Soft water guide
Whether your water-supply consists of hard or soft water is determined by the geology of the ground that the rain in your region falls upon. Pure rainwater is naturally soft but the chalk and limestone regions of the South and East of England surrender Calcium and Magnesium into the natural water supply to create hard water. The granite areas of the North and West do not contain the same minerals and so the water remains 'soft'. And with the development of water distribution networks, some parts of the UK which have historically been soft water areas, are now beginning to experience hard water.
The map below shows the areas of England and Wales that have hard, soft or moderately hard water.
These minerals in hard water will settle out as an unsightly deposit of scale whenever the water is heated, or when cold standing water evaporates. This can cause a number of problems around the home:
The only way to remove the hardness is to remove the calcium and magnesium ions that are in the water. This is where a water softener comes in. Hard water is passed through a cylinder containing millions of tiny beads of ion-exchange resin which 'trap' the minerals that cause hardness and exchanges them for sodium - resulting in soft water.
Eventually the beads become full of calcium and magnesium and so need to be 'regenerated' and this is done by washing the beads with a small amount of brine (common salt or sodium chloride dissolved in water). The sodium from the salt is left in the resin. The used brine, containing accumulated hardness, is automatically flushed into a drain. Refreshed by the regeneration, the resin is again ready to soften water.
Number of cylinders
Softeners can have one or 2 cylinders of ion exchange resin. Having 2 means that when one cylinder is being regenerated the other can continue to provide soft water. With single cylinder softeners the soft water supply is interrupted during regeneration. Double cylinder machines tend to be more compact and can therefore be sited under a kitchen sink.
Type of Valve
The most complex part of a softener is the mechanism that carries out the regeneration cycle of the ion exchange beads. There are 2 main types:
The Increase in Fuel Costs
|Thickness of scale||% Increase in Fuel|
|1/16" to 1/8"||= 15%|
|1/8" to 3/16"||= 25%|
|3/16" to 1/4"||= 39%|
|1/4" to 3/8"||= 55%|
|3/8" to 1/2"||= 70%|
Hard water costs you more than you may imagine. Any amount of scale in your heating system can seriously reduce the overall efficiency, as demonstrated in the figures above, and backed up by published research papers. Independent studies have also been undertaken to quantify greenhouse gas reduction through the use of a water softener. One such article concludes that water softeners and RO units together will reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to getting one and a third cars off the road for an entire year!
There are studies showing just how the efficiency of a boiler will drop with just a small amount of scale build up. A water softener will remove all scale from your heating system and prevent any future recurrence, allowing your system to function as it was designed to do.
The key benefits of these units are:
A Block Salt softener is one of the few softeners that is flexible enough to fit where you want it to go. It is small enough to fit underneath most sinks and yet have the capacity to soften sufficient water for the largest household.
It can also be fitted externally in a frost resistant cabinet or in the loft if space is tight. We can advise on the best location when we carry out the free site survey.
The approx. dimensions of the cabinets are:
Height (A) - 490mm / 19.25 inches
Depth(B) - 464mm / 18.25inches
Width min (C) - 216mm / 8.25 inches
Width max (D) - 267mm / 10.5 inches
A water softener needs to measure accurately the water flowing through it to ensure it regenerates at exactly the right time. If it doesn't hard water can creep back into your system and destroy all the benefits that soft water gives you, or it can waste salt by regenerating too early.
Metering errors are common with water softeners using turbine metering, trickle water flow cannot be measured and the softener slips out of synchronisation. A block salt softener completely eradicates this problem using a unique patented metered valve system. This uses the principle of 'pressure differential used by water authorities in measuring your water usage. The meter can measure everything from a dripping tap through to megaflow plumbing running at full pressure. And since two heads are better than one, it uses a second identical meter to gauge the regeneration water usage.
Uninterrupted soft water
Conventional water softeners had only one cylinder. This meant that soft water is interrupted when the softener regenerates. These single cylinder models were also larger.
The benefits of two cylinders means that the softener can give uninterrupted soft water at high flow rates, regeneration also acts as a backwash through the cylinder meaning less water going down the drain. The Crown only uses 17 litres to regenerate the machine.
Salt blocks not bags
The block salt concept was introduced in 1995 as a more convenient way to load water softeners with salt. Up until then salt came as tablets or granules in heavy 25Kg bags. These tended to be messy to load.
In contrast the blocks weigh only 4Kg and slip easily into the compartments. Salt usage can be checked by just lifting lid of the softener. Storage of blocks is much easier and efficient than bags.
No electricity required
The block salt water softener is one of the few automatic softeners that does not require electricity to operate. It uses the water pressure and flow to carry out all its functions.
Value for money
A block salt softener is not the cheapest nor the most expensive unit on the market. In our view, however, it offers the best value when comparing the price to its features. The reliability of this unit means that long term ownership cost are low too. All components are designed to comply with WRAS, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme.
We try and help keep down the price by offering the softener to our customers at a competitive all inclusive price including installation.
If you would like further advice on which softener best meets your needs or information give us a call on 0800 781 2093.
If you or your child suffers from eczema, you’re not alone. Around one in five* children and one in twelve adults are afflicted by this distressing skin condition and it is becoming more common. And while many children do grow out of eczema by adulthood, they may still suffer several years of this uncomfortable complaint.
What causes eczema?
There is no single cause of eczema. Doctors believe it arises from a mix of hereditary and environmental factors, of which hard water is one. One theory is that the chlorine added to protect our drinking water and the hardness of minerals contained in the hard water causes dryness and irritation. Because of this, hard water households use more soap and detergent - products we know inflame the skin of eczema sufferers.
Could switching to softened water help?
More than 60% of households are located in hard water areas in England and Wales. Research carried out at the University of Nottingham** by dermatologists, medical geographers and statisticians in 1998 indicated that hard water could play a part in causing eczema flare-ups in some children. The study, involving more than 7,500 school age children, found that eczema is around 50% more common in primary schoolchildren living in hard water areas than those who live in soft water areas. This could not be attributed to differences in age or social class.
Both block salt softener manufacturers in the UK are participating in new research commissioned by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme to investigate whether water softeners help reduce the severity of eczema in children.
This study, led by Professor Hywel Williams and Dr Kim Thomas of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, will run from Spring 2007 to Autumn 2009 and will involve more than 310 children with moderate to severe eczema from across four hard water regions in England.
There is already overwhelming anecdotal evidence to suggest that skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis are aggravated by hard water. Many sufferers have experienced immediate relief on installing a water softener and feel that this is more than just coincidence.
“The effect on my daughter’s skin was almost immediate. Within two weeks of installing the water softener, the red patches had virtually disappeared. At its worst, her eczema would resemble burns but now there is no redness at all and her skin is soft and smooth.” Mrs H. Aylesbury, whose two-year old daughter has suffered from eczema since birth. Increasing numbers of adults, concerned about the use of steroid creams on their children’s delicate skin as well as their own, are exploring the possibility of water softeners as a less harmful, non-invasive treatment option.
So why can a water softener help reduce the symptoms of eczema? Due to the complexity of eczema, it is impossible to quantify why exactly softened water helps the condition. However, British Water advises that there are enough successful reports to suggest the following: