What is hard water?
“Hard” simply means that the water contains more minerals than ordinary water, particularly calcium and magnesium.
Hardness (also known as lime) is the combination of calcium and magnesium carbonates, and sometimes high levels of metals can add into the total hardness in water, usually is reported as mg/l of Calcium Carbonate, and the following is a hardness guide:
0 - 75 mg/l is considered to be soft water
75 - 150 mg/l is moderately soft water
150 - 300 mg/l is hard water
300 mg/l or greater is considered to be very hard water
Hard water causes a higher risk of lime scale deposits in private and commercial water systems. Pipes are blocked and the efficiency of hot boilers and tanks are reduced increasing the energy cost of domestic water systems by about 15 - 20 %. Also interfering in dissolving soap and detergents in water, reducing the cleaning process of washing machines and increasing the usage of detergents.
Negative effects of hard water:
- Build up in pipes
- Increase of cost in water heating by 15 - 20 %
- Chlorinatin and hard water will sometimes produce skin problems
- Life span of boilers are reduced
- Life span of laundry & dishwashing machines reduced
- Reduced life span of Solar heating systems
- Reduced life span of Air conditioning units
- Reduced life span of all domestic appliances like kettles, coffee makers, irons, etc.
What is a Water Softener?
Water softeners are an Ion Exchange system based on chemistry, it exchanges ions of calcium and magnesium (hard water) for sodium ions. It is the most efficient way of removing limescale from the water supply. Softeners can operate automatic, semi-automatic or manual.
A good water softener will last many years; they need little maintenance filling them with salt occasionally.
The cost of water softeners greatly depends upon the type of water softener installed and the energy that is used, also it depends in the hardness of the water that needs to be softened and the water usage. When the water is very hard and it is used heavily the cost of softening will increase. The yearly estimate cost for running a softener in the average house is between € 40 - € 120, depending in the type of system, hardness of the water and usage.
Benefits of Water Softening
- Washing machine and dishwasher last longer
- Cleaning-supply costs are reduced
- Water flow and pressure are improved
- Water heater efficiency is increased
- Shower, tub and sink cleaning is easier.
- Skin feels smoother after showers and baths.
- Hair is softer and more manageable
- Reduction of the phosphate contamination in the environment
Generally the cost of water softeners are usually far outweighed by the benefits and cost savings obtained.