We Know: Tips For Buying a Water Softener

What is a water softener?
A water softener is a device that can be used in the home that helps to reduce the hardness of water, making soap lather more easily.

What is hard water?
Hard water is water that has a lot of calcium and/or magnesium in it. This hardness can be very damaging to pipes and other metal items that come into contact with the water in your home, causing a substance called scale to form. Scale can clog pipes entirely over time and is also the main contributor to a household annoyance called soap scum. Likewise, having hard water makes it very difficult to lather when washing.

How does a water softener work?
A water softener works by replacing all of the calcium and magnesium ions that are causing the water hardness with sodium ions. The sodium ions do not cause pipe damage or degrade the water quality, making it the perfect substance to soften water. The process works by running the water in the house through a device that contains plastic beads with sodium ions on them. As water makes contact with these beads, the calcium and magnesium ions drop off and the sodium ions are picked up. After a water softener has been used for a while, the beads will need to be regenerated, by soaking them in a very dense salt solution.

How much does a water softener cost?
Water softeners can be quite expensive. The most expensive type is an automatic water softener, which carries out each of the steps of the softening process without the aid of a person. This type retails anywhere from $1000 to $2000. Semi-automatic and manual water softening devices can cost anywhere between $200 to $1000, depending upon the features and functions the product includes.

Common brands of water softeners include Culligan, Ionics, Kinetico and RainSoft.

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