What is the difference between hard water and soft water?
For hard and soft water explained simply…Hard water contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium. In its pure form, water does not contain these minerals and is naturally soft. But as it passes through the ground and rocks such as limestone, it picks up those hard water minerals.
Soft water contains little to no extra elements. This can occur naturally, or soft water can be produced with water treatment equipment that removes the hard elements.
Are there pros and cons when it comes to hard water vs soft water?
The minerals in hard water make it better for drinking, not only because of the health benefits, but also the taste. Soft water, however, often tastes salty and is sometimes not fit for drinking.
Hard water can take a toll on clothing, making laundry look dingy. It can cause spots and residue on dishes, and soap scum on bathtubs. Hard water can eventually damage household appliances, as well as use up more energy.
When it comes to cleaning, soft water allows soap to lather better and dishes will be left cleaner. You will often use less soap and detergents overall with soft water. The shower curtain and bathtub will be soap scum-free. And clothes and skin will feel softer. Soft water can also prolong the life of washing machines, dishwashers and water heaters. Energy bills are noticeably lower in homes with water softeners.
Can a water softener help prevent plumbing damage?
Generally, soft water is better for your pipes. A water softener can help prevent plumbing damage by removing the excess minerals from the water. The softener works by releasing its own chemicals into the water to reduce the calcium and magnesium, making the water taste and smell better, easier on your skin and clothes, as well as protecting your water pipes.
Are there any disadvantages to having a water softener installed in my home?
Two disadvantages may be cost and maintenance. Depending on the type and size of water softener you choose, the price of the unit plus installation will vary greatly. You also must keep up with maintenance on the system.
Be aware that many water softeners use sodium (salt), so you may want to have a separate, untreated cold water supply for drinking, cooking and irrigation.
If you live in certain areas of the country that have a higher concentration of hard water, it might be beneficial for you to invest in a water softening system. If you decide to go without a water softener, you will probably need to have your water appliances serviced more often, especially water heaters and dishwashers.