What do you get when you have itchy skin, ugly shirts, spotty glasses, and a broken coffee maker? Certainly not a date!
The answer is a water softener.
Hard water has been ruining pipes, appliances, and relationships for years. If hard water has entered your life, you can learn how to soften it and eliminate the problem for good.
Stick around to learn what hard water actually is, how to diagnose the problem, and most importantly, which is the best water softener for you.
Water Softener Reviews
If you’re not sure where to start when looking at water softener brands, take a look at some of the top models in several Amazon water softener categories. You can also read this article for some inside water softener reviews.
Signs of Hard Water
When water has high levels of magnesium carbonate, calcium, and manganese, it’s classified as hard water. Signs that you have hard water include:
- Mineral build-up around faucets and fixtures
- Shortened appliance lives
- Dry or itchy skin
- Hard to remove soap scum
- Uncomfortable and dull clothing
- Spots on dishes and glassware
Types of Softening Systems
Below, you’ll find three of the most common types. If you’re part of the estimated 85% of American homes with hard water, one of these systems can alleviate the issue.
Salt Based Softening Systems
A salt based water softeners units are usually a dual-tank unit. Hard water enters the first tank which is full of tiny resin beads. These beads hold onto sodium and as the hard water flows through, the sodium is exchanged for the minerals.
Once the resin beads are full of hard minerals, a regeneration technique takes place in the second tank. Brine is pumped through the resin tank which flushes out the minerals. The minerals exit through a drain. The unit is then ready to remove more minerals from hard water.
These machines need to be stocked with salt but most designs use less than 10 bags a year.
Salt-Free Softening Systems
If you prefer to soften your water without using salt, whether for personal or dietary reasons, a salt-free water softeners system is ideal. Instead of salt, a substitute called potassium-chloride salt is used. Think of this system as more of a descaler than a full softener.
Instead of removing the minerals, the potassium-chloride salt prevents minerals from being deposited as scale in pipes and on surfaces.
Though not as effective as a salt based system, the best salt-free water softener can improve the quality of your home’s water and protect pipes, appliances, and clothing.
If you’re having doubts about a salt-free system, this video will address your questions and concerns.
Magnetic water softeners systems are considered a bit controversial. There are conflicting studies surrounding their effectiveness. But for those who do use a magnetic or electric descaler, they’re more than happy with the results.
The systems are clipped onto incoming pipes where they set up a magnetic field which changes the electromagnetic properties of the mineral build-up, preventing it from collecting in pipes and causing damage.
Based on comparisons, salt based units are by far the most popular. But knowing that there are other options will help you make an informed decision about what’s best for your home.
Scale, or limescale, is a hard, off-white chalky deposit that collects on surfaces due to hard water. It’s not only an eyesore in bathrooms or on kitchen faucets but can cause serious damage to your pipes and appliances.
As already mentioned, hard water has high levels of calcium and other minerals. When water is heated, these minerals will precipitate out, leaving build-up in pipes and appliances.
Scale can cause clogs or damage in pipes and drastically shorten the lifespan of your appliances, like coffee makers and dishwashers.
Signs of scale issues in a home include:
- Decreased flow throughout the entire house
- Clogs and backflow in plumbing
- Weak soap lather
If you notice scale in your bathtub or find yourself calling a plumber on a somewhat regular basis, installing a unit can prevent further damage to your home’s infrastructure.
Having hard water doesn’t need to hinder your day to day life. A simple water softeners installation can keep your clothes looking great, your skin feeling great, and your home operating great.
How It Works?
When talking about how water softeners work, it is important to understand that they focus on removing calcium and magnesium. Both of these can end up causing clogs and issues inside your pipes. There is also something known as 'soap scum' that can be left behind after cleaning using hard h20. The issue with soap scum is if you leave it unattended for too long, it can be very difficult to remove.
As discussed above, soap scum is produced when you try and clean with hard water. More specifically, the minerals in your hard water mix with both soap and dirt to produce this 'soap scum'. It manifests into a white layer that can show up in your bathroom and sometimes in your laundry. Hard h2o is the main culprit here as the minerals in it do not like each other very well. This becomes extremely dangerous once left unattended because the soap scum will continue to build up and eventually combine with mold to become extremely hard(sometimes as hard as concrete).
Getting rid of soap scum depends on the level that it has reached. One of the best methods is using a water softener so that you do not have hard h2o to produce this in the first place. Frequent cleaning is also a great solution to prevent the buildup of soap scum. You typically do not have to worry too much about soap scum until it has had enough time to buildup.
To summarize, we will discuss some of the things that you should be looking for when deciding on a h2o softener. Each of these things should help you with picking the right unit that best suits your needs and will save your some money in the long run.