Bob Vila Radio: The Hard Facts of Water Softening Systems

When present in the water supply, a small handful of minerals can do no small amount of damage to your plumbing system. Here's what you need to know.

When you take glasses out of the dishwasher, do you notice hazy white polka dots? What about your faucets—are they coated with a chalky film?

Water Softening Systems



Listen to BOB VILA ON WATER SOFTENERS or read below:

If yes, chances are good that your home would benefit from a water softener.

Most of the minerals found in municipal water supplies are considered benign. Some are even beneficial. But that’s not necessarily the case with calcium and magnesium. High concentrations of either can lead to scale deposits that gradually clog plumbing pipes and wreck water-using appliances.

Water softeners work to prevent that. They come in all sorts of designs, but most rely on the principle of ion exchange. That is, within a water softener, a chemical process pulls calcium and magnesium out of the water, binding the mineral to pre-loaded beads of sodium or potassium.

Note that while fully automatic water softeners offer convenience, they also tend to cost the most. If you don’t mind the idea of a water softener that requires periodic care and maintenance, you can likely get a better deal. Just remember that before you purchase or install a water softener, you must make sure it offers enough capacity to meet your daily water needs. Size matters!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!