How My Conditioned Water Turned Me Into a Water Snob

by Diana M Published 1.2.2014

My name is Diana and I’m a water snob. After having water treatment equipment installed in my home and living with the difference the equipment can make, I’ve become accustomed to a certain condition of water.

I expect my home and self to have a clean, fresh appearance. My conditioned water helps me to achieve my expectations. Conditioned water eliminates the hardness minerals that cause unsightly stains and soap scum build up. Build up that can be in the plumbing, on tubs, sinks and faucets, in water using appliances and even on our skin and hair and clothes.

I have no use of harsh cleaning agents in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry and self. I use eco friendly cleaners and much less of them. The cleaners are not fighting the grime in the dishwasher or clothes washer, they are concentrating strictly on the item needing to be cleaned. This leaves my dinnerware and clothing looking new, my home looking fresh and clean; as does my hair and skin. My use of skin lotions and hair conditioners is minimal and I’m pleased at how much longer they last.

Water snobbery includes expectations for the water used in our home that we don’t always see—‘working water’ as it’s known in the industry. I know that the plumbing running through my walls is filled with water flowing freely without internal build up or corrosion. I know that my water using appliances are operating at peak performance.

Illustration of water snobs

These luxuries are now expectations. I expect the water out of my drinking water faucet to be clean, crisp, and refreshing with no unpleasant after (or during) taste. I expect my drinking water to inspire me to drink more water.

I take my water snobbery with me everywhere I go. The town in which I live has 4 car washes. I’m in the snow belt, so there are a lot of dirty cars here in the winter. Just 1 of the car washes uses reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis removes almost every dissolved mineral, metal or chemical that might be in a water supply. I wait as long as I must to use this car wash instead of the others. It makes no sense to me to pay to wash my car only to arrive home and see it covered in spots.

I pre-judge a restaurant and its food simply by looking at the table. If the dinnerware is clean and spot-free, I expect an enjoyable meal. I imagine that my soup will not be tainted with unwanted flavors from the water and I will not have the need to polish my fork under the table to remove unsightly spots. Based solely on the sparkle of the tableware, I feel the establishment is clean and I can relax.

I also know that when the check for the meal arrives, I won’t be paying inflated prices that cover the costs of inefficiently operated appliances within the restaurant. Water heaters and dishwashers use much more energy when their operating components are coated with hardness minerals. The dishwashers will also use much more detergents and the establishment operators will probably select detergents with harsher cleaning additives to work against the hard water and perform their intended job.

Detergents that can end up back in the water supply perpetuating the water problem, but we can discuss the life cycle of water another time.

I’m not alone as a water snob. This is a common fate of folks in the water treatment industry. A coworker and I were discussing a work-related trip she had been on. One look into her Hard Water Hotel bathroom told her volumes about her next morning.

From the stains in the bathroom, she knew that her morning beverage was not going to be the flavor she expected, it would be tainted by whatever stained the bathroom. She knew she could possibly be in for a bad hair day from the lingering minerals in her hair and that little bottle of shampoo was definitely not going to get her far. Her skin would probably feel tight, dry and itchy. What ended up surprising her was spotting on her pedicure and the amount of time required to buff her freshly painted digits of the hardness.

Are you a water snob? Do you share any of the characteristics of a water snob? Or do you have water heater elements that burn out before their expected time? Do you use a lot of ‘elbow grease’ cleaning the shower? It’s not just about seeing spots, although the aesthetics are huge. It’s also about efficiency with time, energy and environment. I would encourage everyone to be a water snob.

Contact Diana M.


How do water softeners know when to regenerate? Time-initiated vs. Demand-initiated

by Stuart P Published 6.10.2013

Once people learn what water softeners can do to improve water quality, they often ask specific questions about the regeneration process. One of the most common topics is how the softener knows when to regenerate itself. Let’s examine two major categories of water softeners, time-initiated and demand-initiated.

Time-Initiated

Regenerating a water softener based on time was one of the first methods developed for automatic operation. Timed units put an end to the days when the softener operator had to start the softener by hand. Many of these control valve designs incorporate either a motorized or digital clock which has selection options for both the start time and number of days between regenerations. When this type of softener is regenerating, the control valve opens a path for untreated water to go directly to the taps. The clock is often set to start regeneration in the middle of the night to minimize the amount of untreated water going to the faucets or into the water heater. The regeneration interval must be a number of whole days and can be as often as every night, or as infrequent as one week or more. Careful thought must be given to selecting this interval to prevent either salt waste or hard water going to the taps.

Consider this analogy of refilling your car’s gas tank by using a clock. After estimating how many miles you usually drive, and taking into account the size of your gas tank, you may decide to add 12 gallons every four days at noon no matter what. If you drive less than usual, you will overflow your gas tank at the pump. If you drive more than usual, you’ll run out and be stranded in the middle of a trip.

Illustration of a man filling up his car at the gas station while another man pushes his car down the street

Time-initiated softeners must be set based on estimates of water usage. If you have extra people visit, do extra loads of laundry, bathe your dog, wash your car or fill your kiddie pool more than what was planned, the softener will deplete and begin delivering hard water to the taps. Likewise, if you go on vacation and use no water at all, the time-controlled softener will regenerate needlessly and give you no value for the salt and water used each cycle. What is often done in practice is to be somewhat generous with the regeneration schedule, and plan for the worst case. This prevents hard water breakthrough for some cases of unplanned over-use, but is more costly to operate than a perfectly adjusted system.

Some softeners have sensors that can detect when regeneration is needed. These override the clock to some extent, but the unit still has to regenerate itself in the middle of the night in whole-day increments. This still the leaves the possibility for unexpectedly high or low water use in that one-day period to make a softener regenerate too late or too early. Still further sophistication to the time-based system adds an automatic adjustment of the salt to increase efficiency.

Demand-Initiated

Demand-initiated water softeners start their regenerations when the capacity is depleted, which could happen at any time. It’s like filling your car’s gas tank when the gauge says it’s empty. A meter integral to the control valve totalizes water passing through the system. Based on how hard the water is, the meter is adjusted to start regeneration when the softening resin reaches the end of its usefulness. When the meter gives the signal, the control valve begins a sequence of regeneration steps, which typically include drawing in brine, rinsing and backwashing. Afterwards, the tank is ready to put back into the service stream and soften again.

Some systems using demand initiation have small tanks and short regeneration times. That’s how they limit the passage of hard water going to the end user. Other demand systems have a second softening tank which goes into use as the other tank begins its regeneration. This system allows virtually no untreated water to escape to the end user. Both types of demand systems get consistently good salt efficiency since the resin beds are fully depleted and “hungry” for the salt being used every single time they regenerate. More softening capacity is captured in a fully depleted bed than a partially depleted bed just like a hungry person is more likely to finish their dinner than one who just ate.

Comparison / Conclusion

We’ve explored some basic differences between softeners using timers and those using demand-initiated regeneration. Perhaps knowing these differences will be useful to you if you ever seek water treatment for your own home or business.

Contact Stuart P.


It wasn't the soap, it was my water!

by Guest Bloggers Published 6.22.2012

L. Heiden has been in the water treatment business for more than 25 years. Currently, she is a National Account Executive for UL and is an active member of the Water Quality Association.

Before my 25 years working in the water treatment industry, all I knew about water was that it was wet and I liked to swim in it. As a child I lived several different places but the one I called home was my grandparent’s house in a small village in Northeastern Ohio. This was the home that my father and his siblings grew up in and eventually where I spent my teenage years.

As a teenage girl I took lots of showers. I remember we always used a beauty bar soap which was supposed to be made with “¼ moisturizing cream.”  Funny, but I also remember my skin feeling tight and dry and because of that, I always felt that this was bogus advertising.

As a young adult with a husband and new baby, I lived in the same house in the small village that I grew up in.  I finally got to choose which soaps I wanted to buy and use. I knew one thing; it would not be that bogus soap with the cream in it.  Well, it turned out that no matter what soap I bought, I always had that dry tight feeling after showering. To try and combat this, I’d pour on the lotions and goop up my baby girl with baby oil. This was only a temporary fix.

Eventually, my husband and I bought a house in the country, about fifteen miles away from the house in the village where I grew up. The water in the country was very different. Instead of that dry tight feeling, I was left with a sticky, filmy residue after showering.  It was at this time in my life when I was first introduced to water treatment.  It was like a light clicked on in my head when I started working at Kinetico. I finally learned why there was such a difference in my water when I lived in the small village versus the water in my home in the country. The house in the village was on a city water supply which took water from seven different wells (not always the same ones) every day and chlorinated it to make it safe to drink and use.  This chlorine was the source of my dry tight skin when I lived in my family home; the same feeling you get after swimming in a pool! The water in the country was supplied by a private well on our property. This water was not chlorinated so I did not get that dry tight feeling. However, it was loaded with iron and had a lot of hardness made up of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. The hardness in the well water, along with the iron, I learned, was binding with the soaps and creating a soap curd which clung to my skin and created that nasty sticky feeling after showering. A water softener to get rid of the hardness along with a prefilter ahead of it to trap the red iron and sediment was the cure. I was now able to enjoy my showers and guess what, I could even use that moisturizing soap and realized that the advertisement was not what was bogus it was my water quality!

Now as a mature adult, I’ve come full circle and once again live in the old family home in the village which is now considered a “city” as the population has grown to a whopping 5,000 people! When I first moved back there was an issue with the water meter. The city water department sent a technician to check it out. While he was working on the meter I told him how disgusting I found the water in our village to be. He was surprised and a little shocked.  He informed me that most people felt the water in our village was great.  I am not sure he understood the difference between people thinking the water was great and people not realizing how much better it could be. I’ll admit it …. I am now a water snob after becoming accustomed to dechlorinated - iron free - soft water thanks to my Kinetico equipment. It happens to the best of us. Once you have water without chlorine, minerals, iron and odor, it is difficult to go back to what you previously thought was “great” water.

 

Contact L Heiden


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