Hard water takes a heavy toll on pipes, expensive white goods such as washing machines and dishwashers, and of course the home’s hot water system. Its impact is extensive as the water that feeds our homes and properties contains calcium and magnesium that it has picked up when passing through chalk beds in the ground. It is this hard water that brings with it a detrimental side in the form of limescale.
Without any intervention this will lead to a build-up of limescale which stays within the home’s hot water system and pipes, coating the heat exchanger, making the system less energy efficient and potentially shortening its, and other appliances’ working life. All this costs money to sort out through replacement, servicing and maintenance. Staggeringly, the problem of limescale costs the UK an estimated £1 billion every year.
Removing the effects of hard water
An effective water treatment system is vital for households and businesses in hard water areas to help lower the levels of energy consumption, reducing the chances of an expensive breakdown of the heating system to improve the working lifespan of appliances.
A water softener is undoubtedly the best product to gain the full benefits of soft water and limescale protection as it physically removes existing and prevents new scale from forming. It helps eradicate hard water problems for good, producing soft water each and every day.
Alternatives to water softeners include conditioners and certain limescale control devices (LCDs), such as electrolytic or magnetic devices. Whilst it is recognised there is a place in the marketplace for these, the fact they only offer a temporary relief to the effects of hard water, lasting only a few hours before reverting back to scale forming water, does not give the end user the 24/7 protection they desire. But the introduction of a softener goes way past just limescale prevention. With tangible differences that can actually be felt and seen, softeners also help household’s transform to a life without scale and scum. As a result, customers will benefit from sparkling, streak free surfaces, softer laundry, smoother skin and reduced cleaning time to get the same results and at a lower cost. Softeners by using less than 50% soap, cleaning agents and detergents when compared to hard water, leave less detergent residue on clothes, and anecdotal evidence has shown that they also help with skin conditions such as eczema.
Meet the water treatment needs of every house
The water softener market is estimated to be worth £40.5m per annum. This sales trend is expected to continue in future years being fully supported by the HHIC and leading boiler and chemical manufacturers’ position that every hard water home in the UK regardless of the type of boiler it has installed can have a water softener. With an industry-wide agreement, that as long as the primary side of the system is filled with hard water to ensure that the water softener installation complies with BS 14743, then there will be no issues at all. With this continued industry support, the net worth of installing a water softener will only continue to offer both a sustainable and profitable revenue source for installers who work in hard water areas.
Help lower the customer’s costs
Softened water helps reduce the need for detergent and other cleaning products by an estimated 50% because it doesn’t contain minerals that interact with soaps and detergents to lower their cleaning and lathering abilities. The average ‘hard water home’ can spend between £200 & £240 a year to overcome the effects of hard water when compared to soft water. The harder the water, the more cleaning agents and laundry detergents are required. Appliances’ life expectancy is significantly reduced. The life expectancy of a boiler’s heat exchanger is reduced by up to 80% with a hard water supply! As a result, the introduction of a water softener, with a proven payback period of less than four years should be seen as a long-term investment rather than a cost.
Additionally, unnecessary scale related costs for the repair and maintenance of appliances can be prevented. Remember, with a scaled boiler, you have to heat the scale before you can heat the water. Just 2mm of scale will increase hot water bills by 12%. 3mm and it rises to nearly 25%!
Selecting the right product
Modern day softeners have been designed around the needs of the UK’s kitchen and plumbing systems. In doing so, the modern water softener is now more compact, easier to install and simple to set up. Being straight forward to install means that the average installation can be completed in 3-4 hours.
More so than ever, they are also available for a widening range of supplies from 15, 22 and 28mm and in a range covering electric and non-electric models by manufacturers who recognise the need to offer more flexibility for installers to meet the varying supply needs of their customers. What is more being able to buy from a merchant at a trade discount enables the installer to offer a competitive supply and install quote for their customer and still make a good profit.
With the increase of efficient technology being incorporated into current softeners, big reductions in salt and water usage can be achieved through options such as proportional or Opti® brining where the system only regenerates the softeners’ resin that has been used. With these lower running costs, customers aware of their carbon footprint will also appreciate sending fewer chemical cleaners down the drain as well as reduced energy usage as a result of efficient heating.
Reassurance of reliability
Most of today’s softeners offer excellent reliability, lasting in some cases over 30 years. Installers, when recommending a softener should look to manufacturers that provide service engineers to undertake ‘at home’ warranty support, if ever needed, as well as checking for the most extensive warranty coverage. Not only does this provide reassurance to the customer that they are getting a quality product with full 24/7 service support for the duration of its lifetime i.e. 30+ years, it also allows the installer to simply fit and forget, leaving you to get on with other work.
Educate and build more sales
There are approximately over 13 million homes in hard water areas in the UK. Many of these households may not be aware of effective measures that can be taken against limescale and its effects. For installers, this presents the perfect opportunity to provide professional advice to ensure that the customer achieves the best solution for their home. It could be recommended to customers whilst attending to scale related boiler issues or hot water systems, when the damage that limescale causes is easily raised to help the customer understand the need for household and appliance protection for future limescale damage.
With over 35 years’ experience as a heating and plumbing engineer, Phil, known locally to his customers as the ‘The Water Softener Chap, commented; ‘It’s not always as straight forward as saying that you need a water softener to a customer to prevent limescale damage. Sometimes you need to educate them about the benefits of soft water, so I regularly have conversations around the benefits of having a scum-free bath or that they’ll be able to cut back on the detergent for their washing machines, as well as save money on their shopping bills. It’s talking about the real benefits that help to sell the subject. But, to help make the point I always have handy an old scaled up copper pipe, it helps illustrate the real effects of scale on their pipes. They get the point then!’
In mentioning his advice for selecting a softener, Phil commented further; ‘You tend to find a product and manufacturer that works for you, and you stick with it. I have been installing a mix of Monarch’s non-electric and electric softeners for a long time. It’s good that they have a good warranty and service team that always gives reassurance. But at the end of the day, it’s the machines’ reliability and performance that does it for me.’
Having ensured that your customers’ homes are protected from limescale, installers can look at other service areas and products to help their customers enjoy a better lifestyle and build profitable business for them. This, in a competitive marketplace, is an invaluable way to build customer relationships and future profitable business.