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Eco Water Systems FAQ's

What is hard water?
Why is hard water a problem?
How is water softened?
How do I know if I have iron in my water?
How is iron removed from water?
How can I find out what is in my water?
If I need water treatment, is it expensive?
The authorities say my water is OK. Why do I need water treatment?
Why is it important to consume high quality drinking water?
Do water conditioners add sodium to my water?

1. What is hard water?
Hard water is caused by excessive levels of calcium and/or magnesium dissolved in water. The US Department of Interior classifies hardness based on the concentration of calcium and/or magnesium as measured in grains per gallon (gpg). To put this in perspective, a typical aspirin weighs about 5 grains (1 grain = 1/7000 pound). If the aspirin were dissolved in a gallon of water it would add 5 grains of aspirin to the water.

2. Why is hard water a problem?
Calcium and magnesium are the primary hard water minerals. Hard water reduces the ability of soaps to clean and produce suds, leaving a dingy gray residue on clothes, and spots on dishes.

Hard water is more abrasive than soft water. The tiny mineral particles combine with soap curd or detergents to become like little pieces of rock pounding away at clothing fibers and fragile glassware. Over a period of time, the structural integrity of the product is weakened. This means glasses become etched and the life of clothing is reduced.

Skin and hair are affected by hard water. A greater amount of shampoo and soap is needed to clean, and hard water doesn't rinse as well as soft water. That means soap residues remain, leaving skin susceptible to blemishes and hair less shiny.

Hard water is also tough on plumbing. It can cause scale to build on water heaters and pipes, limiting the water flow, reducing the life of the product and increasing operating costs and maintenance on water-using appliances.

Studies have shown that soft water saves time and money in the home.

3. How is water softened?
Water is conditioned by the use of a water conditioner. The hard water is passed through a tank containing resin beads coated with sodium ions or potassium ions. The calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for the sodium ions, thus conditioning the water. When the beads have trapped all the hardness they can hold, the unit is regenerated with salt brine to replace the hardness ions with sodium ions. The unit is then ready to condition water again.

4. How do I know if I have iron in my water?
Rust-colored stains on sinks, clothing and linens indicate the presence of iron in the water. Iron can also form scale in pipes and water-using appliances, and make food, water and water-using beverages look and smell bad.

Iron is measured in parts per million (ppm). The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 provided a recommended Secondary Drinking Water Regulation which suggests limits of 0.3 ppm of iron.

Even in concentrations as low as 0.3 ppm, iron can leave stains on sinks, dishes and cooking utensils, and give the water an unpleasant metallic taste. Iron affects both the color and the flavor of foods, and reacts with the tannins present in coffee, tea and some alcoholic beverages to produce a black sludge which affects both taste and appearance. An early form of ink was made in a similar manner by mixing iron salts with tannins.

5. How is iron removed from water?
Water readily dissolves iron from the earth's deposits. As the iron-bearing water enters the house it is usually clear and colorless but with a distinct iron taste. After exposure to the air, the iron precipitates and leaves behind the unsightly reddish-brown stains on sinks, showers, tubs, and clothes.

There are several ways to remove iron from water. The two most common types of equipment used are water conditioners (ion exchange) and oxidizing filters. EcoWater of North Florida normally recommends the use of a well-designed water conditioner which employs effective counter-current brining and backwash cycles. For applications requiring iron removal, homeowners should consult a water conditioning professional.

6. How can I find out what is in my water?
The easiest way to find out what is in your water is to call EcoWater of North Florida for a free water test. A trained Sales Representative will come to your home or business and conduct tests for hardness, iron, pH, nitrates, and total dissolved solids. They might also conduct tests for other constituents if they have reason to believe they are present. Additional flow and pressure tests will be performed on the water system to determine its operational capacity. After the tests are completed the consultant will explain the results and make recommendations for treatment if required. The entire procedure takes 30-45 minutes and is completely free.

7. If I need water treatment, is it expensive?
Not necessarily. In many cases water treatment can actually save money. For example, conditioning water to eliminate hardness can reduce the cost of soap, lower the cost of heating hot water, increase the useful life of water-using appliances, and increase the life of clothes and linens (See FAQ "Why is hard water a problem?"). It might also eliminate the need to purchase bottled drinking water or the need to take clothes to the laundromat to avoid the staining caused by irony water. The investment in water treatment equipment will, of course, depend on what is in your water. There are many Payment/Financing Options available, including financing tailored to fit almost any budget. In addition, there are low-cost alternatives available such as rental of automatic equipment as well as exchange tank service. In today's environment water treatment is not a luxury, it is a necessity that ensures the quality of life to which everyone aspires.

8. The authorities say my water is OK. Why do I need water treatment?
Local health and water department authorities only certify that water is potable. Water is deemed potable, or safe to drink, when and only when it is free of disease-causing organisms as well as toxic chemical contaminants. Water that is deemed potable does not necessarily mean that the water is palatable. To be palatable water must be free of detectable tastes and odors. It must also be free of turbidity as well as strong color. Tastes and odors can be traced to one or more of the following: decaying organic matter; living organisms; iron or manganese; the metallic products of corrosion, industrial waste pollution, and/or chlorination; and high mineral concentrations.

Water quality is determined by its use, and there are three types of water to be considered. The first is called utility water. An example of utility water would be water used to sprinkle the lawn, fight fires, or as wash-down water in a food processing plant. Working water is another type which includes water for bathing and cleaning. Working water quality needs to be better than utility water since it needs to be free of contaminants that leave behind hardness deposits, stains, or cause an odor. The third type is water for drinking. Obviously, drinking water needs to be of the highest quality to eliminate any contaminants that cause taste and odor as well as any disease causing organisms.

9. Why is it important to consume high quality drinking water?
For years health experts have advised that drinking plenty of water is necessary for a healthier life. Since 70% of your body is made up of water and 85% of your brain's gray matter is made up of water, the statement is true that 'You are what you Drink!' Imagine the benefit to you and your family if you drink filtered water every day.

10. Do water conditioners add sodium to my water?
Yes, although there are other alternatives. When water containing hardness minerals is passed through a water conditioner, the hardness minerals are exchanged for sodium. The amount of sodium added is dependent upon the hardness of the water being conditioned. If you like sodium free water, we sell potassium chloride as a substitute for salt. The other option you have available to reduce your sodium intake is to purchase a drinking water system to remove sodium. Please talk with a qualified Sales Representative from EcoWater of North Florida for more information.