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The water flowing into your home may be free of harmful contaminants, but it may still not feel, look or smell very clean to you or your family. The problem could be hard water.

What Makes Clean Water Hard?

Hard water, while safe to drink, has a calcium and magnesium content greater than seven grains per gallon. This overabundance of minerals in your water can build up on pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and encourage stains on bathtubs, sinks, and glassware. Hard water can also leave soap and detergent residue, and therefore can be the reason for stiff, dull laundry as well as dry skin and frizzy hair problems. A water softener can solve these problems.

How do Water Softeners Soften Water?

Water softeners filter the offending calcium and magnesium from hard water by using “a negatively charged ion exchange resin” mixed with a sodium solution, according to water softener manufacturer EcoWater, an Ayla customer. The salt “enables the resin to collect and remove the hardness from your water.”

Don't Guess, Test

Before assuming that your home needs a water softener, however, you need to know for sure if your water meets the hard-water threshold. If your water comes from a community water system, ask the utility directly. If you use well water, have it tested. While softener installers usually will test your water free of charge, you might prefer to choose a test from an independent laboratory to ensure an unbiased result.

If the symptoms you’ve noticed in your home ultimately are diagnosed as a hard-water problem, how then do you decide which water softener is right for your home?

It’s a good idea to ask water softener dealers to recommend possible options. For example, you probably would not soften the water from your kitchen tap or garden hose, but you might want to soften the water running to your dishwasher and your shower.

Benefits of a Home Water Softener

What can you expect when you soften the hard water in your home? EcoWater provides the following list of benefits: 

  • Reduced build-up of film on tubs, sinks, faucets, and wall tiles 
  • Elimination of spotting on glassware, dishes, and flatware 
  • Whiter and brighter laundry, while using up to 50% less detergent
  • Exclusion of hard water residue in fabrics, which can help clothing last longer
  • Reduced mineral build-up in pipes and water heater
  • Up to 29% lowered energy consumption of your water heater
  • Longer life for water-using appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and coffee makers 

Because soft water cleans more efficiently than hard water, EcoWater says water softeners decrease the amount of soap and detergent that returns to groundwater and community water supplies. And, you use less water for rinsing.

Are Water Softeners Safe?

The use of water softeners historically has allowed salt to end up in fresh-water lakes and streams, potentially harming fish and other aquatic life. Recently, however, manufacturers have made strides toward developing smarter, more “earth-friendly” systems that cut down on the chloride released into the environment. 

The introduction of smarter, more environmentally conscious water softeners will have a positive impact on the industry’s global market value, which is expected to grow by $559.36 million between 2020 and 2024, reports market research firm Technavio.

Smart Water Softeners from AO Smith and Culligan

In addition to working with water softener manufacturer EcoWater, Ayla’s customers include AO Smith and Culligan.

AO Smith, perhaps known best for water heaters, also owns the water-softener brands WaterCare, WaterRight, and Hague Quality Water International. Hague, for example, offers smart water softener units with built-in monitoring technology and a feature that lets you manage your system from afar.

Culligan International, which has been softening residential water since 1936, also has entered the smart-home era with Culligan Connect,

a water-softener smartphone app built on the Ayla Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

If you have the Culligan high-efficiency (HE) water softener, using the app would help you: 

  • Control the water softener through your smartphone or other mobile device 
  • Conserve water and energy by tracking water usage 
  • Bypass treated water for outdoor cleaning and watering
  • Remember to reorder your salt supplies when they get low
  • Avoid flood damage if the system malfunctions while you’re away from home

And just as you can monitor your Culligan HE water softener from anywhere in the world, Culligan dealers likewise can monitor your softener’s system status and provide proactive service, thanks to Ayla’s IoT platform.

Manufacturers: Ayla can help you generate data from smart water softeners so you and your service people can:

  • Monitor the status and settings of installed units
  • Receive diagnostic and system status reports and error alerts remotely, at any time
  • Track usage data to make sure the system is sized correctly and to predict when it’s time to regenerate the salts
  • Contact customers when there’s a problem rather than waiting for customers to contact you
  • Save time and costs by knowing the nature of system errors before you send a technician to a customer’s home
 For more ideas about how Ayla can help you boost your water-management business, read Water Softener Company Enables Dealer Access and Water Treatment Use Case.