What About a Water Softener?
Have you been thinking of getting a water softener? You may have heard that a water softener will:
- Save your plumbing from wear and tear
- Give you better skin and hair
- Dramatically reduce water spots in your showers, baths and sinks
- Save lots of money on soaps, shampoos and other cleaning products
Are these things really true? Here is some information about water softeners that every homeowner needs to know.
Water softening is the removal of calcium, magnesium, and certain other metal cations in hard water. The resulting soft water requires less soap for the same cleaning effort, as soap is not wasted bonding with calcium ions. Soft water also extends the lifetime of plumbing by reducing or eliminating scale build-up in pipes and fittings. Water softening is usually achieved using lime softening or ion-exchange resins but is increasingly being accomplished using nanofiltration or reverse osmosis membranes.
Traditionally soft water systems were ion exchange units. Salt has a negative charge and when flushed through the ion beads inside the unit they release the debris they’ve been attracting because the salt solution allows for that release.
Wikipedia goes on to explain that the presence of certain metal ions like calcium and magnesium, principally as bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates, in water causes a variety of problems. It’s easy for a homeowner to rid themselves of these problems with a soft-water unit.
Rent or Buy?
These units can be rented but if you own your home why waste that monthly fee for years and years? Buying a unit and having a plumber like Mitch Clemmons Plumbing install that unit is a better way to go.
Maintenance of Your Water Softener
Their is some maintenance involved but it is minimal. A water softener only requires a bag of salt added every couple of months. The unit will know when to clean itself based on your household’s water consumption.
Hard water leads to the buildup of limescale, which can stick to the inside of your pipes promote galvanic corrosion. This same scale builds up in your hot water heater increasing the need to replace that system.
What is that slippery feeling with soft water?
Some people really don’t like that feeling of soft water. It feels like you have soap left on your skin. However, you can do a quick test. Wash your hands with a bar of Ivory soap. Rinse one hand with the soft water and one hand with hard water. Then smell the difference. You’ll realize that even though the soft water hand felt soapy it doesn’t smell of soap while the hand rinsed in hard water smells of soap.
The slippery feeling associated with washing in soft water is caused by the weaker attraction of the soap to the water ions when the water has been stripped of its mineral content. The surface of human skin has a light charge that the soap tends to bind with, requiring more effort and a greater volume of water to remove.
In addition, hard water contains calcium or magnesium ions that form insoluble salts upon reacting with soap, leaving a coating of insoluble stearates on tub and shower surfaces, commonly called soap scum.
What About Clean Drinking Water?
Having a water softener also makes it better for a reverse osmosis system to be installed under the kitchen sink. This takes the already cleaned water to the next level and delivers bottled water quality water to your home. Save the plastic and install a reverse osmosis unit!