If you’ve heard of hard water or water softeners, you may wonder if you should invest in this additional home protective measure. To help you find the right solution for your property, here are a few answers to key questions about hard water and what it means to soften it.
What Is Hard Water?
Although the name sounds odd since all water feels soft, hard water is very real and can cause a variety of problems. It refers to a phenomenon where the water coming from community pipes has a high concentration of dissolved minerals. These generally include calcium and magnesium, but the water also may contain a variety of other minerals. Such minerals come from rock layers the water has passed through.
How Can You Identify Hard Water?
Hard water isn’t something that you often notice at first, but it will cause common issues over time. The dissolved minerals leave residue on dishes and glasses, causing cloudiness or a film to appear. You may see a chalky hard mineral buildup around faucets and spigots as well as stains where water drips or flows often.
In addition, the buildup of calcium and magnesium will begin to affect appliances that use water – most noticeably the dishwasher and hot water heater. Some hot water heaters even eventually develop a hard inner deposit of calcium which may cause audible bubbling noises as water circulates. The same thing may be happening within some pipes.
How Is Hard Water Softened?
Hard water is softened through the use of a water softening system. This consists of a permanent unit through which all water is filtered before it reaches the home. After routing water into a tank, one of several types of agents pulls the minerals out of the water before it is pushed onward to your house. The amount of water your household uses on an average day determines how large a tank (or tanks) you need.
What Types of Softening Systems Exist?
The most common method of softening water for the entire household is through the installation of an ion exchange system. This method places beads of resin in the tank. These beads attract mineral particles through a negative electrical charge. The beads themselves are occasionally cleared of these mineral molecules through what’s known as a regeneration cycle and the use of mineral-attracting sodium.
Other types of ion exchange softeners may use multiple tanks for households with large water usage or use a sodium replacement material like potassium. You can also opt for water conditioners that target particular scaling issues or reverse osmosis systems that filter using membranes.
What Costs Are Involved?
Generally, the biggest expense for a water softening system is the installation of the softening unit itself. Prices vary depending on the type and size of softener you need. Because this can be a complex unit, a professional should always install the system.
Fortunately for homeowners, monthly maintenance costs are low, primarily consisting of the cost of the salt or other filtering materials that must occasionally be replaced. The system will use a little additional water and electricity, but this may be negligible for many low- to mid-size units. You should also check the system for problems on an annual basis.
The best place to learn about water softening options in your area is by consulting with a local water softening system provider. Rainsoft A&B Marketing helps protect the homes and businesses of Florida and Georgia from all types of water-related problems and hazards. To learn more about hard water, water softening, and other potential problems lurking in your pipes, call us for a consultation.