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Understanding the Benefits of Water Softeners

In this overview, we will explore the long-term benefits of using a water softener for your home. We’ll explore the positive effects on appliances, plumbing, and fixtures and examine how a water softener can impact your utility bills and monthly budget.
If you’ve done any research on your own, by now you probably understand what a water softener is and how it operates. Even so, we’ll briefly explain hard water and how a water softener system effectively addresses this common issue found in thousands of homes. Then, we will dive deeper into how this equipment can significantly benefit your home wallet.

What is Hard Water?

Water hardness, as defined by the United States Geological Survey, is the quantity of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water. If you have “hard water” high amounts of these dissolved minerals will exist.

While hard water is not dangerous to your health, these excess minerals in your water supply can cause scale buildup or mineral deposits on your fixtures, appliances, and plumbing. It even builds up on your skin. This buildup can impact the lifespan of your appliances. It can also increase the energy needed to heat water for your home, reduce the efficiency of your water heater, and create irritating clogs in your plumbing.

If you’ve struggled with soap scum buildup in your shower or noticed calcium buildup in your coffee pot, or tea kettle, there is a good chance that you have hard water in your home. Hard water is a common issue — 85% of homes in the United States have hard water.

What is Soft Water?

The Department of Energy explains how a water softener reduces water hardness by removing heavy minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium from the water supply coming into the home to provide many whole-home benefits.
In a conventional system, water passes through a tank with a bed of resin beads saturated with sodium, exchanging any calcium and magnesium ions in the water with sodium ions. When the minerals attach to the beads, the sodium that had been on the beads enters the volume of water. By the time household water exits the system, it is no longer hard.
The entire process helps to keep the buildup of excess minerals off your skin and out of your pipes, fixtures, appliances, and laundry.

Expanding on the Long-Term Benefits of a Water Softener

You’ll notice the effect of softened water on your hair and skin after your very first shower, but there are more substantial, long-term benefits to using a water softener we’d like to touch on.

Soft Water’s Impact on Your Plumbing and Fixtures

Layers of minerals can accumulate over time as hard water moves through the plumbing in your home. This scale buildup can narrow the diameter of the pipe, decrease water flow through the plumbing, and reduce water pressure to specific fixtures or the entire home.

It’s less likely that this type of buildup will occur when you reduce the excess minerals from your water supply with a water softener. As a result, you’ll extend the lifespan of your plumbing, minimize water pressure issues caused by buildup in your plumbing, and avoid costly repairs.

Improve Appliance Efficiency and Increase Longevity

Water-dependent appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine, and coffee pot can all accumulate the same type of buildup mentioned above. A water softener helps extend the lifespan of your appliances and helps them run more efficiently by reducing this buildup.

An independent investigative study carried out by Scientific Services S/D, Inc. and reposted by the Water Quality Association showed that dishwashers cleaned dishes much more effectively with softened water than with hard water — using softened water was found to be twelve times more effective at removing soil, six times more effective at reducing spotting, and two times as good at reducing filming than increasing the amount of dishwashing detergent used. Scientific Services is a research and development lab that performs research and testing specifically for detergent, home goods, and specialized chemicals industries.

This type of testing may be why you see different fill lines in the soap compartment of your dishwasher for hard and soft water.

In yet another study done by the Battelle Memorial Institute where they tested gas and electric water heaters, those that were tested using hard water were not even able to complete the testing before water flow in the outlet piping was disrupted by scale buildup. The test was only equivalent to up to 2 years of standard use in the home. The table below summarizes those results.

Soft Water’s Impact on Laundry

It’s obvious now that this type of scale buildup doesn’t stop at plumbing and dishwashers. All devices and appliances that depend on water are effected by hard water. This includes your washing machine.

In another study by Scientific Services, several different types of clothing stains were tested — blood, coffee, grass, red wine, barbecue sauce, and more. They tested the amount of detergent used, level of hardness, and water temperature with well-known laundry soaps. The outcome was similar to the dishwasher testing. Using softened water at lower temperatures and with less soap was still better at taking out stains than increasing the temperature or amount of detergent used.

Using softened water isn’t just more effective at cleaning your laundry, it also helps to keep mineral buildup out of the fabric resulting in softer and brighter laundry as well. Your skin will thank you!

Soft Water Can Improve Household Efficiency

Considering the impact of softened water observed above, you can assume that it impacts every water-reliant item in your home from your fridge’s water and ice dispenser to your shower head and even your humidifier.
Less mineral buildup leads to more effective, longer-lasting appliances and fixtures that need less maintenance and require less frequent replacement, but softened water can save you money in other ways as well.

What Other Cost Savings Come From Soft Water?

Specific appliances, like gas water heaters, require less energy when used with soft water. In Battelle’s study above, they found that using soft water with gas water heaters showed a direct correlation to reduced energy costs, while hard water showed increased energy usage.
Also, since using softened water is so much more effective at washing laundry and dishes, you’ll use less soap and detergent over time even at lower temperatures. This equates to direct energy and cost savings for your family. For example, dishwashing detergent savings of up to 70% were observed in machines using soft water as opposed to hard.
Your time is worth money as well! You’ll spend less time scrubbing stubborn, frustrating hard water buildup from your showers, tubs, and fixtures.

Your Skin will Also Thank You

When you use softened water, less soap and shampoo is also needed while bathing. Soap will lather better and become more effective without excessive minerals in the way.
When you bathe in hard water, these excess minerals can build up on your skin. This thin layer of buildup interferes with your body’s natural production of moisturizing oils and can lead to clogged pores, dryer skin, and in some cases acne and breakouts. This barrier of minerals also makes lotions and moisturizers less effective.
A water-softening system can help prevent this buildup from accumulating on your skin. You’ll notice that your skin feels cleaner, healthier, and softer. You also won’t need to use as much lotion.
It all adds up — lower energy use, less soap, detergent, and lotion, longer appliance life, and fewer cleaning products! Yes, please!
At Elder's Pure Water, we’ve been helping families in the Dallas Fort Worth Westoplex area get softer water for over 8 years. It’s more than just soft water to us, it’s the impact on homes and families in our local community.

Call us today at 817-631-4967 or fill out the contact form to have your water tested and to find the right system for your home.