There are many questions that arise when considering having water softeners installed in your home. Here are the answers to some of the more common queries:
What is hard water?
Hard water is water which contains a high amount of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. The hardness of your water supply very much comes down to the area in which you live. It is dependent on the types of rocks that the naturally soft rainwater passes through when it hits the ground. The rainwater is filtered by stones and mineral deposits. If it passes through soft rocks such as limestone and chalk, it will collect calcium and magnesium minerals thus becoming ‘hard’.
How is hard water measured?
Water hardness is measured by the number of mineral deposits in your water at a value of parts per million (ppm). To give you an idea, a soft water area would have under 60ppm. A very hard water area would have more than 180ppm. There are various tests that can be done to determine the level of hardness to your water. It’s safe to say that if you are getting limescale and soap scum buildup around your home and your detergents do not lather well, you are living in a hard water area!
How does a water softener work?
Water softeners use a process called ‘ion exchange’ to remove the calcium and magnesium minerals from your water as it enters your home. The hard water enters your home, passing through tanks filled with resin beads to which the calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water are attracted. In the softener, ion exchange takes place removing the calcium and magnesium and releasing sodium ions into the water thus making it soft.
Water softeners need to clean or regenerate using a salt to clean away the calcium and magnesium mineral deposits they’ve collected.
Can I drink softened water?
Due to the ion exchange process, softened water will have a slightly higher amount of sodium than hard water does. This should not be of concern however. There is actually more sodium in a glass of milk than in a glass of softened water. Many people in fact prefer the taste of tea or coffee and cordial made with softened water. It’s certainly worth noting that millions of people have been drinking softened water since the 1920s and there have been no reported health related problems. It is still recommended however that you also have a separate hard water drinking tap installed where possible. This means that there is still a choice of which water to drink.
How much does a water softener cost to run?
After the initial installation, water softeners are actually very low cost to run and maintain. Many models do not even use electricity and those which do use very little. You will need to top up the salt levels but, depending on your usage, this can cost as little as £5 per month. The resin will also need replacing. This often does not need doing for 10-15 years (although can be more frequent depending on the water in your area). As with any household appliance which gets regular use, it is also recommended that you get a service around once a year. It’s worth remembering that the savings you can make on your bills will more than outweigh the running costs of a water softener.
If you have any additional questions, we would love to answer them for you. Please contact us today and we will be happy to help.