Using hard water is bad for skin and hair and they cause many health-related complications such as psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff, kidney stones, constipation, and might also affect bone density. Using a good water softener can help you solve all these issues.
What is the difference between hard water and soft water?
Hard water contains a high content of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese. These impurities can cause serious damage to your health, especially skin and hair. The hardness of water is measured in PPM i.e. parts per millions or GPG i.e. number of grains per gallon.
Water that contains more than 17.1 PPM (or 1 GPM) or dissolved minerals such as salt or magnesium, it is considered as hard water.
Unlike hard water, soft water is completely safe to use and contains a low concentration of ions, including magnesium and calcium.
Benefits of using a water softener:
Some of the benefits of having a water softener at home are as follows:
- It helps in converting hard water into soft water
Hard water has a severe impact on water-based appliances. It causes scaling and sediment accumulation over the geysers, washing machines, etc.
Using hard water for a very long time can also cause serious ailments such as hair fall, dry and itchy skin, and eczema (worst case scenario).
- Water Softener helps in reducing chlorine from water.
Drinking chlorinated water can be very harmful to your health. Chlorine reacts with water and immediately forms toxic by-products such as chloroform. These chemicals tend to absorb quickly via skin and enter the bloodstream. These can be very harmful to your health.
- They remove odor from water.
Even though water is odorless, the presence of certain chemicals and heavy metals can make it stink. Chlorine is one of the elements that lead to a pungent smell in the water.
- It prevents the formation of limescale.
Limestone scaling is bound to happen if you have a hard water supply at home and this scaling eventually speeds up the aging process of the appliances. Water softeners work on softening the hard water and preventing your appliances from further damage.
- Water softeners help in preventing bacteria build-up in showerheads.
Most of the showerheads contain microorganisms that cause pulmonary disorders. These organisms develop in water due to the chemicals present in hard water. Thus, it is very essential to get rid of these bacteria and algae.
Types of water softeners
Before buying a water softener, you must always look for certain factors such as the filtration technology that they use as these features help you determine the effectiveness of the device. The ion exchange water softeners are the most preferred ones.
- Ion Exchange Water Softener:
These types of water softeners are directly connected to the plumbing system of your house. They contain salt that helps in replacing the minerals that make the water hard including magnesium and calcium. The ion exchange water softeners contain resin beads that help in softening the water by substituting excess minerals and other particles with salts.
- Salt-free Water Softener
The salt-free water softeners are not as effective as ion exchange water softeners, but these are ideal for those who are worried about their sodium intake. These softeners use potassium chloride to convert hard water into soft water. They also help in preventing the deposit of minerals on the surface of appliances.
- Magnetic and Electronic Water Softener
The magnetic and electronic water softeners work like descalers and help in reversing the electromagnetic properties of minerals that are responsible for making the water hard. These softeners are great for preventing the clogging of pipes. These softeners generally cost lesser and are easy to install.
- Dual Tank Water Softener
To make sure that the softener is working well, we need to take care that it is recharged properly. The dual tank water softeners contain 2 tanks. These tanks work alternatively and make sure it is charged properly.
On the basis of design, there are 2 types of water softeners, namely Showerhead/tap filters and In-line filters. Let’s learn about them in detail!
- Showerhead or Tap Filters:
As the name suggests, you can simply place the filter over the tap, or the showerhead and the softener will start doing its job. These water softeners are easy to install but they look bulky.
- In-line Filters:
These filters are installed between the existing water line and do not come with a showerhead. These models are difficult to install and need to be done by a professional.
The water softeners are also differentiated based on the filtration technology that it uses. Mentioned below are the different types of water softeners as per the filtration technology.
- Multi-Level Carbon Filters
The multi-level carbon filters are generally used in water filtration devices too. These filters let the water go through several mediums (around 10-12 mediums) and are designed to remove specific types of impurities from the water.
- Vitamin C Filter
The vitamin C filter is generally used along with carbon and KDF filters and work on removing chlorine and chloramine particles from the water. You can see a quick improvement in your skin and hair with this filter.
- KDF Filters
The KDF filters can be either used alone or in combination with carbon filters. They are made up using zinc and copper and are effective in removing heavy metals, viruses, and bacteria from water. If you have a municipal water supply at your home, you must consider using these filters.
Factors To Consider Before Buying A Water Softener
1.Size of the water softener
It is very important to select a water softener that fits in your requirements. Even though the device must be selected on the basis of the ability and not the size, it also plays a major role in terms of convenience. You can go for a size depending on the average amount of water that is consumed in a day.
2. Life of the Cartridge
The life of the cartridge plays a major role while selecting a water softener because the softeners stop working once the lifespan of the cartridge is over. You must always try to go for one with a maximum lifespan.
3. Features of water softener
You must consider features and controls that the water softener provides such as programming levels and display options. It should be easy to use too.
- Timer Controls
The timer controls represent that the water softener follows the automatic regeneration process. This makes it easy to select the time of operation so that it does not interrupt with your regular household chores.
- DIR Controls
The DIR i.e. Demand-Initiated-Regeneration senses whenever the resins need recharging. The controls regenerate only when there is a demand for regeneration.
4. Installation Process
You can either install the water for the entire house or at a particular tap. It depends on your convenience and your requirements.
5. Cartridge Filtration Capacity
Even though this is a brand-specific feature, it helps you get an estimate of how much water can this cartridge filter. Usually, cartridge of showerheads or taps last for around 6 months to 1 year and can filter about 25,000-40,000 liters of water. You must always look for a softener that provides the maximum life of the cartridge.
6. Cost of Cartridge Replacement
The water softeners come with in-built cartridge and most brands also offer an extra cartridge. Once the life of these cartridges exhausts, they need to be replaced. You must always check the price of replacement beforehand so that you must not regret later that the replacement cost is higher than the installation cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
The life of water softeners depends on multiple factors such as the brand or how much is it used. A typical lifespan of a good water softener varies between 10-15 years.
It is usually not recommended to drink water from a water softener as it does not purify the water. Raw water contains a lot of impurities and solid particles that cannot be removed using a water softener. However, you can get this water purified by using a water purifier.
Not all water softeners are capable of removing Chlorine from water but, if you are looking for such softener, you can opt for multi-stage tap filters that have activated carbon layer, KDF 55 layer or calcium sulfite layer. These layers help in removing chlorine content from the water.
Yes, water softeners can be helpful in removing scaling. Since the scaling is caused due to the high content of calcium in water, a water softener works on changing the sticky nature of calcium and thereby, reduce the formation of scale on bath fittings.
No, it does not lower TDS levels of water, but it removes magnesium and calcium ions from the water.
Here are a few things that you must watch for that can indicate that the water softener at your house either needs servicing or replacement:
*If you notice that you are facing a hard time forming lather with soap while having a bath, you can get the softener checked as hard water and soap don’t get along well.
*Another sign that the softener is not working properly is you might feel that your clothes are stiff and scratchy after washing as they don’t get cleaned properly.
*You might also notice crusty or chalky build up around the faucets or pipes.
*The taste of hard water is a bit different than soft water as hard water contains more minerals. Thus, if you are noticing a change in the taste of water, you should consider getting the softener checked.