You’ve probably heard some buzz about water softeners and their potential benefits for your plumbing, appliances and even your complexion! But you’re still not quite convinced. Do you really need a water softener for your home?
Read our informative water softener buying guide — and follow up with a free water quality test — to help you make up your mind.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that contains a high percentage of dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. Groundwater naturally absorbs these substances from mineral-rich soil or rocks such as limestone before reaching your local water supply.
To determine water hardness, the calcium is measured in terms of parts per million (ppm).
- Soft water has fewer than 60 ppm
- Moderately hard water has 60 to 120 ppm
- Hard water contains 120 ppm or above
Why Is Hard Water Bad?
However, using hard water for washing and plumbing may produce a number of undesirable effects. Here are typical examples:
Scale buildup. Limescale is crust-like mineral sediment that can form inside your kettle, coffeemaker, dishwasher, hot water heater or other water-using appliances, as well as your plumbing pipes. It also builds up on fixtures like faucets and showerheads. Besides its ugly looks, heavy sc
ale buildup will eventually ruin your appliances and block your pipes.
Wear and tear on laundry. Hard water in your washing machine will cause your laundered clothes to appear dull and dingy and to wear out faster.
Soap scum. Another way hard water makes its presence known is in the form of soap scum, a filmy residue left on your sink, tub, shower curtain, etc. After rinsing with hard water, you’ll see unattractive spotting and streaking due to leftover soap residue on your fine glassware, too.
Dry, lackluster hair and skin. While hard water is usually fine for drinking, washing your face or shampooing with it is a different story. You’ll be left with dry, lusterless skin and hair.
Less sudsing. Because soaps and detergents will not lather readily in hard water, you will need larger amounts than you would with soft water.
Drinking water taste and appearance. Hard water frequently tastes “off” and appears cloudy in your glass. Not very appetizing!
If you are bothered by one or more of these problems with your tap water continuously, there is an excellent chance that you need a water softener.
Is There Hard Water In Ottawa?
Water in and around Ottawa ranges from soft to hard, depending on where you live. As a rule, the hardest water is outside of the main Ottawa area. If you’re on a private well, you are especially likely to have hard water.
How Do I Test The Hardness Of My Water?
Simple! Out of This World Plumbing offers a free on-site testing service to all Ottawa-area residents who have been noticing ongoing problems with their tap water. We’ll test your supply for hardness and other water quality problems. But, don’t wait — it’s easy to request your in-home water testing today.
How Does A Water Softener Work?
While boiling and filtering are treatment methods that help alleviate certain water quality issues, they won’t help hard water release its harmful minerals. Instead, the solution for your problem is a whole-home water softener, a system that will effectively remove minerals from incoming water before it is circulated through your house.
How does a water softener work? The system usually comprises a mineral tank, brine tank, and control valve, which softens your water supply via a process of ion exchange. Calcium and magnesium, the minerals that make your water hard, are cations. This means they have a positive ion charge.
As hard water is drawn into the softener’s mineral tank via the water supply line, it passes through a layer of resin or plastic beads, which are anions. They have a negative ion charge, which attracts and “traps” the minerals.
The water then exits the tank — soft and cleaned of its mineral content. From there, it flows to the faucets and appliances throughout your home.
A water softener will need to go through periodic regeneration cycles weekly after treating a predetermined maximum volume of water as determined by the control valve. Then, brine (strong salt solution) is channelled from the brine tank into the mineral tank to flush the resin beads.
When you decide to go ahead with installing a water softener, you’ll have several options to choose from.
Salt-Based is the most common type. It uses a brine tank for regeneration, as described above. This type of water softener has many pros but also some cons:
- It adds minuscule amounts of salt to your home water supply.
- You can expect downtime while the system is regenerating.
Salt-Free is an innovative variety of water softeners. It makes use of specialized technology to eliminate the need for salt-based regeneration.
Dual-Tank water softeners (also called “twin-tank”) are equipped with two mineral tanks in addition to the brine tank. They permit you to access softened water from one of the tanks while the other is busy regenerating.
Water Softener vs. Water Purification
Although both are designed to improve your water quality, softening and purifying are two different processes. A water softener uses ion exchange to solve limescale problems by removing calcium. On the other hand, a water purifier will filter your water through a fine membrane to get rid of fluoride, iron, sulphur, and dissolved particles.
Our expert testing will analyze your water supply and, based on the results, will determine which of these devices you might need.
How Much Does It Cost To Install A Water Softener
Installing a water softener will cost between $1,200 and upwards of $3,000, including the system plus professional installation. It isn’t easy to give a precise estimate before talking with you and assessing your needs. In addition to a water quality test that will show how hard your water is (and whether it contains other impurities), we’ll consider factors like the square footage of your home and the number of household members.
Trusted Water Softener: Kinetico
At Out of This World, we like and trust Kinetico water softeners, a leading brand on the market today. Their Signature Series dual-tank whole-house water softeners use a unique process known as countercurrent regeneration for efficient operation whenever you want. In addition, they have lower salt requirements than similar systems.
Certified Kinetico Water Softener Installation
Our team is specially trained and fully certified as installers of Kinetico water softeners. We’re also experts at water testing in the National Capital Region.
If you’d like the best water quality for your home, contact us for your free test and consultation today.