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The Dogmother

Water softeners, what's your experience?

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My father has moved into a lovely retirement apartment, but is plagued by the really hard water in that area, finding it impossible to get things clean. From what I cam gather, a company has been in selling water softeners to the residents and he has had a quote, which I think is on the high side for one man who doesn't use much water, in an apartment.

They are offering a Kinetico Premier compactHF for £1,500 including fitting. I know nowt about water softeners, but had a look online and thought that he could probably find one a good deal cheaper.

Another point is that the company says that you can drink the water from the softener, but I thought I remembered reading that you can't due to the sodium content.

Your thoughts, experiences and advice would be much appreciated.

 

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Depends on what ion composition they use to get rid of the calcium and magnesium. Sodium is often used since this dissolves incredibly easily and is cheap. But if I remember right, there are other options too. If it is an ion exchange system, then remember that you have to change the filling every so often.

alternatively he could use bottled water for cleaning and one of those Calgon ( is that a thing in the uk?) for the washing machine. Hard water is fine for drinking, but it will just require more soap as the soap molecules will precipitate with the calcium in the water.

Just keep adding soap until it does foam and use vinegar to get rid of the scale.

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Find out what kind of water is in the area, I believe the softeners where you add salt vs. the limescale cylinders that you can get fitted work slightly differently and you might discover one is better than the other, depending on your needs.

It's not nearly so fancy, but we have a Brita filter kettle, and that works really well. You can get them for just filtered water too.  

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I very much doubt that he will go for bottled water - he has a water filter jug though; I gave it to him in an effort to boost the amount of water he drinks.

The water there is very hard and the softener this company is recommending is one which takes salt blocks. He complains that the shower cubicle and taps etc are scaled up and it's difficult to shift.... I wouldn't mind, but he has cleaners!!

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You can't drink the water from a salt softening system because of the salt level and drinking hard water is good for you apparently. 

Every house is different but essentially softened water usage needs to be kept to a minimum, so no flushing toilets with it. A simple system next to the washing machine would be around £500 installed. Anything more complicated will require some re-plumbing and consequently costs will rise.

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I can see that this unit would have to be plumbed in so that the mains tap into the kitchen sink isn't affected. 

I will look into costings for him, but can see there is a wide range available. I had noticed that he has limescale on the shower glass, and even in the loo, so it must be pretty bad.

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Again vinegar solves almost all limescale. Just be careful with porous tiles etc.

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I use white vinegar at home as we have hard water here too - that doesn't help the shower cubicle issue at my house though as it's covered in scale marks as soon as it's used again. I have a higher threshold for that sort of thing though, while it really irks my dad. He is in a brand new apartment and I think he'd like to keep it sparkling.

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I don't have a solution I'm afraid DM but my mother has used bottled water for years to make her tea with as she complains about the taste from the tap (its hard water).  She definitely gets more limescale than I do and over the years it ruins things like the taps/loo/pipes in general; despite that I am sure she would baulk at paying £1500 for a system.  Like you I can live with limescale on shower screens, but I know somebody who can't bear it which makes visiting slightly awkward, and I agree that white vinegar doesn't really clear it up, in fact I have never found anything which works properly.  When we had hard water I used a simple jug system rather than buying water, it was OK but not brilliant.

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I, too, have heard that you musn't drink softened water as it's bad for the kidneys! We are in a hard water area and use a Brita filter jug for drinking water and filling the kettle (which still needs descaling once a months so I do it when I change the Brita cartridge.) Otherwise no pearls of wisdom from here, I'm afraid, apart from the cost that your Dad was quoted does seem excessive!

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You can get electronic water 'softeners' which prevent furring of the pipes and particularly the elements of kettles or showers. They fit in the supply pipe runs and are either magnesium based (and need replacing annually) or mains powered. Perhaps that would work on the shower?

We have to use neat vinegar for descaling the loos here because any chemicals kill the septic tank enzymes. It works but is very slow.

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5 hours ago, The Dogmother said:

I can see that this unit would have to be plumbed in so that the mains tap into the kitchen sink isn't affected. 

I will look into costings for him, but can see there is a wide range available. I had noticed that he has limescale on the shower glass, and even in the loo, so it must be pretty bad.

We have really hard water we get limescale everywhere water sits: the shower, bath, sinks, draining boards.  I use HG products on it.  They do a powerful loo cleaner and a stubborn scale remover.  Both are amazing at shifting it and being stronger a little goes a long way.  We were getting through litres of viakal and white vinegar and bags of lemons every week before and it was still there.

Really want a water softener and hubby keeps saying “When we do the kitchen as part of the extension” so I’ve been waiting  since 2006

Edited by ajm200

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We had a block water softener in our previous house and also have one in our current house.  In our previous house we ordered it online and had our plumber install it, worked out cheaper than having a company supply and install.  It went under the kitchen sink (where the stop cock was) so we had softened water in the whole house apart from the kitchen cold tap.  Wouldn't be without a softener, we live in Kent so a hard water area.  18 months on in our new house we have no limescale. 

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Thanks Sarahjayne

I think I will do a bit of market research on models and prices first; it sounds as if it's best to get one which can either be programmed to do it's 'refresh' at night, or a dual chamber one so that there's no interruption to the water supply while it is underway. Will also check that piping under his sink to see if it looks possible to have it plumbed in to leave the cold water tap free.

Thanks all for your help and opinions, if you think of anything else pertinent, I would be interested to hear it.

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If you google Crown or Twin Tec block softeners, they regenerate as and when needed and the water supply is never interrupted.  We've had both and would recommend either.

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We had a water softener for about 8 years (big salt blocks) - we all drank it no problems and were advised only not to use for making up baby bottles...really helped with my sons eczema - in fact we knew when to change the blocks as his eczema would flare up....unfortunately, it has now broken and never got round to replacing. Definitely easier to keep things clean when it worked  and used a lot less shampoo- again live in Kent with really hard water xx

 

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