If you are on a private well or spring, your water should be tested. Not all city waters are hard, however, if you can see white spots and scale on fixtures and appliances, your water is most likely “hard”. While calcium, magnesium and iron are not detrimental to human health, they are detrimental to most appliances and plumbing systems in your home, which result in wasted dollars. As calcium and magnesium precipitate out of hard water, they turn into scale. Scale build-up decreases flow through pipes, erodes pipes and reduces heat transfer resulting in higher energy costs. Scale build-up from hard water also causes the following problems: clogged water pipes, reduced water pressure, “frozen” valves on faucets, hard-to-remove soap film on shower tiles and doors, white deposits on shower heads, spots and milky clouds on glassware and silverware, crusted rings in toilet tanks, spotting on tubs, chrome and tile, as well as poor sudsing of soaps, detergents, and shampoos. Hard water also negatively impacts the environment through chemical disposal.
Water softeners provide short term, as well as long-term benefits. Naturally, soft water is better for the skin and hair of those who shower or bathe in soft water. Sudsing and rinsing products like shampoo and soap is easier with soft water and it results in softer hair and less clogged pores than with hard water. Shaving with soft water is much better for the skin and actually helps keep the skin smoother. Soft water doesn’t leave deposits on the skin that causes breakouts and other skin related troubles. Soft water is also much gentler on household items, such as appliances, dishes and clothing, as it doesn’t leave residue. Soft water helps clothing to last longer, fade less and it doesn’t require extra fabric softener, which can save time and money. This may be particularly important when washing babies clothes or others’ with sensitive skin. Maybe most important is the protection of your costly plumbing systems. Soft water helps keep these intact for longer than hard water, as they can avoid contact with corrosive minerals. Water softeners can be used in other places besides the home, however. They have residential applications, such as for community pools, agricultural applications, such as on farms, and industrial applications. In addition, they can be used on golf courses and sports parks, recreational vehicles such as RVs, and of course in the home.
First you should test your water supply. If you use public water, you may contact the office where you pay your water bill. If you are on a private water system, simply contact your county health department to have you water supply tested. Another alternative is to purchase a home water test kit. Other factors to consider are if your water softener will be for commercial or domestic use, the complexity level in installation, use and maintenance, and lastly, the hardness grain level of your water.
Brands like Culligan, Ecowater and Kinetico are leaders in the industry of water softeners and conditioners and offer water testing, system installation and service.