Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Do I Need A Water Softener In Cincinnati?

We recently heard a local radio station running an ad for water softeners in the Greater Cincinnati Area. Having long been under the impression that Cincinnati water is among the finest in the country, we did a little checking. If our household runs on city water, why do we need anything more than a charcoal filter on the faucet?

Just What is Hard Water?
The experts at state “Hard water is simply water that is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium carbonate, and manganese. If you find that soap and shampoo don’t lather well, dishes are spotted, the bathtub has a ring, laundry is dingy, and the coffee maker has scale deposits, your home probably has a hard water problem.” Water calcium and magnesium salts are the minerals in water that are responsible for its hardness.

Water hardness is measured on a scale of 1-10 “grains per gallon”, as indicated on the scale below:

Grains per Gallon mg/L or ppm Water Hardness
Less than one Less than 17.1 Soft
1-3.5 17.1060 Slightly hard
3.5-7 60-120 Moderately Hard
7-10 120-180 Hard
Over 10 Over 180 Very Hard

How hard is Cincinnati’s municipal water?
According to, it’s surprisingly on the hard side of the water hardness scale. While hardness can create a more tasty drinking water, it can wreak havoc on your pipes, bathing/hair washing, laundry, hot water heater, and coffee maker.

In the Greater Cincinnati area, the GCWW Miller Plant (near California, OH) water has an average hardness 8 grains per gallon. Bolton Plant water (near Fairfield) has an average hardness of 147 milligrams per liter or 9 grains per gallon. Although hardness does not affect water safety, it makes it harder to get a good batch of suds going in the shower, kitchen sink and laundry. And the water heater takes a beating, too – hard water “scale” accumulates and increases the likelihood of premature failure.

According to a study commissioned by the Water Quality Research Council at New Mexico State University, water heaters operate 22 percent to 30 percent less efficiently when plagued with hard-water scale.

Types of Water Softeners
Salt-Based Ion Exchange Softeners (most common, requires about 9 square feet of floor space for the 2 tanks/piping and a regular supply of bagged salt). Salt-based softeners work through ion exchange, replacing hard minerals for sodium. For a complete explanation of how a conventional water softener works, please see: How a Water Softener Works.

Salt-Free Water Softener – (less common, small footprint, less effective). For those concerned about sodium intake, a salt-free option is available. This approach doesn’t reduce the hard minerals, but prevents them from being left behind in appliances and pipes. For more information, please see the article: Salt-Free Water Softeners.

Dual-Tank Water Softener – (less common, designed for heavy water demand). Typically, water softeners work by ‘regenerating’ during the wee hours of the morning, when water demand is at it’s lowest level. For homes or businesses that require soft water 24/7, the dual-tank option ensure that soft water is always available.

Size Matters
If you are considering installing a water heater, selecting the right size is important. As with water heaters, it’s good to know the demands of your household. With a softener, sizing depends on how frequently you wish to have the softener ‘regenerate’. They can regenerate as frequently as nightly or as infrequently as every 2-3 days. A good formula is to multiply the number of people in your home x 75 (gallons of water per person/per day), which equal the total amount of water used daily. Next, multiply the hardness grains per gallon x the total gallons per day of water usage. The resulting number will help you identify the softener capacity needed.

Water You Waiting For? If you are thinking of purchasing and installing a water softener, Call at 513-396-5300 or Contact Ray and discuss your needs. Our trained professionals are able to install, set up, and train you on water softener basics. We always come highly recommended and have earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau for our expert quality of service.