Water Softeners – Are They Worth It?
Water Softeners have gotten a bad rap over the years. If you ask most people what their opinion is of them, they’ll probably tell you that they’re either expensive, not worth it, or both. But to understand whether they can be a benefit in your home, it’s essential to find out what they do.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that contains more minerals than plain old water. Typically, minerals end up in your water because groundwater dissolves rock like limestone, and the remnants of this remain in the water supply delivered to your home. But don’t worry, hard water is not dangerous and can be consumed perfectly safely, so that isn’t the issue. The issue is that residue such as soap does not dissolve very well in hard water, and deposits can build up. After a time this creates a whole host of problems for your plumbing system and appliances.
What Problems Can Hard Water Cause?
The main problem that can arise from hard water is that it clogs your pipes. This reduces the flow of water to your home, which can be frustrating and costly to fix. Not only does hard water clog up your pipes, but it also creates build up around your plumbing fixtures. This can cause them to fail sooner than they would otherwise. You probably know all of this already, but there is another big problem that hard water can cause, and this one is costly!
Hard water can create enormous problems for your water heater. The build-up caused by extra minerals means that it has to not only use more energy to heat the water; it also reduces the lifespan of the water heater. This goes for any other appliance in the home that runs hard water through it, such as dishwashers and refrigerators.
What Does a Water Softener Do?
It softens the water! Through a process called ion exchange, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, are replaced with sodium. Put simply; this makes the water softer, silkier and less likely to create build-up in your homes plumbing.
Is a Water Softener Worth It?
If you live in an area of particularly hard water, a water softener can be worth its weight in gold, especially when it comes to the resale value of your property. Although not usually the ‘must-have’ feature of a home, having a water softener can help sweeten the deal for potential buyers.
Even if you aren’t planning on selling any time soon, you could still save yourself some money. According to GoodhouseKeeping, just 1.6mm of scale build-up in appliances can cause a 12% loss in heating efficiency. Not only will it help to increase the longevity of your appliances, but you will also save on utility bills, laundry detergent, and other cleaning products. Not to mention, softer water feels silkier and is kinder to your skin and hair.
However, there are some things to consider when deciding to have a water softener installed — the first being whether you live in an area of hard water at all. If your water contains less than 120 mg/L of minerals, you probably don’t need to have a water softener installed, unless you really want to. There is also the initial financial outlay. Water softeners can be expensive to install, and they also require salt to function. These costs can be offset if a water softener helps keep your appliances working efficiently, for longer.