Water softeners are frequently advertised on television as being a distinct advantage to a homeowner. A water softener removes hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium through an ion exchange process with soft minerals such as sodium and potassium. The hard minerals cause scale build-up throughout the plumbing system. This ion exchange produces "soft" water. Before making the investment into a water softener, you should understand that there can be disadvantages to this system.
Soft water can leach heavy metals, like lead, from your faucet and plumbing system. This means that when you initially turn on a faucet there is a greater chance it will contain a heavy metal, which can be harmful to your health. Also, soft water will have an higher amount of sodium (salt), which can be bad for your heart and blood pressure.
The cost of installing a water softener system ranges from £260 to £780, depending on the type of system you purchase and the size. It requires electricity to run, and you must fill the system with salt on a regular basis. The cost of running the system is between fifty cents and one dollar per day.
Water softener systems add sodium to waste water. This has become a major contaminant and recycling problem for waste-water treatment departments. Some cities or towns have actually banned or restricted the use of water softeners because of this. Also, the water that is used in recharging a water softener system can overload a small septic or sewer systems, which can result in raw sewage being released into the environment.
The added sodium in softened water is bad for houseplants. The salt restricts the free flow of water into the plant cells and can cause the plants to die of thirst.