Water Softeners - What Every Homeowner Should KnowAqua Soft Water Systems Inc. Authorized independent Kinetico Dealer for Palm Beach and Broward County
Our dedicated sales staff is here for all of your water needs to find the right water treatment options for your water problems and within your budget.
Softening your water can be one of the best things you can do for your home. Read on to learn about how water softeners work and how they can make your life better.
Have you ever noticed any of the following?
- Even immediately after cleaning them, our faucets have watermarks.
- An unsightly film clings to the walls of your showers, tubs, and sinks.
- Your shower doors and drains display a disproportionate chalk buildup.
- Your white clothes seem discolored, your colored clothes fade quickly, and all your laundry feels a bit stiff.
- Your water has a funny taste or smell.
- When washing, do you battle to build up enough lather from your soap and shampoo, then it will not rinse off completely.
- After showering or bathing your skin feels itchy and your hair is dry.
- Your water pressure seems to be low.
- Plumbing pipes in your home are clogged up and damaged.
- Appliances such as your coffee maker, dishwasher, washing machines, and water heaters seem to break down more quickly than they ought to.
- When your glassware and dishes dry, watermarks and residue ruin their sparkling look.
All these indicate the presence of hard water. Despite hard water being safe to drink in the eyes of the law, the list of issues it causes hits your pocket hard.
The main culprits in hard water are calcium and magnesium, both of which build up (along with other minerals) as water moves through land. Measured in grains per gallon, the higher the number, the harder your water is.
Luckily, water softener systems use an ion-exchange process to transform hard water into soft. What happens is that hard water containing magnesium and calcium ions enters the water softener tank which is filled with resin beads coated in a dissolved sodium chloride brine. Because the minerals are all positively charged, and the beads are negatively charged exchange sites, chemistry works its magic! Like charges repel and opposite charges attract. The resin attaches to the stronger ions of Ca and Mg while letting go of the weaker, loosely held sodium ions. The softened water containing sodium leaves the tank and flows to your home’s plumbing network.
One concern many have about drinking softened water is the salt content. But as you can deduce from the explanation of how softener systems work, it is really the bed of resin that does the work – the sodium ions are merely used to shift the hard water ions. If you follow a low sodium diet, the average quantity of sodium in a glass of soft water is 12.5 mg – compared to 211 mg of sodium in one slice of whole wheat bread.
After a while the exchange medium gets bogged down with Ca and Mg ions, requiring a clean to keep the process effective. A concentrated brine solution is used to regenerate the resin bed so that it is ready for the next softening process.
The Cold, “Hard” Facts About Water Quality
Thanks to the Environmental Working Group, or EWG as they are commonly known, we have data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database (ECHO) about the state of our potable water.
Apparently, “tap water provided by the water utilities (of Palm Beach County and Broward County) was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards”. At face value that sounds great. Except that legal does not necessarily mean safe or healthy. In fact, the legal guidelines are outdated, and here are some shocking numbers about the areas we serve:
- Broward County averaged 11.5 total contaminants detected – varying from arsenic at 133 times the EWG’s health guideline to total trihalomethanes at 305 times the healthy limit.
- Palm Beach County averaged 11.5 total contaminants, including 305 times the EWG’s health guideline for levels of total trihalomethanes (West Palm Beach), 220 times the health limit for haloacetic acid (Delray Beach), and 6 times their guideline for radium (Boca Ranton).
The concentration of minerals and chemicals found in water determines whether it is considered hard or soft. Higher levels of calcium and magnesium are found in hard water, while soft water has higher quantities of sodium.
If your water is naturally hard – and almost 85% of the U.S. is a hard water area – investing in a system to remove the minerals that cause it will soften your water.
Do I Need a Water Softener?
Take the quiz below to decide whether or not you need a water softener:
- Is the health and wellbeing of your loved ones important to you?
- Would you like to have clean clothes free of soap scum and mineral stains?
- Does soft and hydrated hair and skin appeal to you?
- Do you want to protect your plumbing and appliances?
- Is reducing water usage and being energy-efficient important to you?
- Would you like to save money?
If you answered “Yes!” to any of the above, you are the ideal candidate to invest in a water softener.
Water Softeners Help your Appliances Last Longer
As suppliers of water softeners, we would be remiss not to point out that water softeners help your appliances last longer. You might even have expected that we would. But what you may not have expected is the massive reduction – 30% to 50% – in the number of years your appliances are projected to last because of hard water problems, as studied by the Water Quality Association:
Average number of years: 10
Number of years using hard water: 7
Percentage lost: 30%
Electric water heater
Average number of years: 13
Number of years using hard water: 6.5
Percentage lost: 50%
Average number of years: 9
Number of years using hard water: 5.4
Percentage lost: 40%
Gas water heater
Average number of years: 11
Number of years using hard water: 5.5
Percentage lost: 50%
Average number of years: 11
Number of years using hard water: 7.7
Percentage lost: 30%
Water Softeners Help Keep your Dishes and Laundry Looking Nice and New Longer
The Water Quality Association carried out a study to investigate the impact of hard vs soft water on the performance of laundry detergent and dishwasher soap.
Clothes Washing Experiment
The aim of the laundry tests was to remove stains of barbecue sauce, blood, chocolate ice cream, chocolate pudding, coffee, dust sebum, grass, ground in clay, and red wine.
Variables included detergent doses of 50%, 75%, and 100% of the level recommended by the manufacturers; water temperatures of 60 OF, 80 OF, and 100 OF; and water hardness of 0 milligrams per liter (mg/L), 257 mg/L, and 513 mg/L.
The results proved that “stain removal performance increases dramatically when hardness is removed even when dose and temperature are also lowered. Depending on the stain, hardness reduction was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing temperature or increasing detergent dose.”
Dish Washing Experiment
Dinner plates, cutlery, and glasses were soiled with standard culprits such as oatmeal and grease, as well as hard-to-remove egg yolk, spinach, brownie mix, and pizza sauce.
Dishwasher detergent was used in doses of 30g, 55g, and 85g; and water hardness of 0 milligrams per liter (mg/L), 257 mg/L, and 513 mg/L.
Decreasing water hardness with the installation of water softener systems was up to twelve times more potent than upping the detergent amount. Spotting and filming performance was also significantly improved.
Water Softeners Improves the Health of Hair and Skin
As naturally soft rainwater flows over and underground, it accumulates mineral irons. Unfortunately, these charged minerals in hard water make it hard for soaps to lather. Mineral ions also strip your skin of its natural oils, resulting in dry, irritated, and itchy skin. Scientists have found that the high alkalinity of hard water also contributes to the development of eczema. In the long-term, traces of calcium, iron, and magnesium in hard water can form free radicals that break down skin-firming collagen. The effect of hard water extends to your hair – making it lifeless, dry, and brittle.
This is where water softener systems come to the rescue!
Soft water balances your skin’s pH level, leaving it soft and hydrated after washing. Because soft water requires less product and fewer rinses, it is gentler on your skin. Soft water equalizes your hair’s pH level, changing its texture from dry to silky soft and shiny.
What is The Best Softener for You?
Let’s start with what softener is not the best for you, and that is a salt-free water softener. Using potassium in place of sodium, these systems do not remove, but rather crystalize the minerals – making it more of a water conditioner. Because it does not reduce buildup in your equipment, they still need more frequent servicing.
Then, while we are clearing up confusion over similar water treatment systems, a reverse osmosis system uses pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane that filters out and flushes away impurities. Choosing between a water softener and a reverse osmosis system depends on your unique needs and circumstances.
What Softener Should I Buy?
It is best to discuss your water treatment requirements with an expert before investing in a system, but here are some variables to consider to narrow down your options:
- The degree of hardness of your water will affect how many grains of minerals can be eliminated before regeneration – rinsing the resin beads of mineral buildup – is needed. The capacity indicates the amount of hardness each model can remove.
- The regeneration style can be scheduled on a timer or on-demand. Some devices allow for water usage even during regeneration cycles, while others do not.
- The amount of water your household uses influences your home’s flow rate. This, in turn, can have an impact on the results achieved.
- While the energy used to run an electric water softener for a year is only 70 kWh, non-electric models completely omit the chance of electrical shock if that is a concern of yours. Simply using moving water to power the system reduces upkeep.
- Where your water comes from (for example municipal or from a well) may require removal of additional contaminants like chlorine, iron (ferrous), or sediment.
- Check the warranty details.
- Choose a reputable dealer.
- Look for UL and NSF or WQA endorsement.
Whether you reside in Broward County or Palm Beach County, non-softened water can be hard on your abode, your skin and hair, and your wallet. Rather install a water softener for better quality water that counteracts the damaging effects of hard water.
Based in Royal Palm Beach, and serving West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Broward County, Aqua Soft Water Systems Inc. is an authorized independent Kinetico Water Systems dealer. Our dedicated sales staff who can help you find the right water treatment options for your water problems and within your budget.
What are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today to enjoy the benefits of water softeners today!
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