Did you know that the water in our homes can be classified as hard or soft? So, what does this really mean and how does a water softener help? What are some of the disadvantages of water softener? Read on to find out!
All household water has a variety of minerals in it. In most cases, these are naturally occurring despite the fact that many states will also add chemicals such as chlorine. Naturally occurring minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium form what we call hard water.
Why Is the Water Hard?
The minerals in water can actually have a negative effect around the home. Here are some of the effects of hard water:
- Spots on Dishes and Cutlery
Quite often, the minerals in hard water will leave streaks and spots on dishes and cutlery that has been washed. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can certainly be annoying.
The dissolved minerals in hard water can also cause streaks and spots in places like the shower and on glass. This can be difficult to eliminate.
- Itchy Skin and Scalp
The minerals in hard water can also cause the skin to become dry and itchy, including the scalp. Apart from being frustrating, it can also become a more serious health issue if the people in the home have existing skin conditions, such as eczema.
- Damage to Plumbing
Perhaps the biggest problem is that the minerals in hard water will damage pipes and fixtures over time. Scale build up and corrosion inside pipes can seriously shorten their effectiveness and lifespan. This can potentially result in a large bill to have it fixed.
- Damage to Appliances
It’s not just the damage to pipework that’s concerning. Hard water will also damage appliances, including dishwashers and washing machines over time. In this sense, hard water is much like an unseen cost to the homeowner, as it degrades pipes and appliances that will need repair or replacement.
- Damage to Clothing
Just as hard water can degrade pipes and appliances, it can also degrade clothing. In fact, many homeowners invest in devices that will even remove chlorine from their water because it causes clothes to smell and degrade before their time.
- More Soap Needs to Be Used
Did you know that soap and shampoo are both harder to lather in hard water? This usually means that you’ll be using a lot more of it just to get the lather you want, which can definitely have a financial impact.
What’s the Solution to Hard Water in Your Home?
It’s very clear that hard water produces a range of negative effects, even though most of the included minerals naturally occur in the environment. Perhaps the biggest issue is the hidden costs associated with hard water in the form of repairing and replacing pipework and appliances.
The solution to this is to invest in a water softening device. This promises to remove most of the minerals in the water that cause hardness. The promise is that by doing this, hard water will turn to soft water and the associated problems will be solved.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
In the simplest terms, a water softener is connected to the incoming water pipe and filters most of the harmful dissolved minerals out of the water. Resin beads in a tank are used to capture these minerals and around every 12 000 gallons, the whole system is flushed and automatically regenerated. During this regeneration process, the water that contains all of the minerals is flushed away into a nearby drain.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Water Softener?
It’s an elegant and largely automated solution that produces softer water and eliminates most of the issues associated with hard water. So, are there any disadvantages of having water softener installed in your home? Consider the following:
- The Addition of Sodium Can Cause Health Problems
As magnesium and calcium are removed from the water by the water softening system, more sodium is added in its place. This is because most systems use salt pellets. The problem is that this can cause significant health problems in people who may be on a strict sodium-free diet.
A typical 8 ounce glass of water from a water softening system will only have small amounts of salt – similar to a slice of bread. But all of this adds up when we consider that other foods and drinks also contain salt. Even when someone is avoiding these salty foods and drinks, the small amounts of salt in the soft water can cause health problems.
The common solution to this is to use potassium chloride pellets instead of salt pellets in the brine tank. The issue with this is that potassium chloride pellets cost a lot more than regular salt pellets, and this may be a concern for those who are on a tight budget.
- The Costs Are Higher
A typical water softening system will cost somewhere between two thousand and three thousand dollars to buy and install. That’s a significant amount of money for anyone, and especially those who may be on a budget. You have to ask yourself if the cost is really worth it. Are you damaging so much plumbing and clothing with hard water that such a big upfront cost will pay for itself eventually?
There are also regular maintenance costs to consider. As automated as these water softening systems are, they will need to be serviced now and again.
Additionally, if you don’t like the extra salt in the water, but you don’t want to pay for potassium chloride pellets for the brine tank, the other solution is to have a reverse osmosis filter installed on the faucet in the kitchen so that you can eliminate the salt and have salt-free drinking water. Of course, a reverse osmosis filter is still going to set you back significantly in terms of finances.
These are some of the disadvantages of water softener in your home.
Conclusion – Should You Invest in a Water Softener?
There are real issues associated with the dissolved minerals in hard water, but it’s important to understand that the water isn’t harmful to health. There are certainly advantages to having a water softener, but this must be weighed up against the installation cost and the ongoing costs.