What are the effects of hard water?
Inside the home, the effects of hard water aren’t as desirable. As water travels through pipes, appliances, and outlets, minerals can deposit on surfaces, forming unsightly scale and sediment build-up that reduces performance.
When water is heated, this process of sediment depositing can be exacerbated, leading to issues with the heating elements inside electric water heaters.
Hard water also tends to have a less pleasant feel on skin and laundry. When washing clothes or dishes in hard water, detergents have a reduced ability to lather.
What are the benefits of a water softener for well water?
Whether it’s through using a salt-based system or a water conditioner, there are several benefits to softening your water, from improving water quality to increasing the lifespan of your home’s appliances. Here are our favorite benefits of softened water.
Prolonged life of plumbing
When hard water runs through plumbing, heaters, dishwashers, and other appliances, it can leave calcified deposits on heating elements and the inside of pipes. While non-toxic, these buildups of minerals can significantly affect how appliances operate and perform.
A water softener eliminates these mineral build-ups, meaning that you no longer need to clean them out manually, and appliances can function as intended for longer. Water softening systems may also reduce pipe corrosion, keeping water flow at maximum levels.
Lower energy bills
Because water softeners reduce the strain on your home appliances by removing calcium build-ups, they can actually cut costs on your energy bill. This is especially the case for homes with electric water heaters, where hard water forms mineral deposits on the heating elements, meaning that the device is required to expend more energy to heat water.
Other cost-saving benefits of softened water include fewer expenses on soaps and detergents and reduced water consumption.
Improved skin health
While many people prefer the taste of hard water, almost nobody likes how it feels on skin and hair when bathing. Hard minerals reduce soap lather, meaning that you have to use a far greater amount to wash or perform cleaning tasks. This can dry out skin, which, combined with the scratchy feeling of hard water itself, creates less pleasant bathing experience.
Soft water has a more pleasant and moisturizing feel on both skin and hair. It also lathers soaps easily, meaning that you can use less product on your body.
Softer, fresher fabrics
Another negative aspect of water hardness is that calcium and magnesium minerals degrade fabric integrity over time. Repeated laundry cycles in hard water can cause clothing to fade, as well as becoming thinner and rougher. If your well contains iron, it cans also stain light-colored clothing.
Soft water is kinder on both skin and fabrics, keeping your clothes looking newer for longer. You’ll also be able to reduce the amount of detergent you use, which benefits your wardrobe and your wallet.
Is well water hard enough to need a softener?
The short answer: most well water in the US is hard, so you’ll likely benefit from a softener.
More specifically, water with a hardness of over 7 GPG is usually considered hard enough to begin interfering with appliance performance, making a softener a good idea. At this level, hard water can be easily felt, and mineral deposits can usually be observed inside hot water appliances.
When your water has over 7 grains per gallon (GPM) of hardness, it can be considered hard enough for you to look at buying a water softener.
You can easily test the hardness of your well water using a DIY home test kit, available from most hardware stores.
Can you put a water softener on well water?
Yes! A water softening system is an excellent addition to a well water setup, as most private wells produce water with moderate-to-high levels of hard minerals. Using water softeners helps well owners produce a drinking water supply that rivals the best municipal water.
Installing a water softening system can be done in an hour or so with basic DIY knowledge. If you’re looking to install your softener yourself, make sure to check that it comes with instructions and that the warranty isn’t voided if it’s installed by a non-certified person.
How do I clean my softener brine tank?
It’s important to check the salt levels in the brine tank of your softener each month. It shouldn’t drop below around half capacity, and the water should never submerge the salt completely.
While the newest water softeners can often run for over 5 years without any maintenance needed, salt can often harden inside the tank, forming salt bridges that clog the system. If this happens to your water softener, simply use hot water to break up the packed salt, stirring with a clean implement if necessary.
When you notice repeated clogging of visible dirt accumulation, it’s time to clean your brine tank. use soap to wash out the tank, before pouring in bleach diluted at a quarter cup for every 2 gallons.
Let the bleach sit inside the tank for around 15 minutes before thoroughly rinsing and running the system.
What type of salt should I use in my softener?
We always recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and using the type of salt listed for your specific water softener. This will help maximize performance and reduce the chances of salt sticking together and clogging the brine tank.
Always try to stick to evaporated salt when refilling your system. It’s true that rock salt is less expensive, but it also contains impurities that can reduce the capacity of your device (only pure sodium ions will exchange with dissolved hard minerals).
How much sodium is ingested from softened Water?
The higher the mineral content of water being processed, the more salt will be contained in the softened water. In general, however, the sodium contained in processed water accounts for under 3% of our daily average sodium intake.
This is such a small amount that it’s unlikely to have any dietary effect. However, those who are following an extreme sodium-restricted diet may want to consider a salt-free water conditioner.