Hard water is caused by rain and surface water dissolving mineral salts such as calcium and magnesium from local rock as it passes through. This solution of water and salts forms hard deposits of ‘scale’ within water systems particularly when heated, typically affecting kettles, showerheads, hot water tanks and central heating systems.
This scale reduces the efficiency and life expectancy of the units whilst also requiring more energy to heat the water. Soaps and detergents do not work as well with hard water, so larger quantities are needed. Scum deposits are formed in baths, showers, toilets and basins, which are difficult to remove. Dishwashers and washing machines fed with hard water need significantly more maintenance and cleaning to work efficiently. There are no limits for hardness in the drinking water standard, however anything over 120ppm is considered to be hard.
Benefits of installing a water softener:
- Save up to 40% of the energy required to heat your water
- Reduce detergent consumption by half
- Prolong the life of household appliances and pipes that use water
- Individuals with sensitive skin benefit from softened water due to the reduced amount of soap required for washing, less soap means less drying of the skin caused by the removal of natural oils
- Drinking softened water is acknowledged as having no immediate side effects and in some cases can prove beneficial. We do however recommend a hard water drinking supply with every installation or a blend valve to provide a balanced supply
The first step is to have the water tested, from the results we will be able to advise and design a suitable treatment system.
How a water softner works
Water softeners work using a process called ion exchange, they pass the incoming hard water through a high quality resin column, which removes the hard mineral and exchanges them for soft ones. When the resin becomes exhausted, it is ‘regenerated’ by drawing a solution of common salt (brine) back through the column. The hard minerals are then released from the resin and flushed down the drain with the excess brine.
This ‘exchange’ process can be repeated as often as necessary. Softeners come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to cater for every application and flow rate, every softener is individually set according to the local hardness and the amount of salt adjusted accordingly for the regeneration process. It is more efficient to regenerate frequently with a minimal quantity of salt. Water softeners are low maintenance but require regular checks from the user on the level of salt in the brine tank and topping up as necessary. It is the precise mixture of minerals dissolved in the water , together with the pH and temperature of the water that determines the behaviour of the hardness.
A single-number scale does not adequately describe hardness; descriptions of hardness correspond roughly with ranges of mineral concentrations:
Soft: 0–60 mg/L
Moderately hard: 61–120 mg/L
Hard: 121–180 mg/L
Very hard: ≥181 mg/L