Citation
Hard water - when to soften

Material Information

Title:
Hard water - when to soften
Series Title:
Circular Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Added title page title:
Water quality the challenge is crystal clear
Creator:
Peart, Virginia
Place of Publication:
Gainesville
Publisher:
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
5 p. : ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Water -- Hardness ( lcsh )
Water -- Softening ( lcsh )
Genre:
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
At head of title: Water quality the challenge is crystal clear.
Statement of Responsibility:
Virginia Peart.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
024700169 ( ALEPH )
23365920 ( OCLC )
AHQ1891 ( NOTIS )

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Full Text

Circular 918


Hard water when to soften



Virginia Peart














Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
John T. Woeste, dean


VV ATR
TheChllege1"sCrsto Ceo
Q U L T


1









Hard water when to soften


Virginia Peart


Hard water is water that requires a large amount
of soap to form a lather. Soap combines with the
hardness minerals in hard water to form an
insoluble soap curd instead. Usually waters from
lakes and streams (surface waters) have few
hardness minerals. Waters from surface sources are
relatively soft, whereas water from wells (ground
water) is usually hard. Most water in Florida comes
from deep limestone aquifers and is very hard.
Hardness levels from 15 to 25 grains per gallon
(gpg) are not uncommon. Municipal water treat-
ment plants often use a lime-soda precipitating
process to partially soften water but hardness rarely
drops below 6 to 8 gpg.
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon
(gpg) or in parts per million (ppm). One gpg equals
17.1 ppm. When water is harder than 3 1/2 gpg (60
ppm), softening it can be beneficial. The harder
water is, the problems encountered in using it are
more difficult, and more softening will be required.

Hard water problems
Hard water can cause two types of problems.
1) Hard water neutralizes or ties up soaps and de-
tergents. More soap and detergent is used in hard
water and hard water does a poorer job of rinsing
laundry, so clothes may be come dingy-looking.
2) Hardness minerals precipitate out when water is
heated. Some specific effects of hard water are:
* Clothes can become dingy.
* Glasses, dishes and stainless or silver tableware
look spotted and cloudy unless they are towel
dried each time after washing.
* A hard film can form on shower walls, doors and
bathtubs.
* A gummy bathtub ring can form when soap,
hardness minerals and body oils combine.
* A film can form on floors, countertops, etc. from a
build-up of hardness minerals when even a small
amount of hard water is left during cleaning.
* Scale can form in hot lines and water heaters,
causing them to use more electricity or gas and
shortening their useful life.
* Very hard water can cause a film build-up in
dishwashers.


* Hair can become sticky and dull looking.

Hard water characteristics
Rain water is soft, but water dissolves many sub-
stances. Rain, as it falls from the sky, dissolves CO2
to form a weak acid, carbonic acid. Many minerals
in the soil that are insoluble in plain water, dissolve
readily in acid and form a soluble mineral compound
that reacts with soap and causes other hardness
related problems. The principal hardness minerals
are calcium and magnesium. Iron, copper and man-
ganese are also considered hardness minerals. In
very small amounts these minerals can cause stains
on clothing and plumbing fixtures. When drops of
hard water dry, they leave a "hard" residue.
Hardness minerals, or cations, combine with
anions such as bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate and
nitrate. Calcium and magnesium bicarbonate are
the most common hardness compounds. The great-
er the carbonate hardness level, the greater the
alkalinity of the water. When water with carbonate
hardness is heated, carbon dioxide and water are
released and the calcium and magnesium carbonate
precipitate out. It is this precipitate that forms in
teakettles, water heaters and hot water pipes.
Another water hardness compound, magnesium
sulfate, can cause laxative problems. A conventional
water softener can replace the magnesium with
sodium which would correct the laxative problem.
However, the sulfate would remain, and if at high
enough level, might impart a taste or odor.
Since anions are not removed with a softener,
high levels of nitrates (a hazard for young children,
pregnant women and elderly) will require other
treatment to correct.

Characteristics of naturally soft and
ion exchange softened water
Rain water, naturally soft water which may be
slightly acid, has few dissolved minerals and does
not react with soap as hard water does. Drops of
naturally soft water leave no spots when they dry.
Water treated by reverse osmosis or distillation is
similar to naturally soft water.
Water treated with an ion exchange water soften-
er, like naturally soft water, does not react with
soap, but will be about as alkaline as the hard water









Hard water when to soften


Virginia Peart


Hard water is water that requires a large amount
of soap to form a lather. Soap combines with the
hardness minerals in hard water to form an
insoluble soap curd instead. Usually waters from
lakes and streams (surface waters) have few
hardness minerals. Waters from surface sources are
relatively soft, whereas water from wells (ground
water) is usually hard. Most water in Florida comes
from deep limestone aquifers and is very hard.
Hardness levels from 15 to 25 grains per gallon
(gpg) are not uncommon. Municipal water treat-
ment plants often use a lime-soda precipitating
process to partially soften water but hardness rarely
drops below 6 to 8 gpg.
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon
(gpg) or in parts per million (ppm). One gpg equals
17.1 ppm. When water is harder than 3 1/2 gpg (60
ppm), softening it can be beneficial. The harder
water is, the problems encountered in using it are
more difficult, and more softening will be required.

Hard water problems
Hard water can cause two types of problems.
1) Hard water neutralizes or ties up soaps and de-
tergents. More soap and detergent is used in hard
water and hard water does a poorer job of rinsing
laundry, so clothes may be come dingy-looking.
2) Hardness minerals precipitate out when water is
heated. Some specific effects of hard water are:
* Clothes can become dingy.
* Glasses, dishes and stainless or silver tableware
look spotted and cloudy unless they are towel
dried each time after washing.
* A hard film can form on shower walls, doors and
bathtubs.
* A gummy bathtub ring can form when soap,
hardness minerals and body oils combine.
* A film can form on floors, countertops, etc. from a
build-up of hardness minerals when even a small
amount of hard water is left during cleaning.
* Scale can form in hot lines and water heaters,
causing them to use more electricity or gas and
shortening their useful life.
* Very hard water can cause a film build-up in
dishwashers.


* Hair can become sticky and dull looking.

Hard water characteristics
Rain water is soft, but water dissolves many sub-
stances. Rain, as it falls from the sky, dissolves CO2
to form a weak acid, carbonic acid. Many minerals
in the soil that are insoluble in plain water, dissolve
readily in acid and form a soluble mineral compound
that reacts with soap and causes other hardness
related problems. The principal hardness minerals
are calcium and magnesium. Iron, copper and man-
ganese are also considered hardness minerals. In
very small amounts these minerals can cause stains
on clothing and plumbing fixtures. When drops of
hard water dry, they leave a "hard" residue.
Hardness minerals, or cations, combine with
anions such as bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate and
nitrate. Calcium and magnesium bicarbonate are
the most common hardness compounds. The great-
er the carbonate hardness level, the greater the
alkalinity of the water. When water with carbonate
hardness is heated, carbon dioxide and water are
released and the calcium and magnesium carbonate
precipitate out. It is this precipitate that forms in
teakettles, water heaters and hot water pipes.
Another water hardness compound, magnesium
sulfate, can cause laxative problems. A conventional
water softener can replace the magnesium with
sodium which would correct the laxative problem.
However, the sulfate would remain, and if at high
enough level, might impart a taste or odor.
Since anions are not removed with a softener,
high levels of nitrates (a hazard for young children,
pregnant women and elderly) will require other
treatment to correct.

Characteristics of naturally soft and
ion exchange softened water
Rain water, naturally soft water which may be
slightly acid, has few dissolved minerals and does
not react with soap as hard water does. Drops of
naturally soft water leave no spots when they dry.
Water treated by reverse osmosis or distillation is
similar to naturally soft water.
Water treated with an ion exchange water soften-
er, like naturally soft water, does not react with
soap, but will be about as alkaline as the hard water









Hard water when to soften


Virginia Peart


Hard water is water that requires a large amount
of soap to form a lather. Soap combines with the
hardness minerals in hard water to form an
insoluble soap curd instead. Usually waters from
lakes and streams (surface waters) have few
hardness minerals. Waters from surface sources are
relatively soft, whereas water from wells (ground
water) is usually hard. Most water in Florida comes
from deep limestone aquifers and is very hard.
Hardness levels from 15 to 25 grains per gallon
(gpg) are not uncommon. Municipal water treat-
ment plants often use a lime-soda precipitating
process to partially soften water but hardness rarely
drops below 6 to 8 gpg.
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon
(gpg) or in parts per million (ppm). One gpg equals
17.1 ppm. When water is harder than 3 1/2 gpg (60
ppm), softening it can be beneficial. The harder
water is, the problems encountered in using it are
more difficult, and more softening will be required.

Hard water problems
Hard water can cause two types of problems.
1) Hard water neutralizes or ties up soaps and de-
tergents. More soap and detergent is used in hard
water and hard water does a poorer job of rinsing
laundry, so clothes may be come dingy-looking.
2) Hardness minerals precipitate out when water is
heated. Some specific effects of hard water are:
* Clothes can become dingy.
* Glasses, dishes and stainless or silver tableware
look spotted and cloudy unless they are towel
dried each time after washing.
* A hard film can form on shower walls, doors and
bathtubs.
* A gummy bathtub ring can form when soap,
hardness minerals and body oils combine.
* A film can form on floors, countertops, etc. from a
build-up of hardness minerals when even a small
amount of hard water is left during cleaning.
* Scale can form in hot lines and water heaters,
causing them to use more electricity or gas and
shortening their useful life.
* Very hard water can cause a film build-up in
dishwashers.


* Hair can become sticky and dull looking.

Hard water characteristics
Rain water is soft, but water dissolves many sub-
stances. Rain, as it falls from the sky, dissolves CO2
to form a weak acid, carbonic acid. Many minerals
in the soil that are insoluble in plain water, dissolve
readily in acid and form a soluble mineral compound
that reacts with soap and causes other hardness
related problems. The principal hardness minerals
are calcium and magnesium. Iron, copper and man-
ganese are also considered hardness minerals. In
very small amounts these minerals can cause stains
on clothing and plumbing fixtures. When drops of
hard water dry, they leave a "hard" residue.
Hardness minerals, or cations, combine with
anions such as bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate and
nitrate. Calcium and magnesium bicarbonate are
the most common hardness compounds. The great-
er the carbonate hardness level, the greater the
alkalinity of the water. When water with carbonate
hardness is heated, carbon dioxide and water are
released and the calcium and magnesium carbonate
precipitate out. It is this precipitate that forms in
teakettles, water heaters and hot water pipes.
Another water hardness compound, magnesium
sulfate, can cause laxative problems. A conventional
water softener can replace the magnesium with
sodium which would correct the laxative problem.
However, the sulfate would remain, and if at high
enough level, might impart a taste or odor.
Since anions are not removed with a softener,
high levels of nitrates (a hazard for young children,
pregnant women and elderly) will require other
treatment to correct.

Characteristics of naturally soft and
ion exchange softened water
Rain water, naturally soft water which may be
slightly acid, has few dissolved minerals and does
not react with soap as hard water does. Drops of
naturally soft water leave no spots when they dry.
Water treated by reverse osmosis or distillation is
similar to naturally soft water.
Water treated with an ion exchange water soften-
er, like naturally soft water, does not react with
soap, but will be about as alkaline as the hard water








from which it is made and contains about the same
amount of sodium as the calcium and other hard-
ness minerals in the hard water. Hard water leaves
spots and films when it dries on surfaces. Softened
water also will leave spots and films, but they can be
easily removed. Ion exchange softened water be-
comes more alkaline as it is condensed by evapora-
tion and can be more corrosive to some metals such
as aluminum.

Ion exchange water softeners

The softening process
The most common method of removing water
hardness is with an ion exchange water softener,
sometimes called a cation exchange or mechanical
water softener. During the softening process, water
flows through a tank with synthetic resin beads
which have been saturated with salt (sodium chlo-
ride). The resin has a stronger affinity for calcium
and magnesium in the water than for sodium.
When water flows through the resin bed, the calci-
um and magnesium become attached to the resin
and the sodium combines with carbonate or other
anions and stays in the water. The water still con-
tains dissolved solids, but the solids will not react
with soaps and detergents to form insoluble com-
pounds. The solids in water will still leave spots
when the softened water dries on surfaces, but the
spots will be "soft." They can be brushed away or
will redissolve in water.
Iron, in amounts more than about 0.3 ppm can
cause a staining problem. An ion exchange water
softener will remove small amounts of soluble iron
(up to .5 ppm for every gpg hardness or up to 3 ppm
if the softener is heavy duty). It is necessary to
check with your softener dealer for the capability of
various softeners to remove iron. However, insolu-
ble iron in water (the water appears red or brown),
excess soluble iron (more than 3 ppm) or the pres-
ence of iron bacteria can foul the resin bed and
make the softener ineffective. A special salt to use
when water has iron includes an additive that pre-
vents iron from precipitating in the resin bed and
fouling it. Correction for a fouled resin bed will
require in-plant cleaning of the resin bed.

The regeneration process
Once the resin beads in the softener are saturated
with hardness minerals, the softener must be regen-
erated. In the regeneration process a saturated salt
solution (brine) is washed through the resin. This
strong brine replaces the hardness minerals with
sodium, excess salt is rinsed away and the softener
is again ready to continue the softening process.


Timer operated softener systems are usually set to
soften in early morning hours or other time when
water is not likely to be used by the family.
The brine solution and excess water from the
backwash of a water softener will not harm most
septic systems, although they could dictate the need
for a slightly larger tank and drainfield.

Water softener components
A water softener has a tank to hold the resin bed;
a tank to hold salt and water to form a brine; hard
water line to bring in water to be treated; a softened
water line leading to where water is to be used; and
a source of electricity and controls to regulate the
regeneration process. Most softeners have a water
by-pass line so water can be used during the regen-
eration cycle, if necessary. By-pass water, when
used, will not be softened. Larger systems have
separate resin and salt tanks. Smaller systems can
have a small resin bed tank inside the salt tank and
appear to be one tank. The single tank system,
because of the smaller tanks, will have a lower soft-
ening capacity and the regeneration process must be
repeated more often to keep the water soft. Three
tank systems have two resin beds, so that softened
water will be available during the regeneration.

Water softener size
Water softeners are sized according to the grains
of hardness the resin bed can remove. Chemical
tests are required to accurately determine water
hardness. The actual hardness of water in gpg and
the number of gallons of softened water a particular
family is likely to use in a day can be used to deter-
mine how frequently any water softener must be
regenerated.
Example:
Water hardness 20 gpg
Family softened water use per day -
about 250 gallons
20 gpg x 250 g = 5000 grains to be removed
per day
A water softener with a capacity of 20,000 grains
would need to be regenerated every 4 days (20,000 +
5000 = 4) to provide an adequate supply of softened
water. A softener with a smaller capacity would
need to be regenerated more often.

Water softener controls
Non-automatic water softeners require the user
to start and in some cases to monitor and change
the processes during the regeneration. Because








automatic control softeners require only an initial
setting, most people will choose one of these.
Timer controls are the most common type. Based
on the hardness of the water, the estimated gallons
of water used per day and the capacity of the resin
bed, a timer control can be set to regenerate at
planned intervals. There are pins or buttons to set
for each day in a cycle. A seven day cycle allows
regeneration to be set according to daily use. For
instance, if more laundry and bathing is done on
weekends, controls can be set for operation on Fri-
day, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, perhaps. Six
day cycles allow for alternate day settings. Most
timer control softeners will have a special button to
push at any time when the user feels extra softening
is needed. A regeneration cycle will take from 45
minutes to almost 2 hours depending upon the man-
ufacturer and model.
Demand water softener controls measure water
flow and start regeneration after a predetermined
number of gallons of water are used. This can be a
more accurate method of regenerating the softener
when needed and may require the use of less salt
and water. However, the regeneration process may
begin while water is being used for laundering, bath-
ing or automatic dishwashing unless the model has
two resin tanks and can switch from the depleted
tank to the other tank.

Water softener maintenance requirements
A softener should work well when supplied with
water from a municipally-treated water system. If a
private source of water containing a sediment is
used, a prefilter is needed to protect the resin bed.
(Water from a private source, such as a well or a
small water company, should be tested for contami-
nants that are potential health hazards.)
Once a softener has been installed, the main
responsibility of the user is to keep the brine tank
supplied with salt and to call for service if the soft-
ener malfunctions.

Additional concerns
Dietary sodium. The sodium content of soft-
ened water can be a concern for persons on a sodi-
um-restricted diet. Since sodium replaces the hard-
ness minerals in water, the amount of sodium in
softened water is related to the water's original
hardness. For example, water with 20 gpg hardness
will contain about 150 milligrams of sodium per one
quart of softened water. A person consuming 3
quarts of water per day would add about 450 milli-
grams of sodium to his or her diet. One solution for
sodium-restricted diets is to run an unsoftened wa-


ter by-pass line to the kitchen sink. Potassium chlo-
ride can be used in place of sodium chloride in water
softeners in special cases where there is an objection
to the use of sodium chloride. Potassium chloride is
more costly, but has no adverse effects in the diet.
Watering plants. Softened water is not recom-
mended for watering plants or the lawn. Minerals
in most hard water are combined with bicarbonates
which makes the water very alkaline. When soft-
ened, the water will also be very alkaline. When
hard water evaporates, the hardness minerals pre-
cipitate out, but the alkalinity stays about the same
during the process. When softened water, which
contains sodium carbonate, is used to water plants,
the water evaporates, the sodium carbonate stays in
solution and the solution becomes more and more
alkaline. Plants cannot tolerate such high alkalinity
levels. Outside water lines should not be connected
to a water softener.
Steam irons. Distilled water is mineral free and
should be used in steam irons. Hard water plus
heat will cause the inside of the iron to crust. Soft-
ened water becomes very alkaline when used in a
steam iron. In addition to leaving a powdery residue
the high alkalinity will be corrosive.
Chlorine. Environmental Protection Agency
standards set the minimum standard for chlorine in
water at 10 ppm for microbiological safety. The
resin bed in softeners processing water with 10 ppm
chlorine can be expected to have a ten-year life. For
safety from water bacteria, more chlorine is often
used in warm climates where ground water temper-
ature is higher. Chlorine in excess of 10 ppm will
speed the aging of the resin bed. The bed may need
replacement sooner. Since chlorine is not removed
with a cation water softener, chlorine content will be
about the same after softening. Other types of treat-
ment are required to correct chlorine taste and odor
problems.

Other water softening treatments
Home reverse osmosis and distillers both remove
hardness minerals as well as other water contami-
nants. However, their use would be costly for soft-
ening the large quantities of water for laundering,
dishwashing and bathing.
Occasionally, permanent magnetic water softeners
are promoted at home shows and fairs. Although
claimed to give hard water the properties of soft
water and to prevent hard water scale, rust and
corrosion, magnetic water softeners have been inves-
tigated and claims were found to be false.









Water softening agents
Packaged water softeners. Hard water and
pure soap do not make a good cleaning combination.
Hard water also reacts with detergents. When wa-
ter is not too hard, packaged water softeners can be
used. For laundering, packaged water softeners
should be used in both the wash and rinse cycles.
Non-precipitating packaged water softeners
contain phosphates which can chemically combine
with hardness minerals to keep them soluble. In
water, the hardness/phosphate compound will not
interfere with the cleaning process. Look for phos-
phates on the package label.
Precipitating packaged water softeners
contain sodium carbonate which combines with
hardness minerals and forms a precipitate. When
precipitating water softeners are used with very
hard water for laundering, the precipitate left on
clothes will make colors look dull and faded.
Synthetic detergents. Because soap and hard
water cause problems when used for laundering, and
hard water is so prevalent, almost all laundry clean-
ers are now synthetic detergents. Detergents can be
effective cleaners if enough is used to satisfy water
hardness as well as to clean clothes. Use more de-
tergent than package directions suggest if the water
is harder than about 7 gpg.
Detergent bars. When shopping for soap for
showering and bathing, hard water users would be
wise to look for detergent bars. If the word deter-
gent is on the wrapper or the word "soap" is not
used, the bar is probably detergent. Look also on
the label for detergent components. Detergent bars
will have a milder detergent formulation than the
detergents used for laundering.

Rental softening units
Water softener equipment can be rented. For a
monthly fee a company will install a softening unit
and add salt to it at regular periods. This method
can meet the needs of families in urban areas where
the service is available. Arrangements must be
made to accommodate the delivery of new units.

Cost of ion exchange softening
The cost of owning and using a water softener
depends not only on the purchase and installation
costs, but other costs as well. Table 1 lists cost
factors for a family that uses about 300 gallons of
softened water per day (water of 15 gpg hardness).
Their water softener has a 20,000 grains per regen-
eration capacity rating. Original cost of the softener


was $800. The yearly cost of owning and using a
softener under the conditions described is $242.97
per year. When considering the cost of owning a
water softener, it is necessary to include as costs
such things as the loss of interest if money is with-
drawn from savings or the interest that must be
paid if money is borrowed for the purchase. Also
consider water, sewer, salt, electricity and potential
maintenance costs.
To estimate your cost of owning and using a
water softener, ask your water softener dealer to
help you fill out the second column. (Assume that
the water softener or synthetic resin must be re-
placed after 10 years. High iron or chlorine content
of water can shorten the life of the resin bed.)
Table 2 can be used to estimate the cost of rent-
ing water softening equipment. Portable tanks can
also be rented at a cost a little higher than renting
equipment. At intervals, depending on the hardness
of the water the tanks are replaced.
Table 3 allows you to compare your costs of own-
ing versus renting water softening equipment.

References
Alleman, James E. "Quantitative Assessment of the
Effectiveness of Permanent Magnetic Water Con-
ditioning Devices." Purdue University. Novem-
ber, 1985.
"Basic and Simple Guide to Ion Exchange Resins."
Water Conditioning and Purification. August,
1998.
Brown, R.B. and Peart, M.V. 'Your Home Septic
System." SL-59 Florida Cooperative Extension
Service. April, 1990.
Rivers, Jerry. "Sources of Dietary Sodium." R-22.
Water Quality Association.
Water Treatment Fundamentals. E-3. Water
Quality Association.
Wilke, H. and Hutcheson, R. "Soft Water for the
Home." HE-506 Indiana Cooperative Extension
Service. Purdue University.



WATER




QUALITY


4









Water softening agents
Packaged water softeners. Hard water and
pure soap do not make a good cleaning combination.
Hard water also reacts with detergents. When wa-
ter is not too hard, packaged water softeners can be
used. For laundering, packaged water softeners
should be used in both the wash and rinse cycles.
Non-precipitating packaged water softeners
contain phosphates which can chemically combine
with hardness minerals to keep them soluble. In
water, the hardness/phosphate compound will not
interfere with the cleaning process. Look for phos-
phates on the package label.
Precipitating packaged water softeners
contain sodium carbonate which combines with
hardness minerals and forms a precipitate. When
precipitating water softeners are used with very
hard water for laundering, the precipitate left on
clothes will make colors look dull and faded.
Synthetic detergents. Because soap and hard
water cause problems when used for laundering, and
hard water is so prevalent, almost all laundry clean-
ers are now synthetic detergents. Detergents can be
effective cleaners if enough is used to satisfy water
hardness as well as to clean clothes. Use more de-
tergent than package directions suggest if the water
is harder than about 7 gpg.
Detergent bars. When shopping for soap for
showering and bathing, hard water users would be
wise to look for detergent bars. If the word deter-
gent is on the wrapper or the word "soap" is not
used, the bar is probably detergent. Look also on
the label for detergent components. Detergent bars
will have a milder detergent formulation than the
detergents used for laundering.

Rental softening units
Water softener equipment can be rented. For a
monthly fee a company will install a softening unit
and add salt to it at regular periods. This method
can meet the needs of families in urban areas where
the service is available. Arrangements must be
made to accommodate the delivery of new units.

Cost of ion exchange softening
The cost of owning and using a water softener
depends not only on the purchase and installation
costs, but other costs as well. Table 1 lists cost
factors for a family that uses about 300 gallons of
softened water per day (water of 15 gpg hardness).
Their water softener has a 20,000 grains per regen-
eration capacity rating. Original cost of the softener


was $800. The yearly cost of owning and using a
softener under the conditions described is $242.97
per year. When considering the cost of owning a
water softener, it is necessary to include as costs
such things as the loss of interest if money is with-
drawn from savings or the interest that must be
paid if money is borrowed for the purchase. Also
consider water, sewer, salt, electricity and potential
maintenance costs.
To estimate your cost of owning and using a
water softener, ask your water softener dealer to
help you fill out the second column. (Assume that
the water softener or synthetic resin must be re-
placed after 10 years. High iron or chlorine content
of water can shorten the life of the resin bed.)
Table 2 can be used to estimate the cost of rent-
ing water softening equipment. Portable tanks can
also be rented at a cost a little higher than renting
equipment. At intervals, depending on the hardness
of the water the tanks are replaced.
Table 3 allows you to compare your costs of own-
ing versus renting water softening equipment.

References
Alleman, James E. "Quantitative Assessment of the
Effectiveness of Permanent Magnetic Water Con-
ditioning Devices." Purdue University. Novem-
ber, 1985.
"Basic and Simple Guide to Ion Exchange Resins."
Water Conditioning and Purification. August,
1998.
Brown, R.B. and Peart, M.V. 'Your Home Septic
System." SL-59 Florida Cooperative Extension
Service. April, 1990.
Rivers, Jerry. "Sources of Dietary Sodium." R-22.
Water Quality Association.
Water Treatment Fundamentals. E-3. Water
Quality Association.
Wilke, H. and Hutcheson, R. "Soft Water for the
Home." HE-506 Indiana Cooperative Extension
Service. Purdue University.



WATER




QUALITY


4










Table 1. Annual cost of purchased water softener (conditions as specified).



Example Annual Cost
Cost Factors for the Annual Cost
for a Example for your
Purchased (Conditions as Purchase
Water Softener Specified) Conditions

Investment Cost:
$800.00, 10 year life. $80.00

Interest on Investments:
Loss of 5.2% interest if money is withdrawn from
investment less taxes would be $485.00 or $48.50
annually (or 18% interest if money borrowed and $48.50
repaid in 3 years would be $240.00 totally, (or $24.00)
would average $24.00 annually).

Salt Requirements:
If softener set to regenerate 2 x per week and
requires about 7 pounds of salt per regeneration.
52 weeks x 2 per week x 7 Ibs per regeneration = 728 lbs.
728 Ibs x $11.00 per 100 Ibs = $80.08 annually. $80.08

Water Regeneration Requirements:
52 weeks x 2 per week x 60 gallons = 6,240 gallons
6,240 gallons x $1.00 per 1,000 gallons = $6.24 annually. $ 6.24

Sewer bill given as 70% of water bill: $4.68 annually. $ 4.68

Electricity to Operate Clock Timer and Valves:
3 to 5 kilowatt hours per year.
5 kWh x $0.10/kWh = $3.50 annually. $ 3.50

Maintenance Estimate:
$20.00 annually. $20.00

Personal Property Taxes:
Include, if softener will be assessed. ( )

Annual Cost of Owning/Using Water Softener for
Conditions Specified. $242.97


5










Table 2. Annual cost of renting portable exchange water softener (conditions as specified).


Cost Factors for a Portable
Exchange Water Softener


Annual Cost for
126,000 Grains
per Month


Quoted Rental Price* on an annual basis for
portable exchange unit 4,200 gr. per day
capacity.


Installation Fee** (This is a one-time cost.
If the service will be used for 10 years,
the annual cost is 1/10th of the
installation fee.) $100.00 : 10 years =


Annual Cost of Portable Exchange Service
(for conditions specified).
TOTAL


$300.00


$10.00




$310.00


Annual Cost
Your Portable
Exchange Unit


$







$




$


*In one Florida city this cost is $30.00 per month (1990) for the specific example. Prices vary because of local labor rates and costs associated
with other aspects of water conditioning such as iron content or corrosiveness of the local water.

**Installation fees vary because of differences in the plumbing required.




Table 3. Water softener own or rent?

Comparing these essential elements may help you decide whether to own or rent. The following chart will help you make the comparison.


Purchased Softener
Unit


1. Annual Cost from Table 1.


$


2. Investment:
Total cash outlay at purchase time.


3. Household Labor Time:
Buy and add salt as needed.




4. Water and Sewer Requirements:
Water Fow 8 to 15 gal./min. at 20 Ib pressure
for about 20 minutes.
Sewer or septic tank is essential.

5. Maintenance Responsibility:
Routine maintenance and repairs typical of any
mechanical appliance.
Iron in the water may reduce efficiency of the
softener.


Portable Exchange Softener
or Automatic Rental Unit


1. Annual Cost from Table 2.


$


2. Investment:
Adapts well for those who rent or move
frequently.

3. Household Labor Time:
Routine admittance of service personnel to
the home to exchange tank or replenish salt
supply for an automatic unit if indoors.
Another monthly bill to pay.

4. Water and Sewer Requirements:
Portable Exchange Unit has no special
requirement since it is taken to
dealer's shop for regeneration.

5. Maintenance Responsibility:
None under normal conditions.


COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, John T. Woeste,
director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the May 8 and June
30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that
function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Single copies of extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth
publications) are available free to Florida residents from county extension offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers
is availablefrom C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing I UNIVERSITY OF FLOR
this publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability. Printed 2/91.










































































Virginia Peart is associate professor and Extension housing specialist, Department of Home Economics, IFAS, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611.




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