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Water softener in Tucson soon pays for itself


Just about everyone who lives in Arizona has “hard” water at home. It’s especially bad in Tucson.

That means your water contains dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium.

How “hard” your water is depends on how many grains of the minerals it contains per gallon. This is called grains per gallon, or GPG. Water that contains more than 1 GPG is considered somewhat “hard”; water with more than 10.5 GPG is very hard.

A typical glass of Arizona water has at least 15 GPG.

You probably can’t taste it, but you can see it. Hard water can cause two noticeable things to happen:

• The chemicals can cause a chalky film called limescale to form on the inside edges of your faucets and drains. You might see the same thing inside your tea kettle. It’s almost certainly in your water heater.

• Those same chemicals can react with soap and prevent it from lathering. It can give the soap a scummy feel and make it difficult to wash off.

The solution: Soften your hard water by installing a water softener. That device, which can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 – depending how big your home is and whether you want it installed by a professional – will replace calcium and magnesium ions in your water with sodium ions, which do not react badly with soap or cause limescale to form on pipes.

It will pay for itself with what you save on plumbing repairs, new appliances and laundry soap. Here’s what you’ll save if you install a water softener, according to my friends in the water treatment business:

• Your clothes will last longer if you wash them in soft water than if your washing machine runs on hard water – up to one-third longer.

• You’ll spend 80 percent less on soap and cleaning products if you clean with soft water.

• Energy bills are lower in homes that have soft water. Studies show that even an eighth of an inch buildup of limescale in your water heater can increase energy bills by 20 percent.

Your best bet: Deal with a company that rents water softeners as well as sells them so you have a choice. Look for a dealer who services all brands of equipment, not just one. It’s also not a bad idea to choose one that can deliver salt (for the water softener) to your home.

Now, what about the taste of your water? That’s a different problem with a different solution.

Let me say that the water supplied by Arizona’s cities is clean, safe and usable. Granted, it doesn’t taste as good as it could. And there is something you can do about that.

A reverse-osmosis system will give you bottled-water quality with the convenience of your kitchen tap. It’s different from a water softener, which removes the minerals that make your water “hard” all over the house. A reverse-osmosis system works on your kitchen faucet rather than all over the house because it’s for drinking water only. An average price for a quality system is around $700 to $900.

Rosie Romero has been in the Arizona home-building and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KNST-AM (790). For more do-it-yourself tips and for Arizona’s most-trusted contractor referral network, go to rosieonthehouse.com or call (888) ROSIE-4-U during the show. The Rosie on the House column appears every Friday.


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