~ You use only 1/2 as much soap cleaning with soft water.
~ Because hard water and soap combine to form “soap scum” that can’t be rinsed off, forming a ‘bathtub ring’ on all surfaces and drys leaving unsightly spots on your dishes.
~ When hard water is heated, the hardness minerals are re-crystallized to form hardness scale. This scale can plug your pipes and hot water heater, causing premature failure, necessitating costly replacement.
~ The soap scum remains on your skin even after rinsing, clogging the pores of your skin and coating every hair on your body. This crud can serve as a home for bacteria, causing diaper rash, minor skin irritation and skin that continually itches.
~ For many industrial uses, the hardness minerals interfere with the process, causing inferior product.
As of this writing, the most economical way for you to soften your household water is with an ion exchange water softener. This unit uses sodium chloride (salt) to recharge man made plastic like beads that exchange hardness minerals for sodium. As the hard water passes through and around the plastic like beads, the hardness minerals (ions) attach themselves to the bead, dislodging the sodium ions. This process is called “ion exchange”. When the plastic bead, called Resin, has no sodium ions left, it is exhausted, and can soften no more water. The resin is recharged by flushing with salt water. The sodium ions force the hardness ions off the resin beads; then the excess sodium is rinsed away, and the resin is ready to start the process all over again. This cycle can be repeated many, many time before the resin loses it’s ability to react to these forces.
So, to correctly analyze your problem, you need to become a detective. The best time to locate the smell is after you have been away from home for a few hours — this allows your nose to become sensitive to “that smell” again. With your ‘sensitized’ nose, go to an outside spigot — one that the raw, untreated water flows from. Turn it on, let it run a few minutes, then smell it. If it smells — we found it. If not, we must look further. (Many, many smells are not in the raw water at all, they are introduced into the water inside the house.) Go to a cold, treated water spigot inside the house, turn it on and let it run a minute; then smell. If this water smells, and the outside, untreated water didn’t — you must have a device (cartridge filter, water softener, etc.) in the water line that needs to be cleaned and sanitized.
If it is a cartridge, or ‘string’ filter, replace the element and sanitize the housing. If you have a water conditioner call Florida Soft Water. If you rent the unit, just call! You can sanitize the unit by pouring Citric Acid or Chlorine Bleach in the brine well of the salt tank, and placing the unit into regeneration.
If the cold, treated water inside didn’t smell, turn on the hot water and let it run a few minutes — does it smell? If it does, chances are you have a sacrificial anode inside your hot water heater that is “coming apart at the seams” and throwing off a “rotten egg” odor. This obnoxious smell will drive you right out of your shower! The only solution is to remove the anode from the heater, voiding your warranty, or replace it with a new one made with aluminum alloy. This anode is placed in a (glass lined) hot water heater to seal up any cracks in the glass lining and prevent corrosion of the heater tank. You will find the anode on the top of the heater; remove the tin cover and insulation — look for what looks like a pipe plug — about 3/4 inch in size with a 1 1/16″fitting. Turn off the heat source and the water; have someone hold the tank to prevent it from turning, and unscrew the “plug”. You will find that the ‘plug’ has a 30 – 40 ” long pipe (or what’s left of one) attached to it. Hopefully, most of the rod is still attached — just corroded. If so, replace the plug with a real pipe plug and throw the anode away. If part of the rod has corroded off, and fallen into the heater, you may have to try to fish it out. Either way, before you plug the hole, pour about 2 pints of chlorine bleach into the heater first. This will kill the smell left in the heater. If, after a week or so, the smell returns, you must fish out the rod that is in the bottom of the tank. Good Luck!
Minor, musty smell
If it is a minor, or low-level smell, you MIGHT be able to solve it with a small, point-of-use carbon filter. You can place these types of filters on the water line going to the cold water where you draw you drinking water. Or, you might solve it with a whole-house filter on your incoming water line to filter all of the water inside your home.
Because carbon removes smells by ADsorbtion, ie, the smell “sticks” or “adheres” to the carbon particles, you must be careful not to exceed the manufactures recommended flow — some filters even have a flow restriction built in them. If you run water through them too fast, you will not remove the smells. Whenever you place a carbon filter in your water line, you must be sure to replace the element and sanitize the housing on a regular basis. Carbon filters remove organics from water, and the bacteria found in water like to eat organics — the carbon filter is a nice, dark place, just full of food for them to grow and reproduce in. Regular and routine replacement will help prevent any buildup of bacteria in the cartridge.
This type of iron is usually found in a surface water supply. This is water that contains red particles when first drawn from the tap. The easiest way to remove this type of iron is by a fine mechanical filter. A cartridge type filter is usually not a good solution, due to the rapid plugging of the element. Another method or removal is by feeding a chemical into the water to cause the little particles of iron to clump together, and then fall to the bottom of a holding tank, where they can be flushed away.
Soluable iron is called “clear water” iron. After being drawn form the well and contacting the air, the iron oxidizes, or “rusts”, forming reddish brown particles in the water. Depending on the amount of iron in the water, you may solve this problem with a water conditioner, or a combination of softener and filter. You may use an iron filter that recharges with chlorine or potassium permanganate, or feed chemicals to oxidize the iron and then filter it with a mechanical filter. You can sometimes hide the effects of soluble iron by adding chemicals that, in effect, coat the iron in the water and prevent it from reaching oxygen and oxidizing.
Colloidal iron is very small particles of oxidized iron suspended in the water. They are usually bound together with other substances. They resist agglomeration, ie, the combining together of like substances forming larger, heavier, more filterable ones, due to the static electrical charge they carry. This iron looks more like a color than particles when held up in a clear glass, as they are so small. Treatment is usually one of two: Feed chlorine to oxidize the organic away from the iron, thus allowing agglomeration to occur, or, feeding polymers that attract the static charge on the particles, forming larger clumps of matter that is filterable.
Iron bacteria are living organisms that feed on the iron found in the water, pipes, fittings, etc. They build slime all along the water flow path. Occasionally, the slimy growths break free, causing extremely discolored water. If a large slug breaks loose, it can pass through to the point of use, plugging fixtures. These types of bacteria are becoming more common throughout the United States. If you suspect bacteria iron, look for a reddish or green slime buildup in your toilet flush tank. This type of iron problem is very hard to eliminate. You must kill the bacteria, usually by chlorination. You must use high amounts of chlorine throughout your plumbing system to kill all organisms. You may find it necessary to feed chlorine continuously to prevent regrowth. A filter alone will not solve this problem.
When iron combines with tannins and other organics, complexes are formed that cannot be removed by ion exchange or oxidizing filters. This iron may be mistaken for colloidal iron. Test for tannins; if they are present, it is most likely combined with the iron. Low level amounts of this pest can be removed by use of a carbon filter, which absorbs the complex. You must replace the carbon bed when it becomes saturated. Higher amounts require feeding chlorine to oxidize the organics to break apart from the iron and cause both to precipitate into a filterable particle.