Most frequent questions and answers

Source : WQA

Do you need to winterize your water softener or filter? And if so, what does winterization involve? That depends on the situation…

If you keep your water softener or filter in the basement of an occupied home, you shouldn’t have to worry about winterization. You will want to winterize your system if you have any of the following:

  • A unit installed in an unheated garage
  • A vacation home you’re not using in the winter
  • You leave your home for an extended winter vacation

In all of these situations, it is smart to take precautions that ensure your water softener will be protected in below freezing temperatures. Frozen pipes could lead to pipes that burst, which could cause significant damage to your property as well as your water treatment equipment.

Let’s take a look at some helpful advice.
Insulation and Extra Heating

For people who plan to continue using their water softener during the winter, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure it doesn’t freeze in cold weather.

If you live in a milder climate, where the weather doesn’t get extremely cold, insulating your pipes and tanks should be enough to protect your system during the winter. You can purchase pipe insulation wrap at any home improvement store. Heat tape or electric pipe heating cables for the water lines are also a good idea.

When it comes to water softener tanks, some homeowners have an insulated box built around the system. You can also purchase plumbing insulation in sheets, or wrap an insulation blanket around them. There are even special jackets designed specifically for water softener tanks.

Because of the salt saturation, your brine tank is only likely to freeze in very cold climates where temperatures can drop below zero.

If you are using your water softener year round, the most important thing is to keep it warm enough to prevent freezing, which is why a space heater in your garage can help.

Remember, you only need to keep the temperature above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and you should always take safety precautions as per the manufacture when using a space heater. Only turn it on when you know it is necessary.

Running water will also prevent freezing. If you’re only going to be away for a few days, you could leave a faucet running at a slow trickle to keep things moving in those pipes while you’re gone. Although not a cure-all, this will at times, prevent full-on freezing and bursting from freezing pipes.
Draining and Disconnecting a Water Softener

If you do not plan on using your water softener during the winter, and the heat in your residence will be turned off during that time, there are specific steps you should follow to disconnect, drain, and store your system.

It is recommended that you drain the tanks. This ensures there won’t be any water left in the system that could freeze and cause damage. You’ll need to put the softener into its regeneration cycle and wait until you notice the system backwashing water into the drain.

At this point, if your water softener has a manual bypass valve, it should be put into the bypass position to turn off the supply of water to the water softener. This will isolate and protect your system from the rest of the building’s supply of water during this time.

Remove the unit from the bypass valve and proceed to remove the valve from the tank. Once the riser tube is exposed, use plastic 3/8” – 1/2” plastic-tubing long enough to each the bottom of the riser tube and lower distributor. Siphoning the water from the media tank is recommended at this point.

The slower process of siphoning will ensure that all the water is removed from the tank. After water has stopped flowing from the siphon tubing, allow the tank to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. This additional time allows for all the water to completely settle to the bottom of media tank. At that time you can attempt to siphon the balance of water which has settled out.

The majority of standing water should be scooped out of the brine tank, but the solution that’s left should not freeze because of the high salt content.

Consult your user’s manual for detailed instructions on how to completely drain your tanks, or call a water treatment professional for help.

Next, unplug the water softener or turn off the switch to the power source.

You should be able to leave the brine tank in the cold, but you may want to completely remove and store your softener tank in a warmer area.
Still Have Questions? Find a Water-Right Expert!

Clear water is not always a sign of clean water, report from CNN below.


If your water is soft meaning low in har­dness minerals you generally don’t have an issue with limescale deposits. Howeve­r, if you have hard water (most people do) and it’s not treated you’ll see calcium carbonate deposits on your fixtures etc. So, what causes scale to deposit?

When calcium levels become supersaturated in water it can no longer be held in solution and it’s for­ced out, combining with bicarbonate to form calcium carbonate in its calcite sta­te. There are two ma­in causes of supersa­turation:

  1. Temperature incre­ase, the most obvious as we see scale in kettles and on heat elements.
  2. A pH increase, of­ten due to a drop in pressure as carbonic acid flashes off as CO2 (think of the pssssst when you open Coke bottle). The acid reduction causes the pH to shoot up. You’ll have noticed cold water scaling at drinking water fountains.

1. Many dealers will advertise a no salt water conditioner. Any brand of water conditioner can be operated without using salt. This is done by using a salt substitute, potassium chloride. It generally costs twice as much as regular salt ( sodium chloride ), and can be difficult to find in some areas. Also, it is recommended to increase the salt setting on your control valve by about 10 % , when using a salt substitute. This is because it is not as efficient in providing the needed negative ions to the resin beads as regular salt.

2. Some companies offer catalytic filters and/or magnetic or Anti-Scale devices to “soften” your water that do not use salt, or anything else to regenerate their product. Buyer beware! If a technology had been developed that could replace a resin based water conditioner, then everyone would be selling it. I know I would. Those salt bags are heavy!
If you have a water softener now, you will be very dis-pleased with the over priced “Anti-Scale” products, should you switch.
I’ve been told that many times over the years by people who tried them.

For more details, I’d recommend this webpage written by a retired chemist. http://www.chem1.com/CQ/
And this one, http://www.uswatersystems.com/blog/2010/12/no-sal…
And this one, http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/plumbing/msg…
Please do some “home work” before you waste a lot of money on something that sounds too good to be true.

*** Another customer wrote / asked:

I was tempted to switched to salt-free water conditioning system. What’s your opinion on those unit like www.nuvoh2o.com ? They claimed that you only need to replace the filter cartridge twice a year making it almost maintenance free?

My opinion is they don’t work… they do NOT soften the water, nor do they remove manganese or iron from the water.

Their “anti-scaling” process is very limited in it’s benefit. And anyone who has enjoyed true “conditioned” water, is always disappointed if they switch to this OVER PRICED method.

You won’t find those “testimonials” on their website.

And the Filter Cartridges are just Carbon Filters, because the media can not tolerate chlorine in the water supply, so it must be removed first.

Most Dealers use full size tanks with 1 cu.ft. of activated carbon instead of “cartridges” for better flow rate, and longer time before needing replacement of the carbon ( every 1 – 5 years depending on application ).

Millions of people take the safety of their food, water and consumer products for granted on a daily basis. Why? Because of three letters: NSF. NSF certification is your key to making sure that the products you use meet strict standards for public health protection.

Choosing a product certified by NSF lets you know the company complies with strict standards and procedures imposed by NSF. From extensive product testing and material analyses to unannounced plant inspections, every aspect of a product’s development is thoroughly evaluated before it can earn our certification.

Most importantly, NSF certification is not a one-time event, but involves regular on-site inspections of manufacturing facilities and regular re-testing of products to ensure that they continue to meet the same high standards required to maintain certification over time. If for any reason a product fails to meet one or more certification criteria, NSF will take enforcement actions to protect you, including product recall, public notification or de-certification.

Products that earn NSF certification are said to be “NSF certified” or “NSF listed” and display the applicable NSF certification mark to show that they have been tested by one of today’s most respected independent product testing organizations.

1. Hard water

1.1 What is hard water?

When water is referred to as ‘hard’ this simply means, that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. These are especially the minerals calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness of the water increases, when more calcium and magnesium dissolves.
Magnesium and calcium are positively charged ions. Because of their presence, other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily in hard water than in water that does not contain calcium and magnesium.
This is the cause of the fact that soap doesn’t really dissolve in hard water.

1.2 Which industries attach value to hardness of water?

In many industrial applications, such as the drinking water preparation, in breweries and in sodas, but also for cooling- and boiler feed water the hardness of the water is very important.


2. Water softening

2.1 What is water softening?

When water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, it is called hard water. Hard water is known to clog pipes and to complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water.
Water softening is a technique that serves the removal of the ions that cause the water to be hard, in most cases calcium and magnesium ions. Iron ions may also be removed during softening.
The best way to soften water is to use a water softener unit and connect it directly to the water supply.

2.2 What is a water softener?

A water softener is a unit that is used to soften water, by removing the minerals that cause the water to be hard.

2.3 Why is water softening applied?

Water softening is an important process, because the hardness of water in households and companies is reduced during this process.
When water is hard, it can clog pipes and soap will dissolve in it less easily. Water softening can prevent these negative effects.
Hard water causes a higher risk of lime scale deposits in household water systems. Due to this lime scale build-up, pipes are blocked and the efficiency of hot boilers and tanks is reduced. This increases the cost of domestic water heating by about fifteen to twenty percent.
Another negative effect of lime scale is that it has damaging effects on household machinery, such as laundry machines.
Water softening means expanding the life span of household machine, such as laundry machines, and the life span of pipelines. It also contributes to the improved working, and longer lifespan of solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.

2.4 What does a water softener do?

Water softeners are specific ion exchangers that are designed to remove ions, which are positively charged.
Softeners mainly remove calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions. Calcium and magnesium are often referred to as ‘hardness minerals’.
Softeners are sometimes even applied to remove iron. The softening devices are able to remove up to five milligrams per litre (5 mg/L) of dissolved iron.
Softeners can operate automatic, semi-automatic, or manual. Each type is rated on the amount of hardness it can remove before regeneration is necessary.

A water softener collects hardness minerals within its conditioning tank and from time to time flushes them away to drain.
Ion exchangers are often used for water softening. When an ion exchanger is applied for water softening, it will replace the calcium and magnesium ions in the water with other ions, for instance sodium or potassium. The exchanger ions are added to the ion exchanger reservoir as sodium and potassium salts (NaCl and KCl).

2.5 How long does a water softener last?

A good water softener will last many years. Softeners that were supplied in the 1980’s may still work, and many need little maintenance, besides filling them with salt occasionally.

3. Softening salts

3.1 Which types of salt are sold for application in a water softener?

For water softening, three types of salt are generally sold:
– Rock salt
– Solar salt
– Evaporated salt

Rock salt as a mineral occurs naturally in the ground. It is obtained from underground salt deposits by traditional mining methods. It contains between ninety-eight and ninety-nine percent sodium chloride. It has a water insolubility level of about 0.5-1.5%, being mainly calcium sulphate. Its most important component is calcium sulphate.
Solar salt as a natural product is obtained mainly through evaporation of seawater. It contains 85% sodium chloride. It has a water insolubility level of less than 0.03%. It is usually sold in crystal form. Sometimes it is also sold in pellets.
Evaporated salt is obtained through mining underground salt deposits of dissolving salt. The moisture is then evaporated, using energy from natural gas or coal. Evaporated salt contains between 99.6 and 99.99% sodium chloride.

3.2 Should we use rock salt, evaporated salt or solar salt in a water softener?

Rock salt contains a lot of matter that is not water-soluble. As a result, the softening reservoirs have to be cleaned much more regularly, when rock salt is used. Rock salt is cheaper than evaporated salt and solar salt, but reservoir cleaning may take up a lot of your time and energy.

Solar salt contains a bit more water-insoluble matter than evaporated salt. When one makes a decision about which salt to use, consideration should be given to how much salt is used, how often the softener needs cleanout, and the softener design. If salt usage is low, the products could be used alternately.
If salt usage is high, insoluble salts will build up faster when using solar salt. Additionally, the reservoir will need more frequent cleaning. In that case evaporated salt is recommended.

3.3 Is it harmful to mix different kinds of salt in a water softener?

It is generally not harmful to mix salts in a water softener, but there are types of softeners that are designed for specific water softening products. When using alternative products, these softeners will not function well.
Mixing evaporated salt with rock salt is not recommended, as this could clog the softening reservoir. It is recommended that you allow your unit to go empty of one type of salt before adding another to avoid the occurrence of any problems.

3.4 How often should one add salt to a softener?

Salt is usually added to the reservoir during regeneration of the softener. The more often a softener is regenerated, the more often salt needs to be added.
Usually water softeners are checked once a month. To guarantee a satisfactory production of soft water, the salt level should be kept at least half-full at all times.

3.5 How come water sometimes does not become softer when salt is added?

Before salt starts working in a water softener it needs a little residence time within the reservoir, since the salt is dissolving slowly. When one immediately starts regeneration after adding salt to the reservoir, the water softener may not work according to standards.
When the water softening does not take place it could also indicate softener malfunction, or a problem with the salt that is applied.

4. Softening costs

4.1 How much does a water softener cost?

Some softeners are more efficient than others and as a result the prizes may differ. There are time operated softeners and water meter-controlled softeners available. The water meter-controlled units produce the softest water per pound of salt.
Some softeners work on electricity, but some more recent water softeners use waterpower. Costs of a water softener greatly depend upon the type of water softener and the type of energy that is used, but also upon the hardness of the water that needs softening and the water use. When the water is very hard and it is used heavily, the costs of softening will rise.

Generally the costs of a water softener can vary between $ 0,20 and $ 0,40 a day.
The costs of water softeners are usually far outweighed by the benefits and cost savings obtained, through using softened water.

4.2 How much does a water softener cost during operation?

The running cost is merely the cost of salt. This is likely to be around $ 1,95 per person in the household in a month.

5. Softening drinking water

5.1 Do water-producing companies always produce softened water?

Although water-producing companies do have the opportunity to produce softened water, they will not always do so. A water producing company only has to add a water softener in its water purification system, to produce softened water cheaply.
But than consumers would not be able to have the choice to drink un-softened water.
Hard water problems are most likely to occur when water is heated. As a result, hard water causes few problems to the water supplying companies, especially when only cold water runs through their pipes.

5.2 Is softened water safe to drink?

Softened water still contains all the natural minerals that we need. It is only deprived off its calcium and magnesium contents, and some sodium is added during the softening process. That is why in most cases, softened water is perfectly safe to drink. It is advisable that softened water contains only up to 300mg/L of sodium.
In areas with very high hardness the softened water must not be used for the preparation of baby-milk, due to the high sodium content after the softening process has been carried out.

5.3 Can salt from softening installations enter drinking water?

Salt does not have the opportunity to enter drinking water through softening installations.
The only purpose of salt in a water softener is to regenerate the resin beads that take the hardness out of water.

5.4 How much sodium does one absorb from softened water?

The sodium uptake through softened water depends on the hardness of the water. Averagely, less than 3% sodium uptake comes from drinking softened water.
Estimates say that a person consumes about two to three teaspoons of salt a day, from various sources. Assuming a daily intake of five grams of sodium through food and the consumption of three quarts of water, the contribution of sodium (Na+) in the water from the home water softening process, is minimal compared to the total daily intake of many sodium-rich foods.

5.5 Will softening drinking water deprive it of essential minerals?

Softening will not deprive water of its essential minerals. Softening only deprives drinking water of minerals that cause the water to be hard, such as calcium, magnesium and iron.

6. Softeners maintenance

6.1 When does a softener resin need replacement?

When the water does not become soft enough, one should first consider problems with the salt that is used, or mechanical malfunctions of softener components. When these elements are not the cause of the unsatisfactory water softening, it may be time to replace the softener resin, or perhaps even the entire softener.
Through experience we know that most softener resins and ion exchanger resins last about twenty to twenty-five years.

6.2 Does a softener brine tank need cleaning?

Usually it is not necessary to clean out a brine tank, unless the salt product being used is high in water-insoluble matter, or there is a serious malfunction of some sort.
If there is a build-up of insoluble matter in the resin, the reservoir should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction.

6.3 What is ‘meshing’ and why should we avoid it?

When loosely compacted salt pellets or cube-style salt is used in a resin, it may form tiny crystals of evaporated salt, which are similar to table salt. These crystals may bond, creating a thick mass in the brine tank. This phenomenon, commonly known as ‘meshing’, may interrupt brine production. Brine production is the most important element for refreshing of the resin beads in a water softener. Without brine production, a water softener is not able produce soft water.

7. Softener operational questions

7.1 Can brine from softeners damage a septic tank?

The Water Quality Association has performed studies on this subject. These studies have indicated that a properly placed septic tank that works adequately cannot be damaged by brine that is discharged from a water softener. And softened water can sometimes even help reduce the amount of detergents discharged into a septic tank.

7.2 Can a water softener be used with lead pipes?

Lead pipe systems have to be replaced, before softened water can flow through them. Although lead pipe systems in hard water areas may not cause a problem, it is advisable to replace them anyway. When naturally or artificially softened water ends up in these lead pipe systems, it may cause the pickup of lead.

7.2 Can one measure water hardness inline?

Yes, although the measurement system is mainly applied in industrial water softeners.

8. Softening in households

8.1 Can a water softener be taken along during moving?

With modern water softeners, it is very possible to take them along during moving. Installation techniques involve quick fitting connections, similar to those used for laundry machines.
All that has to be done is closing off the inlet and outlet valves of the softener and open up the bypass valve, allowing hard water to flow to the storage tank and household taps. After that the softener can be disconnected, moved to its new location and placed there.

8.2 Can waste from a water softener be discharged directly in the garden?

As brine alters the osmotic pressure that plants rely upon to regulate water needs, direct discharge of either sodium or potassium chloride brine should be avoided.

8.3 Is softened water any help for dry skin conditions?

There are cases to be noted, in which people with dry skin conditions have benefited from water softening, because soft water is kinder to the hair and skin.


When water is referred to as ‘hard’ this simply means, that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. These are especially the minerals calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness of the water increases, when more calcium and magnesium dissolves.

Magnesium and calcium are positively charged ions. Because of their presence, other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily in hard water than in water that does not contain calcium and magnesium.
This is the cause of the fact that soap doesn’t really dissolve in hard water.

Ontario’s air quality has improved steadily since 1988. We have good air quality approximately 90 per cent of the time.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an indicator of our air quality, based on pollutants that have adverse effects on human health and the environment. The pollutants are ozone, fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and total reduced sulphur compounds.

If the AQI falls below 32, the air quality is considered good or very good. An AQI reading between 32 and 49 indicates moderate air quality, and an AQI reading from 50 to 99 indicates poor air quality. A reading over 99 indicates very poor air quality.

The new SHARP monitor is able to detect additional components of PM2.5, especially during cold weather. As a result of this improvement in monitoring technology, there is potential of reporting higher PM2.5 concentrations during the winter months. This is a reflection of more accurate measurements and does not necessarily mean that Ontario’s air quality is changing. The air is the same; only the monitoring method has changed.

  1. On this website: http://www.airqualityontario.com. This site provides Air Quality Index (AQI) readings, ambient air pollution data and air quality forecasts, as well as information on actions that can be taken when a smog alert is issued. You can also subscribe to the ministry’s smog alert network, and receive an automatic email whenever the ministry issues a smog watch or smog advisory.
  2. By telephone: You can get AQI readings from recorded telephone messages by dialing 1-800-387-7768 (toll-free) or 416-246-0411 in Toronto. To obtain AQI readings in French, dial 1-800-221-8852.

  3. Via radio and television: The MOE has worked for many years with news media across Ontario to inform the public about smog conditions. This will continue to be a crucial method for communicating information about smog and actions that can be taken to reduce smog-causing emissions. This smog season you can expect your local radio and television stations to add smog watches and smog advisories to their weather forecasts.

In 2002, Ontario was the first province in Canada to introduce monitoring of PM2.5 to the Air Quality Index. The ministry reported real-time PM2.5 with the Thermo Scientific TEOM 1400AB/SES until December 31, 2012. Continuous PM2.5 monitoring technologies have evolved dramatically over the last decade. The network is now reporting real-time PM2.5 concentrations using Thermo Scientific SHARP 5030, an approved Class III Federal Equivalent Method designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2009. Ontario evaluated the SHARP monitor starting in 2009, and adopted this method in 2012 in concurrence with Environment Canada. In 2013, the SHARP monitors were deployed across Ontario’s AQI network.

When looking for a way to clean the air inside a home, it’s easy to become confused about terminology. For example, many people think that air purifiers are different than air cleaners. In reality, they are the same. The terms air purifier and air cleaner are completely interchangeable. By understanding what air purifiers are and how they work, it’s easier to zero in on the right one.

Indoor Air Pollutants and Air Purifiers

Before looking for an indoor air purifier, or air cleaner, it helps to have a basic understanding of the types of air pollutants that are often found in homes. This knowledge makes it easier to find air cleaners and air purifiers that effectively clean the air. With a basic understanding of indoor air pollutants, it is easier to make sense of the descriptions of today’s most popular air cleaners.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases or vapors that are emitted by many everyday household items. They may be emitted by things like new carpeting, paints, adhesives, varnishes, glues, and disinfectants. To determine whether a household product contains VOCs, look for ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, chloride, ethylene, and benzene. Some air cleaners are designed to filter VOCs from the air, but others aren’t capable of doing so. If this is an important factor, look for air purifiers with filters that pull VOCs out of the air.

Odors and Gases

Some air cleaners can largely eliminate odors and gases from the air in a home. They do so with activated carbon filters, which are included on just about every air purifier and air cleaner that’s on the market today. These filters use a process called adsorption to force these gases and odors to become attached using a chemical reaction. Common gases and odors include aerosols, tobacco smokes, cooking odors, indoor pesticides, kitty litter, and toxins.

Airborne Particles

Most people buy air purifiers and air cleaners to eliminate airborne particles from their homes. Airborne particles include things like dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, plant spores, and fungi. These types of particles exacerbate conditions like asthma and allergies, so it is smart to eliminate from the air inside a home. HEPA filters are considered to be the most effective in eliminating these particles, which can vary in size considerably but are all microscopic.

The size of the average airborne particle is measured in microns. One micron equals 1/25,000 of an inch. To be classified as a HEPA filter, a filter must be able to pull 99.97 percent of airborne particles that measure as small as 0.3 microns.

Particle TypeSize
Smoke0.003 microns to 0.04 microns
Bacteria0.3 microns to three microns
Fungi0.5 microns to five microns
Pet dander0.3 microns to 100 microns
MoldTwo microns to 20 microns
Pollen10 microns to 100 microns
Dust mite10 microns to 40 microns
Plant spore10 microns to 70 microns


Some air purifiers are designed to pull microorganisms from the air. In some cases, air cleaners also kill microorganisms using UV rays and other techniques. Bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and antigens are all microorganisms. Mold falls into this category as well.

Types of Air Filters

Whether it’s called an air purifier or an air cleaner, the most important components of this type of machine are its air filters. Indeed, most air purifiers and air cleaners contain at least two air filters. Some use three or four different air filters. One of the easiest ways to find the right air purifier is by looking for models that have specific types of filters. To do that, learn about the main characteristics of today’s most popular air filters.

Activated Carbon Filters

This type of filter isn’t generally used alone. Instead, it’s often used in conjunction with HEPA filters and other air filters. Activated carbon uses a chemical reaction called adsorption to pull odors, gases, and vapors from the air. The carbon that is found in these filters is treated with oxygen, which forces millions of small openings to develop. With an increased surface area, an activated carbon filter can pull odors, gases, and vapors from the air for a very long time. Some activated carbon filters can also pull VOCs from the air. They contain an extra chemical, which is known as a chemisorbent, which traps them in the filter or makes them harmless.


Ion and Ozone Generators

Although they aren’t technically filters, ion and ozone generators are designed to do the same thing: remove impurities from the air. However, instead of filtering them out, they just make them cling to surfaces around a room. These generators also often release ozone as a byproduct. This can be problematic because ozone is considered to be a lung irritant.

Electrostatic Precipitators

The same process that is used with ozone and ion generators is used with electrostatic precipitators. The primary difference is that electrostatic precipitators actually filter impurities out of the air too. However, they can also product ozone as a byproduct, so air purifiers that use this technology may not be suitable for people with respiratory conditions. The impurities are collected on plates that can be washed, so there’s no need to buy replacement filters.

Charged Media Filters

The description of these filters is almost identical to those of electrostatic precipitators. The main difference is that these filters actually use filters. They don’t use plates. As a result, it is necessary to change the filter from time to time. One of the best things about these filters is that they can trap extremely microscopic particles. Like electrostatic precipitators and ion and ozone generators, however, they also produce ozone.


If large particles are allowed to make contact with sensitive filters, air purifiers and air cleaners won’t work as effectively or as efficiently. That is why the vast majority of these machines have pre-filters as well. A pre-filter’s job is to pull larger particles from the air to keep them from being passed along to HEPA filters and other types of filters. They are typically made out of woven nylon or foam. In most cases, they can be cleaned again and again.

Antibacterial and Germicidal Filters

The only way to eliminate a huge percentage of germs and bacteria from the air is by purchasing an air purifier that includes antibacterial or germicidal filters. Sometimes, this technology involves the use of UV rays. Other times, HEPA filters are treated with specialized agents that kill bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms.

HEPA Filters

To successfully pull at least 99.97 percent of particles from the air, it’s crucial to buy an air purifier that uses HEPA filters. High-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, were originally designed to remove radioactive dust particles from the air. However, all HEPA filters are not created equal. The higher the area is, the more effective a HEPA filter is. Look at the square footage of the filter before buying an air purifier that uses HEPA technology.



Types of Air Cleaners

There are three main air cleaners, or air purifiers, available: whole-house air cleaners, whole-house air filters, and portable air purifiers.

Whole-House Air Cleaners

Whole-house air cleaners are installed directly onto a home’s heating and cooling system. However, this is not a job for an average homeowner. A professional must install this type of system. Also, a home has to have forced-air ducts in order to make one of these systems work. It should also be noted that whole-house air purifiers often need to be wired directly into a home’s electrical system.

Whole-House Air Filters

An alternative way to clean a lot of the air in a home at one time is by using a whole-house air filter, which is designed to replace a standard furnace filter. This option is somewhat effective, but it doesn’t eliminate nearly as many impurities as other types of air cleaners.

Portable Air Purifiers

Although one portable air purifier is only going to clean the air in one room, it is going to do so in a very effective way. There are many affordable room air purifiers out there, so many people place on in each room.



Pros and Cons of Different Air Purifiers

Type of Air Purifier or Air CleanerProsCons
Whole-house air cleanerFilters air throughout the entire home

Many options available


Has to be professionally installed

May have to be wired into home’s electrical system

May not be as efficient as portable models

Whole-house air filterConvenient

Easy to use


Not very effective at purifying the air in a home

Filters must be compatible with furnace

Portable air purifierLightweight


May include casters or handles

Huge variety of options available

Options for every budget

Only cleans the air in a single room

Quality varies a lot from one model to the next



Air Purifier Features

Without understanding the main features of today’s air purifiers and air cleaners, finding the right option is extremely difficult.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of an air purifier can be gauged by considering how many watts of power it uses. If wattage information is unavailable, simply multiply the number of volts by the number of amps. Options range from air cleaners that operate on around 50 watts to models that run on 200 watts or more when on the highest setting.


The air changes per hour, or ACH, of an air purifier is an important characteristic. It reflects the number of times in an hour that an air cleaner exchanges the air in a room. The ACH is usually listed next to the room size. Stick with air purifiers with ACH ratings of four or higher because they exchange the air at least four times per hour.


Consider an air purifier’s clean air delivery rate, or CADR, before buying it as well. This rating is assigned by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, or AHAM. The higher the CADR is, the more effective an air cleaner is at purifying the air.

Filter Replacements

Prior to purchasing an air cleaner, check to see how its filter or filters need to be changed. Also find out the typical cost to replace each filter. Without doing this research, it’s possible to spend hundreds of extra dollars per year on filters for an air purifier, which can ruin what looked like an otherwise good deal.


Air purifiers and air cleaners are the same, but there are many options available within this category. To find the right air cleaner or air purifier, learn more about how they work and about the types of air filters that they use.

It depends on the hardness of your water, but on average less than 3% of your sodium intake comes from drinking softened water. It is estimated that the average person consumes the equivalent of two to three teaspoons of salt a day from various sources. Assuming a daily intake of 5 grams (5000 milligrams) of sodium in food and the consumption of three quarts of water (i.e., coffee, tea, fruit juices, and drinking water), the contribution of sodium (Na+) in the water from the home water softening process is minimal compared to the total daily intake of many sodium-rich foods. The formula for calculating the amount of additional sodium follows: mg of Na / quart of softened water = grains of hardness X 7.5 mg Na / grain of hardness.

No, to soften water, you need a water softener. The salt used in the brine tank of a water softener does not directly soften the water, but is used to regenerate the resin beads in your water softener. These actually soften the water from your well by removing the hard water ions, calcium, magnesium and iron.

When seemingly all other avenues such as problems with the salt being used and/or basic mechanical malfunctions of the softener components are exhausted and the water is still not soft enough, it may be time to consider replacing the resin, or the softener. Experience has shown that, depending on water usage, most ion exchange resins last 20 to 25 years.

We do not recommend it. Note that deicing salt has a higher amount of insolubles and will require more clean-up of the brine tank. Also, the smaller particle size of deicing salt is not suitable for water softeners.

This question often accompanies a switch from one type of water softening salt to another, e.g. going from pellets to solar. What you are seeing perhaps is related to a difference in bulk density between the two products. The closer the crystals pack together, the less volume they occupy. This would give rise to the perception that the salt is dissolving too fast. In addition, if the initial water level in your unit was set to use pellets, it may be too high to use solar salt (i.e. too much water in the tank dissolves more salt) and may need to be lowered. Follow your softener manufacturer’s instructions.

In reality, salt can only dissolve to the extent that it produces a saturated brine (26.4% by weight). It doesn’t matter what salt is used. When the brine is saturated with respect to salt, no more can dissolve. Therefore, even though appearances may suggest otherwise, salt usage is the same regardless of the salt product type or form that is used.