A water softener is used to remove hardness from your water. The need to use a water softener increases when you consume and use well water at home. Now here’s the real thing; well water is not inherently hard, but it is more likely to be hard than city water because it comes from underground. As the water moves underground along soil and other surfaces, it takes in the minerals that make well water harder than city water.
In this article, we will discuss what does a water softener do for well water? We will also explain the benefits and drawbacks of using a water softener with well water.
What does a Water Softener do for Well Water?
A water softener removes the hardness causing minerals like calcium and water. The water that passes through the softener comes out soft and fit for use.
A typical salt-based water softener contains a resin tank, a brine tank, and a control system. It is installed after the water leaves the well but before it enters your home. Many wells have a high amount of sediment in the water, so water experts recommend installing a sediment filter before a water softener. The reason behind installing a sediment filter is to remove suspended particles, dirt, and debris from the water so these contaminants don’t impact your softener’s working.
When water enters the softener, it moves through a resin bead. The resin beads contain softening salt (usually sodium or potassium). The softening salts remove calcium and magnesium from water and replace them with a sodium or potassium ion.
The reason behind this ion-exchange process is that the salt ions on resin beads are negatively charged, and the calcium and magnesium ions in water are positively charged. As a result of negative-positive attraction, the ion exchange process takes place. The ion exchange process is also aided by the fact that sodium has a weaker positive charge, whereas calcium and magnesium have a strong positive charge. This stronger positive charge forces the sodium ions to get displaced from the beads and mix with water.
You may be thinking that sodium is harmful to your health? Well, it is harmful to your health if swallowed in large quantities. The water from a salt-based softener doesn’t have a high percentage of sodium. You won’t even notice the difference. However, if someone in your home is allergic to sodium or is following a sodium-free diet plan, you can use potassium-based salts to soften the water.
Why is hard water unfit for drinking and use at home?
Hard water contains excessive amounts of calcium and magnesium in it. These minerals leave residue on your plumbing, dishes, clothes, fixtures, and appliances. The white-grey film on your stainless steel taps is because of hard water. No matter how much your clean it, it never goes away.
These minerals can also damage your hair, skin, and eyes. Hard water causes dandruff and leads to your soap/shampoo not making enough lather leading to more water usage. Hard water consumption doesn’t cause too many adverse impacts unless you drink excessive amounts of extremely hard water.
Benefits of using a Water Softener with Well Water
Following are the benefits of using a softener with well water
Protect your Home and Plumbing: Water softener produces soft water. Soft water is safe for your home and plumbing. When hard water passes through the plumbing in your home, it starts to leave residue inside the pipes. This residue results in rust, clogging, and decreased flow rate. Hence, it leads to more maintenance sessions. Soft water reduces the maintenance needs by keeping your plumbing unblocked and in mint condition.
Hard water takes a toll on every water-using appliance at your home. Let it be a dishwasher, a washing machine, or a carpet cleaner. If you install a water softener, all of these appliances will work flawlessly, and you will not get to see hard water stains on laundry and dishes.
Soft Skin and Better Hair: Who doesn’t want to enjoy a lathery bath or shower with soft water for better skin and hair? Hard water doesn’t make lather with soaps, shampoos, or bath gels. You can enjoy a perfect bath with your well water by installing a softener. Moreover, you get to enjoy dandruff-free hair, itch-free skin, and no eye irritation after a shower.
Efficient Cleaning: Soft water combines works more efficiently compared to hard water in cleaning applications. It delivers better cleaning when used in appliances or for general cleaning purposes such as floor mopping or dishwasher.
Quick Water Heating: Soft water heats quickly compared to hard water. Many people install a small water softener (electric) separately for their water heaters. Soft water heats 22% faster than hard water.
Drawbacks of Using a Water Softener
- Potential health risks from additional sodium
- Regular maintenance of the softener and water testing to ensure that the softener is working correctly
- Wastes a lot of water during the regeneration cycle
- Negative impacts on the environment from salt use
How to correctly use a Water Softener with Well Water?
- The first step is to determine the hardness of your well water. The scale on your appliances and fixture may be due to some other contaminant and not hardness. You can use a water hardness kit or get the water tested from a certified lab near your home.
- Install the water softener after it leaves the water tank of your well water system. Inspect the water for suspended particles and see if you need to install a sediment filter with your softener.
- Set the softener as per the hardness level in the water. Sometimes the hardness can be too high that it can’t be treated with a water softener. You’ll then need to convert to city water or dig another well.
Classification of Water based on Hardness
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon or parts per million (expressed as milligrams per liter). Water classifications as per the hardness are mentioned below.
- Soft Water: Below 1.0 GPG or 0-60 mg/L
- Slightly Hard:0-3.5 GPG or 17.1-60 mg/L
- Moderately Hard:5-7.0 GPG or 61-120 mg/L
- Hard:0-10.5 GPG or 121-180 mg/L
- Very Hard: More than 10.5 GPG or 180 mg/L
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of water softeners?
There are two types of water softeners; salt-based and without salt-water softeners. We have already explained a salt-based water softener and how it works with water well. Without-salt water softeners are commonly used for homes with less water demand. They don’t add anything to water but change how it interacts with other surfaces.
Can a water softener remove iron from well water?
It depends on the percentage of iron in your water and the softener you are using. Some softeners are specifically designed for removing iron from well water. These machines have an additional filter that stops iron from passing through the water.
Is water from a water softener safe to drink?
Water from a water softener is safe to drink unless you are on a sodium-free diet. If you analyze the amount of sodium in water after it leaves the water softener, you’ll know that it is pretty low than what is widely imagined. Moreover, the amount of sodium that enters your water softener differs depending on the sodium content in your water.
If you have moderately hard water at home with 86 PPM hardness or five grains per gallon, then the water softener will add only 37 milligrams of sodium per quart of water. This is even less than the 2% suggested daily sodium intake.
On the contrary, if you have water with hardness above 400 PPM, you must install a water treatment plant after the water softener. A RO plant is a great option to make water 100% fit for drinking.
Another way to reduce sodium in water is to use potassium-based salts in the water softener.
Why is hard water so common in water wells?
Hardness is present in both city water and well water. City water is treated before it leaves the filtration plants for your homes. On the contrary, well water comes out in the raw form. It contains all the impurities and minerals. Hence, it is high in hardness too. Therefore, it shows high hardness levels when tested.
Using a water softener with your well water benefits your health and home. However, you must check with local laws before installing a water softener. Some states don’t allow installing salt-based water softeners due to environmental concerns and water wasted during regeneration.