You've probably heard about the benefits of having a water softener. Soft water makes your skin feel silky, it makes your soap lather better, and it prevents scale from forming on your appliances. You may wonder if you would benefit from buying or leasing a softener for your home. Here's what you need to know.
Test For Hardness
If you have well water, you probably have hard water. You can find out for sure by having a test run by a lab, or you can just buy a kit and test the water yourself. It isn't difficult to do. You dip a strip into the water, or place a drop of water into a solution, and wait for the color to change. The color indicates the degree of hardness of your water.
You may not realize that city water can be hard water too. While your city treats the water to make it safe for drinking, it doesn't remove minerals that make it hard. The minerals don't harm your health; they just slowly clog up your drains and appliances. You can call your local water office, or look on your city's website, for the latest water report. The report should give you the hardness rating. You can also test the water yourself with a kit if you want to verify the results.
Water hardness is rated on a scale that's based on the amount of minerals in a gallon of water. If your water contains over 3.5 grains per gallon, you have hard water and would probably benefit from a water softener.
Determine The Right Size
The water softener you choose has to be the right size in order for it to be effective. There's a formula to use that's based on the number of people in your household and the hardness of the water. The formula relies on the estimate the average person uses 80 gallons of water each day. Multiply 80 times the number of people in your home to get the capacity of the water softener. Next, multiply the capacity times the hardness rated in grains per gallon. This estimates how many grain units of minerals your water softener needs to remove each day. When you shop for a new water softener, you'll see they are rated in grain units. Buy one close to your estimate so you won't run out of soft water.
Buy Or Lease
There are several benefits to leasing a water softener. For one, you won't have to worry about maintenance. A water softener isn't an appliance you can set and forget. You have to add salt on a regular basis, because salt causes the reaction that transforms hard water into soft water. When you lease the softener, you can rely on a professional to calculate the right size for your home and keep the appliance in good repair. Leasing is a good option if you rent or if you plan to move in a couple of years.
If you own your home and plan to stay there for many years, then buying the appliance may be the way to go. There is a bigger cost upfront, but you won't have ongoing monthly payments for the life of the water softener.