Have you noticed white spots or deposits on your once pristine glassware and kitchen sink? Does your hair and skin look dry, dull, and damaged? Do you have issues with poor water pressure?
If so, then you’re struggling with hard water. The water in Calgary contains high amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While the water is safe to drink, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing, your dishes, and your skin!
With proper water softener installation from the right Calgary plumber, you’ll no longer have to struggle with the problems of having hard water. You’ll finally be able to enjoy shiny glassware and healthy skin and hair!
The trick is to find the right water softener to fit your needs. There are hundreds of different water softeners serving different purposes. Working with a reputable water softener installation service will help you navigate through these rough waters!
Here’s how you can find the right water softener and installation service to improve the water in your Calgary home.
The Differences Between Hard Water & Soft Water
There isn't one single type of water that runs through all homes. Some homeowners will have hard water while others have more acidic water. A lucky few will have clean soft water with an almost perfect pH level running through their taps.
The type of water you have depends on the water source. You can retrieve water from a municipality if you live in a city or from a private well if you’re in the country.
Your home’s location will also have an impact on the quality of the water you’ll have. People in Calgary, Alberta will have much harder water compared to those living in Newfoundland.
How do you know if you have hard water or soft water?
Hard water contains higher levels of minerals that are in the ground. Water travels through layers of limestone, metals, and rock. As it travels, it picks up hard minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium, and other naturally occurring minerals along the way.
Some find the minerals in hard water are healthier and make it taste better.
Soft water is more acidic and doesn’t contain as much of these minerals. Rainwater (not acid rain) is an example of naturally occurring soft water. We can make the water softer by treating it with sodium ions.
Not all soft water is safe for human consumption due to its acidity. Soft water can have an unpleasant flavor and also damage your plumbing and fixtures.
Signs of Hard Water
The most notable sign of hard water is the calcium deposits and residue it leaves behind. Your glassware will dry with white residue and you might notice deposits building up on your faucet. Other signs include:
- Mineral stains
- Feeling film on your body and hands after washing
- Low water pressure
- Less soap lather
- Earthy flavor
- Clogged pipes
- Laundry is difficult to clean
- Skin and hair irritation
- Appliances wear out
If you’re experiencing several of these signs, you have hard water. You can also test your water with a home water test kit. This kit would indicate your water’s level of hardness and help you choose the right water softener to fit your needs.
Signs of Soft or Acidic Water
On the opposite end of the pH scale, you’ll find soft or acidic water. The most recognizable sign of soft water is that it makes lathering soap quite easy.
If your soft water has a neutral pH level, you shouldn’t have any issues with your water. Your plumbing and appliances will run smoothly and everything will come out clean and fresh after washing. Your skin and hair will also look vibrant and healthy.
Water with too much acidity can cause issues. These signs include:
- Metal or sour flavor
- Red or blue-green colour
- Red or blue-green stains
- Fast pipe deterioration
- Slower water pressure
If you experience any of these, contact your local water and plumbing services right away.
Do You Need a Water Softener?
Many homeowners believe they don’t need a water softener as it’s a luxury only a few can enjoy. In reality, most homeowners with private wells will need a water softener along with additional filtration. Those living in the city also need a water softener as the minerals found in hard water are not hazardous to your health.
Today’s homes need soft water to function properly. Skipping the water softener can cause major damage to your pipes and appliances. If you don’t like the idea of making regular plumbing repairs due to poor water quality, you’ll need to consider a water softener installation.
How a Water Softener Works
Water softeners remove the mineral impurities in hard water to make it softer. But how does it do this? Through a process known as ion exchange.
The ion exchange process works by using sodium ions to remove the calcium, magnesium, and iron minerals commonly found in hard water. The sodium ions will replace these minerals in the water.
All the minerals, including sodium, have a positive charge. Sodium, however, has a much weaker charge making the exchange possible.
In a water softener, there are negatively charged zeolite crystals and resin beads attached to weak positively charged sodium ions. As hard water moves through the water softener, the negatively charged ions will exchange the sodium ions for the stronger mineral ones. The sodium ions will release into the water while the mineral ions will remain in the water softener.
You should note that your water isn’t changing into saltwater. With proper soft water installation, your newly softened water will contain very small amounts of sodium. The only issue you may experience is a slightly salty taste.
What Happens to the Mineral Ions in the Water Softener?
What do water softeners do with the collection of mineral ions? Water softeners perform a handy maintenance process known as regeneration. This allows you to continue enjoying soft water without having to regularly maintain your water softener.
Most water softeners contain a secondary storage tank where you add the softener salt. Water will mix with the salt in this secondary tank to create a brine solution. You’ll often hear this tank described as a brine tank.
When the mineral ions begin to build up, the regeneration process will begin. The brine in the secondary tank will run through the water softener. This time, the ion exchange process goes in reverse.
Instead of adding mineral ions, the brine will wash through the zeolite crystals and resin beads to remove the minerals. It will replenish the negatively charged crystals and resins with sodium ions, readying them to soften water again. The brine water containing the minerals will flush out of the softener system.
This process is set to occur during the nights, or times of day when you’re not using your water softener. Your water and plumbing service specialist can help you set the regeneration time. The flushed water is safe for all sewer and septic systems.
Choosing the Right Water Softener
If you hop online right now and search for water softeners, you’ll find hundreds, even thousands of different types and styles of water softeners. Before you start shopping, you need to know what kind of water softener you need for your home.
Water Softener Capacity
The first step is to determine how much water you and your family use. This is necessary to help you find the right capacity water softener. One that’s too small won’t provide you with enough soft water and one that’s too large will cost you more money than necessary.
Capacities vary between water softeners. They come with a grain capacity describing how much hardness the softer can remove from the water.
The higher the grain capacity number, the more minerals it can remove from hard water between regeneration cycles. The grain capacity is a variable, meaning it can have a range of 5,000+ above or below the given capacity number.
A family of two or three with two bathrooms will need a mid-size water softener. A home of one or two with one bathroom can work with a smaller water softener. Larger families with four or more people and two or more bathrooms will need a large-size water softener.
Water Softener Features
Water softeners can come full of unique features to improve your water and save you money. Most of these depend on your budget.
High-end 2-in-1 water softeners come complete with additional filtration for your whole home. You’ll enjoy the highest-quality tap water with this softener. The drawback is they can be very expensive.
Other quality softeners will offer energy efficiency and demand-start regeneration. You can find softeners that remove chlorine, iron, and filter additional sediments found in your water. All levels of water softeners will use low amounts of salt and provide you with quality soft water.
Understanding Water Softener Installation
Water softener installation is the second most important factor of getting your home clean soft drinking water. It is possible to install a water softener by yourself, however, only a professional can ensure everything is secure and correctly set. Improper water softener installation can cause additional problems.
A professional will install a water softener as close as possible to the water’s entry point into your home. It’s best practice to place the water softener before the water heater. This will prevent hot water from damaging your water softener and hard water from damaging your water heater.
In most Calgary homes, the water softener installation occurs in the basement. Homes without a basement may have the water softener placed in an attached garage, closet area, or wherever the water entry point is.
Your water and plumbing professional should set up the water softener for you and test it. Before they leave they should show you basic maintenance such as replenishing the brine tank and setting the regeneration timer. Make sure to ask any questions you may have.
The Benefits of a Water Softener
Hard water can cause terrible damage to your home’s pipes, appliances, and fixtures. Over time, they will need repairs or replacements due to the damage. Investing in a water softener now will prevent you from having to pay for these costly repairs down the road.
There are several other benefits softer water can provide!
Healthier Hair & Skin
Soft water’s lack of hard minerals allows the soaps and conditioners to lather easier and prevents a precipitate from layering on your skin. Soft water will help keep your hair and skin moisturized, reducing dry skin and irritation.
Your hair’s pH levels will also become more balanced with soft water. Your hair will look and feel less brittle and frizzy. You’ll enjoy more volume and greater shine!
No longer will you have to deal with spotty streaky dishes. A water softener will make your dishes sparkle with shine. Dish soaps will lather easier and offer greater cleaning action to get your dishes even cleaner.
Yes, some high-end water softeners are expensive. But investing in a quality water softener can save thousands of dollars on expensive plumbing repairs.
Your appliances will run more efficiently without the buildup of scale and calcium deposits. Your pipes will be cleaner with less scale allowing for greater water pressure and less energy spent pushing the water through. You’ll also save money on soaps as you’ll need less soap to get optimal cleaning power with soft water.
Softer Brighter Clothes
The deposits in hard water will cause the colours in your clothes to fade over time. These same deposits along with detergent will buildup in the weave and fibres making your clothing rougher. Soft water will help your clothes last and look better for much longer.
Start Enjoying Soft Water Today!
Investing in quality water softener installation is an investment in your home, your belongings, and your health. There’s no reason you need to struggle with hard water in your Calgary home.
Are you ready to make the jump to soft water? Give us a call and we’ll help you find the perfect water softener and installation for your home!