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Water Softener FAQ’s

You use water every day for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, and more. It’s important to know what you’re putting into your body and using around your home. We’ve assembled a collection of the most important and common questions we encounter as a water conditioning and softener company in Las Vegas. Hopefully, these questions will address your most pressing concerns, but if you still need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialists.

01. Hard Water Questions

There are several signs that can indicate whether your water is hard or not. One of the most common signs is soap scum, a white substance commonly found on surfaces like sinks and bathtubs. Hard water can also cause faucets and showerheads to become clogged with mineral deposits, and it can leave stains on clothes and dishes. You may also notice a decrease in the effectiveness of your detergents and soaps as they struggle to lather in hard water. If you’re unsure whether your water is hard, you can purchase a test kit, contact your local water utility for more information, or schedule water testing services with Serv-All Water Conditioning.

Water is considered hard if it contains high levels of dissolved minerals like calcium, magnesium, and manganese. The hardness of water is typically measured in grains per gallon (GPG) or parts per million (ppm). Here’s a breakdown of the different levels of water hardness:

  • Treated (or softened water) = 0
  • Slightly hard = 1-2 grains per gallon (total grains x 17.1 equals ppm)
  • Medium Hard = 3-7 grains per gallon (total grains x 17.1 equals ppm)
  • Hard = 7-10.5 grains per gallon (total grains x 17.1 equals ppm)
  • Extremely Hard Water = 10.5+ grains per gallon (total grains x 17.1 equals ppm)

Note: Each ppm of iron equals 4 grains per gallon of hardness.

Remember, the higher the levels of dissolved minerals, the harder the water is considered to be. We hope this page helped you understand how to determine your hardness. If you still have questions regarding hard water, please email us or call us anytime.

As the water passes through a water softening appliance containing a bed of resin, the hardness (calcium and magnesium) present in the water is exchanged or swapped for the sodium found in the resin. When the available sodium has all been exchanged for calcium and magnesium, hard water is present in the softener outlet, and the resin must be regenerated. Common salt is used to replenish the supply of sodium in the resin, and the hardness is flushed as waste.

02. Water Softener Questions — General

You do not need to clean out a brine tank. The only exceptions to this rule are if you use a salt product high in water-insoluble matter or the system experiences a major malfunction. If there is a build-up of insoluble matter in the resin, the reservoir should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction.

If your average water usage is 75 gallons per day per person, you will use an average of 48 to 85 pounds of salt per month, which is very little in comparison to most older systems that regenerate based on days instead of gallons used.

You may need a water softener if your water is hard and you want to reduce the negative effects it has on your home and daily life. Hard water can cause mineral build-up in pipes and appliances, leading to decreased efficiency and shortened lifespan. It can also leave spots and stains on dishes and clothing, make soap and detergents less effective, and leave your skin feeling dry and itchy.

Residential water softeners remove the dissolved minerals that cause hardness, resulting in cleaner and softer water throughout your home. A water softener can help save you money on repairs and replacements of appliances and plumbing fixtures, improve the effectiveness of your cleaning products, and provide softer and more manageable hair and skin.

At Serv-All Water Conditioning, we custom-build all of our water treatment systems based on the home’s water quality and the customer’s needs and wants. Because of this, we have the capability to design a system to remove chlorine, chloramines, as well as a broad spectrum of other potentially harmful contaminants found in tap water to keep your family happy and healthy.

By all means, you can use soft water for cooking and making coffee. Hard water actually reacts with some foods, robbing them of taste. For example, peas are shriveled by hard water and stay round in soft water. Good-tasting coffee is more easily prepared when soft water is used. Install a water softener today and see for yourself how much the taste of your food and drinks improve!

Money Stretcher

Hard water leaves nasty stains behind that require harsh chemicals and detergents to remove. When you have soft water flowing through your faucets, you don’t have to worry about these stains, significantly reducing the cost of your cleaning supplies.

Dish Sparkler

Tired of streaks and spots on glassware and dishes? Conditioned water eliminates the problem and helps your dishwasher last longer, too!

Hand Soother

Red, roughened hands are usually the by-product of hard water. Conditioned water caresses and doesn’t irritate.

Clothes Brightener

Clothes last longer and come out fresher, cleaner, and softer when washed in conditioned water. Colors stay brighter, too.

Body Refresher

Bring conditioned water to your bath or shower, and you’ll feel a refreshing difference. You’ll wash “really clean” faster and without soap build-up on your skin.

Face Saver

Say goodbye to razor burn as your razor glides smoothly over your soft water-conditioned face. Both your skin and blades will last longer.

Hair Pamperer

A shampoo combined with conditioned water revives hair color and makes it more radiant and manageable.

Faucet Preserver

Hard water scale corrodes and plugs valves in water-using appliances and shortens service life and saves you money.

Hot Water Guard

Conditioned water adds longer life to your water by minimizing the scale build-up created by hard water minerals and saves you money! Less energy is required (17% to 21%) to heat water in tanks without a scale build-up.

Scrubbing Helper

Washing floors, tile, and woodwork goes much easier and faster with conditioned water because it eliminates the film and soap scum that hard water causes.

Pipe Protector

Over a period of time, scale forms and clogs your plumbing. As the pipes clog, water flow is restricted and water pressure can be reduced dramatically. A water conditioning system minimizes this headache.

A water softener is a water treatment system where the calcium and magnesium carbonate (the minerals responsible for the hard water) are replaced with either sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride. This is different from a water filter in that filters will generally remove chlorine, pesticides, bacteria (in some cases), and suspended particles (sand, sediment, etc). A filter will not remove dissolved solids (which are responsible for hard water).

If you’re using sodium chloride (salt), then the softener will add a small amount of sodium to the water. For most people, this is not a problem. However, if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, we would recommend a separate faucet in the kitchen that dispenses unsoftened water for drinking. Additionally, some people take a while to get used to the feeling of softened water.

Some people may describe softened water as feeling slimy or slippery, especially when they first switch from hard water. This is because soft water has fewer dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which can give water a slightly “hard” feel. Other people describe softened water as feeling smooth and luxurious, as it can leave the skin feeling moisturized and silky. The sensation of sliminess is typically temporary, and many people adjust to the feeling of softened water over time. If you’re concerned about the feel of your water, you can try adjusting the settings on your water softener or contact a professional for assistance.

All softeners, regardless of price, should soften your water (i.e., reduce the hardness to 0 grains). When comparing residential and commercial water softeners, you should consider an array of factors over the price. For example, evaluate softener systems based on the following:

  • How long the unit will last
  • How often it regenerates
  • How large the grain capacity is
  • How easy it is to change the settings and service the unit
  • What the warranty entails
  • How long the company has been in business
  • How quickly you can get your questions answered and your problems solved

Serv-All is available when you need us most to answer your most pressing questions about water softeners. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in installing a new water softener.

In many cases, it will! It depends upon the levels of iron present. We manufacture iron units for heavy iron problems. Please contact us for the correct iron-softener combinations for maximum service.

YES! While setting the computer-controlled valve head is extremely easy, cutting into your main water line with a torch to place the water softening system is not something the typical homeowner should do on their own.

You may experience a slight water pressure drop from the water softener. However, our water softeners feature 1” ports for the maximum possible water flow and pressure.

If you’re getting water with an unusual odor from your faucets, it is not related to the softener itself. Typically, softeners don’t remove odors. Instead, the smell may be due to an issue with your water source or plumbing. It’s best to have your water tested for contaminants or consult a professional plumber to diagnose and resolve the problem.

Whether you need both a water softener and a reverse osmosis (RO) system depends on your water quality goals. A water softener primarily removes hardness minerals, while an RO system focuses on purifying water and removing impurities like hard metals, chemicals, and microorganisms. If your water is both hard and contains contaminants, using both systems can provide optimal results. Contact us for a customized solution to meet your specific needs.

The lifespan of a water softener largely depends on maintenance and usage. On average, you can expect a well-maintained system to last 20 to 25 years. Regularly replenishing salt, cleaning the brine tank, and scheduling professional servicing can extend its longevity. At Serv-All Water Conditioning, we offer reliable systems designed for tackling Las Vegas water hardness in the long term.

03. Water Softener Questions — Technical

When you use salt in your water softener, the sodium ions in the salt replace the calcium and magnesium ions in the water, resulting in soft water. The amount of sodium that is added to the softened water depends on the hardness of the water and the amount of salt used in the softening process.

However, it’s important to note that the level of sodium in softened water is still considered safe for consumption by most health organizations, and there are other sources of sodium in many people’s diets, such as processed foods. If you have concerns about your sodium intake, you may want to consider using a potassium-based salt or another alternative method of water softening.

We include the important options on our systems that add up in price. For example, we install a commercial grade bypass on our Clack, Fleck, and Autotrol Systems and a stainless steel bypass valve on our Clack WS1, Fleck 5600, 5600SE, 2510, 2510SE, and 9000 Systems.

We also include:

  • A brine well inside the brine / salt tank to keep the dirt and sediment from the salt plugging up the air check tube and the softener valve
  • A safety float to keep the water level from getting too high and overflowing all over the floor if there is a problem with the system
  • A grid plate / salt platform to help keep the salt from hardening up and solidifying

Magnetic water softeners, also known as magnetic descalers or anti-scale systems, are devices that claim to reduce the hardness of water without using salt or chemicals. These systems use magnets to create a magnetic field that alters the physical and chemical properties of the minerals in the water, making them less likely to stick to surfaces and form scale.

However, there is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of magnetic water softeners. Some studies have suggested that these devices may have a small effect on reducing scale build-up, but others have found no significant difference between treated and untreated water. Additionally, many water treatment experts and organizations have expressed skepticism about the claims made by magnetic water softener manufacturers.

Always think about flow rates when choosing a water softener. Think about the number of showerheads and baths you have and the chances of using them all at the same time. For most folks, it is rare that all appliances and showers will be used all at once, so for the average home of less than 2300 square feet, a flow rate of 8 gallons per minute is more than enough.

Every once in a while, we run across a customer that has multiple body shower sprays in a shower stall. The average jet package has 4 to 5 sprayers, including the shower head. You need about 15 GPM to operate properly. In this case, you want to size your softener based on an 18 GPM flow rate. In this application, the Clack WS1 48,000 grain softener is the best choice.

We understand that the math associated with flow rates can make your head spin. If you’re interested in residential water softeners, our experts can help you determine the proper size for your home.

The preferred systems are all metered on demand. Water flow systems regenerate based on gallons used, so if the number of people in your home fluctuates, these systems will keep up with the usage. If you go on vacation, they will not regenerate due to no water being used. We also carry timed systems that regenerate based on days, which are great for well water when trying to remove more than 3 ppm or mg/L of iron. The timed systems help keep the resin bed clean from the iron and keep costs low.

Yes, but potassium will cost a lot more than salt.

We answer service calls within one to two business days. Sometimes, we can even address your request for a water softener repair within the same day!

If you have a problem with your equipment, you can do two things. Call us, and we will walk you through the troubleshooting, which is easy to do. If that does not work, we will send a technician out to try to fix the problem.

If it is before one year of the installation date, then there is no trip charge. But after one year, there will be a charge. If it is a defective part that is under warranty, we will change it out on-site and take the broken part back to ship it to the manufacturer.

The control valves have a five-year warranty, and the tanks have a ten-year warranty.

Nothing, they are both cross-link 10% resins and are very durable and respected in the industry. Not every situation is the same, but the average life of a good resin is ten years or more. We can help you replace the resin beads once they go bad.

A water softener is typically installed near the main water supply line where it enters your home. This can be in a basement, garage, utility room, or other suitable location. When installing a water softening system, it’s important to ensure that it is placed in an area that is protected from freezing temperatures, moisture, and direct sunlight. A drain line should also be installed to allow the system to discharge the salt brine solution that is used to regenerate the system.

Installation of a water softener requires some basic plumbing knowledge and skills, and it’s recommended that you consult with a professional plumber or water treatment specialist for assistance. We can help you determine the best location for your salt tank, install the necessary plumbing connections, and ensure that the system is set up correctly for optimal performance.

The lifespan of a water softener depends on several factors, including its quality, usage, maintenance, and the hardness of the water being treated. On average, a well-maintained water softener can last for around 10-15 years or more before needing to be replaced or repaired.

Regular maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your water softener. This includes monitoring salt levels, cleaning the brine tank, checking and replacing filters as needed, and scheduling periodic professional inspections and tune-ups. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to decreased performance, increased repair costs, and shortened lifespan.

The regeneration cycle is a key process in the operation of a water softener. During the softening process, a resin bed inside the water softener collects the hard water minerals and exchanges them with sodium ions from the salt used in the system. Over time, the resin bed becomes saturated with these minerals and needs to be regenerated, or “recharged,” in order to continue effectively removing hardness from the water.

The regeneration cycle typically involves several steps, including backwashing, brine refill, and rinsing. During the backwash phase, water is directed through the resin beads in the opposite direction to flush out any accumulated sediment or debris. Next, the brine tank is filled with saltwater, which is then drawn into the resin bed to remove the accumulated minerals. Finally, the system rinses itself with fresh water to wash away any remaining salt or mineral particles.

One gallon of water will dissolve three pounds of salt. So for one pound of salt, at least three gallons of water should be in the brine tank.

The amount of salt placed into the brine storage tank has nothing to do with the amount of salt used during the regeneration cycle. Water will dissolve and absorb salt only until it becomes saturated. A given amount of brine (salt-saturated water) contains a specific amount of salt. Just make sure that there is at least enough salt for a regeneration cycle (8 lbs in the case of our unit).

As long as your water softener is properly maintained, the resin beads should not need to be replaced throughout the lifespan of the system. This means you could enjoy an average of 20+ years without worrying about the resin bed.

The answer varies based on how often your system regenerates, but on average, you can expect to need to add salt to the tank about every eight (8) weeks. Our systems are designed for easy monitoring, ensuring soft water around the clock. If you notice that the level of water in the tank is just above the salt, you will know for sure that it’s time to add more salt.

We offer a salt delivery service to make it easy to care for your system. You can choose to have your coarse or solar salt delivered on a routine basis so that you won’t have to worry about running out when you need it most.

After installing your new unit, you will need to wait for the first regeneration cycle to be completed, which can take about two hours. This process ensures clean, softened water flows throughout your plumbing system and appliances.

The best salt for a water softening system is typically coarse or solar salt. Crystal salt dissolves more slowly, extending the time between salt additions. Solar salt, obtained from evaporated seawater, is an eco-friendly option. Both work well to regenerate the resin tank, ensuring efficient softening and preventing mineral buildup.

04. Water Softener Myths

Companies who are selling competing products have perpetuated a number of myths about water softeners in an attempt to make their products look more attractive. The truth is that a water softener is the most reliable and cost-effective way of eliminating hardness in tap water, which causes so many problems throughout the home.

NO. Salt is sodium chloride, and water softeners add just a small amount of sodium to your water…but there is already sodium in the water before it even reaches the water softener.

This is a hugely misunderstood subject in the water business. People think water softeners also add chloride to the water, which is not true. All the chloride from the salt used in a water softener goes down the drain, and none is added to the water supplied to your home. If water softeners added chloride to the water, the water would taste like ocean water, but it does not.

Reasonable levels of sodium are not bad for most people — in fact, Gatorade has a large amount of sodium in it. People on a restricted-sodium diet should not drink tap water either before or after a water softener because they will both contain sodium. When on a sodium-restricted diet, only drink water processed through reverse osmosis or bottled water, which has no sodium.

Yes and no. A plaster swimming pool needs a small amount of calcium in it so the water remains balanced. Because soft water has no calcium in it, the water is out of balance and could attack the plaster, trying to get back into balance.

It is almost impossible to fill a swimming pool with soft water because you would have to stop filling the pool every couple of hours while the water softener regenerates. Because calcium is a solid and not a liquid, it does not evaporate like the water does. Once the calcium is in the pool, it will always be there until you drain the pool.

For this reason, it is very beneficial to add soft water to a pool to replenish the water that is lost to evaporation. It will keep the calcium at a reasonable level and make your tiles easier to clean. If you continue to add hard water to the pool to replenish for evaporation, the calcium continues to build because it does not evaporate. Eventually, you will have to drain your water and refill the pool because it has too much calcium in it.

05. Reverse Osmosis Questions

Yes, reverse osmosis-treated low-mineral water is considered safe and healthy to drink. In fact, many people prefer the taste and purity of reverse osmosis water over tap water or other types of bottled water. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a highly effective water filtration process that removes impurities such as heavy metals, chemicals, and bacteria from the water. If you’re interested in reverse osmosis systems, speak to the specialists at Serv-All Water Conditioning today!

No, reverse osmosis-purified water is not unhealthy to drink. In fact, many people consider it to be one of the safest and purest forms of drinking water available. Reverse osmosis is a highly efficient water purification process that removes up to 99% of impurities, including contaminants such as lead, arsenic, fluoride, and chlorine. While some critics argue that RO water may also remove beneficial minerals, the overall health benefits of drinking purified water outweigh any potential drawbacks.

A reverse osmosis filter removes unhealthy organic material. However, some healthy minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, may be removed at the same time. However, it’s important to weigh the effects of leaving these minerals in with taking them out. These minerals can contribute to hard water deposits, scale build-up, and other water quality issues. While some people prefer to retain these minerals in their drinking water, others argue that they can obtain them from other sources, such as fruits, vegetables, and supplements.

No, reverse osmosis does not leach minerals from the body. In fact, the body cannot absorb minerals from water as efficiently as it can from food sources. While some people may be concerned that drinking RO water may deplete their mineral levels, the overall effects on health are negligible. Studies have shown that most people obtain the majority of their essential minerals from food, not water.

No, reverse osmosis filtration does not produce very acidic water with low pH. While RO water may have a slightly lower pH level than tap water due to the removal of alkaline minerals, it is still considered safe and healthy to drink. Some people prefer to add mineral drops or a remineralization filter to RO water to restore its pH balance and make it more alkaline.

Tap water in most cities is generally considered safe to drink according to government regulations. However, water quality can vary by location, source, and treatment methods used. Some contaminants, such as lead, pesticides, and bacteria, may still be present in trace amounts even if the water meets regulatory standards. Many people choose to use home water filters or opt for bottled or purified water to ensure the highest quality of drinking water.

RO water is generally considered to be comparable to bottled water in terms of quality and taste. Both types of water undergo stringent filtration and purification processes to remove impurities and contaminants. While bottled water may contain minerals and other additives for flavor or health benefits, RO water is typically pure and unadulterated. Some people prefer the taste of RO water over bottled water due to its freshness and lack of plastic or other packaging.

Reverse osmosis is considered to be one of the most effective water filtration and purification methods available. It is capable of removing up to 99% of impurities and contaminants, including heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses. Compared to other methods, such as activated carbon filters, UV disinfection, or distillation, RO typically provides the highest level of purity and safety for drinking water. However, it may also be more expensive or require more maintenance than other methods.

Every year! Here at Serv-All, we will call and send a postcard to remind you that you are due for your routine filter change. The cost is anywhere between $45 and $85, depending on what stage reverse osmosis system you have.

Yes! The reason why you need to change the filter regularly is the water still sits on the filters. Another reason is that if your ice maker is hooked up to the reverse osmosis system, it is constantly sending water to your ice maker.

The whole reason behind a filter change is to protect the membrane filter — the filter that you change out every three to five years. That filter is the heart and soul of the whole system. If that goes bad, your water will taste bad and will cost you more money down the road. Also, if the filters clog up, that could cause damage and break the system. Don’t let this happen to you! Change your system’s filter every year!