A water softener could be the perfect solution for your customer, but if you’ve never fitted one before then there are a few things you need to know. Kevin Johnson, MD at Monarch Water outlines a shortlist for consideration.
A water softener solves hard water problems. Hard water is simply water that is rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. If your customers’ find that soap and shampoo don’t lather well, the bathtub has a ring, laundry looks dull, and the kettle has scale deposits, their home probably has a hard water problem.
Though these natural minerals can create damaging deposits in their plumbing, boiler, and other water-using appliances, and make washing dishes, clothing, skin, and hair more challenging, they would all benefit from the installation of a water softener.
However before you install a softener it may be necessary to speak to the manufacturer to ensure you recommend the correct model to your customer, as under sizing can lead to water passing through the unit too quickly, not giving the unit enough time to work
A simple checklist for the installer:
- Check the pipe size where the softener is to be installed. Monarch offers a range of domestic softeners suitable for 15, 22 and 28 supplies.
- Know the incoming mains pressure. If the incoming pressure is below 1.4 bar then the softener may not function properly, and if it is over 5 bar then a pressure reducing valve may be needed.
- Check the number of people in the household, as the family size is one of the over-riding factors that determines which model is needed. A family size is based on allowing 160 litres per person per day (35 gallons)
- Check the location of the installation to ensure that salt can be filled and that the unit is accessible for any servicing that may be required.
- Check the type of plumbing system that the household uses ie storage tanks in the roof, combination boiler and pressurised system, as this determines the fixing kit required.
- Is there a drain facility nearby?
- Is there a power point nearby for electric models?
- Does the manufacturer have ‘in-home’ after sales support?
Where does it go?
Water softeners should be fitted near to the incoming mains water supply with access to a drain and for models that need electricity, a 13amp power point. Where immediate power supply is not available, softeners that do not require electricity are available. All models will also lose a small amount of pressure when installed, which will be in the region of 0.25 – 0.5 bar, so can be installed on high flow applications and direct feed applications.
Softeners will begin to produce softened water immediately, but if the plumbing system is one that has a cold water storage tank then it may take four or five days for 100% softened water to be coming through the system, but will be seen to be getting softer and softer as the new soft water mixes with the hard water.
Water Softener Size
When buying a new water softener, selecting one that is the right size is important in that it can handle the flow rate demand of the family’s water system and has minimal pressure drop. You’ll want to get one that can handle the demands of their household but is not unnecessarily large (and expensive). Physical size isn’t the issue—the unit’s ability to remove “hardness” from water is.
Water softeners are sold in several sizes, each rated by the family size they can provide soft water for, ideally the softener should be able to handle periods of larger-than-normal water usage i.e. when family or friends come to stay.
Vitally important is that it has ‘in-home’ service support by the manufacturer. Too many suppliers of low-cost units have no on-site (in-home) aftercare if ever needed. With today’s consumer rights, if ever it fails, it’s important to understand it falls on the installer to remove the softener, returning it to the merchant, with the merchant having to return it to the supplier, and then the process is repeated for when its returned and re-installed again, all at the cost of the installer and the merchant! You wouldn’t remove a boiler and return it to the manufacturer when the pilot light goes out, so why should an installer or merchant, be expected to do it with any other appliance?
Finding the Right Water Softener Company
It’s always best to choose a reputable supplier with many years’ experience as a manufacturer. Are softeners their main product line, as this ensures they have a full interest in the product? Be aware of today’s internet company offering cheap product with long guarantees to tempt you to a sale, is tomorrow’s ERROR 404!
Educate and build more sales
Water softeners are a profitable market and educating customers about the perils of limescale can have a positive impact on an installer’s work. The introduction of the right size softener and ensuring a happy customer could help lead to potential future referrals, as well as provide an installer with opportunities for other service areas and products to enhance both the customers’ lifestyle and an installers’ bottom line.