Water Softener FAQ
The first and most important reason to use a home water softener is to remove the hardness minerals from your water. Hard water clogs the plumbing and any water-based application that relies on the plumbing. With soft water, you will no longer need to worry about rising energy bills because your appliances aren’t working as well, or expensive repair costs. You will also benefit from longer-lasting clothing, detergents that work more effectively, and a clean feeling on your skin after a shower or bath.
What Are the Differences Between a Water Softener and a Water Conditioner?
Water softener systems work by removing hardness minerals and replacing them with sodium ions. Water conditioners are devices that help prevent the hardness-forming minerals from forming scale. They use a physical media to inhibit the scale from building up by neutralizing the hardness itself. Due to the fact that water conditioners use a physical media instead of a chemical media, they are sometimes considered a greener alternative in areas where it is forbidden to use salt. Water conditioners do not effectively remove hardness from the water supply, however, as the only way to do this is with salt-based media.
Learn More About Salt-Free Water Conditioners
Does Water Softening Actually Save Money on Energy?
The US Department of Energy says that "Water heating can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home." It is the second-highest energy-consuming area of a home, next to heating and cooling. The number of minerals dissolved in water can cause it to take longer for water to heat, increasing those energy costs. A study conducted in 2009 by the Water Quality Research Foundation in conjunction with the Battelle Memorial Institute, known as The Battelle Study, conducted tests to help determine how much energy savings a whole house water softener can provide homeowners. The results of that study indicate that untreated hard water added costs to water heating up to 48% in some cases. The Battelle Study also found hard water to rapidly lead to clogged showerheads, in some cases after as little as a year and a half of regular use. After just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of showerhead nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Showerheads using water treated by a water softening system, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.
Does a Water Softener System Actually Save Money on Soaps and Detergents?
A second part of the Battelle Study compared detergent dose, water hardness, and washing temperature to see if hardness had an impact on detergent savings. The study included tests that removed difficult soils, in addition to evaluating spotting and filming. Researchers found that softened water uses almost 30% less detergent, but cleans as well as water at 10 gpg hardness level. That detergent savings rises to nearly 70% when comparing soft water with water at a 25 gpg level. Better performance and savings can be achieved with softened water, the reports authors concluded. Water treated with a water softener system might not only save consumers money but could also be environmentally friendly, because it helps cut back on harmful detergents going into water streams. In areas where there is very hard water, consumers can often cut detergent use in dishwashers and washing machines by more than 50% after softening and get the same results.
Does Whole House Water Softener Discharge Hurt Household Septic Tanks?
Many people are hesitant to use water softening systems because they may be under the impression that the equipment regenerates quite frequently and puts a high load of sodium salts into the wastewater. This, of course, is not true; the average family of four people would require whole house water softener regeneration approximately two or three times a week. The water quality improvement industry has earnestly sought to sort out the factual information on water softener system effluent. A recent septic tank study from the Water Quality Association clearly indicates that there are no adverse effects when water softening wastewater is discharged into properly installed private septic systems. There are several additional reports that also explain further evidence of the hardness ions in a softener's regeneration waste causing less clogging and maintaining higher permeability than the regular septic tank effluent.
Learn More About Water Softeners A Septic Systems