Water Softener FAQs

Where can I install a water softener?

The simplest place to install a water softener is as close to where the mains water enters the home as possible. Often water softeners are fitted into kitchen cupboards because that’s where the mains water enters the home. However, an expert advisor can recommend where best to install the water softener, whether that’s the kitchen, utility room, basement, garage or even outside!

What type of salt does a water softener use?

All EcoWater Systems softeners use tablet salt. This is widely available through retail outlets, builders/plumbers merchants, garden centres or from delivery companies. It comes in 10kg or 25kg bags. We do not recommend any particular make – just make sure it is tablet salt. Our water softeners do not take block salt because we believe it is inefficient and it is more expensive than tablet salt.

What size water softener do I need?

Naturally the physical size of a water softener is a factor when considering the space available in your home. (See where can I install a softener.) If the softener needs to go into a cupboard it can be difficult to sacrifice the space, but remember you don’t need to fill your cupboards with loads of cleaning products once the softener is installed! When choosing the right size softener for your home, you need to consider running costs and wear and tear. This means the more often the water softener needs to recharge, the harder it is working, the more it will cost in salt and water usage and the more wear and tear.

For some people considering 24/7 block salt water softeners, the size of the softener may appear irrelevant. However, a 24/7 softener can be expensive to run, if it needs to recharge 2 or 3 times a day.

For others looking at single tank softeners may fear the wrong size will mean they will run out of softened water. A single tank water softener, means only hard water is available when it regenerates. If it is sized too small for the home’s water usage it also will be working too hard and costing more money than necessary to run. Choosing the right capacity water softener for the home’s water usage will ensure you do not run out of soft water and it won’t cost a fortune to run.

Drinking softened water

Water softening introduces a small amount of sodium into the water. However, this is not considered a risk. To put the amount of sodium in context to other foodstuffs, British Water advise that the average amount of sodium in softened water is only a fifth of that in semi-skimmed milk, whilst processed foods can contain up to 20 times more sodium than softened water.

The water regulations currently state that a hard water tap is always recommended. However, where the water hardness is below 400ppm calcium carbonate, it complies with the drinking water regulations so there is NO mandatory requirement for a separate hard water drinking tap.

Where the water hardness exceeds 400ppm calcium carbonate, the sodium level will be above the 200ppm maximum set by the drinking water regulations so a separate hard water drinking tap becomes mandatory.

How do water softeners work?

All salt based water softeners use the process of ion exchange to create soft water. Inside a water softener is a vessel of resin beads. Hard water passes over the resin beads which extract the hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) and replace them with harmless sodium ions. Scale is therefore taken out of the water which leaves the water softened.

The resin beads will eventually become exhausted and unable to pick up any more hard minerals. The softener will carry out a regeneration or recharge which will flush the hard minerals to drain. The recharge or regeneration process passes a salt water solution through the resin beads which detaches the hardness minerals, which are flushed harmlessly to drain. The resin beads are left refreshed and ready to make more softened water.

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