How to Choose a Water Softener

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Water softeners are used to remove harsh minerals from hard water. The number of minerals present in the water makes it "hard." When hard water is moving through pipes, it can easily cause build ups and clogs due to the minerals depositing on the pipe surfaces. Soap can't dissolve in hard water. So people use water softeners to break up the minerals and improve the movement and condition of the water. When you're choosing a water softener product, there are several attributes that you must consider.

Figure out how hard your water is. Do this with a water testing kit (see an example in the Resources section). This kit will test to see how much magnesium, calcium and other minerals are present in the water. The harder your water, the more water softener you will need to use in your reservoir to eliminate the unwanted minerals. Harder water may require a softener with more sodium chloride.

Choose a water softener that is easy to clean. The main difference between softeners is the solubility (how the softener product dissolves in water). A solar salt water softener is naturally created—it is evaporated from salt water and is sold as crystals or pellets that are only slightly soluble. Rock salt softener is cheap, but it is not very soluble at all, so you have to clean out your pipes and reservoir system more often. Evaporated salt is best if you don't want to do regular reservoir cleanings because it has plenty of sodium chloride (99%) and is more soluble.

Ask residents who live in the vicinity of the property what type of water softener they use to break down hard water. This is one of the best ways to determine what type of water softener you should use.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're having a problem getting a good lather when you wash your hands or your hair, it might be a hard water issue. If you're in the process of buying a new house and have concerns about the quality of the water, have a professional evaluate the water before committing to final selling terms. The cost of installing a new water softening unit is significant.
  • During the softening process, minerals are removed and sodium is added to the water. So if you have a restricted diet related to salt, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should be taking in this water. You may want to drink bottled water instead.

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