Having hard water running through your pipes and scaling up your appliances can cost you money in excessive electricity, repairs, and increased cleaning.
You may improve your water quality and reduce your expenses by installing a water softener.
We will guide you through the questions you may have about your water softener needs, how they work, and where to install one in your home.
Why Install A Water Softener?
Although drinking hard water is not harmful to your health, it may cause expensive problems in your home.
Heating elements in your boiler and kettle, as well as the interior of your water pipes, get scaled up from the calcium and magnesium found in hard water.
Heating elements that are coated in limescale cannot function effectively or efficiently.
As they have to work harder to heat your water, this costs you more money in electricity and will eventually cause the heating element to fail. This means a cost to you in replacement.
A water softener will remove the problem-causing minerals in your water. This means that the water going through your boiler and kettle will no longer be hard, but soft.
In turn, this reduces the amount of deposit on your heating elements.
Besides limescale, hard water also leaves stains and mineral deposits on other parts of your home.
Sinks, taps, bathtubs, showers, and work surfaces can all be affected by unattractive deposits. With a water softener, this will not be an issue.
Washing yourself and your clothes in hard water uses more soap and detergent, as it is more difficult to form a lather than with soft water.
A water softener can save you money on laundry detergent, shampoo, shower gel, and soap.
Testing For Hard Water
A test for hard water measures the amount of dissolved minerals in your water. The measurements can be in grain per gallon (gpg) or parts per million (ppm).
Parts per million means that one unit of hard water is present in a million units of water. Grains per gallon corresponds to one grain of wheat. One grain per gallon is equal to 17.1 parts per million.
Less than 1 gpg is considered soft water, 1-3.5 gpg is slightly hard, 3.5-7 gpg is moderately hard, 7-10.5 is hard, and above 10.5 gpg is very hard.
You can send a sample of water to a laboratory to test for harness, but this will be quite expensive.
Most people are happy to use home testing kits to determine the hardness of their water. You only need to dip a test strip into a sample of water and compare the resulting color to the provided chart.
Digital testing kits are also widely available.
How Does It Work?
So, you have determined that you have hard water in your home, and you want to install a water softener. But how does a water softener work?
There are two types of water softener, a salt-based softener and a salt-free water softener. A salt-based softener uses ion exchange to swap calcium and magnesium for sodium and potassium.
The positively charged molecules of magnesium and calcium are attracted to the negatively charged resin beads in the water softener. These minerals are then flushed out of the system.
A salt-free softener uses a system called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC).
This process causes the minerals in your hard water to crystallize, which makes it impossible for them to stick to heating elements, pipe interiors, or surfaces.
Salt-free softeners are not technically softeners, as they don’t actually change the molecular structure of the water. Instead, they condition it to form crystals.
This prevents the minerals from adhering to surfaces, which causes the hard-water symptoms discussed earlier.
The Best Place To Install Your Water Softener
The best location for your new water softener is next to the entry point of the water into your home.
This is typically at ground level near the water meter if you live in the city, or next to the pressure meter if you live in the country and are using well water.
Check that there is enough space for all the equipment to fit and also allow access for maintenance or repair. Ensure there is a power source nearby as well as a drain point.
Everyone’s home is different, and as long as there is access to the plumbing, a drain source, and a power outlet, the water softener can go anywhere. They do not typically take up a lot of space.
Installing A Water Softener
It is always advisable to hire a professional plumbing company to install any major plumbing component in your home. This way you know the job will be done properly, and it saves you time and effort.
However, if you are competent at DIY, there is no reason why you cannot install a water softener yourself. There are just a few things to keep in mind.
- Pick the best location for the softener
- Turn off the main water supply
- Turn off electric water heaters
- Turn on all faucets to completely drain the system
- Install a bypass valve
- Connect the inlet and outlet pipe connections
- For salt-based softeners, you need a drainage connection
- Put salt in the brine tank
- Turn the main water supply back on and slowly open the bypass valve to fill the softener
- Turn electric water heaters back on
- Plug the water softener in and allow it to run through a cycle
- You can then configure your softener according to the manufacturer’s instructions
By installing a water softener in your home, you can prevent the damage that comes from living in a hard water area. Your water will taste better, and your appliances will last longer.
Unsightly limescale and mineral deposits will be a thing of the past, meaning you spend less time cleaning, too.