A water softener is an extremely beneficial appliance that can improve your home in a number of different ways. But if you aren’t familiar with how water softeners work or what exactly they do, you probably have some questions to ask before choosing to install one in your home. As a dealer of water treatment systems, we often hear many of the same questions that homeowners have about water softeners. We wanted to provide a one-stop resource for many of those questions, 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: What is hard water?
A: Hard water is water that has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium minerals. Water’s hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) in relation to those minerals. Check out this post to see the Water Quality Association’s classifications of the hardness of water based on its gpg measurement.
Q: How does a water softener work?
A: Water softeners use a process known as “ion exchange” to remove hardness minerals from water. A softener is filled with tiny beads that have sodium ions attached to them. When hard water enters a water softener, calcium and magnesium ions replace the sodium ions in the tank. The sodium ions are released into the water, and the calcium and magnesium ions stick to the beads and are left behind, thus softening the water.
Q: Where is a water softener installed?
A: A water softener is typically installed near the point where water enters your house at the main supply line. This location allows the softener to provide soft water to every tap in your home.
Q: How do I know if I need a water softener?
A: One of the biggest indications that you need a water softener is limescale buildup on the surfaces of your plumbing fixtures. Limescale is a white crusty substance that builds up on anything that comes into frequent contact with hard water. Other things to look out for include streaky or spotty dishes, “rough” or scratchy clothes, dry skin, dry hair and problems with your plumbing system (especially your water heater). Of course, the best way to know if you need a water softener is to have you water tested for free by North Carolina Water Consultants.
Q: What are the benefits of installing a water softener?
A: There are many benefits to installing a water softener. It will eliminate limescale buildup in your home, provide excellent protection for your plumbing system, improve the efficiency of your water heater, improve the performance of your dishwasher and washing machine, allow soaps and detergents to lather better with your water and give you smoother and softer skin and hair, just to name a few benefits.
Q: How long does a water softener last?
A: You can expect a high-quality water softener to last upwards of 20 years.
Q: Is soft water healthy?
A: Some people are concerned that adding sodium ions to your tap water (see above) will make your water unhealthy. The truth is that the amount of sodium that’s added to soft water is very small and does not produce any negative health effects. If you are on an extremely low-sodium diet and are still concerned about the small amount of sodium in soft water, you can purchase a water softener that uses potassium chloride as regenerant instead.
Q: What is a water softener regeneration cycle?
A: Every water softener has a regeneration cycle during which the tank is flushed with a solution of sodium and water known as brine. The high concentration of sodium ions in the brine forces calcium and magnesium ions off of the beads in the tank, and hardness mineral ions are flushed out of the tank. This frees up the beads inside your tank and reattaches sodium ions to them so that they can continue to soften your water.
If you have any questions about the answers to 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 whole house 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.