If you live in an area where the only water available is hard, you might have a lot of problems to deal with. Pipes might get clogged, glassware will develop spots, there will be a film on shower doors, and water-using appliances might not function as efficiently as they should. When you install a water softener in your home, however, you are safe from all these problems.
Learn how to choose a water softener for your home to avoid the myriad of problems associated with hard water.
How to Choose a Water Softener: What Are They?
A water softener is a home appliance connected to your main water supply to remove calcium and magnesium ions in hard water. The most common types of water softeners are ion exchange water softeners that replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium.
While you can measure the hardness of the water in your home, the easiest way to tell if you are using hard water is the appearance of scum (scale-like substance) on the surface of the water.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
Most water softeners use sodium/salt. These water softeners remove the hardness of water through an ion exchange process. Each unit features two tanks – a resin tank full of resin beads and a brine tank full of salt solution/brine.
As water passes through the resin tank, the opposition in electrical charges between the water and the resin beads causes the beads to attract the dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. The beads will hold the unwanted elements, and soft water will flow out of it. When the resin beads cannot hold any more suspended particles, the regeneration process begins. In the regeneration process, brine water flushes the suspended particles off the resin beads. While the salt has to be replenished often, the resin beads can last through the life of the water softener. To learn more about regeneration process, check out this American Home Water & Air source.
How to Choose a Water Softener System: Factors to Consider
How to Choose a Water Softener Size
For large homes, a water softener with a higher capacity is needed. The size of the capacity of a water softener refers to the grains of hardness the softener can remove before regeneration – this ranges from a minimum of 8,000 to a maximum of 80,000 grains. Again, the capacity of the water softener will also determine how many outlets you can have on a water softener. To learn how to choose a water softener size, you need to understand the water needs of your home and the water hardness level. An undersized water softener means a reduced flow of water, while an oversized system is expensive.
Water Softener Price
When you learn how to choose a water softener system, you learn how to pick the right type and the correct size. The price of a water softener will depend on its type, size, and additional technical features such as salt level monitors. A standard water softener costs between $350 and $1,000.
Regeneration Method (Time Based vs. Metered)
One thing you need to consider when learning how to choose a water softener for your home is the regeneration method. Most modern water softeners use metered regeneration (also called demand-initiated regeneration). Here, an electronic sensor or water meter measures water consumption in your home and only starts the regeneration process when necessary. This is advantageous as it enhances the efficiency of water and salt, consequently saving you money. Some units feature small tanks for shorter regeneration cycles, while others have dual tank systems (two resin tanks).
Timer-based water softeners, on the other hand, will only initiate regeneration after a preset duration. The regeneration process will start at the preset time whether or not water has been used. On days when you are filling your swimming pool or using a lot of water, regeneration will not be enough, and on the days you use no water, regeneration will only waste water and salt.
While a timed softener is cheaper than a metered system, the efficiency of the latter will save you more money in the long run.
Again, there are manually regenerated water softeners that feature neither a meter nor a timer. Instead, they feature a lever that lets you initiate regeneration whenever you want. When considering how to choose a water softener system, you can consider these too – they are relatively cheap but tedious.
Another point to note on how to choose a whole house water softener is maintenance. An easy-to-service unit will likely to last longer. Ensure that all parts and components of the water softener are made of durable materials. Even better, a water softener that is easy to assemble with easy-to-access injectors and valves is also easy to maintain.
All reputable manufacturers will offer warranties either on the whole water softener or on parts and components. You need to read the fine details on warranties to ensure that every element is covered. Tanks come with a 5- or 10-year warranty.
The salt efficiency of a water softener system will be indicated in the manual or the manufacturer’s website. If the details are missing, ask the supplier to provide the performance datasheet. Efficiency ratings usually show the amount of salt a softener uses during partial or full regeneration. For a 33,000-grain system, salt efficiency will be presented as 33,000 @ 14.1 lbs (full regeneration), 27,600 @ 8.3 lbs (partial regeneration, and 13,000 @ 2.6 lbs (partial regeneration).
How to Choose a Water Softener for your Home: Conclusion
By following the above tips, you should have no problem choosing a water softener for your home. To reiterate, pay attention to the system’s capacity, price, regeneration model, maintenance needs, and efficiency.
Working with a reputable water softener installer, like American Home Water and Air in Phoenix, will ensure that you receive a system that meets your family’s needs.