How does a water softener work? Find out in this video! The water that you use every day can be hard on both you and your house. Using a water softening system helps reduce water contaminants and scale buildup, and also extends the life of your appliances.
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The main disadvantages of hard water are:
It can leave a film of soap scum on your dishes and bathroom fixtures
It can an cause mineral build-up in pipes and appliances
It can reduce the efficiency of heating elements in water heaters
It can promote corrosion
It reduces the lather of soap and shampoo during showers
It makes laundry feel stiffer and look less vibrant
Water is considered hard when it contains large amounts of dissolved calcium, magnesium, iron and other minerals. Water hardness is measured in milligrams per liter. Soft water has a hardness range of less than 17 mg/L. Hard water comes in at 121 to over 180 mg/L.
You can have your tap water analyzed in a lab, but there are visual signs that your tap water is hard. It can leave soap scum behind on sinks and bath tubs, form scale in washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers, humidifiers, water heaters, etc.
That’s where water softeners come into play. They are ion exchange systems, meaning the hardness ions (calcium and magnesium) are exchanged for salt ions. The exchange takes place in a resin tank of the water softener system. Water flows through the resin and comes in contact with the small resin beads which are covered with salt ions, and hardness ions trade places with salt ions. Think of the resin as a magnetic sponge that traps the metals found in hard water.
The only maintenance required is to recharge the resin beads by adding bags of salt to the brine tank. This washing system reverses the process meaning that the hardness ions swap places with the salt ions in the brine tank and excess minerals are rinsed into the wastewater drain.
In my case, we are two adults living in our house and we use approximately 2 bags of salt per month (at 8$ a bag) for a yearly maintenance cost of 128$. Costs vary depending on how many people live in the house, how much water is consumed and the water hardness level in your home.
The main advantages to a water softening system are:
Lower energy consumption by reducing scale build-up in water heaters
You can reduce the amount of soap you need to create lather
Extend the lifetime of plumbing
Silkier feel of water when washing
Softer clothes after washing
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