Even if hard water is not harmful and does not affect health matter, it causes many problems such as dries skin and hair, complicate soap, staining and clogging home appliances. Therefore, it is important to treat hard water by installing a water softener or conditioner so as to reduce the negative impact it causes on our home appliances and body. Well, there is one problem finding the right water softener for your home that’s why we have created an article for Water softener buying guide and tips to consider.

Water softener buying guide and tips to consider

Water softeners are systems or gadgets that are used in our home to remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium that make water hard. If your area has hard water, the only solution is to install water softeners.

Don’t confuse between water filters and purifiers with water softeners. Water filter and purifiers remove contaminants in the water but do not reduce the hardness of water which softeners do.

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What is hard water?

Hard water is raw water which contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and ions which makes water hard. The minerals can be picked from the soil or ground rocks. Hard water is not harmful to human being and does not affect health matter, but it causes many problems in our lives such as:

  • Hard water makes your skin become dry and cause irritation. It also causes hair loss after bathing with it.
  • It causes spots on the glassware and other utensils
  • If hard water runs through the pipe for a very long time limescale and matters build up in the pipe eventually causing the pipe to block and slow water flow.
  • Home appliances such as dishwashers, water heater, washing machines, and kettles are affected by hard water. When limescale and matters build up in the appliances makes it fail to operate, it reduces lifespan and becomes expensive to repair.
  • If clothes are washed using hard water, they become hard and scratchy and eventually looks old and feeling crispy
  • Hard water affects sinks. The reaction between soap and hard water form scum stain on the sink and shower

All those effects of hard water make a good reason why we need water softeners in our house.

Water softener buying guide and tips to consider

  • The hardness of your water

The hardness is measured in grains per gallons. If you check and find your waters has:

3 grains –slightly hard

3-7 grains- moderately hard

7-10 grains- hard

10-15 grains- very hard

Above 15 – extremely hard

How do you know that your water is hard and need a water softener?

There is a straightforward test you can do at home although they are not accurate they will give you an idea of whether your water is hard or soft.

Tests to do at home:

When bathing, your water should form a good foam, or you find milk curd on your surface that signs the water is salty.

Use of water hardness test kit – use a water hardness test kit to know how hard is your water.

Use of liquid soap

Fill the bottle halfway with water

Add a few drops of liquid soap

Shake for a few seconds

If your water didn’t form the foam that indicates is hard water.

The accurate test is to use a water hardness kit.

  • Average household water consumption

The average amount of water a person consumes per day is between 70 and 110. If you have five people in your house per day, you consume 80X5=400 gallon per day, and after a week you drink 400X7=2800 gallons per week

  • Maintenance

Like any other device water softeners require regular maintenance.

A salt-based water softener needs a regular addition of salt and power needed for regeneration. So they will be electricity bill to be paid in salt-based water softeners. Also, salt-based water softener parts can wear out after some time and they need to replaced or repaired.

A free salt – water softener has a filter which requires being replaced on a regular basis.

Put all above consideration any type of water softener you are going to purchase.

  • The capacity of a water softener

The capacity of water depends on the amount of water you consume. If you consume a large amount of water, you need a softener that has a big size. Most water softeners have a size range from 15,000 to 100,000 GPG.

If you consume a lot of water, you need a water softener that has a large capacity to reduce the cost of regeneration.

  • Types of water softeners

They are different types of water softeners. This includes Salt-based water softeners, water conditioner, and salt-free water softeners.

Salt-based water softeners

This kind of water softeners is meant to be used in extreme or very hard water. The water softeners replace hard water ions with soft water ions. Soft water ions used is sodium (salt) ions. You need salty water tank or brine solution tank which needs to be added more often for the process to work. The brine solution is required to remove hard minerals that are stuck in the polystyrene beads.

A salt-based water softener is not recommended due to some health issues; there are traces of salt that are left in the softened water. So they can cause a health risk to people who are having a problem with kidney or heart-related diseases.

However, you can still use the system by using soft ions such as potassium which is not harmful to our bodies, and it is nutrients required to keep our body healthy. During regeneration, you can use hydrogen or hydrochloric acid which is not- toxic cleaning agent if used the right amount. Both hydrogen and potassium are eco- friendly but expensive compared to sodium.

You can also decide to leave individual taps with hard water for cooking and drinking.

A salt-based water softener requires regeneration regularly, so you are required to add softening materials which are expensive.

Salt-free water softeners

The process of water softening does not include removing hard water minerals. No salt is used if you want to remove hard water minerals It uses special medium consisting of polymeric beads that are stored in the mineral tank when hard water passes the medium it alters the water hardness structure so that do not form scale on the house appliance. The salt-free water softener alters the structure of hardness through a technology called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). 

The Template Assisted Crystallization technology requires no wastewater, salt, electricity, control valve or electronic control system, brine tank, backwash waste.

Water conditioner

The water conditioner is salt-free water softener that removes scales and matters build up in the pipe using electric and magnetic to transmit waves and pulses. The device is positioned around the pipe when hard water passes through the waves and pulses paralyze the structure of water hardness that causes the pipe to clog or blockage on the house appliances.

The softeners are not meant to remove hard water minerals but to remove scales and matter created by the hardness of the water.

This type of water softeners is useful if your water has a hardness of over 8GPG and diet-restricted person.

A water conditioner is either electric or magnetic

Magnetic– The magnet is placed around water pipes which alter water structure. The process does not offer a permanent solution to your water hardness. The Hardness in water is paralyzed for about 48 hours, and after that, it returns to its hardness form.

Electronic– Electronic pulses are sent to disrupt any suspended hard water mineral and change the chemical which causes scaling and building up of matter.

Chelation– It uses citrus-based agents. Their molecules will combine with hard water minerals and prevent scales and matter form in your pipe and showers.

Commonly asked questions

Water softeners cost

The cost of water softeners depends on size and functionality. Before purchasing you should consider average water consumption in your home. For instance, if you buy a small water softener than the required size you will be doing regeneration more often than usual, and you will pay more for electricity consumed during regeneration.

Consider buying a bigger size or the required size even though the purchase price will be high, but you will save more money.

Terms used in water softener process

Regeneration– During the process of water softening there are softener resin beads which attract hard water minerals or hard water ions they stick to the beads. The resin bead needs to be flushed or cleaned. The process of cleaning or flushing out hard water ions or minerals from the resin beads is called Regeneration.

There are three types of regeneration

Meter regeneration- the water softener will regenerate based on water usage and is most commonly used.

Timer regeneration

Manual regeneration

Scale- When hard water passes through a pipe more often, the hard water minerals built up or gather a particular place in the pipe. That is what called scale.

Portable vs. standard

There are water softeners that are portable, and the other is standard. Portable water softeners are best suited for outdoors, camping or traveling. Standard water softeners are installed in the house in your existing water system

Portable water softeners are used to soften less amount of water per day.

If you live in areas with hard water the best way is to treat your water is installing a water softener. Make sure when buying you consider the tip we have outlined in this article and I am sure you will find the best water softener you need to soften your water. We hope that our Top 10 Best Water softeners 2018 review was very helpful and we have provided you with the right information to guide when purchasing Water softeners brand.

Which water softeners are you using in your house? Please share with us in the comment section and the best brand that you would recommend.

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