How to Address Hard Water Issues
Does your water exhibit the telltale hallmarks of hard water? If you have excessive spotting on your glasses, clothes that gray and fray prematurely, soap scum buildup, scale residue on the water heater, pipes, and water-using appliances, then you have hard water.
Hard water is harmless for human consumption, but it can destroy your plumbing system, your washing machine, hot water heater and more. Water with a high hardness level will wear out appliances sooner than soft water. It can leave yellow stains on your fixtures, sinks and toilets from the mineral deposits.
Hard water is primarily a combination of calcium and magnesium measuring 3.5 gpg (grains per gallon) or more. It can also contain sulfur, iron, lead and limestone.
Dealing with hard water will not only extend the life of appliances, but also save on soap and detergent expenses, since a lesser amount is required to achieve the same effect in contrast to hard water. Your clothes will last longer and be whiter, brighter and cleaner.
There are a few options to deal with hard water issues. The first and most frequent approach is to put in an ion-exchange water softener. It is necessary to add salt on a recurring basis. In a nutshell, water softening is a very clear-cut process. The softener unit has a tank – which will vary in size by water usage, size of home, and water usage – that has resin (small sand-like beads) in it and a head on the tank to manage the regeneration cycles.Most heads are timer or metered. Metered will run after a certain amount of water has been used by the system.Timed valves will run based on certain time period. Metered units are usually preferred as they waste less water. There’s also another larger tank that retains the salt for the regeneration process.
A water softener will address all of your hard water issues and a little bit of iron and manganese, but it will not address high levels of iron or manganese. Keep in mind a water softener will not correct sulfur issues or filtered water. It will give you water that feels slippery – some people love that, and some hate it. So knowing whether you are a love-it or hate-it kind of person will really help to know whether you should go the traditional water softener route or try a different system. Keep in mind some states and municipalities have forbidden softeners, so be sure to check to make sure you can install a softener in your area.
The next technology now available to treat hard water scale issues is a no-salt conditioner. This is not a traditional softener, it is a descalant to significantly reduce scale and other hard water side effects. There is no salt necessary to add and very little upkeep. There is a special kind of media that is used in the tank, sold under the brand name FilterSorb or other private label names. It does not require regeneration, which wastes water, like a traditional softener, so it is more environmentally friendly. These systems typically come with a sediment pre-filter prior to the main tank. The media will need to be replaced every 5 years or so.
The lates technology to treat hard water is a magnet conditioning system. These are super easy to put in, require absolutely no maintenance, and work for most light to moderate hardness issues. If your water has more than 25 grains per gallon of hardness (there are simple tests available which can test your hardness level), or excessive limescale, a magnet conditioner will not work well. The magnets will provide similar results to the no-salt conditioner in that they decrease scale issues, but will not provide that slippery feel of soft water. Again, you’ll either love that or hate that feel, so know your inclination up front before you invest in any type of system. Incidentally, large versions of the magnets are often used in large commercial settings and provide great results at a very low cost.
Understanding the different technologies available to treat your issues will help you determine which is the right choice for you. You should also decide up front whether you like the feel of soft water and are willing to add 40 pound bags of salt on a regular basis. If not, then look into other methods for hard water conditioning.You’ll be happy you did.
Joy Parker makes water treatment recommendations to homeowners nationwide. Visit www.PuriTeam.com for more information.