By Jen Stott
While many natural elements exist in water, it is considered hard when it possesses a high amount of calcium, magnesium and other heavy metals. The level of hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG). Soft water has less than one GPG of these minerals, while hard has over 10.5 GPG. Most water supplies in the United States measure high in hardness.
Negative Effects of Scale Deposits
Water is under a significant amount of pressure as it flows through a home's plumbing. As pressure is applied to the supply, minerals separate and are left behind, coating the plumbing lines and inner workings of appliances. The initial signs of scale buildup may be minor - just a small increase in energy usage. However, as scaling escalates, the homeowner might notice the laundry is stiff, soap scum is left behind on sinks and tubs, and white mineral deposits begin showing up on dishware after a wash cycle.
Homeowners might also notice the physical effects on their skin. Their scalp might itch and they may begin noticing dry patches on other parts of their body. Eventually, scale deposits might block pipes, or an appliance may simply cease to function due to a scaling-induced clog or breakage. Installing a softener can eliminate appliance failure and reduce all other negative effects of hard water as well.
Softeners Improve Appliance Efficiency
According to a report from the Water Quality Association, not only does soft water reduce the care and maintenance required to keep appliances in top shape while reducing the occurrence of breakdowns, it also improves the appliance's efficiency and effectiveness. Laundry machines were tested using different amounts of detergent, varying temperatures and fluctuating levels of soft or hard water. The dominant factor that influenced the machine's stain removal effectiveness was the hardness. The softer the water, the cleaner the garments. Lowering the hardness was 100 percent more effective than altering any other factor in the study. In fact, the most difficult stains were removed using the least amount of detergent, the lowest temperature and soft water.
Dishwashers were also tested for effectiveness using soft water and different amounts of detergent. While the level of soiled dishes varied, soft water was 12 times more effective in dish cleaning than an increased volume of detergent. It was also six times better at eliminating spotting and two times better at removing film from dishware.
Buying a Softener
Homeowners can purchase either an ion exchange system or a salt-free system. Ion exchange involves replacing the problematic calcium and magnesium with either potassium, salt or hydrogen. Salt-free systems do not require chemicals. They reduce scaling by changing the structure of the elements using nanotechnology. Homeowners can also select a softener based on size - multi-tank systems are preferable for excessive water consumption.
For more information on how water softeners can help your appliances, contact a local appliance repair professional for expert advice.
Jen Stott is a writer and blogger, and works as the Content Director at Be Locally SEO in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Peter's appliance can help you understand the effects of water softener