If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, you’ve likely been told that you should have a water softener system in your home. In fact, about 1 out of 4 homes have water softener systems in the Phoenix area. So what do water softeners do? A water softener does just what it sounds like, it softens water. To understand what that means, first you’ll need to understand what hard water is and why so many people want to soften it.
Hard water is water that has a high concentration of minerals. While water is in the ground it picks up soluble bits of whatever it passes through. This could also include contaminates but is usually just minerals from the earth. Of the minerals that water picks up, the ones to be concerned about are calcium and magnesium as they affect the ability of water to function in our homes and are what cause water to be “hard”.
One of the more annoying effects of hard water is that it causes soaps and detergents to lose some effectiveness. Normally soap would dissolve completely but with hard water it combines with the minerals and forms a coagulated soap curd. This results in needing to use more soap while the sticky insoluble curd hangs around, clinging to skin, shower walls, hair, etc.
Hard water can also have a negative effect on your laundry. While washing your laundry with hard water, the aforementioned soap curds can work their way into your clothing, causing dirt to be trapped in the fibers. This can roughen the fabric and cause it to feel stiff.
Not only does hard water affect the washing process but the insoluble soap deposits leave spots on everything you wash while also leaving a soap film that builds up on your bath and shower.
Lastly, one of the more costly effects of hard water is what it can do to your plumbing system. As calcium and magnesium deposits build up in pipes, it reduces the flow of water to taps and appliances. This build up in the pipes can also cause serious problems with water heaters, causing them to lose efficiency and reduce the life of the heater.
The basic answer behind what a water softener does and how it works is that it removes the calcium, magnesium and other contaminates out of your water.
Most water softeners are simply a mechanical appliance in your home that is connected to your water supply system. They work by replacing the unwanted minerals in your water with something else, usually sodium. This process is called ion exchange. The result: softer water.
So why do so many homes in Phoenix use water softeners? Well, that’s because hard water is much more common in desert areas. Phoenix is actually one of the top 5 metropolises in the U.S. with the hardest water. That’s why water softeners are so common in the Phoenix area and why you’ve likely been told you should use one.
The next question you may be asking is, do I really need a water softener? Many people argue that the benefits of softer water don’t outweigh the high costs of a water softener while others argue the opposite. To help you make an educated decision and better understand the pros and cons of installing a water softener, we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of a water softener in our next article.
As explained in more detail in our previous article, a water softener works by removing contaminates and minerals from your water. As water passes through the ground it picks up different minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium which cause your water to be “hard”. Hard water can cause problems with your plumbing, reduce the lifetime of your appliances, cause skin irritations and make it harder to clean.
In dry areas, such as Phoenix, Arizona, the tap water is usually much harder than in other areas. This is why water softeners are so common in the Phoenix area. The question, though, is whether they’re really worth it and what are the disadvantages to installing one. First, we will review the benefits of water softeners and then discuss the disadvantages.
While most of the disadvantages involve salt-based water softeners, they are the most commonly used. There are, however, some that are not salt-based and would eliminate many of the disadvantages, other than cost.
In fact, Arizona State University completed a study in 2011 and discovered the most promising technology for softening water without salt is the template assisted crystallization process. It tested four types of water softener not using salt: capacitive deionization, electrically induced precipitation, template assisted crystallization, and electromagnetic water treatment.
Another route you can take to reduce the harm caused by a water softener, should you choose to install one, would be to only attach the unit to your hot water line. This would allow you to take advantage of the benefits of softer water when cleaning, while reducing the negative impact it has.
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According to the official Sky Harbor measuring station, Phoenix has only collected 0.06 inch of rain since June 15. And, while most of the water that we use in the Phoenix area is imported from the Colorado River, that river also supplies over 40 Million people in 6 other states. The problem here is that we’re currently taking more water from the rivers and lakes in a year than is being replenished from the rain runoff. Colorado has seen a below-average runoff in all but three years since 2000 and many of the lakes and reservoirs are less than half full.
The water shortages first affect the farmers who have lower priority than houses and businesses but that still affects us because it raises the costs of food and affects our state’s economy overall. That being said, Phoenix has gotten a lot better over the last few years at using less water but it still isn’t enough.
Taking steps to save water doesn’t just help the rest of Arizona, it can also help lower your water bill. That should be motivation enough to start cutting back on your water usage. You don’t even need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle or home to make a difference, just try some of these easy tips to lower your water bill:
If you’ve noticed that some of your faucets leak, even if just barely, you can reduce your water bill just by having it fixed. Just give us a call at (480) 304-2074 to schedule a free home evaluation.
Have you been thinking about adding a reverse osmosis system in your home? A reverse osmosis system is a water filtration technology that purifies your water by removing contaminates such as bacteria, ions, molecules, and large particles from the water using a semi-permeable membrane. The system works by applying a pressure that essentially pushes the water through a filter, or membrane, with tiny pores. The membrane captures all of the large particles and contaminates, only allowing the pure water to pass through.
There are many different reasons to install a reverse osmosis system in your home. For some, their doctors may have recommended it and for others they may have just recently read about it or had a friend recommend it. For most, it is simply a simple solution to converting their tap water into safe, drinkable water. If you haven’t yet decided whether it is right for you, here are four benefits of using a reverse osmosis system in your home.
Usually the health benefits of drinking reverse osmosis water are more pronounced with cancer patients and those with weaker immune systems. Since the reverse osmosis system removes harmful micro-organisms and germs, it can be much safer to drink for patients receiving chemotherapy which drastically lowers their immune system. With a weak immune system it is much more difficult to fight off infection caused by impure water.
Reverse osmosis also removes lead and sodium which is beneficial for those suffering from high blood pressure. Both lead and sodium can result in increased blood pressure and other health problems. This can be an even bigger issue for households using a salt-based water softening system which causes increased levels of sodium in the water. Many people who use water softeners often use the reverse osmosis system to make their water potable.
As Americans have become more health-conscious many have been switching from sugary drinks to bottled water. In fact, a new report from Beverage Marketing found that bottled water consumption grew 120% between 2000 and 2015. Increasing your water intake and avoiding high calorie, sugary drinks has numerous health benefits but the large of amounts of plastic used to bottle the water can be hazardous to the environment.
While you should certainly continue to choose water over sugary drinks, you may want to consider drinking filtered water or using a reverse osmosis system rather than contributing to the plastic epidemic that is damaging the environment. And, for those who are more concerned with the health benefits, bottled water tends to be much more acidic which can cause a whole slew of other health problems.
One of the biggest reasons that many state as to why they prefer other drinks to water is because of the taste. Many people say that the reason they don’t drink more water is because they simply do not enjoy the taste and therefore resort to other drinks – many of which contain high amounts of sugar or artificial flavors.
Usually, the reason for poor taste in water is due to the particles and contaminates in the water. This is usually why bottled water tastes better than tap water. Pure water, without contaminates and particles, tastes much better. With a reverse osmosis system the water is free of these contaminates, which lower the quality of taste, resulting in a much crisper and refreshing tasting water.
If you are an avid chef or cook your own meals on a regular basis, you may have already noticed the difference between cooking with tap water versus filtered water. There is distinct difference in taste and quality. With reverse osmosis water, this improvement is amplified and even more noticeable – which is why more high-end restaurants only use reverse osmosis water for their cooking.
Not only does it make your food taste a lot better but it makes cleaning up much easier as well. Because tap and unpurified water contains more heavy metals and contaminates, it often leaves more residue on pots and pans. This makes it more difficult to clean after cooking.
Note: There are certainly many benefits of using reverse osmosis to purify your water but it is important to know that this purification method does remove minerals that can be considered beneficial. For those suffering from magnesium deficiency, you may want to avoid using reverse osmosis as it could cause further harm by removing that mineral from your water.
For assistance with reverse osmosis installation or repairs in the Phoenix metro area, please contact Joe at Peace of Mind Plumbing.