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How do I Choose the Best Water Conditioning System?

Article Details
  • Written By: J.S. Metzker Erdemir
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Before purchasing a water conditioning system for your home, you should have your water tested to decide exactly what your needs are. Water conditioners, also called water softeners, remove or alter the calcium and magnesium molecules in the water that cause limescale and hard water deposits. Many homes require additional filtration to remove other impurities like chlorine that change the taste of the water or microbes that can make people sick.

Water conditioning systems use either chemistry or magnetics to disable the molecules that make water hard. Mechanical water softeners work by ion exchange using resin beads that are supersaturated with sodium to attract the calcium and magnesium particles and exchange them for sodium. The water is softened enough to keep pipes clear, to make soaps and detergents more effective, and prevent soap scum buildup. Some people consider the taste of softened water unpleasant, however, and people with high blood pressure or other medical conditions that require a reduction of sodium in the diet should not drink chemically softened water.

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An electromagnetic water conditioning system does not actually remove the calcium and magnesium molecules, so the water's taste is not greatly affected. These systems use a pipe with a copper coil wrapped around it to remove the electrostatic charge on the hard water molecules, preventing them from sticking to the insides of the pipes and building up there. The water that comes out of the pipes will still be hard, but plumbing systems and home appliances like washing machines last longer and work more effectively without limescale buildup. First released in 1986, electromagnetic water conditioners are a relatively new technology. Anecdotal evidence shows they are probably useful for certain water types, but there is some debate about whether or not they actually work as well as the manufacturers claim.

Choosing the best water conditioning system for your home depends on what your needs are. If you like the taste of the minerals in hard water, an electromagnetic water softener might be the best choice for you. People with very hard water might find that a mechanical water conditioning system is the best solution to protect pipes and appliances, and these homeowners may opt to use a different source of water for drinking and cooking. Another important consideration is that magnetic water conditioners are considerably less expensive to install, maintain, and run, but there might be some doubt about their effectiveness.

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