People keep telling me I need a water softener. Why? I’ve never had one and I’m fine. What does it even do?
The primary reason to install a water softener in your home is to protect and prolong the life of your water-using appliances. Water hardness is a measure of the trace amounts of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron found in our water supply; if you’ve ever had to scrub a white ring out of your coffee pot, or had to take apart and clean your bathroom shower head to get it spraying again, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
In our area the water hardness deposits somewhere around the equivalent of 300 pounds of rock per year in the average household! While these minerals are certainly not a health risk, you can be assured that they will, through slow and certain accumulation, kill off some of the increasingly complex and expensive “big ticket” appliances that you rely on such as humidifiers, hot water tanks (especially the new “tankless” water heaters), and dishwashers, as well as some of the ones that you really need, like coffee makers, clothes, irons etc.
Through a chemical “ion-swapping” process, water softeners remove these from water, replacing them with hydrogen, sodium, and potassium which will flow harmlessly through your expensive appliances, rather than clogging up inside them. As a bonus, you’ll also find that your soaps, shampoos and detergents actually work better, so you’ll use less while getting cleaner results.
One thing, though: If you are extremely sensitive to sodium in your diet, or are on a medically-prescribed low sodium diet, you should consult with your doctor, and include a Reverse Osmosis water filter (originally designed for desalinating sea water) with your installation before going ahead, just to have all your bases covered, because after all, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!