Water hardness can cause untold issues, damaging your plumbing, which can be very expensive to repair, not to mention leaving your dishes unclean, making your laundry dry and itchy when you come to wear it, and making your beloved power shower more of a trickle at best.
You may have heard of water softeners, and how they can rid you of such an obnoxious problem of hard water. But you may have questions about whether or not a water softener is necessary, and whether you could make do without one.
And that is exactly what this article is here to answer. We will also aim to cover all your most frequently asked questions on the subject along the way. By the end of the article, when you reach the wrap up at the end, you will be fully informed.
Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section that jumps out at you. Here goes.
What Are The Signs You Might Need A Water Softener?
There are several signs to look for if you suspect that the water in your water supply is too hard, including low water pressure, a film appearing when you are washing your hands or washing the dishes, a strange taste to the water, laundered clothes feeling dry and itchy, or a mineral build up in your plumbing.
But none of these signs indicate water hardness or the level of water hardness to any degree of accuracy. So, if you suspect that you have water hardness, we would recommend that you carry out a test to prove it one way or the other.
A simple soap test will tell you if your water supply is too hard, as described in our article titled How To Test Water Hardness, which is available on this link.
But if you wish to know exactly how hard your water is, you would be well advised to either consult the consumer report from your water provider or use a hard water testing kit, like this one available from Amazon.
It only costs a few dollars, and you get a whopping 150 test strips.
What Exactly Is A Water Softener Anyway, And How Does It Work?
A water softener is basically any kind of filtration system that’s designed to remove an excess of calcium and magnesium particles from your water.
Here’s how a water softener works. Hard water is forced through the filtration system, but the large particles of minerals like calcium and magnesium are too big to go through the filter.
This way, the water that does get through the filtration system is free of these hard water minerals, ensuring that only softened water is passed through.
When You Could Benefit From A Water Softener
If you have more than 7 grains of minerals to one gallon’s worth of your water, then this is classed as hard water. This is equivalent to 120 milligrams per liter of water.
If your water hardness ever reaches this level, then we would recommend that you invest in a water softener.
(Incidentally, if you have more than 10 grains to the gallon, this is classed as very hard water, and we would strongly recommend that you invest in a water softener if you’re at this level.)
The benefits are manyfold. Your plumbing is more effective, you get cleaner dishes, you have better water pressure for your shower, the water looks, tastes and smells better, the list goes on.
Pros And Cons Of A Water Softener
The main pros of using a water softener are obvious…
- Because the water is softer, there’s less staining, spotting, and scaling, and you get better water pressure for your shower.
- But there are other benefits besides, such as less soap and detergent being required to wash dishes or wash your hands. And you can save on your utility bills because it doesn’t require as much energy to get hot water from your boiler to your bath and shower.
- But, there are also a number of cons to using a water softener…
- Warm softened water from the tap should never be used for cooking or drinking water (it could be higher in heavy metals).
- There are increased levels of sodium in softened water (too much salt is bad for you). And it’s lacking in calcium, which is good for teeth and bones.
- A water softener can waste up to 120 gallons of water for every 1,000 gallons delivered, which can really increase your water bill.
Where Can I Get A Water Softener? How Much Do They Cost?
Thankfully, water softeners are readily available online, on sites like Amazon. You can view a selection of them on this link.
They can really vary in price. You can get ones just for your shower head for less than $40. But if you want to revamp your whole plumbing system, this can cost hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.
Answers To Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens If You Don’t Use A Water Softener?
If your water supply consists of soft water, then you do not need a water softener. If, however, the hardness of your water supply reaches 7 grains per gallon or more, then this means that you have hard water.
If you have hard water, and you do not invest in a water softener, you risk scale build up in your plumbing, and as these minerals build up, unbeknownst to you, there is less room for water to flow, making your water heating system incredibly inefficient.
Other Articles You May Find Useful
Here are some of our other articles that you might find useful:
How To Test Water Hardness
This article explains how to carry out tests for water hardness, and explains how to interpret the water hardness scale
What Does A Water Softener Do?
This article explains exactly what a water softener does
How To Fix Hard Water
This article outlines some of the ways to fix a hard water problem
Finding out how hard your water is can be quite a simple process, but rectifying it can be expensive, so we recommend testing your water to see if you need a water softener.