hard water vs soft water

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by yarg28, May 8, 2008.

  1. yarg28

    yarg28 New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Michigan
    so, according to people (manufacturers of softeners) hard water is BAD! The city that I live in has, from what everyone says, hard water. I have considered getting a softener system but i'm not sure if i really need one. Sounds cool though, amirite?

    So i guess this is a multi part question:
    I can find LOTS of information about the "badness" that is hard water. I cant find anything about the cons of having soft water. Surely its not as simple as, hard water bad, soft water good.

    Next; there are a couple types of softener systems on the market. Salt based and the new electric'ish unit that requires no salt. Anybody have expeerience with either or both of these systems?

    I want to do whatever is best and now is the time to do it since we are renovating a lot of our home.

    thanks
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,636
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    soft water

    The "bad" about soft water is that, unless you use potassium chloride for regeneration, it has sodium in it, which is bad for people on a low sodium diet. But that is overcome with an R/O drinking water addition. If you can find any valid report that shows that an electric system softens water, and which can be verified, you may be the first one. I asked the representative for one very expensive system how its effectiveness could be tested. He said, "It couldn't. At least not without a semi trailer full of equipment."
  3. Mikebarone

    Mikebarone DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Did that rep say what would happen if you use one of those hard water test strips on his soft water; would the test strip show that it was soft water?
  4. yarg28

    yarg28 New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Michigan
    there are test strips i can get? i wasnt aware of that. Can they be picked up at big box stores or is it strictly a plumbing thing?


    thanks for the replies so far
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Any hardware or big box store has home test kits, or you can call out a local water treatment dealer to test your water but... your water company's water quality report will tell you the hardness in your city water; use the highest number they list.

    Hard water is bad for water heaters, water using appliances, skin, hair, clothes and everything else it comes in contact with. A softener removes the cause; the calcium and magnesium (hardness) in the water.

    Added sodium is 7.85 mg/l per grain per gallon of hardness. In many cases less than in an 8 oz glass of skim milk. You can check beverage and food labels.

    Electronic, magnet and a special resin (Pelican) type "no salt softeners" do not work and they do not remove any hardness.
  6. Mikebarone

    Mikebarone DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Not to sound like an expert, (like I know Gary is) but make sure if you are just going to run out and get a water softener at one of the big box stores, that you get one that will be large enough to take out how much hardness that is in your water, and how much water you use in your household. My friend got one of those, “Boss†water softeners from Home Depot, but I haven’t got any feed back from him yet.
  7. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    Hard water tastes better and the minerals in it (that make it hard) are probably good for you too but you Americans don't seem to like drinking city water anyway.

    I drink DC city water. And it hasn't done me any harm. :eek:

    Soft water reduces your detergent costs.

    Ideally you should have two sources of water: soft for washing and hard for drinking.
    Last edited: May 8, 2008
  8. Mikebarone

    Mikebarone DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    If you ever have to pass a kidney stone, you will wish you didn’t drink that hard water. I don’t know about the water in DC, here in Phoenix Arizona some times we’ll turn on the faucet, and rocks come out….Just kidding, but the water is really really hard here.

    Mike
  9. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    The day you get a kidney stone from drinking too much water is the day I'll stop....drinking! Now you might get a kidney stone from sucking on one too many Tums®, but they are solid calcium.

    Hard water is tasty. Period.
  10. Squ1rrel

    Squ1rrel New Member

    Messages:
    69
    Location:
    Texas
    Actually, Some studies are showing that the mineral content in hard water can actually prove healthy, including lowering the chance of heart problems...go figure, huh?
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,636
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    water

    Phoenix water is hard but healthy. In Chicago, we would get fish in the meters, and occasionally a very small one would get through into a faucet. The electric units say they do not "soften" the water, they alter its composition so soft water testers do not work with them, but neither does anything other than that semi truck full of equipment that you have to believe is telling the real truth. Not the truth as they see it.
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    What makes it healthy?
  13. Mikebarone

    Mikebarone DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Just something to think about...

    A draw back of getting a water softener is that all your hose bibs, (unless it was pre-plumbed for a softener) will now be putting out soft water. If you have a hose bib by your incoming water line in front of your house, that might be the only one that will put out hard water.
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    And if you don't get a softener when you need one, you pay a lot of money living with the problems hard water causes, and that can be hundreds of dollars per year, and then, thousands of dollars to replace damaged fixtures years later... or lose an equal ampount trying to sell the place with damaged fixtures.

    So ya choose the poison that will make you sick the least but won't kill ya and get on with life. Usually that's a softener and soft water to some outside faucets. If that is a problem, buy a 100' garden hose and run it around back...
  15. Mikebarone

    Mikebarone DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ

    No Gary, I agree with you totally…soft water is the ticker. I just brought that up because a lot of people don’t think of soft water coming out of the hose bibs. I just brought that up so if it would be necessary, adjustments could be made…pipe in a new line, or yes, even the 100 foot garden hose trick.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    No problem, we've covered all bases now. ;)
  17. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,246
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Hard water makes me feel squeaky clean after a shower, while with soft water I don't ever feel like I've rinsed all the soap off.

    I think one must know just how hard the water is and then decide the real cost of slightly hard water vs. the cost of the softener, salt, repairs, etc.
  18. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I love hard water! Kerching $$$$$$$$$$

    whole house repipes make my day!
    Replacing water heaters, faucets, toilets... All crusty, corroded, clogged with mineral deposits...

    Take it from me! You won't like soft water!

    Don't get a softener! I need more work!:D
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    So you are against softeners... :rolleyes:

    Scientifically, squeaky is not saying the surface is clean, it says there is a film of something on it that causes friction (and roughness), and that friction and rough surface causes the squeaks.

    Here's a demo, take cold softened water in a bowl or deep glass dish and dip a wash cloth up and down it it until you get all the 'stuff' out of it and ring it slightly wet. Then use it to wet/wash a circle say 12" wide on a smooth painted or otherwise smooth surface (counter top or stove top) and ring the cloth out and dry up any water in the circle with it.

    Then with your finger tips and the palm of a hand pressing hard on the unwashed surface, wipe from outside that washed area and drag your hand into the area and notice the squeaky goes away when your hand enters the washed area. Then explain why the squeaky happens on the dirty surface and not the surface washed with softened water. Answer; the washed surface is clean and the rest is not. To prove the experiment, do the same with hard water on a raw surface and it will still squeak. Or look at the surfaces under a microscope.

    Water is hard if it has one or more grains per gallon of hardness in it but, we don't suggest a softener until the hardness is more than 3-4 gpg.

    BTW, it takes 21 days to make or break a good or bad habit, like "feeling" that you are covered in soap. If you look at yourself, you will see there is no soap on you and your skin and hair are very clean, actually much cleaner than you can get them in hard water. If you feel your skin and hair, they will be silky smooth and soft, with no squeaking, and your skin and hair will be fully moisturized so you will not need skin creams and oils etc. or hair conditioner.

    So change your thoughts and you'll "feel" much better because you will be much better than when showering or bathing in hard water. The stuff that came out of the wash cloth when you dipped it in the bowl of softened water, that makes the water laundry gray? that's what is left on all surfaces washed with hard water.
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