If you've recently moved into a home with a well, you may be wondering whether you'll need a water treatment or softening system in order to make your water potable. While all types of water softeners can help remove any potential toxins, heavy metals, or other contaminants from your water, the type of water softener you select can have a big impact on the cost of certain hobbies and chores -- from saving you money on aquarium dechlorination to helping you achieve a perfect gloss on your vehicle without the use of wax. Read on to learn more about the right water softener for your lifestyle.
For those who enjoy the soothing and therapeutic effect of a freshwater aquarium, a reverse osmosis water softener may be your best bet to help eliminate the need for softening tablets or dechlorination. A reverse osmosis water softener removes calcium, magnesium, and other mineral ions from the water supply by forcing these ions through a permeable membrane. Because these ions are larger than the hydrogen and oxygen molecules that make up pure water, they're contained by the membrane. You'll need to periodically change this membrane to ensure that it remains effective.
A reverse osmosis water softener is a better choice for those with freshwater fish because it uses no salt or potassium (like an ion-exchange water softener). While ion exchange softeners only increase the sodium content of the water by a minuscule amount, when dealing with the pH, nitrate, and nitrite levels of a freshwater aquarium, you'll want your softened water to be as salt-free as possible.
Both ion exchange and reverse osmosis water softeners can work well to achieve a spot-free finish when washing your vehicles, but for those who require a significant amount of softened water, a reverse osmosis softener is usually the more cost-effective solution. Ion exchange softeners work by replacing the mineral ions in hard water with sodium or potassium ions (supplied by small tablets you place inside the water softener periodically). The more water you consume, the more frequently you'll need to recharge your water softener, and the cost of doing so can add up quickly.
However, choosing either a reverse osmosis or ion exchange softener will allow you to use significantly less soap than before, cutting your cleaning costs over time. If you were previously spending hundreds per year on professional car washes, you should be able to achieve the same flawless appearance yourself for a fraction of the cost.
If you're happy with your existing well water quality for drinking, cooking, and bathing purposes but wish for treated water to use in your garden, you may benefit from a portable garden hose filter. These filters fit inside a hose nozzle and are generally made with carbon or another permeable substance that can remove impurities or debris while retaining the calcium and magnesium needed to nourish the soil.
Hot tub owners
For those who plan to spend most rain-free evenings outside in a personal hot tub, a large ion exchange water softener should do the trick. While reverse osmosis softeners are excellent at filtering water, they can sometimes be slow. An ion exchange softener that can generate enough softened water to completely fill your hot tub before it needs to regenerate should be enough for your household needs.
Although softening your hot tub's water supply can reduce the amount of calcium and limescale deposits on the inside of your tub and extend the life of the pumps by removing potentially corrosive calcium, you'll still need to add some chemicals and additives to your tub occasionally to ensure the water remains pathogen-free.
For more information on water softeners, consider contacting a professional like those at Johnson Water Conditioning.