Water softeners are a great option to improve your household plumbing and maintain your appliances, however these softeners do come with many disadvantages.
Water softener systems are often expensive to install and the water is not very suitable for drinking.
They can also leave you feeling slippery after showering due to the lack of minerals in softened water and aren’t able to irrigate your plants.
Are Water Softeners a Waste of Money?
It all depends on if you really need it. If your water at home is very hard and is noticeably ruining your household appliances, along with causing other negative effects then no, installing a water softener would not be a waste of money.
On the other hand, if your hard water isn’t really that ‘hard’ then a water softener would probably be a waste of money. These softeners are very expensive so you only really need to have extra hard water to justify spending a lot of money fixing it.
One way to test if you have hard water would be to buy a calcium testing kit or request a water quality report from your water supplier, these often free and can help you determine the quality of your water.
We have listed the disadvantages of purchasing a water softener below-
- Can be slippery when used on skin.
- May have high sodium levels which can cause negative health effects.
- You can’t water plants with it.
- Very expensive to install.
- Lack of minerals that hard water has.
- Not the first choice for drinking daily.
- Requires buying salt a lot.
Signs You Don’t Need a Water Softener
Before you splash out on a softener for your house, you should check if you really need a water softener or not, this can be done by testing or asking for a report as we touched on above, or you can look for some signs yourself.
Scaling in pipes and appliances
The first thing you will notice if your water is too hard will be excess scaling in your pipes which can cause damage and breakage or in your appliances such as your washing machine or kettle.
If your scaling is fine then it's likely you don’t need to fork out on a softener.
Stains on bathtubs and glasses
Hard water mixed with soap leaves very obvious staining, this can be around your bath or on your dishes after you’ve washed them. No staining probably means your water is okay.
Dry hair and skin
High calcium and magnesium minerals will often cause you to have dry hair and skin. If you don’t notice this your water may be fine. Hard water can also contribute to skin problems such as eczema.
Investing in a water softener would only be a waste of money if you didn’t need one to begin with, in terms of setting your softener up with salt costs and electricity bills, these are only initial costs to begin with.
Once you’ve had your softener running for a large amount of time it will actually save you money in the longer run.
How a water softener can save you money-
- Prolongs life of household appliances.
- Easier to heat in a boiler than hard water, reducing energy use.
- Stops colour in clothes fading and requires less soap/detergent.
Why Does Softened Water Feel Slippery?
Softened water often has what some describe as a ‘slippery’ or ‘oily’ residue after using it to take a shower with.
This is because of the lack of minerals in the soft water that hard water normally has, meaning you have to use more soap when bathing with hard water than you do with soft.
This due to the fact you are using the same amount of soap you do with hard water, which is normally broken down by the hard water's minerals, therefore leaves you with a slippery feeling as the soft water doesn’t need the same amount of soap.
In a more technical way of speaking we basically mean; soap contains sodium stearate, when you mix this with hard water the sodium molecule breaks down and is replaced by the calcium/magnesium found in the hard water as they have a strong bond to the stearate not the sodium. This is why hard water often leaves soap marks on your shower or bath due to its chemical reaction.
Here are some ways to reduce that slippery feeling from soft water-
- Use less soap when showering.
- Try a synthetic body wash.
- Cut it with hard cold water and only soften your hot water supply.
So Should I Buy a Water Softener?
It's a personal choice and it all really comes down to your budget and how hard your water supply actually is.
If you live in an area which has hard water and see obvious signs such as appliances wearing down and excess scale then yes, if you have the budget it would be worth considering buying a water softener as the pros would outweigh the softeners disadvantages.
However, if your water is pretty much fine and doesn’t have effects on your household, it's less hassle and less money to just stick with your water supply. This means you can save the worries of not being able to drink your water or irrigate with it.