What is hard water?

When water is referred to as ‘hard’ it simply means that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. Calcium and magnesium are generally the two main minerals referred to when dealing with hard water. When the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium increases, so does the degree of hardness in the water.

Why would I want to remove hardness in my water?

Hard water is known to clog pipes and complicate soap’s ability to dissolve in water. Due to increased hardness deposits (or scale), hard water also significantly decreases the life of your water pipes, household appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, A/C unit, etc), as well as any plumbing fixtures in your home. These can all cause costly repairs if damaged by hard water. Installing water treatment in your home, such as a water softener, can aid in eliminating these negative effects.

What is water softening?

When water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, it is considered to be hard water. Water softening is a technique that removes the ions that cause the water to be hard. In most cases a water softener removes the calcium and magnesium ions; however, iron ions may also be removed during the softening process. The most efficient and reliable method of water softening is to connect a water softener unit directly to the water supply.

What is a water softener?

A water softener is a unit that is used to remove the hardness in the water. It functions by removing the calcium and magnesium minerals that make the water hard.

Why do I need a water softener?

Hard water is known to clog pipes and complicate soap and detergent’s ability to dissolve in water. Hard water can also increase calcium and lime-scale deposits and buildup, which can significantly reduce the life of many household appliances. Having hard water can also increase the cost of domestic water heating by about fifteen to twenty percent. Having softened water in your home significantly increases to life of your hot water heater, dishwasher, laundry machines, faucets and plumbing fixtures and many more. Softened water also contributes to an increased performance and longer lifespan of solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.

How does a water softener work?

Water softeners work through an ion exchange process. Softeners remove the positively charged ions calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) through the use of negatively charged resin filter media. Softeners are also sometimes applied to remove iron. Many softener devices are able to remove up to five milligrams per liter of dissolved iron. Softeners can operate automatic, semi-automatic, or manual. Each type of rated on the amount of hardness it can remove before regeneration is necessary. When a water softener regenerates, it collects the hardness minerals that have collected on the resin and flushes them away to a drain. At this time, it also recharges the resin so it can continue to remove the hardness effectively. When an ion exchanger is applied for water softening, it will replace the calcium and magnesium ions within the water with other ions (for instance sodium or potassium). The exchanger ions are added to the softener reservoir (in this case called a brine tank) as sodium or potassium salts (NaCl and KCl). The sodium or potassium is then rinsed away with clean water as to not add excess amounts into your home’s water.

How long does a water softener last?

A water softener’s lifespan depends greatly on your individual water chemistry; however, a good water softener will last many years. Many reliable water softeners need little maintenance besides occasional check-ups and adding salt.

Which type of salt should I use?

There are several types of salt available for use in water softeners. Rock salt, solar salt, and evaporated salt are all good to use. Pellets or block salt are not recommended as many contain an adhesive that can cause your unit to malfunction over time. If you are concerned about your sodium intake, potassium can be a good alternative to use.

Since potassium is more expensive, does that make it better?

Both sodium and potassium create the ion exchange needed for your water softener to function properly. Since they both do the same thing for your water softener, one is no better for your water softener than the other. Potassium is usually used if a person is under strict instructions per a doctor to limit their sodium intake.

Why does my brine take look dirty?

Especially when using rock salt, solar salt, or evaporated salt, there can be residual sediment that is a result of the natural refining process. This can cause the water to look a little dirty. This is completely normal and should not cause alarm. The brine solution in your brine tank is only used to recharge the resin; it is then discharged and rinsed away.

Is it harmful to mix salts in my water softener?

Generally, it is not harmful to mix salts in the water softener. However, it is always best to allow the existing salt in your tank to get low before replacing it with an alternative salt.

How often should I add salt to a softener?

This depends on your water usage and how often your unit regenerates. Depending on the size of your equipment, your water softener can use between 6 and 10 pounds of salt per regeneration. Checking your salt level about every month or so is recommended. To guarantee a satisfactory production of water, salt should be kept in the unit at all times. Please note that you can allow the salt to go all the way down before refilling. When filling your salt tank, you should fill to about half full, no higher than three-quarters – this prevents bridging and should keep your unit functioning properly.

How come sometimes my water doesn’t become immediatly soft after adding salt?

When you add salt to your brine tank, it dissolves slowly to form a brine mixture to be used during regeneration. Therefore, before the salt can work, it needs a little residence time within the brine tank. If you immediately start a regeneration cycle after adding salt to the brine tank, the water softener may not work according to standards. When water softening does not take place, it could also indicate softener malfunction or a problem with the salt being used.

How much does a water softener cost?

The cost of a water softener greatly depends on the type of water softener and the quality of its components. Some softeners are more efficient than others and as a result, the prices may differ. There are time operated softeners and water meter-controlled softeners available. The meter-controlled softeners produce the softest water per pound of salt. However, the benefits and cost savings obtained through using softened water greatly outweigh the cost of the water softener unit itself.

Mermaid Water Systems’ water softeners are custom built for each of our customers, so no two units are exactly alike. We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach and do not mass-produce our equipment like national brands do. We build your equipment based on what your individual water quality concerns are. If you would like an estimate on what it would cost to install a water softener for your home, please call us at 727-736-2747 and we would be happy to assist you.

How much does a water softener cost during operation?

The running cost usually includes the cost of the salt, which varies based on water usage. You should also have regular maintenance checks performed on the system to maintain the quality of the water and ensure your softener is running efficiently.

Is softened drinking water safe?

Softened water still contains all the natural minerals that we need. It is only deprived of its calcium and magnesium and minimal amounts of sodium (or potassium) is added during the softening process. That is why in most cases, softened water is perfectly safe to drink. Please note that using softened water when in an area with very high hardness for preparation of baby formula or for customers on a strict sodium-restricted diet, a medical professional should be consulted prior to consumption

Can salt from the softening process enter my drinking water?

The amount of sodium added to your water through the softening process depends on the level of hardness of your water. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium, which is replaced with sodium during the softening process. The higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium, the more sodium is needed to soften the water. Even still, the amount of sodium that results from softened water shouldn’t be cause for concern.

How much sodium is actually in softened water?

The amount of sodium that results from the softening process is minimal. As a general rule, the amount of sodium in an 8-ounce glass of softened tap water is less than 12.5 milligrams of sodium. According to the Food and Drug Administration nutrient guidelines, this is in the very low sodium range.

Will softening drinking water deprive you of essential minerals?

Softening will not deprive you of essential minerals. Softening only deprives drinking water of minerals that cause the water to be hard, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Will softening drinking water deprive it of essential minerals?

Softening will not deprive water of its essential minerals. Softening only deprives drinking water of minerals that cause the water to be hard, such as calcium, magnesium and iron.

How often should my softener be serviced?

Just like any other household appliance, regular preventative maintenance is recommended to ensure your water softener is functioning to the best of its ability. Generally, your softener should be checked over about every 12 to 18 months

If I have a water softener, should I still be using rinse aide in my dishwasher?

No. In fact, when you use a rinse aid (such as Jet Dry ®) with softened water, it can actually cause your dishes to come out spotty. To explain, when you have hard water, the rinse aid attaches to the hardness in the water to allow it to be easily washed away. When you have softened water, there is no hardness for the rinse aid to attach to. Therefore, it attaches itself to your dishes causing a ‘film’ to form on your glasses, plates, and utensils. So what detergent should you use when using softened water? Just know that you don’t need anything fancy. Plain dish detergent should do – just make sure it doesn’t have a rinse aid mixed in!

Does a softener brine tank need cleaning?

Under normal circumstances, it is usually not necessary to clean out a brine tank. Unless the salt being used is unusually high in insoluble matter or there is a serious equipment failure within the brine tank. In that case the brine tank should be cleaned to prevent equipment malfunction.

What is ‘bridging’ and how can we avoid it?

When loosely compacted salt pellets or cube-style salt is used in a brine tank, it may form tiny crystals of evaporated salt, similar to table salt. These crystals may bond, creating a think mass of hardened salt in the brine tank. This phenomenon, commonly known as ‘bridging’, can interrupt brine production. This is why it is important to fill your brine tank past three-quarters as overfilling your unit can encourage bridging. Brine production is the most important element for refreshing of the resin beads in a water softener. Without brine production, a water softener is not able to produce soft water

When does a softener resin need replacement?

When the water does not become soft enough, you should first consider problems with the salt that is used or mechanical malfunction of your softener’s components. When these elements are not the cause of the unsatisfactory water softening, it may be time to replace the softener resin, or perhaps the entire softener. A common sign of resin needing replacement is reduced water pressure. If you ever experience reduced water pressure with your water softer, the water softener should immediately be placed in bypass and you should call your service company for service.

Will having a water softener reduce my water pressure?

You should not notice reduced water pressure if your home has a quality water softener that is correctly sized for your house and family size. If you are experiencing reduced water pressure, you should put your unit into bypass and call your service company for service immediately.

Can brine from a water softener damage a septic tank?

The Water Quality Association has performed studies on this subject. These studies have indicated that a properly placed septic tank that works adequately cannot be damaged by brine that is discharged from a water softener. Softened water can also even reduce the amount of detergents discharged into a septic tank.

Can a water softener be used with lead pipes?

Lead pipe systems have to be replaced before softened water can flow through them. Although lead pipe in hard water areas may not cause a problem, it is advisable to replace them anyway. When naturally or artificially softened water ends up in these lead pipe systems, it may cause the pickup of lead.

Can a water softener be taken along during a move?

With modern water softeners, it is very possible to take them along during the moving process. Installation techniques involve quick fitting connections, similar to those used for laundry machines. All that has to be done is closing off the inlet and outlet valves of the softener and open up the bypass valve, allowing hard water to flow to the storage tank and household pipes. After that softener is disconnected, it can be moved to its new location and plumbed in there. It is important to note that when moving from city water to well water, your current water softener might not perform efficiently if it is not suited for well water use. Also, the new home’s size should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not your current softener is the proper size for the new home.

Can waste from a water softener be discharged directly in a garden?

As brine alters the osmotic pressure that plants rely upon to regulate water needs. Also, direct discharge of either sodium or potassium chloride should be avoided.

Is softened water any help for dry skin conditions?

There are cases to be noted in which people with dry skin conditions have benefited from the use of softened water. This is because softened water is gentler for hair and skin.