Your home might be experiencing some of the tell-tale signs of hard water, but you might be wondering if you need to do anything about it and if a water softener is worth the money. In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of water softeners and their cost implications.
What Are the Signs You Have Hard Water and is it Really a Problem?
The most common sign of hard water is scale. Scale is made up of the dissolved limestone, calcium, and magnesium found in hard water. These minerals will leave a visible build-up of white scale on bathroom sinks, faucets and tubs. What you can’t see is that this scale is also building up inside your pipes, hot water tank and appliances, potentially leading to many problems in your home. Over time, this build-up will reduce the flow and pressure of water in your pipes and limit the life expectancy of your appliances and plumbing. Hard water can also have a significant impact on the life of your water heater and could also cause your hydro bill to increase, as it takes more energy to heat the water. In short, all appliances and plumbing benefit from softer water.
While hard water is safe to drink and wash with, it does have a drying effect on our hair, nails, and skin. The hardness minerals build up on our bodies and hair, forming a film that is difficult for moisture to penetrate.
Hard water can also be hard on clothes. The calcium and magnesium content of hard water can cause clothes to turn gray or yellow. High mineral content can also inhibit the water from mixing with laundry detergents, so clothes don’t come out as clean.
What Does a Water Softener Do?
A water softener works to reduce the hardness minerals that are found in water by passing hard water through a bed of softening resin. This resin attracts the hardness minerals and removes them from the water. Over time, the resin becomes covered in these minerals and needs to be cleaned – this is when your water softener will need to regenerate.
During regeneration, the water softener is flooded with water from the brine tank. The salt water cleans the hardness minerals off the resin and flushes them down the drain, leaving the resin clean and ready to soften water again.
What Costs are Associated with a Water Softener?
When deciding whether to have a water softener installed in your home you will need to consider the initial cost and any installation fees associated with the unit. Water softeners come in a variety of sizes and models with a range of prices. When choosing a softener, it is important to not just base the decision on price, but also consider whether the size and model are correct for your home and family. If you install a softener that is too small for the number of people in your household, you will not see the benefits and might be left disappointed.
Ongoing costs include salt for the brine tank. Ensuring that salt is replenished on schedule is very important to the function of the system. As already mentioned, the saltwater from the brine tank is what is used to clean your softener’s resin during regeneration. Your water treatment expert will be able to recommend your salt schedule and determine the cost.
Water Depot also offers an optional preventative maintenance package, where a technician will visit your home once a year to ensure that everything is working perfectly. Your water treatment expert will be able to provide you with a quote for this service.
What are the Financial Benefits of a Water Softener?
The financial benefits of having a water softener installed are many and varied, although you might not see all of them immediately. Your long-term benefits are in the extended life expectancy of your plumbing, water heater, and appliances – potentially saving you thousands of dollars over their lifetime.
More tangible cost savings include the following:
- In the bathroom and kitchen enjoy an average of 50% savings on dish soap, shampoo, and body wash. These products are more effective in soft water, meaning you need to use less to get the same results.
- The installation of a water softener can improve the efficiency of your water heater and result in an average 30% savings in the amount of energy it takes to heat your water. When water does not contain hardness minerals it heats up faster, making your water heater more efficient.
- When it comes to laundry there are many benefits of soft water. Soft water is easier on clothing making them last longer. Detergents work better in soft water resulting in improved stain removal and, like soaps and shampoos, you will need to use a smaller amount.
What to Consider When Choosing a Water Softener
Water Softeners come in a variety of models and sizes, depending on the quality of your existing water and the number of people in your household. A Water Depot Water Treatment Expert will perform a free in-home water test that will determine a variety of factors.
- Hardness – The hardness level of water is measured in grains per gallon and determines the amount of dissolved calcium, magnesium and/or limestone found in your raw tap water.
- Iron – Iron-laden water, which leaves rust stains on your sink, toilet, and tub, is a common problem.
- pH Level – The pH level of water determines whether your water is acidic or basic. Changes in water pH levels can affect the proper function of water treatment systems and must be considered in determining the proper system.
- TDS – The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) found in your raw tap water is an indicator of the level of organic and inorganic material present in your water. These solids can include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulphate, and nitrates. TDS levels are one of the main indicators of water quality.
- Clarity – Opaque water should be taken into consideration during system design to avoid potential obstacles to system performance.
- Odour – Unpleasant odours in your water can be attributed to several factors. For instance, an excess of iron in your water will create a metallic odour, while an elevated level of Hydrogen Sulphide will produce a rotten egg smell. Although most odours are not an indicator of harmful water conditions, they do make your water unappealing.
- Colour – The most common complaint is water that appears brown or rusty.
In addition to testing for these 7 factors, your local Water Depot Water Treatment Expert will access your family’s water demand, based on the number of people living in your home and the estimated number of gallons of water used per person, per day. This information will factor into the size of the water treatment required to obtain the optimal results.
Your local Water Depot water treatment expert can perform a FREE in-home water test to determine if you have hard water and could benefit from a water softener. If you have decided you are in the market for a water softener, Water Depot has a range of softeners to choose from. Click here to find your locally owned Water Depot location.