Water softeners

Not talking about the little electrical ones that some say work, but the ion
exchange ones (swapping calcium+magnesium for sodium).
I have a few colleagues that say they're the best thing since sliced bread,
and also say that they produce cost savings too. The biggest saving would be
the quoted reduction in heating costs ( I seem to recall 12% being
mentioned ). Whilst I can see this might be the difference in heating costs
of an unscaled system vs. an old scaled up system, but can similar savings
be made by adding a softener to an already scaled-up system without having
to descale first?
Or are the major savings made in reduced detergent usage?
I've seen running costs listed at about £20 per person per year, then add
the initial outlay of £4-500+, and I can't quite get to grips with what
savings will be made.
Reply to
Grumps
I've had a softener (same one) for over 20 years and it's still going strong.
The claimed saving in heating cost would only relate to hot water and to be honest, the figures are virtually impossible to compute because there are so many ifs, ands and buts.
With hard water, the coil in the HW cylinder will scale up. This produces an increasing thickness of insulating scale on the coil and this reduces the heat transfer rate from the boiler to the water. Thus the cylinder takes longer to heat. The additional effect is that the boiler may not be able to transfer all the heat it's producing and will tend to cycle on and off quite frequently - called short cycling. This is not efficient operation. Putting a number on that is very difficult, but there is something there. Eventually the cylinder will have to be replaced so a cost there.
Domestic appliances such as washing machines will tend to scale up as well, although that is less pronounced nowadays with detergents operating at 40 degrees.
When a water softener is added to an already scaled system, the scale does gradually dissolve, but it can take a long time
There are savings to be made on detergents and shampoos because less are used. Indirectly, less cleaning materials are needed as well because surfaces such as showers and sanitaryware do not get dosed with hard water either.
To give you an idea..... In a household of 2 people and 2 teenagers, our softener goes through a 25kg bag of salt (about £5.50) every three weeks or so.
I think that you can reasonably say that the savings in detergents will offset the capital cost of the softener and the running cost in salt. I don't think that you will make the claimed savings on infrastructure such as the HW system and the washing machine although there is some.
Added to this, soft water is much more pleasant for washing, showering, bathing etc.
On balance, you won't lose out but you won't make a killing either.

Reply to
Andy Hall
I wouldn't worry about it. One thing about hard water is can help to seal any pinhole leaks.
I doubt there is any big saving for using a water softener, it's more a matter of personal preference for bathing.
cheers, Pete.
Reply to
Pete C
Soap/detergent mainly, and ultimately all the tap/shower fittings which don't scale up in a few years.
We are two people 2 dogs and currently 6 cats..VERY hard water. Use around a £6 bag of salt a month.
A bar of soap seems to last about 6 months.
we spend very little on descalers. There is a little scaling - I do the taps to make them sparkle every year or so.
No salt or calgon is needed in the dishwasher or washing machines.
The CH is sealed so descaler makes bugger all difference to that
I think the real cost benefit is in no dishwasher salt, and in the length of time taps last. Or in particular shower mixers.But this is a long payoff period.
The reason I fitted it was mainly to not have shitty scaled up taps and loos everywhere in a year. And no scum in the baths.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher
In message , The Natural Philosopher writes
There are others getting their salt? AndyH quoted GBP5.50 and you've said GBP6 but my local builders yard just raised its price from GBP 7 to GBP8 per 25Kg bag. :(
Reply to
Si
To some extent, I think that in a lot of places, this is "why does a dog lick its bollocks" pricing. Having got a water softener, people are perhaps not that sensitive to salt prices within reason - it isn't the biggest contributor to the shopping basket.
However, salt seems often to be sold at unlikely places. I used to buy it 6 bags at a time at a nearby garden centre until that closed. Then I was on the lookout for a new supplier.
Completely unrelated, I needed some new cylinders of propane for the barbecue and the blow torch and found a supplier for those not far away. The place is somewhat obscure. It's a farm next to a lake and sells fishing licenses for people wanting to do that. I think that they stock the lake or something. In addition, they sell all different sizes of propane cylinder plus things like patio heaters, the odd barbecue in the summer..... and salt.
At any rate, they will do 25kg bags for £5.50 for a quantity of 10, delivered. Delivery also means that they take them to the back of the house and stack them near to where the softener is installed.
I don't think that it's worth spending time doing a big investigation exercise, but keeping one's eyes open may be worth it.
Reply to
Andy Hall
But you can. The boot is on the other foot.
The soap is washed off of your hands with soft water which is why they then feel slippery.
With hard water, the soap scum is left behind.
If you don't like the slippery feeling, that's one thing, but it's not because soap isn't rinsed off, it's because it is....
Reply to
Andy Hall
I'm in the market for a water softener in the coming summer, I'm changing a now disused kitchen into a Boiler housing & shower room and the mains water riser and water meter is exposed (was behind kitchen units). I note that some softeners use Block Salt, would that be cheaper than bags? I'm trying to collect information on which route to go. What about RO would that be an alternative? Can you drink the water after it has been softened or would you have to remove the sodium? Regards Don
Reply to
Donwill
You can drink it. I like the taste. Others do not. There is the usual elfin safety bollocks attached to it, but the amount of sodium is less than in almost any other food you are likely to eat.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher
It is claimed so by the vendors because it is highly compressed. However, I don't believe that. Water softeners work on the principle of timing or metering. With timing, regeneration happens nightly or every other night or whatever you set. Basically you set the timer to match pattern of use reasonably well. Metered systems measure the water volume and initiate regeneration when a certain volume has been used. The better ones have two ion exchange columns and switch between them. You can figure out that a timed system only has one optimal setting and if pattern of use changes that won't be right. Therefore people tend to run the timer with a shorter time than really needed and that uses more salt.
No, because the rate at which it can be produced is small unless you have a ginormous system.
You can drink it. There are bogey stories about sodium risk to health, but if you can tolerate the salt in a slice of bread, you can drink the water. You may not like the taste though.
Reply to
Andy Hall
No. If you have washed your hands with soft water and soap and *finally* managed to rinse them, then you wet them later, they do not end up slippery. Slippery is not the natural state of your skin ! I remember the pain of showers on holiday. With soft water, scum is not formed on your hands, true, but this means the soap is still there. And shampoo left in your hair ends up looking like dandruff if you are not careful. You should rinse your hair until it squeaks to know it is rinsed, and I remember this being almost impossible on those soft water holidays. It actually got quite annoying. Simon.
Reply to
sm_jamieson
snip
{Having re-watched Life of Brian]
What has soft-ened water done for us ....?
OK, Pete; I'll give you the _bathing_ ! And the clean sinks, and baths and hand-basins, ... and toilet bowls , ... and clothes , ...and dishes, ... and hair, ... , .. and kitchen work-surfaces, and pots, and pans , and saving on detergents, and washing machine tablets, and dishwasher rinse-aid .... and steam-iron filling, ... and kettle life, ....
OK! But apart from that ... what's water-softeners ever done for us?
Reply to
Brian Sharrock
A slight interjection here. Softeners work on the principle of flushing a fliud -brine- through the cylinder to be refreshed, The Brine is obtained by immersing salt into water from the mains. By a phenomem which most school-kids will recall, the water absorbs salt until it becomes _saturated_. Cleverly the water will not take a molecule more and become _super saturated_ [neither, given sufficient time, wil it refuse to absorb salt and be weak brine] So it matters little whether the salt is in blcok form, granules or tablets, compressed or not. The Brine will be of the correct saturation (for given pressure and temperature]. We now return to our advertised programme ..... .
Reply to
Brian Sharrock
Obviously not. They have skin oils on them by then
It is when cleaned properly and wet.
I never seem to have a problem with any of this.
Reply to
Andy Hall
Quite. The point being that for a certain size and type of column, regeneration will require a certain weight of salt.
Reply to
Andy Hall
Well, if this is correct ...
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could be safety issues with this. Slippery skin causing less friction could cause surgeons to drop tools etc. We rely on skin friction for lots of things. Simon.
Reply to
sm_jamieson
yeah,. First day in a 5 day holiday I slipped in the shower bath in the hotel..soft local water..
Day two and three were OK, day four was painful as hell, day 5 was absolute hell..and I just made it onto the plane.
Doctor said 'cracked ribs. Gets worse for a week, then better in 6. Don't laugh, or cough, here's some painkillers'.
That was before I had a softener..wasn't used to slippery baths. Now I am.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher

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