A Comprehensive Guide on Choosing the Best Water Softener

Are you looking to eliminate hardness in your water and do not know just how to go about it? If you think your water is hard, then you certainly need to test or establish the level of hardness.

According to the EPA, hard water is present in nearly 75% of all US households. If your water test results concludes hard water, the best solution to your problem is to get an efficient water softener with a Tannin removal system if you’re on well water supply as published in the QWL Guide.

But before you find out more about water softeners, it is important to take a look at what it means by water hardness and whether there are signs you have hard water problems.

What is Hard Water?

Water that contains huge amounts of dissolved compounds such as iron, magnesium, calcium, among other minerals is considered hard water.

Technically, water that contains more than 7 grains per gallon of these compounds qualifies the definition of hardness. Usually, water hardness is expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm). 

According to a recent study, hard water is a problem that affects more than 75 percent of households in the US. Hard water can damage your plumbing, and appliances.

Softening your water has numerous benefits, including reducing utility costs, reducing the cost of appliance repairs. 

Signs Your Water is Hard

There are numerous indicators of hard water and they include the following:

  • Clogged showerhead
  • Damage to your plumbing requiring regular maintenance because of limescale
  • Rough-textured laundry
  • Dry skin and irritation
  • Reduced flow of water in the shower lines
  • White residue on the skin after taking a shower
  • Mineral residue on the bottom of the appliances such as coffee makers, kettle or carafe
  • Unpleasant smell 
  • Spotty glasswear featuring a film of residue
  • Higher utility bills
  • Stains on your clothes

If you notice some of the above things in your home, you probably should know you have hard water. You can go ahead and determine how hard your water is by taking a sample for a laboratory test or contact your nearest water municipality. Alternatively, you can buy a water testing kit to help you do it at home. 

Benefits of Buying Water Softening Systems

soft water benefits

Water softeners come with lots of benefits, and this is why these appliances are becoming increasingly popular among households.

Removes limescale from your piping system

As earlier explained, minerals contained in water cause accumulation of limescale which causes damage to your pipes.

Fortunately, water softeners remove these minerals from the water, thus eliminating the problem. It is a sure way of effectively reducing the costs of maintaining your plumbing. 

Ensures Residue-Free Appliances

By eliminating the chances of mineral buildup, water softening systems help to reduce leakage in your appliance, thus increasing their lifespan.

In addition, it eliminates the possible odor that is caused by the residue that builds up in the faucets, showerheads, bathroom sinks, and water heaters

Guarantees Smoother Hair and Dry Skin

Although shower head filters are effective at raising the quality of water, they are not as effective when it comes to filtering out hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

If you have been struggling with hard hair and dry skin because of hard water, try using water softeners to completely change your experience.

Softer Fabrics

By removing hard minerals, you will begin to notice silkier, and softer laundry. This is because softeners remove the soap scam and stains, all of which cause fabrics to fade and look fray.

In addition, you will reduce the cost of washing your fabrics since soft water needs less detergent.

Clean, Shiny Glassware and Silverware

Water softeners work by either changing the structure of the minerals or removing these minerals altogether, preventing them from creating unwanted films or your glasses and mirrors after washing.

How to Choose a Good Water Softener

Selecting the right water softener can be a tricky task, especially for people who never owned one in the past. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can choose the best water softener for your home. 

Step 1: Know the Extent of Hardness of Your Water

So you have noticed the signs of hard water in your home, but to what extent? It will be important to determine the water hardness before you can think of water softening solution.

First, you can use the concentration of hardness map showing the water hardness scale per region.

If you happen to reside in areas with a concentration of more than 7gpg, then you certainly need to soften your water since leaving it unattended can be problematic. 

Testing the water hardness using a device can be an accurate way of determining the level of hardness. You need a testing kit or a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter to obtain more precise results.

This is a handy tool you do not want to miss in your home. Usually, the general formula for calculating hardness is given by hardness in parts per million divided by 17.1. for example, if the mineral concentration of the water is 190 ppm, then the hardness level can be expressed as 190/17.1, giving the hardness of 11.1. 

The other way of determining hardness is by sending the sample of your water to a certified professional laboratory for an accurate and cull composition analysis.

A lab test will not only determine the degree of hardness but also give the specific composition of the minerals contributing to the hardness.

Step 2: Determine the Size of the Water Softener You Need Determining the Grain

Like whole house water filters, water softeners are usually installed at the entry point where all the water first gets into the home.

This means you need to determine your home’s average daily usage when choosing the size of the softener. You also need to consider the time difference between regenerations.

Regeneration refers to the process by which the hard minerals attached to the resin bed through the ion exchange are flushed off, giving room for the new salt to begin a new softening process.

It is recommended to set the regeneration to take place not more than three days but not less than every two weeks. The reason you should not perform frequent regeneration is the process involves a waste of water.

The capacity of a water softener is expressed in grains. This shows the number of grains the system can handle within any given cycle. Therefore, the higher the grain, the higher the capacity softener you require.

Below is the formula for determining the capacity of the softener you need in your home:

Capacity is given by the number of people X Hardness X 80 gallons X No of Days between Regenerations. 

Step 3: How Much Should You Spend on Your Water Softener?

A water softener for residential use may cost somewhere in the range of $500 and $2500. Higher-grain water softening systems cost more than low-grain softeners.

When determining the average cost, you also need to take into account the projected maintenance cost. Ideally, you will have to add $5-$10 for every 40lbs of softening salt. 

What’s more, you need to consider the costs due to wastewater as a result of backwashes, which is estimated to be about 3 gallons every minute.

A salt-based water softener is thought to be expensive compared to a descaler. Therefore, if you are working on a tight budget, it is preferred to go for a descaler since it is friendly to the wallet.

However, a salt-based system is more effective since it can remove extremely higher amounts of hardness, thus extending the lifespan of your household appliances and plumbing. This means the long-run cost of running a salt-based softener is less if the cost of repairs is anything to go by.

Step 4: Check for Important Certifications and Extra Features

Check and verify if the softener you are buying has the necessary certifications as well as additional features that will guarantee quality service. 

What is the Recommended Solution? 

An efficient and effective way of getting cleaner and softer water in your home is by combining both a water softener and an under-sink reverse osmosis water filtration system.

Here, the reverse osmosis will help remove the harmful contaminants while the softener will rid the minerals of the water.

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