Greenwood Plumbing & Heating

Servicing Rhode Island and Southern MA
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The Importance of Water Softeners

The terms “hard” and “soft” water are often thrown around the plumbing and heating industry, but to the average homeowner, it can get confusing. It has nothing to do with texture at all – instead, it’s all about the minerals in your water. As you can imagine, hard water has a bunch of minerals (calcium and magnesium), and soft water has less.

What’s wrong with hard water? It’s not toxic or harmful to your health, but it can damage your pipes and other metal appliances (think kettles, pots, pans) with a residue called scale. Hard water features abrasive chemicals and minerals that can affect your dishes, clothes, hair, and skin. If your home runs on a well system, the sediment coming from the well travels through your taps unfiltered with high levels of minerals and other deposits. That’s where a water softener comes in. A water softener is a small appliance attached to your water pump that ionizes all minerals found within the water before it reaches your faucet. If your tap water leaves spots on dishes or has an unusual smell, contact us to test your home for hard water. There are three different water filtration systems available: Reverse Osmosis, Ion Exchange, and Granular Activated Carbon.

Only having a water softener will still leave you with many impurities in your water. But, if you only have a reverse osmosis system, your hard water will only have little improvement. An ion exchange water softener exchanges the hardness minerals, calcium, and magnesium, for sodium minerals. This soft mineral is contained on the softener resin beads and does not build up on surfaces as scale deposits. Granular Activated Carbon is mostly used for the removal of chlorine, chloramines, bad taste, and odors in water. It is also used to remove organic compounds, herbicides, pesticides, and surfactants. Most minerals are not removed when filtering through the carbon.


1) There are a few different ways to control how your water softener runs, and the one you choose determines how much soft water will be available to you during the recharging process.

2) An automatic regenerating system recharges on a regular schedule using a timer, but soft water is not available while recharging. This is the most popular type of system.

3) A computer-controlled system recharges based on how much water passes through the system, which allows for some soft water access.

4) Mechanical water meters are different because it uses no electricity to recharge, using only a meter to check water usage. With this system, soft water is always available, even during recharging.

5) The water softening process can appear confusing at the surface, but it’s not all that hard. We encourage you to call the experts here at Greenwood for all questions you may have about the process. We’ll check your water, diagnose the problem, give you solutions, install the system, and routinely maintain it for you. We’re just a quick phone call away! Call us at 401.738.9245.