Water softeners are growing in popularity, but they still aren’t an appliance that’s found in every Pennsylvania or New Jersey home. As such, many homeowners are less familiar with water softeners than they are with other major home appliances. We want to help you best understand what a water softener can do for your home, so today we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about water softeners!
Answers to frequently asked questions about water softeners
Q: How do I know if I need a water softener?
A: The easy answer is you need a water softener if your home has hard water. But how do you know how hard your home’s water is? There are many common signs of hard water in your home, the most common being the presence of limescale buildup on your sinks, faucets and other plumbing fixtures. Other symptoms include glassware coming out cloudy from your dishwasher, pipes clogging up and high water heating costs. The very best way to determine whether or not you need a water softener is to have your water tested for free by EPA Water so that we can determine its precise hardness levels.
Q: What are the benefits of installing a water softener?
A: Water softeners provide many benefits to homeowners, some of which can be rather surprising. Installing a water softener will protect your plumbing system and water-using appliances, eliminate limescale buildup, improve the efficiency of your water heater, protect your hair and skin and more.
Q: How does a water softener work?
A: Water softeners remove hardness minerals (mainly calcium and magnesium) from your water through a process called ion exchange. Inside of a water softener’s tank, there are thousands of beads with sodium ions attached to them. When hard water enters the tank, the calcium and magnesium ions in the water are attracted to the beads and they replace the weaker sodium ions on the beads. The sodium ions dissolve into the water that exits the tank, and the hardness minerals are left behind.
Q: Where is a water softener installed in my home?
A: Water softeners are connected to your plumbing system at a point before your tap water reaches any of your appliances or fixtures. Systems are typically installed close to the point where water enters your home, which can be in a basement, garage or utility closet.
Q: How long does a water softener last?
A: A well-maintained and high-quality water softener can last upwards of 20 years.
Q: What is a water softener regeneration cycle?
A: The ion exchange process that we described above is repeated until most of the beads inside of the water softener’s tank are coated in calcium and magnesium ions. At this point, the tank needs to be flushed of those hardness minerals so that it can continue to soften water effectively. This is known as a water softener’s regeneration cycle. During this cycle, the tank is flushed with a concentration of sodium and water known as brine. The high amount of sodium ions in the brine overwhelm the hardness minerals that are attached to the beads, and those minerals are knocked off and drained out of the tank along with the brine.
Q: Is soft water healthy?
A: There are many misconceptions out there about the quality of soft water. Some people believe that soft water is less healthy than hard water because our bodies benefit from the calcium and magnesium in hard water. Other people say that soft water is unhealthy because of the sodium ions that are introduced during the softening process. Both of these concerns are invalid. The truth is that almost all of our bodies’ daily mineral intake comes from the food we eat, not the water we drink. In addition, the amount of salt that’s added to water by a softener is too small to be of any concern. If you are on an extremely low-sodium diet, there are softeners available that use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride as regenerant, however be aware that potassium chloride is much more expensive.
If you have any questions about these frequently asked questions about water softeners, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact EPA Water Consultants, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We provide service all over Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including towns like Buckingham, Lansdale and Chalfont, PA.
photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc