The decision to purchase a water softener for your home can come with some pretty persuasive monetary and personal benefits. For most people, the issue is not should they buy a water softener but rather how to choose a water softener to purchase.
The benefits of soft water
The first thing you'll probably want to know when deciding to purchase a water softener, especially if it's a first-time installation, is what is hard water? You likely know it contains more minerals than soft water, but you may want to know why there is so much debate on whether hard water is better than soft.
How do you know if your water is hard?
You'll need to test your water supply to see if hard water is what you've got (unless annoying scale and soap scum buildup have already clued you in) and, if so, just how hard it is. If you have municipal water, the utility company can provide you with hardness information. If you're on a well, a water softening company will be more than happy to conduct a test for you.
Do you need a softener?
Hard water is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) or parts per million (ppm). It can cause problems when levels are above 6 or 7 gpg or 100 to120 ppm. Some say soft water is unneccessary and provide reasoning against their use, so check out both sides of the story before you commit.
Certain water softeners may also help in removing radium, barium and low concentrations of manganese and iron, but most only to a very low extent. A separate system would likely be needed to make any significant reductions.
So many choices
If you decide in favor of soft water, you will have to choose one of several water softener types. Whether it uses solar salt, rock salt or no salt at all, is an upright cabinet or a twin tank, or utilizes ion exchange or magnets, there are benefits and drawbacks to all. Look at factors such as cost of use, water softener maintenance and brand reliability to make the best choice for your home.