If you're tired of dealing with mineral buildup on your fixtures, dry skin from showering or brittle hair caused by hard water, it's time to look into a water softener for your home. While softened water is completely safe to drink, it's important to take care in installing a water softener since you and your family will be drinking water that originates from its tank. Bacterial growth or infiltration from your sewer line are possible if a water softener is not correctly installed. If you are in doubt, call a licensed plumber to make sure it is installed correctly. Here are some things to watch out for if you're installing a water softener for your home to ensure that you and your family are safe.
Don't Install A Used Water Softener, Since They Can Harbor Bacteria
Whether you're moving and wish to take your old water softener with you or are thinking of buying a used water softener from a private seller, purchasing a water softener that has sat unused for even a short period of time can be dangerous. When a water softener is drained and its tank sits dry for a long period of time, bacteria will eventually begin to grow on the inside of the tank. This isn't a concern under normal operation, because the heavily salted water in the softener system is incredibly inhospitable to most bacteria, so water that runs from the softener to the tank is free of bacteria. By purchasing a water softener that hasn't been used in a while, you run the risk of bacterial contamination in your home's drinking water.
Make Sure The Water Softener's Drain Line Has A Backflow Prevention System
When installing a modern water softener, you'll need to make sure that either you or the plumber correctly installs a backflow prevention system on the drain line. Older water softeners were not connected to the sewer line, so you may accidentally neglect this step if you are working with old information on water softener installation. The water softener's drain line connects directly to your sewer, and the purpose of the backflow prevention device (whether it's a double valve or an air gap) is to prevent any sewage from getting into the water softener. It also prevents any sewer gases like methane from exiting the sewer line. Since the water softener connects directly to your family's drinking water, it's important to ensure that no sewage or sewer gases enter into the water softener's tank. It's a serious health hazard to install a water softener or whole house filtration unit without proper backflow prevention.
Clean Your Water Softener Annually, Especially If Using Well Water
You should have plumbing services or water filtration services come clean out your water softener annually to make sure your water softener is in good working order and isn't harboring any byproducts from bacteria. This is especially important if you are using a water softener to soften your hard well water, because wells tend to contain more bacteria than municipal water supplies. There are some types of bacteria that are common in well water that are not harmful, but will cause the water in your home to taste off; a smell like rotten eggs or dirt coming from your water softener is a sign that you are dealing with these types of bacteria in your well pump. In order to keep the water from your tap from acquiring these tastes, you'll have to clean your softener regularly.
Don't forget that it's possible to install a water softener on any line in your home, although it's likely that you will need a plumber's expertise in order to do so. Some homeowners find that they don't like the taste of soft water after becoming used to drinking the hard water from their tap, but wish to soften the water in their home to prevent mineral buildup in their plumbing fixtures. You can ask a plumber to install a water softener that only connects to your fixtures while leaving the fixtures you get drinking water from (such as the kitchen sink) on the hard water supply. Contact a service, like Roto-Rooter, for more help.