Water Treatment FAQs
Here are some of the most common questions we get about water softeners and about treating other water issues.
Questions about water softeners:
- What is “hard” water?
- Do I need a water softener?
- I have hard water, what happens if I don’t install a softener?
- How much does it cost to have a water softener installed?
- How much salt does a softener use?
- Is there a lot of sodium in soft water? Is it okay to drink?
Questions about other water issues:
- Should I be concerned about iron in my water?
- My water smells bad. Can you treat for sulfur in my water?
- What is a UV filter – and do I need one?
- What do you test for?
Water Softener Questions
Q: What is “hard” water?
A: Water is considered “hard” when it contains dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. These are not harmful to your health, but they can create a white “scale” coating on fixtures and on the insides of appliances like your dishwasher or water heater. Some people find the effects of hard water on hair and skin annoying.
The level of hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG).
Q: Do I need a water softener?
A: If you live in the City of Ottawa (where water hardness is about 3 GPG), you do not need a water softener. We recommend softening for water at 6 to 7 GPG or more to protect appliances and to make cleaning of showers and tubs easier.
If you live within the city limits, and want to remove any additives from your water, there are other systems we can recommend (please see below).
Q: I have hard water, what happens if I don’t install a softener?
A: Untreated hard water can wreak havoc on you plumbing and appliances over time as the dissolved minerals build up in pipes and collect in and around working parts. It can be especially bad for tankless water heater efficiency, as the buildup reduces contact between the metal heating element and the water. For regular hot water tanks, the deposits can collect on the bottom of the tank and contribute to the bottom falling out.
Hard water will cause annoying water spots on your dishes, glass doors, windows and will also cause premature fading of clothes. Some people also report skin irritation or limp hair.
Q: How much does it cost to have a water softener installed?
A: We supply a variety of different systems all at different price points. They start around $1,200 (including installation) and can range into the $3,000s. The right system for a home depends on many factors, such as level of hardness, size of home, number of people living in home, presence of iron and/or sulfur in the water, etc. This is why we highly recommend setting up a free consultation and water test with a plumber in order to provide an accurate quotation.
Q: How much salt does a softener use?
A: The amount of salt your softener requires will depend on the type of softener you have, how hard your water is, and the amount of water you use on a daily basis. The average home will use about 30 pounds per month (salt is generally sold in 40 pound bags). Most of the salt is used to clean the resin bed – only a small amount ends up in the water supply.
Q: Is there a lot of sodium in soft water? Is it okay to drink?
A: The amount of sodium a softener adds to your water will depend on how hard the water is.
As an estimate, you can multiply the amount of hardness by 2 to get the approximate amount of sodium added to an 8oz glass of water.
So, if your water is 15 grains hard, your softener will add 30 grains of sodium to a glass. 1,500 grams of sodium per day is what is recommended for a healthy adult.
Even if the amount of added sodium is relatively low, many people choose to install a reverse osmosis drinking water system (which will remove sodium) to improve the taste.
Other Water Treatment Questions
Q: Should I be concerned about iron in my water?
A: Iron is not hazardous to your health, but it will cause staining on fixtures and on your laundry.
It can also damage pipes and appliances (particularly your hot water tank) over time. Orange colouring on the inside of your toilet tank is a sign that your water has iron.
In small amounts, dissolved iron can be removed through the water softening process. However, we find that most households in the Greater Ottawa Area that have iron issues require a separate iron filter. This can be installed next to your water softener.
Q: My water smells bad. Can you treat for sulfur in my water?
A: Yes. We treat sulfur one of two ways:
In low to moderate amounts, an aerator can be installed which oxidizes the hydrogen sulfide so it can be filtered from your water.
When water has high amounts of sulfur, a peroxide system is recommended.
Even low amounts of sulfur can cause a potent smell. An on-site test is required to determine the best solution.
Q: What is a UV filter – and do I need one?
A: An ultraviolet (UV) filter disinfects the water, removing harmful bacteria like E. coli. This type of system is not needed if you are on city water, but it may be necessary if you are on well water.
Bacteria testing is a free service offered by the city; test kits can be picked up and dropped off at a number of locations throughout the city and surrounding areas.
It’s rare that there will be bacteria in a rural water supply, but many of our customers prefer to install one for peace of mind, as quality of well water can change over time.
Q: What do you test for?
A: We test for water hardness, iron, sulfur, TDS (total dissolved solids), and chloramines (if you live in the city).
All tests are done in your home site as part of our free in-home consultation. As mentioned above, the City of Ottawa provides free bacteria testing.
Call or Email to Book Your Free In-Home Water Test and Consultation
We are experienced in solving water quality problems for city and rural residents alike. If you have consistently noticed any of these problems with your water, give us a call: