As a plumbing contractor, Out House Plumbing Company has promoted the installation of water softeners for the protection, and longevity, of the internal plumbing system and plumbing fixtures. The condition of the water provided to a home or building is abrasive, the minerals of hardness are measured as grains per gallon (GPG) or part per million (PPM), the conversion is 17.1 PPM = 1 GPG. A water specialist will test your water for total dissolved solids (TDS) using an electronic TDS meter, there are other test kits and laboratories that will test water and a DYI test can be done using water and liquid soap.
To soften water, the most common is with a water softener. Water softeners us a charcoal and resin filter that is cleaned (backwashed) with a sodium or potassium solution (brine). As the water passes through the charcoal and resin, the resin acts as a magnet, collecting the dissolved solids in the water. To clean the dissolved solid from the resin, during the backwash, the brine is pulled over the resin and sent down a drain into your sewer or septic tank. Backwash can send 10 to 150 gallons of water, 2 to 10 times a month, depending on the use and size of a softener unit. The benefits of increasing the life of the plumbing system and fixtures, the cost savings on soap and detergent use, along with the skin and hair can offset the cost in increased water use.
To help promote green plumbing, I looked for an alternative to backwashing water down the drain, and was presented with a product called nuvoH2O. Unlike the standard water softener units, nuvoH2o is a whole house filtration system that uses citrus. This softener uses a process called chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun), that binds with hard water minerals, preventing them from reacting with other elements to produce scale. According to nuvoH20,
“every year millions of appliances like water heaters and dishwashers breakdown prematurely due to the ravages of hard water. nuvoH20 softened water can extend the life … twenty percent (20%)… build-up in water heaters require as much as thirty percent (30%) more energy… salt-based softeners waste millions of gallons of soft water every year discharging their salty brine into the sewers and our rivers and streams.”
NuvoH20 uses a replaceable cartridge that last six months or more, for about the same cost as the bags of salt. In addition to helping save money and the environment, the nuvoH20 chelation also breaks down the existing scale build up on pipes, appliances, fixtures and the water heater. NuvoH20 also provides a cartridge recycling program to help prevent the cartridges from ending up in a landfill. The cost is less than a standard water softener and the savings have a greater return.