Are you considering getting a water softener for your entire home? If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve probably used faucet water filters and water filter pitchers and found them to be extremely beneficial in improving the appearance and taste of your water. Whole-home water softeners do the same thing, except when you attach them to your potable water line, your water-using appliances also benefit from the cleaner water.

Understanding How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners soften water. However, to understand this concept and how these devices work, it’s important to understand hard water. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium, and when water is tested for its hardness, the result if often given in grains per gallon (GPG). If your water gains three or more GPG, it is considered hard and could potentially damage your water pipes and the appliances in your home that use water.

Water softeners remove the magnesium and calcium in order to provide your home with soft water. They do this by using electrically charged particles in the form of salt pellets that are specifically designed for use in water softeners. As the water flows from the municipal water supply into your home, it first moves through the water softener. This ensured that all of your water has been demineralized for the elements that cause hard water. The wastewater created by this process is drained just like the rest of your wastewater. The clean water is pumped on-demand through your home so that you can have hot water, wash dishes, use your dishwater, make ice, wash clothes and take a shower to bath.

Signs Your Home Could Benefit from a Water Softener

It’s important to understand that hard water is still safe to drink, but you may notice that it tastes bitter and leaves a white residue on your dishes and pots and pans after they’ve dried. Hard water minerals can also leave white residue on sink faucets and showerheads. You may even notice that the water coming out of your hot water heater is cloudy, which indicates scale and sediment buildup in the bottom of your hot water heater.

In addition to potentially damaging your water fixtures and water-using appliances, hard water can also damage your skin and hair. Your skin may appear dry and chap more easily. Your hair may appear dull and lifeless, and you may notice that you have to use more body wash, shampoo, dish soap and laundry soap in order to get the suds and lather needed to clean your clothes, dishes and body. If you notice any of these signs, there’s a good chance that you and your home could benefit from the installation of a water softener.

Benefits of Water Softeners

  • No more white buildup on your faucets and showerheads
  • No more cloudy hot water
  • Improved energy efficiency and cleaning efficiency in your water-using appliances
  • Extends the useful life of your water heater, dishwasher and washing machine
  • Use less soap for washing dishes and clothes
  • Water tastes and looks better
  • Reduces the risk of scale buildup inside your water pipes
  • Better tasting coffee
  • Less white residue on dishes
  • Your hair and skin will look and feel better

Drawbacks of Water Softeners

  • You will have to regularly replenish the salt
  • Improper installation can shorten the life of your water softener and even cause cross-contamination of your potable water with your wastewater
  • Individuals with heart problems, including high blood pressure may not want to drink the water due to the added salt.

If you do determine that your home and family could benefit from the installation of a water softener, always choose an installer with a prove track record and decades of experience in order to ensure that your water softener is installed correctly and lasts its entire expected useful life.

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