How Can a Water Softener Benefit a Homeowner
If you are like most people, you think very little about hard water until you personally experience it. You may wonder if the hard water affects your health, your pipes, and your appliances. While many people drink and use hard water with no major effects. Or do they? Is hard water dangerous? Is soft water better for you? Why do some people endure the hard water while others soften it?
Water varies widely in its mineral content and composition, which determines how hard or soft it is. We have likely all seen the residue on shower walls or the calcium build up on showerheads left by hard water. But did you know that it can also dry out your skin and hair?
And what about the effect on your appliances? Over time, using consistently hard water can also be harmful to your appliances, which may necessitate more frequent repairs and appliance replacement. The effects can range from undesirable taste and stiff laundry to mineral buildup in appliances and pipes. Even knowing this, many people are hesitant to invest in a water softener because of the cost of installation or the lack of information about the benefits that a softener can bring to bear.
Sometimes it is hard for homeowners to pinpoint the problem that they are having since the symptoms of hard water can seem so unrelated. Once you figure out that the source of your plumbing problems is hard water, the next step is forming a plan of action.
If you want better home comfort and water quality it may be time for you to consider a water softener.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium dissolved in water. It is most common in groundwater and in places where limestone and gypsum are present. And although it is not a health hazard and many people do not have issues because of it, it can be a nuisance. Hard water can make appliances and pipes run less efficiently, leave mineral deposits on drinking glasses, and stain sinks and toilet bowls.
Measured in grains per gallon (GPG), hard water falls into one of these five categories:
Soft water — less than 1 GPG
Slightly hard water — 1-3.5 GPG
Moderately hard water — 3.5-7 GPG
Hard water — 7.10.5 GPG
Very hard water — more than 10.5 GPG
Signs of Hard Water
If your home has hard water, you will notice mineral deposits, stains or a white film on surfaces such as stainless steel, chrome, porcelain, enamel, china, tile, fiberglass, and glass. You may notice stains or build-up on bathroom fixtures, dishes, and sinks. In addition to magnesium and calcium, manganese, brass, iron or copper can also be present in the water. Manganese stains look brownish or black, while iron-rich water leaves deposits that look red or like white slime. If you notice blue or green stains around your plumbing fixtures, your water may be slightly acidic, which can erode brass or copper pipes.
The Cost of Hard Water
When hard water scale buildup forms in your pipes, it slows the efficiency of your water-using appliances. More energy is required for your water heater to function, and the flow of water to your dishwasher and washing machine slows down. These deficiencies can lead to higher utility costs. In fact, 29% more energy is used to heat your water during the life of your water heater if you have hard water. It is estimated that over 10 years, your water bill will be $1,500 more if you have hard water. In addition, the lifespan of home appliances decrease by 30-50% and the annual costs for laundry detergent, bath and kitchen soaps and lotions jumps to $1,039 more without a water softener.
What is a Water Softener?
As the name implies, a water softener is a system that is designed to soften hard water in your home by replacing the “hard” minerals like calcium and magnesium with another substance. The substance that is used most often is sodium. Water softeners use salt to remove hardness minerals in a process known as ion exchange. Negatively charged resin beads in the softening tank capture positively charged calcium and magnesium ions.
Water softeners have two tanks (a mineral tank and a brine tank) that filter your home’s water through resin bead in that attract the “hard” chemicals. The resin beads remove the hard chemicals thereby softening the water and leaving you with a better plumbing experience. Water softeners will add a small amount of sodium to your water supply, but the exchange is well worth it to help out your plumbing system and boost your home comfort.
Benefits of a Water Softener
While a water softener is an investment, it can save you money in the long run. Here are some ways a water softener can benefit your home over time.
Helps Your Plumbing System
If hard water can leave a visible residue on the exterior of your plumbing, then the same minerals can harden on the interior. The mineral deposits that accumulate inside your pipes will inevitably lead to low water pressure and even clogging if left untreated.
This process is sped up if your water gets heated in your pipes or appliances. When hard water is heated, it leaves behind minerals like calcium and magnesium, which solidify into scale. Scale can pile up not only in your pipes but also in your appliances, such as your water heaters or washing machines.
This build-up narrows the pathway inside your pipes, reducing the flow of water. While the odds of this building up to the point of clogging your pipes might be low, it is still a possibility and it can impact your water pressure. Worse, once they become completely blocked, you will have to replace your pipes.
Reduced Electric Bills
One good way to reduce the consumption of electricity in your home is to install a water softener. Hard water reduces the efficiency of your water heater, which can increase your electric bill. The calcium and magnesium content of hard water causes build up in the waterlines of a water heater. As a result, the heater has to work harder and consume more energy. A water softener can reduce the minerals from hard water, allowing the water to easily pass through the waterlines without leaving any buildup. In this way, the heater is able to work more efficiently and consume less energy.
Extends the Life of Water Appliances
Water heaters, dishwashers and coffee machines are expensive. You expect them to last a long time but if you are using hard water at home, this may shorten the life of these appliances. The high mineral content of hard water can leave scale buildup on integral components within your appliances. This can impair appliance performance over time.
Water softeners can also eliminate mineral deposits that can form in your dinnerware, cutlery and glassware. These mineral deposits can leave a chalky white residue on your kitchen cookware and other items that are unsightly and also difficult to remove. Mineral deposits can also appear on your bathroom fixtures, including the showerhead. The mineral deposits may also build up in places that you cannot see, including your washing machine and dishwasher. Mineral deposits in the pipes can warrant a professional’s attention to fix the damage.
Better Tasting Water
Magnesium and calcium can also make your drinking water taste bad, giving it an unpleasant chalky or metallic edge. The jury is out on whether softened water tastes better, but if you are reaching for bottles, a water softener may remove unwanted tastes.
Installing a water softener can have many health benefits for members of your household. Water softeners will remove some minerals and substances that are excessively high in regular tap water, including magnesium, iron, and calcium. Additionally, you can add potassium chloride to your water softener rather than sodium chloride for even more health benefits.
Potassium chloride eliminates excess salt in your water, which is especially beneficial for people with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure.
Soap is a less effective cleaner in hard water. Hard water makes it harder to rinse soap, plus it forms a curd or soap scum. Detergent is also affected by the dissolved minerals in hard water, but not to the same extent as soap. More soap is required to clean clothes and other items using hard water compared with soft water. Hair washed in hard water may appear dull and feel stiff from residue. Clothes washed in hard water may develop a yellowish or gray discoloration and may feel stiff.
Better Skin, Hair, and Nails
From head to toe, the minerals found in hard water can produce some unwanted side effects. Some minerals in hard water can cause your hair to be dry, itchy, and flaky. They can also clog pores in your skin, which may produce problems such as inflammation, blackheads, and pimples. A water softener can also prevent a thin film of soap from accumulating on your skin. This leaves your skin cleaner and softer while removing excess dirt and bacteria. The same harsh minerals found in hard water can cause your nails to become dry and brittle, which means they can break or crack more easily. A water softener removes those minerals, which will lead to softer skin, softer and shinier hair, and smoother, more durable nails.
Softer Laundry with Less Detergent
Many homeowners find they need to use more detergent to get more desirable results when their laundry is washed in hard water. A water softener can enable you to use less detergent and achieve comparable results. You may even find that you can skip the fabric softener.
Call the BEST Plumber for Drain Cleaning
Call Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321 for professional drain cleaning methods. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.