The Hard Facts: Do I Need a Water Softener System?

It’s estimated that nearly 90% of American households have hard water. That sounds scary, but what does it exactly mean and what should you do about it? These are questions we commonly hear from customers. Here’s what you need to know about hard water and the purpose of a water softener system.

Water Softener System

What is hard water?

Having hard water means that there is a higher level of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These mineral are absorbed into the water after it falls to the ground as rain. To determine mineral hardness, a test is done that shows how many milligrams per liter (mg/L) of calcium carbonate are in the water. We can then use the following classifications established by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

  • Soft water: 0–60 mg/L
  • Moderately hard water: 61-120 mg/L
  • Hard water: 121-180 mg/L
  • Very hard water: More than 180 mg/L

The health effects of hard water

If you have hard water, the good news is the extra minerals are not dangerous or bad for your health. However, hard water can become a nuisance around the home. For example, you may notice more scale buildup on faucets and shower tiles. Some people also find that hard water is more difficult to rinse soap or shampoo off with, and that cleaning clothes is less effective due to a lack of suds.  

Plumbing damages caused by hard water

Where hard water does pose a threat is to your plumbing system. The minerals in hard water can build up inside your pipes, leading to clogs, reduced flow, and damage from increased stress. But that’s not all. Hard water can also make home appliances like your dishwasher wear down faster, as well as your hot water heater work harder and become less efficient. Over time, the effects of hard water can really become costly if not addressed.

How a water softener works

If you want to address hard water to prevent future problems, there’s an easy solution – a water softener system (also called a water conditioner). The system has a tank that uses sodium to remove calcium and magnesium out of the water. Soft water then flows through your plumbing, while the excess minerals are discharged into the sewage system. Problem solved.

The decision to install a water softener system comes down to the mineral level in your water (which can be higher if you have a well), your personal preferences, and desire to prolong your plumbing system and appliances.

At Whitten Plumbing, we can help you determine if a water softener would be a good investment in your home. Give us a call today at 501-607-6596 to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed plumbers.