Water Softening And Its Impact On The Environment

Water softeners have become a popular item for many homeowners who live in areas where hard water deposits coming from their tap water can negatively everything from plumbing to appliances. Since most of us don’t need to worry about whether or not our supply of water coming from the local water treatment facility is safe to drink, the next step is to make sure it won’t damage our appliances or pipes, and that it tastes good.

The Basics of Hard Water

The term ‘hard water’ is used to refer to any water that includes minerals. In fact, this type of water is a problem for more than 4 out of 5 households throughout the United States. While the minerals that are found in your water may differ from one place to another depending on your environment, the primary ones found in most hard water include:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Silica
  • Manganese

In order to measure exactly how ‘hard’ your water is, experts will test the water to find out how many minerals are dissolved in one gallon of water, a measurement referred to using grains per gallon, or GPG. Water measuring more than 3 GPG is generally considered to be ‘hard’. If water measures less than 1 GPG it is classified as ‘soft’.

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Hard water can impact our homes and lives in many different ways. These minerals often cause skin to dry out and soaps and detergents to work less effectively. As minerals continue to flow through appliances they build up and can eventually cause blockages and leaks. Appliances that use heat to operate, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, can get mineral buildup along the heating element that eventually causes it to malfunction.

How to Soften Water in Your Home

Rather than worrying about the impacts of hard water on your skin, appliances, and water pipes, many homeowners purchase water softeners to reduce mineral content. They come in two varieties: those that use salt and those that do not.

A salt-free system provides the same outcome, but rather than using salt to remove minerals from the water, it reduces surface tension in the water, turning minerals into crystal structures that won’t be able to bind to surfaces. This is also beneficial because these softeners don’t require electricity and can eliminate existing buildup inside pipes or appliances—something salt-based systems cannot do.

The total cost of ownership estimated by this salt-free water softener calculator projects how much water and money you can save in a year’s time, just by using a salt-free system.

Salt-based water softeners have a system that connects to the water supply, filtering water through a tank filled with beads that are negatively charged. Calcium and magnesium—with their positive charges—connect with the negative beads, then salt replaces the minerals and they are flushed away. While it is an effective way to remove minerals from your water supply, the salt that is used in the ion exchange cannot be reused, so homeowners must purchase salt regularly and continue refilling the softener system.

Benefits of Water Softening

When homeowners choose to install a water softening system in their home they derive many benefits, including:

  • Softer skin
  • Better lather for soaps and detergents so you use less and save money
  • Improved performance for your appliances
  • Cleaner clothes and dishes

If you are considering the benefits of a water softener, talk to a professional today about which option might work the best for your home.

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