What is hard water?
Hard water is caused by minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are dissolved in the water supply. The more dissolved minerals of this type there are in the water the harder the water is. When the water is heated (or evaporates) these minerals are left behind and form scale.
What difference will a water softener make?
By removing the scale forming minerals from the water a softener benefits everywhere you use water in the home. Washing and laundry becomes easier with less use of shampoos and washing powder (up to 50%) and softer luxury feeling clothes and towels. With no scale in the water your washing machine, water boiler and central heating will work more efficiently and be less prone to breakdown. As a softener will over time remove existing scale your fuel bills will also benefit . Lastly with no ‘scum’ or scale residue on worktops and shower screens and no blocked shower heads, cleaning becomes less arduous.
What size softener do I need?
As a rough guide, the size of softener you require depends on the number of people living in the premises.
1-2 people – 5 litre softener
3-4 people – 10/12 litre softener
4-7 people – 14 litre softener
7 + people – 18 litre softener
Where is the softener fitted?
Normally, it is fitted somewhere close to your water main stopcock. If the stopcock is under your kitchen sink, this is generally the most cost effective solution. The softener needs to have a power supply and be connected to a drain for use during regeneration. There are a variety of other solutions including external, frost proofed cabinets if necessary. If in doubt please consult your installer.
Do I need a timed or meter controlled valve?
The majority of softeners offered to the domestic market are meter controlled. These measure the amount of water used and ensures the softener will only regenerate when required, thus minimising the use of salt. It will also notice any increase or decrease in water usage(while you are on holiday) again saving on regeneration time and salt usage.
The alternative and less expensive option is timer control. This is programmed at installation to carry out regenerations at specific periods and will do this regardless of the water used. If the water usage is fairly uniform and the premises rarely unattended this is an option to consider.
If I move house, can the softener move with me?
The short answer is yes. The softener is usually installed with a ‘by pass’ that enables the softener to be isolated for servicing etc. by turning this on the softener can be removed like any other kitchen appliance. However you may want to use the benefits of the softener as a selling tool for your old house and use the additional money to have a new one fitted in your new house.
Do I need to have my pipework descaled before I fit the softener?
As soon as your new softener is connected, soft water will start to reverse the scale build up. Over a period of time all scale build up will be gradually removed. As this happens, your water heating bills will be reduced simply because you will not be heating your water through a barrier of scale.
Can I drink softened water?
Yes , softened water is approximately 20% of the strength of soda water, however it is not recommended for either nursing mothers or anyone on a sodium restricted diet. In the process of softening the water, the hard minerals of calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium. You cannot taste this and, in fact, the amount of sodium in one litre of water is less than would be found in two slices of white bread.
How can I avoid drinking the softened water?
When connecting a softener to your home, there are 3 ways to tackle the drinking water scenario. Firstly, the cold tap in the kitchen can be left unsoftened receiving water direct from your water main. Secondly, to have a separate untreated tap soley for drinking water and to have this fitted with a water filter which will remove chlorine and taste and odour, to give you clear tasting filtrered water. (Please see our section on drinking water filters) Thirdly is to have the softened water to the drinking tap pass through a reverse osmosis unit. RO removes up to 96% of dissolved solids in the water and will remove the added sodium. This method will also ensure that kettles will not furr and elements become scaled.