A water softener will improve your water immensely if hard water minerals, iron, or manganese are in your water. These contaminants can be removed with a water softener and/or a properly specified sediment filter depending on whether the contaminant’s form is in solution or particulate. The primary hard water minerals found are magnesium and calcium (the hardness minerals), while iron and manganese (“the stainers”) can also be removed from the water. A water test and analysis will determine the best course of action.
Hard water interferes with many cleaning tasks, from doing the laundry to washing dishes to taking a shower. Washing your hair in hard water may leave it feeling sticky and dull. Dishes and glasses get spotted and a film may build up on shower doors, bathtubs, sinks and faucets. Clothes can look dingy and feel rough and scratchy. Hard water can also cause a residue to build-up in pipes that can lower water pressure. Hard water can also have devastating affects on your home’s plumbing and water using appliances, even though the EPA has no published limits on these. The EPA maximum allowable level for iron as a secondary contaminant is .3 parts per million and for manganese is .05 parts per million. Small amounts of these minerals can have very noticeable, even devastating affects on your home’s water quality.
The following chart identifies hard water levels. Compare your test data:
OTHER AFFECTS OF HARD WATER, IRON & MANGANESE
Scale from hard water can build-up inside water heaters insulating the temperature sensor inside the tank creating extra work to bring the temperature up to the set level. This reduces the life of your hot water heater and will likely require early replacement. Some other affects of these contaminants include corrosion and scaling inside pipes and major staining throughout the home’s showers, bathtubs, and sinks. For those using their well water for outside lawn irrigation, iron and manganese can cause major staining of outside walkways, house siding and anyplace the water touches.
For more information on how a water softener works, see the link at How Softeners Work.