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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