Water Softener only on hot water?

I live in Phoenix and my dishwasher stopped working. I found out all of the washer heads were plugged with white flakey stuff. I pulled it apart and the thing was just filled with deposits. I assume this is due to our very hard water. I am now considering a water softener.
But then I hear that you don't want soft water for your plants, and I have a automatic irrigation system around my house. I also have a swimming pool with auto-filling system -- is soft water good or bad for a swimming pool (just for topping it off with water due to evaporation)? In reality hard water is bad as eventually the pool water gets so hard that you have to drain it. Would soft water fix this and indeed be a good thing? I have a salt system for my pool which means I believe it has dissolved sodium in it anyways, so maybe it doesn't matter.
In any case, on to my real question. I am considering soft water primarily to protect my appliances, showers, bathtub, etc. Would it make any sense to just install the soft water system before my hot water heater? This would protect my hot water heater, dishwasher, washing machine, and we'd have mostly soft water for showers/baths.
Also, is it possible that my hot water heater is filled with this stuff as well, making my problem worse? My house is 7 years old, never had soft water.
Thanks!
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i think it makes sense to install the softwater system before the hot water heater. it should protect all you other appliances.
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first see: http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Troubleshooting/Tanklets/sediment-control-issues.html then: drain the hot water tank of dirty water until it runs clear into a white bucket for dirt. examine it by pouring it into a black bucket for contrasting the white stuff. maybe your old dip tube failed.
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My dad lives in phoenix and the water is extremely hard. he uses a whole house softener, and used to soften the pool water too. didnt soften water for irrigation.
he has a reverse osmosis filter on cold supplies used for drinking. regular softeners add a little salt and he has high blood pressure. reverse o removes the salt.
being from hard water country showering wiith soft water leaves me feeling slimey, but I guess you get used to it
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I lived in Chandler for 17 yrs. Also sold water softeners for Sears. Technically, soft water is bad for pools as softened water is somewhat aggressive and would tend to leach calcium out of the plaster walls of the pool. I don't know if using it to keep the pool full would add that much over time because of the evaporation but it would sure cause you to use much more salt in the softener as it would have to cycle more often. I didn't have a salt water pool but correct me if I'm wrong. I thought, that used salt and electricity somehow to create a chemical reaction similar to chlorine to kill bacteria rather than making your pool salty like the ocean. Installing the w/s just before the water heater would certainly protect that and the dishwasher, but as for the rest of the appliances. I remember that not much actual hot water was used to wash clothes (also sold washers) or even in the shower as the cold water sometimes was near 100 degrees, at least in the summer months. I barely had to add hot water to take a comfortable shower, certainly not like here in N. Ill. where I now live again. A water softener on both hot and cold water would certainly help the kitchen and bath fixtures from being limed up also. And finally, as I remember, 7 years was the average life of a water heater around Phoenix due to the natural corrosion of the valley's water and build up of calcium in the heater. It should be possible to install a softener so that the outside bibs and the pool are not softened. By the way, adding a water softener to your drinking water would only add the amount of salt found in an extra slice of bread a day to your intake and then only if you drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Tom G.

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I once lived in a house with an add on water softener that was installed only on the hot water. I think they did that that way because it was much easier to install. The house I live in now was built with a water softener in mind. The outside hose connections are before the softener and the rest of the house has all soft water. I am thinking of adding a soft water hose bib in the garage so I can use that to wash the cars. The hard water leaves the cars almost looking worse than before washing. Kevin
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http://phoenix.gov/PCD/wmonov.html
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The minerals in hard water are good for living things and bad for mechanical equipment. No matter how difficult it is to do the piping, you should have soft water going to everything except water used for drinking, cooking, plants, lawn, etc. When washing, it takes a lot more soap, because the soap doesn't know the difference between minerals and dirt. Your water heater probably has a large deposit build up on the bottom. The majority of the hardness will not come out the drain valve. If it's 7 years old, just replace it after you get the softener. Salt in a water softener is only used to clean the filter, but a tiny amount is left after the fresh water back-flush. Get a softener that has an electronic sensor that detects when it needs to regenerate. I have an Autotrol 460i like this picture http://www.pure-earth.com/255460i.html I've found it to be the most care-free brand. It's not necessary to have a water softener company do the installation. Most plumbers can do it, but have your water tested first. If they also find acid in the water, then you'll need a combination acid neutralizer/softener, because when you soften water it increases the acid in it.

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You would normally install the softener for the whole house other than the irrigation and outside lines.
I doubt if you are going to find a softener that will handle the volume needed to fill a pool and if you did, I suspect you would not be happy with the cost of materials when you filled the pool, but you might ask the supplier of the system.
If you apply it only to the hot water, then you don't get softening on the cold side and when you mix you get less softness. I would do it on both sides. Many people prefer non-softened water for drinking so they run a non-softened line to the kitchen. I suspect that really depends on your local water conditions.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Softened water (with salt) is deadly for babies and not good for people with high blood pressure. When my eldest was born, I moved our softener and redid some of the plumbing. I ran a 2nd line to the kitchen, added a good filter and installed a drinking fawcet at the kitchen sink. We use this un-softened water for any water we drink. I also moved the pipe connections for the outside taps to draw water before the softener. The water for most inside taps and fixtures gets softened water. This has worked well for us and reduced the amount of salt the softener uses. Brad in Aurora, Ontario, Canada.
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The salt is only used to clean the filter. After that, the salt is washed away with fresh water. A properly operating water softener has only a minute amount of salt. Babies get more salt in an average diet. If you have so much salt that it's a danger to a baby, then your softener isn't working right. As for heart conditions, most doctors only recommend no soft water for the most extreme heart conditions.

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The "filter" is actually a ion exchange medium that exchanges Sodium Chloride (table salt) ions for Magnesium based ions (the natural minerals that make the water hard). We were told by our local health department nurse to never make baby formula with water from a salt type water softener. Brad
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Just looking at the subject line, No, not just the hot ater. The dishwasher is the only appliance that uses hot water only. All other fixtures and appliances have either all colt or a mix of the two. Softening only the hot will give much less benefit and noe for a cold rinse or wash where soft water is needed the most.
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