Some homeowners decide between a water softener or a reverse osmosis system, but there are distinct advantages to having both treatment systems installed. Reverse osmosis removes contaminants that a softener does not. The softener's capturing of dissolved minerals protects the other system's membrane from early failure.
In this treatment system, water flows through a membrane before it reaches the taps. The membrane catches tiny contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia. It also captures a broad range of other toxins like harmful chemicals and heavy metals. Examples include chloride, chromium, and lead.
Many municipalities add fluoride to the city water supply, but some residents do not want this substance in their drinking water. Reverse osmosis blocks it.
Managing Hard Water
The level of dissolved minerals in tap water is determined by measuring grains per gallon. Reverse osmosis is useful for mineral removal when the amount is low. However, when water containing a high dissolved mineral content flows through a reverse osmosis system, scale builds up on the membrane and causes early failure. Before installation, homeowners must have the mineral level measured. Manufacturers void the warranty if the water is too hard.
Including a softener is the solution. A plumber places this appliance before the reverse osmosis equipment so it prevents minerals from reaching the other device.
Plumbers connect these systems to various taps in the home according to customer preferences.
A plumber usually installs a softener in a basement or first-floor utility room. This appliance can manage water that flows to all taps, or the plumber could bypass pipes where soft water is unnecessary. Bypassing the outdoor spigots is a common choice. Some people only want soft water for showers, bathtubs, and washing machines.
This equipment consists of a tank located under a sink and attached to a faucet. The most common place is the kitchen. The household residents use water from that tap for drinking, making coffee, cooking, and filling bowls for companion animals. Plumbers also can connect reverse osmosis systems to faucets where people brush their teeth.
Without these devices installed by a plumber, concerned household residents must buy bottled water products if they are unsure about safety. Some do, but the ongoing cost and inconvenience can be significant. Most people would rather simply turn on a faucet and fill a glass with clean, clear water.