Water Softeners

Water softeners improve the quality of water by removing excessive minerals (usually calcium and magnesium). Mineral rich water is often referred to as hard water and measured in grains. Anything over about 5 grains per gallon of water is considered hard.

Hardness Rating Concentration of Calcium Carbonate (MG/L) Concentration of Calcium Carbonate (Grains/US Gallon)
Soft 0 to <75 0 to <5.2
Medium Hard 75 to <150 5.2 to <10.5
Hard 150 to <300 10.5 to <21
Very Hard 300 and greater 21 and greater

Source: The City of Calgary, 2003 Water Quality Report

Hard Water

The most obvious effect of hard water is that soaps and detergents lose some effectiveness. Instead of dissolving completely, soap combines with the minerals to form a coagulated soap curd. Because less soap is dissolved, more soap is required for effectiveness. Hard water also has maintenance implications for hot water tanks, toilets, humidifiers, dishwashers, icemakers and virtually any devise or appliance that uses water.

Mineral Buildup and Water Softening

Mineral buildup can reduce efficiency and require additional maintenance, including de-scaling. Your water softener has two tanks:

  • A mineral tank where the water softening actually takes place.
  • A brine or salt tank that flushes and cleans the mineral tank.

In some systems these two tanks are contained within one enclosure. Water softeners cycle or regenerate once every 3 or 4 days with a cycle of backwashing, recharging, and rinsing. The regeneration cycle can take several hours. It is best to schedule this cycle so that it happens at night when water demands in your home are low.

Choosing a Water Softener

It is important to select the appropriate size of water softener. This is determined by how hard your water is and your daily consumption in gallons. A unit that is too small will not decrease the water hardness enough and unit that is too large will waste salt and water. Refer to the owner╩╝s manual for suggested settings.

The type of mineral unit used to soften water also varies among water softening systems. Options include sodium or potassium. People who are on sodium-restricted diets should consider a potassium-based system while people who have a renal (kidney) dysfunction should consider a sodium-based system. Keep in mind that potassium-based water softeners cost 2-4 times the price of their sodium-based counterparts.

Useful Tip:

The Government of Saskatchewan╩╝s Ministry of Health maintains information on private sewage and wastewater disposal. Contact the Ministry for more tips, directions and guidelines.

Private Sewage Treatment Systems

If you have an on-site private sewage treatment system (i.e., you live in a rural area or on an acreage) it is very important that you understand how it works and know the maintenance procedures for your particular system. The system must be maintained correctly and regularly to ensure that it operates properly. A faulty sewage treatment system creates health hazards and contaminates the environment. Private sewage treatment systems may require regular servicing by a professional.

The installer of your sewage treatment system will have provided your builder with an Operation & Maintenance Manual. Make sure that your builder has provided this manual to you and familiarize yourself with the operation instructions and maintenance requirements for your particular sewage treatment system.

Maintenance and Other Considerations

  • Faulty sewage systems can create health hazards. Do read the operations and maintenance manual for your private sewage system.
  • Certain chemicals and products can alter the balance of bacteria and microbes that breakdown waste.
  • Do read the operations and maintenance manual for more information.
  • Most private sewage systems are located some distance away from the home and may have restrictions on what is placed or grown above or around them.
  • Do not park heavy construction equipment near or on top of the septic tank and disposal system.
  • Do not allow traffic on the system during the winter months.