It’s a fact that here in Calgary we enjoy one of the world’s safest, cleanest water supplies. It’s also a fact that our water supply has a fairly high mineral content; this is understandable considering our water comes to us via overland drainage from a mountain watershed– namely the Bow and Elbow rivers.
Calgary’s Water Hardness
Water “hardness” refers to a particular type of dissolved solids, namely calcium and magnesium content picked up when water flows through limestone deposits.
Water qualifies as “soft” when it contains less than 75 mg of calcium carbonate per litre. In 2016, Calgary’s water supply ranged from 151 to 247 mg/l. The value does vary seasonally (tending to be higher in the winter) and regionally (the north side Bearspaw supply is generally softer than the south side Glenmore reservoir) but all the values reported by the City Of Calgary are on the higher side of the scale.
Just about everything that touches or handles water shows evidence of this in the form of limescale, and to combat it we wind up using more cleaning products and paying more for maintenance.
Soft Water Benefits
The most common benefit reported by our customers with water softeners is softer, smoother skin. You’ll also find that you get richer, easier lather when washing, getting a better clean using less soap, shampoo and detergent in the process. Fabrics feel softer and wear out more slowly, and you can say goodbye to water scale in showers, tubs, sinks, and on dishes.
Many detergents, shampoos and soaps contain additives to ensure the product will work effectively when used in hard water. Soft water, on the other hand, cleans dishes, hair and clothing very effectively with pure soap, and much less of it. You’ll also see great cleaning results even with cooler water. Of course, using less detergent and less energy is not just going to save you money, but benefits the environment as well.
We’ve blogged before about mineral buildup in you and your pets. Think about how much water a pet drinks on a daily basis, and imagine all those minerals going through your cat or dog’s small body. Since their bodies are so much smaller, they experience the effects of what they’re consuming more quickly. Excess calcium and magnesium in their water can eventually contribute to issues like kidney stones and urinary tract blockages, just like they can in humans.
The most significant payoff is that soft water will prolong the service life of most any water handling system, from water heaters to bathroom fixtures to coffee makers.
We recently blogged on the topic of Reverse Osmosis filtration. Consider what else is in our drinking water: trace amounts of heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other dissolved solids. For the best quality drinking water for the whole family, including our pets, a reverse osmosis filtration system is a great companion to a water softener; we frequently install both at the same time, and they work very well together.
Is It Right For You?
Of course it is! A water softener can be expected to last 10-15 years for a simple, baseline model, and 15-20 years for a higher end model. It generally takes about five or six years to see a return on your investment, but in the long term they definitely do pay for themselves.
An annual maintenance visit is all it takes to keep your water systems running properly and ensure any problems are caught before they become expensive.
In our experience, once you’ve lived with softer water, you will have a hard time living with the effects of hard water again! If you move, you can take it with you– it’s easy for us to transplant your water softener to your new home, and the costs are minimal.