whole house water softener

memahAugust 18, 2011

We live in an area of Northern CA that has very hard water so are thinking of getting a whole house water softener. I have heard that some use salt and some do not. Anyone have experience with either system? Recommendations on one or the other?

Thanks in advance.

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To "soften" water is to remove calcium (among other things like iron) from water, not calcium deposits from pipes, and that is commonly done by one of two methods.

One method is ion exchange as done by a water softener. A water softener exchanges either sodium ions (if using NaCl) or potassium ions (if using KCl as a SALT SUBSTITUTE) for calcium (and other) ions in the hard water. That's it, no ifs, no ands, no buts, and no sales double talk. Simple chemistry and physics. Softening water is not black magic. It is physics and chemistry with a side of mechanics. No matter how hard sales people try (and want) to they can not violate the laws of physics or change the nature of chemical actions and reactions.

Any device that claims to SOFTEN water that does use use either NaCl or KCl as a regenerant is not a softener and will not remove hardness from water regardless of what they claim..

The other is by a filter and/or membrane technology or distillation, but no simple filter will remove calcium. You would need a reverse osmosis unit large enough to service your entire house. You would not want to pay for that big an RO nor pay for the service and routine maintenance it would require and RO water would be very aggressive in your plumbing and it would waste a lot of water.

NO magnet(ic) gizmo or electronic gizmo or "conditioner" will soften water but people waste their money on them EVERYDAY.

Check out this URL for one story http://www.nmsr.org/magnetic.htm and there are many more on the net if you Google.

Pick the right softener (not a box store brand), size it properly and get a competent install and you should get 10-15 years of reliable service.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that water treatment begins with a comprehensive water test so you know what needs to be treated or filtered out to get the quality water you want. Are you on a well or a water system? Do that and post the results so we might help.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 1:29PM
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The previous poster provided a lot of good information and is largely correct. Electromagnetic softeners are not particularly effective. An ion exchange softener which uses a brine tank is the way to go. With these, the brine tank has to be regenerated each time the salt is used up and will require the addition of salt. It's not that big a deal - you can get models that only need new salt added in once every month or couple of months. There is a lot of great information on http://www.hvacandwater.com

Here is a link that might be useful: HVAC and Water Site - Great Info on Softening

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:11PM
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Nice try, Jack, but shilling your own product (in this case largely-useless ebooks) is prohibited by the terms of use for this site. Did you 1) fail to read, 2) fail to understand or 3) decide it was perfectly alright to steal advertising services from this site? BTW, your information on water softening was, frankly, dreadful.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:48PM
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"... the brine tank has to be regenerated each time the salt is used up..."

It is the resin that has to be regenerated when it's softening capacity has been exhausted not the brine tank. The brine tank is where the regenerant is stored and dissolved for the regeneration of the resin.

If you're going to shill for your water treatment business don't proclaim your ignorance of the subject before you redirect people to your web site in violation of this forum's rules.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:47AM
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    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 11:50AM
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"The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that water treatment begins with a comprehensive water test so you know what needs to be treated or filtered out to get the quality water you want. Are you on a well or a water system? Do that and post the results so we might help."

We are on a water system. We had 2 people come out so far - the first was so busy with his sales pitch that he never tested the water, the 2nd only tested for calcium (8 grains per gallon) and chlorine (very little).

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Then keep looking till you find a water treatment professional rather than the professional salespeople you've already found.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 11:25PM
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While I disagree with a portion of the initial response, there are a few things I think I can add here ...

1. Whole-house softening isn't always the answer, because you can end up introducing high levels of soduim or potassium into your drinking water and your plants.

2. Testing your water to figure out whether or not you need to treat/soften it is critical. If you determine that you want to actually remove the calcium from your water, traditional softening is the way to go.

3. If you simply want to deal with hard water scale buildup, magnetic water conditioning can be effective. I use it in my home with great results.

4. Remember that hard water scale buildup is more of a problem in your hot water pipes, not as big of a deal with cold.

So, you basically have three ways to implement a water softening/treatment solution for your home ...

A. Only soften the hot water pipes and live with the hard water problems in your cold water plumbing and fixtures.

B. Hook your water softener up to all your plumbing, hot and cold, and then install water filters in your kitchen and bathrooms to remove the sodium from the water so your water is safe to consume.

C. Install a magnetic water conditioner on your main water line, and boost it with another magnetic water conditioner on your hot water line going into your hot water heater. This is what I do in my home.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 4:06PM
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1. Higher levels of sodium or potassium, yes... HIGH levels not so much. The increase of sodium or potassium ions is higher as the hardness of the water rises. At 20gpg less sodium s added to a liter of water than the amount of sodium in a slice of white bread.

2. Agreed

3. click here

4. All those cold water faucet washer I've changed over the years were just as annoying as the hot water faucet washers I've changed. If you only soften the hot water then everywhere there is cold water in your home the pipes, appliances and fixtures are subject to hard water damage.

A. If you're paying for soft water then you ought to get the soft water you're paying for.

B. And stop eating bread, milk, cereal, cheese, soup, and juice, and....

C. click here

Bullfrog, bull is bull... whether frog or the other kind.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 5:48PM
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Okay, here's the deal for me. I am in Houston and the water is pretty hard here. I will look for a competent test, but from the info, fact or fiction, and it is hard to find REAL info and not a shill or someone just trying to make money on you, a couple of questions come to mind. It looks like the NaCl or KCl is the way to go, but CA has outlawed them. Sounds like the overboards out there in never-never land may be on to something. Also about the threat being only a hot water problem, I have a fridge that is eating about 3 water filters a year and my ice maker keeps going wonky. (yes, I replaced the ice maker) Seems to me like the minerals are having an effect there and not just my hot water pipes. I know the feeds are small; I just wonder what is happening to the larger feeds and the water tank. It is hard to separate facts from the nonsense. Help would be appreciated. When I have it tested, my gut tells me it is a Ca problem though.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:10PM
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