Well water in New England is known for its great taste and high-quality, but water throughout the region is also known for high rates of hard water and other naturally occurring contaminants. Hard water is not harmful to your health, but it can leave mineral deposits on water fixtures and white spots on your dishes. Over time, it can damage appliances.
Water softeners are a reasonably affordable and easy way to reduce water hardness and improve the quality and taste of your home’s water.
What is ion exchange?
Water softeners are also called ion exchange systems. It is a water treatment method that eliminates undesirable contaminants and replaces them with another less objectionable substance with the same type of electrical charge. In the case of hard water, minerals are stripped from your home water supply and are replaced with a benign substance, like salt. Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium, which cause hard water, and can also remove iron, manganese, and other contaminants. View additional information on water treatment.
When water enters the home, it flows into the water softener, flushing over small plastic beads, known as resin. These beads carry a negative charge, which attract the positively charged minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as the water passes through the tank. The minerals are replaced with positively-charged sodium that comes from a salty brine solution stored in the water softener. Once the resin is saturated, the water softener flushes and recharges the resin.
Water softeners are effective in removing contaminants, but there are some things to consider before installing one. A home needs a safe way to dispose of the waste brine. If not disposed of properly, it could cause contamination of a well or other water body located downhill from the softener disposal area. Also, the process will not work properly if there are certain particles in the water, such as clay or iron bacteria.
Softening adds a slight amount of sodium to the home’s water, which can be a health concern for some. The sodium levels are small enough not to affect most people, but it may be too much if you’ve been prescribed a no-salt diet from a doctor. If you need a no-sodium source of water in the home, you can install a faucet that runs untreated water from the kitchen sink. You can also replace the sodium resin with potassium chloride resin.
Types of water softeners
There are many high-quality water softeners available, but before purchasing, make sure you consider the pros and cons of buying a proprietary product. Companies like Culligan and Kinetico are considered high-quality systems, but homeowners should remember that all future service on the system must be done by technicians employed by those companies. This may result in higher costs because you are limited to using one company for service.
Skillings & Sons typically recommends purchasing a non-proprietary water filter or softener, such as one made by Water-Right. This Wisconsin-based company makes their equipment and parts in the United States and has earned a reputation for innovation. One such innovation is their Sanitizer Series, which instead of plastic resin to filter water, uses a crystalline media that is impervious to chlorine, backwashes in less time and at greater flow rates.
Before any major purchase, like a water softener, consider the long term requirements and benefits. Pick a softener that is high quality and has affordable and assessable parts. Also, consider that improving the water quality also improves the value of the home.