Water softener(11 Posts)
We are thinking about fitting a water softener and looking for opinions from you wise Mnetters. Have you had a water softener fitted? What do you think of it and how much does it cost to run? All advice welcome!
Wouldn't be without it
I think it costs about £80 a year in salt. I have mine delivered about once a year, because the slightest spillage of salt will cause severe corrosion in a car.
The valve seals may wear or stick, I think after about ten years. Can be repaired if a major make or if bought from a local supplier that has a service dept.
We have a Monarch Midi (I think). It took a while to get the correct amount of dosing of salt. First of all there wasn't enough, then there was too much. I can tell because my hair went haywire.
I think we have it sorted now. Can't tell you how much the salt costs as we had a stockpile. Not expensive anyway - and NO limescale.
the salt is only used to regenerate the resin that absorbs calcium. There should never be any salt in your tapwater. If there is, it indicates a fault in the control valve head (unless someone has been fiddling with it during regen and interrupted the rinse cycle).
How DOES it work PJ? We don't have salt in the water but we can, of course, feel the water differently depending on what we set the level at.
We are also looking at a softener when we extend next year.... If there is no salt in it why cant you drink the water?
We have one too and wouldn't be without it. We got it initially because we're in a very hard water area and were pee'd off with limescale clogging everything, and having to replace kettles, coffee makers on a yearly basis.
But perhaps the best thing about it is that my lifelong eczema has cleared up completely.
We spend around £40 a year on salt. (Small household)
We have a kinetico softener. It was more expensive than some brands but they have an amazing reputation. We spend about £60/year on salt bricks which are delivered by Kinetico.
Having a softener has reduced our heating bills as well - previously our hot water tank was half full of scale, but we replaced the tank and the replacement isn't scaling up.
"How does it work"
Simplified version because my understanding of the chemistry is weak.
Inside the softener is a hard cylinder. The incoming supply runs through this, at mains pressure. Inside the cylinder are beads of a synthetic resin. This material has the property of absorbing calcium from water. Hard water is caused by calcium carbonate (dissolved from limestone rocks).
The resin has a limited capacity for absorbing calcium. When it is saturated, it can be forced to release it by immersion in a strong salt solution.
So, the softening machine has an adjustable water meter or timer, and when this indicates that the resin is saturated, it initiates a regeneration cycle. This bypasses the supply to the taps to prevent salt getting into them, and sucks salty water out of the bin into the cylinder, where it displaces the calcium, and the machine runs it into a drain or wastepipe. It then rinses away the remaining salt, into the drain. The resin is then ready for use again, so the machine closes the regeneration valves and opens the soft water supply to the taps.
During regeneration, the taps still work. The machine feeds them either with unsoftened water from the incoming main, or switches over to a spare softener. The ones that supply unsoftened water to taps during regeneration have a timeclock so it happens when you are unlikely to be using the taps much, for example 2am.
Regeneration typically occurs at intervals of one or two weeks, depending on capacity of machine and amount of water used.
"Can you drink the water"
The resin works by absorbing calcium and releasing a similar amount of sodium. It actually releases Sodium Bicarbonate, as used in baking powder, indigestion remedies, and some soluble tablets. It does not release salt, unless there is a fault.
The amount released is very small, and softened water is defined as low-sodium. It contains less sodium than milk, coke, mineral water, or a slice of bread, and the amount you ingest in a month is less than you get from a burger.
People on low-sodium diets, who can't eat bread, baked beans, ketchup or marmite, and FF babies, are advised not to drink softened water, since it contains traces of sodium which they are best to avoid.
There appears to be evidence that drinking hard water is better for the heart.
Many people run an unsoftened drinking water supply to the kitchen cold tap or chilled dispenser.
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