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The Difference Between Hard and Soft Water

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Some of us have never had a problem with our water, while others struggle with hard and soft water issues. Depending on where you live, it’s the amount of mineral ions dissolved into the water which determines whether it is hard or soft. If you live close to the sea, you will probably have hard water coming through your pipes.

While there are advantages and disadvantages of both, appliances and pipes can be damaged by hard water, the severity of hardness is judged on the amount of mineral grains per gallon. You may have noticed when you make a cup of tea, it looks like some of the water is darker colours across the surface.

Luckily, hard water doesn’t pose any health issues, however it can damage the bank balance. When hard water gets heated, the minerals recrystallize and can block the plumping and pipes, you probably won’t notice until something has broken. It can also be an issue for simple things such as washing the pots or bathroom tiles, soaps can react with the minerals, creating tough limescale and marked dishes.

Because of the problems hard water can have, it’s probably better to have a water softener installed, but what does that mean?

There are many different types of water softeners you can install, however it’s picking the right one. Some softeners can make the water to soft and dramatically reduce water pressure, meaning it takes much longer to fill the sink.

Salt-Based Ion Exchange
The most common of softeners used, basically by filtering your water through two tanks, the system swaps hard minerals for salt, making the water ‘softer’.

Salt-Free Water
Rather than replacing the hard minerals with salt, this softener uses a substitute for those who have concerns about their salt intake. This means that it doesn’t replace the hard minerals, but instead prevents them being deposited onto surfaces or inside pipes.

Dual- Tank Water

For some families, a water softener is not practical, this can be because water softeners need to recharge themselves. When doing this it means they are not softening the water, so they tend to do this on the night time, when they are less likely to be used, but this can still cause problems for some families. The option can be to install a duel-tank softener which recharges the tanks at opposite times so there is no break in service.

There are more advanced water softeners available, usually all are on a range of £300- £2000, so it depends on what suit your family best. It is important to remember that if you buy a good quality water softener it should last about 20 years, so you will probably save on ruined crockery and appliances in that time. Water softeners can take up a lot of space, so make sure you have planned it out properly.  

Some people argue that hard water has many health benefits, calcium ions are good for growth, bones and teeth, so it can depend on personal preference.

If you have contents insurance, it may be better to invest in a water softener to help maintain your appliances such as washing machines. Your insurance company may reject your claim due to general ‘wear and tear’ if they think the appliance could have had better care. To understand this more, have a read of The Truth Behind General Wear and Tear.

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