Every once and a while, a question comes along like the one posed in the title. These questions seem rather simple; you’d think a yes or no answer would suffice. For those looking for a simple answer, here it is: no, you don’t really need a water softener in most situations. The more complicated answer is that you might still want a water softener, but to understand why we’re going to need to learn a bit about hard water.
Hard water is water with a high mineral content, specifically calcium and magnesium. There is some evidence that hard water is good for your health; our bodies need calcium and magnesium, so their presence in drinking water helps people reach their recommended daily intake. The problem with hard water is that it can cause mineral deposits to build up in your plumbing, which can cause them to clog. You may also find that hard water causes your skin to dry out, which is particularly trying for people with sensitive skin. Particularly hard water can also turn your clothes grey after you wash them.
Most of our clients live in Winnipeg, so when answering a question about water softeners, it’s worth it to look at how hard Winnipeg’s water is. As of 2018, Winnipeg’s water hardness was measured at 82 ppm. Without context, that number means nothing, so let’s take a look at a water hardness scale: soft water is generally considered to have 0-60 ppm, moderately hard water from 61-120 ppm, and hard water 120+ ppm. That means Winnipeg’s water is on the soft side of moderately hard.
Though the city’s water tests, on average, at 82 ppm hardness, your home’s water hardness could be different because your plumbing can affect hardness. In order to know how hard your water is, you can get a water hardness testing kit or have a professional come test your water for you. An important thing to keep in mind is that there are no set guidelines for water hardness. Are your pipes constantly getting clogged by hard water deposits? Do you have sensitive skin? You might want to get a water softener.
Water softeners can be a pricey investment, so you should make sure that hard water is the cause of your problems before getting one installed. Plumbing contractors in Winnipeg can check your pipes to make sure they’re being clogged by hard water sediments instead of something else. You might also want to check your appliances if your clothes aren’t washing properly, and try using soap for sensitive skin if your skin is quite dry. Failing all of this, it may well be time to install a water softener. There are a number of different options to set up a water softener – you can have some lines bypass the softener so you can still get hard water (say, for cooking), though this might lessen the effect the water softening has on your pipes.