If you've recently relocated to the Grand Canyon State, you may be surprised at the relative "hardness" of the area's water. Arizona water tends to contain more calcium and magnesium than water from other areas, and using this water straight from the tap without the aid of a water softener or conditioning system could put strain on your water-consuming appliances and lead to mineral scale buildup inside your sinks and tubs. How can you decide whether a water treatment system is worth it -- and once you've determined you need some help softening your water, how can you decide which system is best? Read on to learn more about your water treatment options.
Reverse osmosis system
For homeowners who are primarily concerned about having treated water in the kitchen for food preparation, or who only want treated bath water, a reverse osmosis system installed in the room you'd like to treat may be your best option. These systems force water through a permeable membrane, where the larger mineral molecules are filtered out, leaving only pure water behind.
Because this system filters the water rather than "softening" it (like an ion-exchange system), it can also be ideal for those who take medications or who have medical conditions that may be aggravated by trace amounts of sodium or potassium. The water generated by a reverse osmosis system is fresh-tasting and lacks the mineral tanginess that the Arizona aquifers can often bring.
Ion-exchange water softener
Those who have more concern about the effect of hard water and mineral scale buildup on expensive appliances like washers, dishwashers, and refrigerator icemakers may find that an ion-exchange water softener is the better choice. This water softener operates by replacing the calcium, magnesium, and other mineral ions in hard water with sodium or potassium chloride ions. These latter ions (derived from the salt or potassium pellets you periodically load into the softener) won't cause buildup or scale on hard surfaces and can often improve the taste of your drinking water in addition to extending the life of your appliances.
Although most water softeners use sodium pellets, some physicians have suggested that those with high blood pressure or other health issues that are exacerbated by salt intake utilize potassium pellets instead. The amount of sodium that makes its way into softened water is negligible for most, but heavy consumption by those who need to avoid sodium isn't a great idea.
For more information, contact a company like Water Tec.