The people of Calgary are opting for water softener solutions to combat the hard water running through our homes and affecting our pipes, laundry, dishes, and even our skin. A water softener installation is a great way to dissolve calcium and magnesium, which are responsible for the hard water. But before you decide which system you should get or if it’s even suitable for you, you may want to learn a little bit more about it. After all, it’s an investment that can last between 10-20 years in your home.
Read on to see some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers, so you feel confident in your water softener installation decision.
Home Water Softening: Frequently Asked Questions
What is a water softener?
Exchanging your hard water with a water softener installation may seem complicated, but it’s just using simple science. The ion exchange allows you to dissolve the minerals impacting your water quickly.
A water softener is simply the container in which your hard water enters and leaves as soft water. It’s made up of 3 main components that allow this process to take place in your own home easily.
- The resin tank – where the actual water softening happens.
- The brine tank – where the salt is stored.
- The head valve – aka the brain of the water softener system that controls its cycles.
What is hard water?
Hard water is measured by the number of dissolved minerals above one grain per gallon (GPG). If you have your water tested, you’ll be able to find out exactly how much you’re dealing with. The water is considered hard because magnesium, calcium, and other minerals are left behind when the water dries. This means it can be found on your skin, on your faucets, and is used to wash your clothes.
Your water is considered hard, depending on where it lands on the scale:
- Soft: less than 1 GPG
- Slightly hard – 1 to 3.5 GPG
- Moderately hard – 3.5 to 7 GPG
- Hard – 7 to 10.5 GPG
- Very Hard – 10.5 and higher GPG
How do I know if I have hard water at home?
There may be some signs that you’re dealing with hard water before you even test for it. This includes:
- Your pipes and plumbing are corroding.
- Your hair, skin, and nails are dry and dull.
- You see streaky or spotty dishes.
- Your clothes seem scratchy and stiff.
- You use quite a bit of soap and detergent.
Other than these signs that persuade most homeowners to switch to soft water, you can get a water test to know exactly how hard your water is, as this may also determine the size of your tank, maintenance, etc.,
What does a water softener do?
We’ve gone over the parts of a water softener, but how exactly do they come together to make the water soft? It all starts with the head valve of the softener. The water will enter from your main supply line after going through the bypass. The head valve will direct it down to the resin tank through the distribution tube.
At this stage, the minerals will come into contact with the resin beads that are super saturated in sodium ions (or, less common, potassium ions). This ion exchange of positive and negative ions removes the hardness of the water. When it reaches the bottom of the tank, you already have soft water ready to go through your pipes.
What is the water softener installation process?
Your water softener installation process should be relatively simple, and you won’t need to do anything to prepare for it. You should always have a professional install one to ensure it’s done properly.
The only thing you should think about beforehand is the location. You’ll want to ensure you have a spot that is:
- Out of the way but still accessible to the plumbing system. For many homeowners, this is the laundry room, basement, garage, or mudroom.
- Ensure it’s not an area that is exposed to freezing temperatures. If your garage isn’t heated, that option is out.
- Your water softener installation professional will help you determine which spot will be best depending on the type and size of the tank. There may be additional considerations, such as the electrical and piping connections, drain proximity, etc.
Will I ever run out of soft water?
Size matters when it comes to your water softener. If you have a large family, you’ll need a bigger tank to support your needs. When you’re considering a water softener, speak with a pro about your water habits and lifestyle needs so they can recommend the best size that will ensure you never run out of soft water. One option is to purchase a dual-tank system, so if one system is regenerating, the other has soft water available in the meantime.
If you’re ready to see a difference in your appliances, hair, skin, soap use, and more, a water softener installation may be the best decision for your household. The Plumbing and Heating Paramedics professionals can help you determine the best system for your needs and schedule you ASAP so you can enjoy the benefits of soft water.
Have you noticed the difference between hard water and soft water before? What were the differences that stood out the most for you? Share your experience with our readers considering upgrading their home’s water.