make the best purchase without wasting too much money or time.

Softening the hardness of water is necessary to create a better cleansing experience. However, choosing the most efficient water softener is an experience itself. Not all devices work for all home appliances. People must determine their individual household needs before they buy. Without the right product, cleaning with hard water is difficult and almost impossible. Also, some hard water leaves deposits on sink and shower. The best water softener is chosen using a few clever tips.

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