View Full Version : How effective should a water softener be?
Mar 16th, 2010, 02:03 PM
I live in Waterloo, which is a very, very hard water area (I've seen 22-28 grains mentioned). Pretty much everyone has a water softener in their house. Without it, the hard water is really obvious. Scale all over everything, soap doesn't work, etc.
Even with the softener, the kettle and hot water dispenser both build up scale. I thought this was a fact of life, but I was recently told there shouldn't be any scale on anything if the softener is working properly. I have some hardness test strips, and the water tests as the lowest "soft" range, but I don't know the alkalinity or anything else.
Is this normal, or is the softener not working right?
Mar 16th, 2010, 02:13 PM
I live in waterloo too. Had my softener installed in 2001 and i just add salt as needed.
I only have anecdotal observations for you. I have a separate hard water tap in the kitchen. The tip of that faucet builds up scale on a regular basis. so i take it off and vinegar it.
The normal kitchen faucet that dispenses soft water has never needed descaling in the last 9 years.
So i would guess there's something not quite right with yours.
The resin softens the water. Over time it loses it's softening ability and must be regenerated by flushing it with the salt brine. Resins are supposed to last 25 years. I'd guess either your softener is too small or the regeneration is not performing properly. Although if the regeneration is not performing at all i'd expect your hardness to climb back up to 100% within a few weeks.
Mar 16th, 2010, 02:57 PM
I didn't mean that the kitchen faucet gets scaled. It's mainly my kettle and an electric hot water dispenser (which keeps water close to boiling). They don't scale very quickly at all, but it still builds up gradually and requires a descaling every now and then. For example, the water dispenser is three months old, and it had built up enough flakes of scale to start dispensing them, so I dumped the water and flushed it out the other day (it's lined with some material the scale doesn't stick to very well).
I checked with the hardness testing strips again, and the water is still in the lowest grain range. Hard water from the outdoor tap shows extremely high hardness, as expected. You're saying I shouldn't get any scale at all on anything if the softener is working properly? This is an older house (~1980), and I'm not sure the softener or resin has ever been replaced, but the brine tank is filled regularly, of course.
fwiw, my dad told me he's owned three houses with softeners in Waterloo, and kettles have always required periodic descaling.
Mar 16th, 2010, 03:23 PM
I installed a 28,000 grain Kenmore softener last year in my house and I just noticed now there's a small amount of mineral buildup inside my electric kettle. no hard water stains on the faucets or shower
Mar 17th, 2010, 02:28 PM
Mar 28th, 2010, 05:50 PM
Our well water is 25 grain. We see absolutely no scale buildup with proper softening.
Mar 28th, 2010, 11:59 PM
There are still impurities in water that the softener doesn't do anything about. Maybe that is what is building up on your hot appliances.
Or maybe your install is similar to ours. Our cold water in our main sink tap on the main floor is unsoftened for drinking water/cooking(also goes to the fridge for unsoftened water in the dispenser)
Mar 29th, 2010, 08:02 PM
Are you sure that your kitchen faucet dispenses softened water? Normally, you shouldn't drink softened water and systems therefore usually bypass the kitchen sink - meaning that the water being boiled is not softened at all.
Mar 29th, 2010, 10:32 PM
It seems odd, but I basically have to keep the water softener full of salt of it doesn't work well. Even half full it works poorly and I have to fill it to the top.
Mar 29th, 2010, 11:38 PM
You know your water softener is working, if your body don't itch all over, after a long, hot shower.
OBTW, is also a good idea to reduce or even eliminate your salt intake from your diet.
Since your body is absorbing it from brushing your teeth to the water you drink.
Too much salt in your body is not a very good thing.
Mar 29th, 2010, 11:52 PM
Lived in Waterloo for the last 10 years, always always get buildups in my kettles, or Hot Water Dispenser
I don't see stains buildup anywhere else (not on sink, nor bath, or toilet)
I filled up my salt regularly, so I think it just happens anyway
Mar 30th, 2010, 10:19 AM
How about you take a sample of your water and get it tested? Then you'll know.