Living in a home in an area with hard water can be a costly problem. Groundwater, which flows through the pipes of your home contains dissolved minerals that leave build-up and scales that damages the plumbing, fixtures, and appliances.
Using a water softener at the point where the water enters your home, helps treat the hard water by removing the minerals through a process known as ion exchange. The resin the water softener contains traps the mineral ions and converts them into potassium and sodium ions. In simple terms, the water softener converts hard water into soft water.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about how to choose the right type of system for your home and if you’re still confused on which softener to buy – see the best here.
In this article:
Benefits of soft water
Once you have completed installing a water softener, the water flowing through the plumbing of your home is soft. There are many benefits of soft water, which include:
- Less soaps and detergents are required for cleaning clothes and utensils
- Easier to clean. Soft water does not leave stains on clothes, appliances, and fixtures
- Softer skin and hair when washing them with soft water
- Increased longevity of appliances that use water since there is no build-up of minerals on their interior
- Cleaner, spotless dishes and cutlery, and much more
Apart from reducing the minerals in your water supply, the water softener also improves the quality of your drinking water. The step-by-step guide below helps you ascertain what to consider before purchasing a water softening device.
Test the hardness level of the water
Water hardness can range from very hard to extremely mild depending on the quantity of dissolved minerals in the water supply to your home. You need to ascertain the amount of dissolved minerals before purchasing a water softener. There are several methods that you can use to determine this.
Using soap to test water hardness
Take a bottle and fill it one-third with tap water. Following this, add a couple of drops of liquid soap, close the bottle, and shake it vigorously for a couple of seconds. You can rest assured that the water supply to your home is hard if the solution appears milky/ cloudy and if there is a distinct lack of fluffy bubbles.
Had the water been soft, there would have been abundant bubbles in the bottle and the remaining water at the bottom would be clear. Remember, this experiment might not always be successful because the formulae of certain soaps contain detergents that lather irrespective of the type of water. Therefore use a basic soap for best results.
Check the hardness scale of your water
The map of the USA contains the scale of water hardness for different areas. Checking the map allows you to get an estimate of the level of hardness of the water in your area. If you still have any doubts, consult your municipality.
You might not believe it, but an overwhelming 85% of the United States has hard water. Therefore, the chances are high that you live in an area in which the water supply is hard. The map contains the intensity of hardness using the following scale:
- 3 grains of contaminant means the water is slightly hard
- If the water contains 3-7 grains of contaminant, it is moderately hard
- The water is considered as hard if it has 7-10 grains of contaminant
- Very hard water contains 10-14 grains of contaminant
- 15 grains and more of contaminant signifies that the water is extremely hard
Use water hardness testing device
For accurate results, you might consider purchasing a water quality testing kit. The kit consists of several strips made of plastic or paper coated with chemicals and a color chart.
Take a strip, dip it in the water, and swish it around. Alternatively, you can hold the strip in a stream of flowing water. Wait for a short duration for the chemicals to take effect. The color of the strip will change and comparing the color of the strip with the accompanying color chart provides you with information about the level of hardness of the water.
If you want a more detailed analysis, send the water sample to a professional lab for optimum results. The analysis by the laboratory, apart from indicating the hardness degree of the water also provides information of any other impurities or microorganisms present in the water.
Know your requirements
Before searching for a water softener, it is vital to know the quantity of water your family needs each day. This helps you determine the correct size of the water softener system you require for your daily consumption.
A simple method is to multiply the number of people in your home by the gallons of water they use each day. To figure out how many grains need to be removed each day, multiply the gallons of water by the grains of hardness in your area. Remember, installing a water softener increases the value of your property.
Get the most for your money
All companies claim that their water softener plant is the best. Going for a model manufactured by a reputable company ensures that you get the best value for your money. Reputable companies that have been in business for many years have experienced technicians who will install the water softener perfectly.
Buying versus renting
If you do not have the funds to purchase the filter immediately, opt for a company that rents water softeners. Your budget plays an important role too. Typically domestic water softeners are available from $500 to $2500. Purchase one that suits your budget. Take your time and purchase a filter that is worth it.