I Have RO Water—Do I Still Need a Water Softener?

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A lot of people prefer the taste of water filtered by reverse osmosis (or “RO” for short). It’s a healthier and safer kind of drinking water, but it isn’t the only kind of water in our homes. Sure, a powerful water filter is great in the kitchen, but an RO filter only helps the water in one or two places. Without a water softener, you aren’t getting the best water quality from the other taps, faucets, and showerheads in your home.

When it comes to water treatment, there are really two different types of water in our homes. This is because we use our water in two different ways. There’s the water we use for drinking and cooking, and then there’s the water we use for everything else: cleaning, doing laundry, bathing, etc. So we’ve got our drinking water (also the water we use for cooking) and our utility water. Two types of water, and each with their own set of problems.

Reverse Osmosis for Drinking Water

We like RO filtration systems because they make drinking water safer by filtering out lead, nitrates, and other contaminants. They remove up to 95% of total dissolved solids in your water and can even get rid of the taste and odor of chlorine left over from your area’s water treatment plant.

RO water is great for cooking, too. These filtration systems are specifically designed to give you the highest quality drinking water. Coffee, tea, and other water-based recipes take on better flavor with RO-filtered water. You’ll even find that pasta noodles won’t stick together in RO water. Talk about a fun cooking trick!

Water Softeners for Utility Water

On the other side is our utility water, or the water we use in the rest of our home. In the Indy area, our water is known for being extremely hard. Minerals will naturally dissolve in our water supply during the water cycle (thanks to Indiana limestone) and municipal water treatment centers can’t effectively remove all the calcium and magnesium that’s in our tap water. Even if you city claims to soften your water, your home’s water hardness level is probably higher than it should be.

Hard water is the main cause of scale buildup in pipes and water heaters. The dissolved minerals in tap water make cleaning difficult. They leave water spots on dishes and create scale on faucets and fixtures around the home. Installing a home water softener helps keep your utility water in check. These systems take out the hardness minerals right when your tap water enters your home. That way, all your water-using appliances get to work with soft water, which is both easier on their mechanics and makes them much better at cleaning.

Softeners and RO Systems

As with everywhere else in your home, using hard water can have some really damaging effects on your RO filter. Because we use RO systems for our drinking water, their filters act like a type of water-using appliances! As such, RO filters highly susceptible to hard water damage. If you don’t have a softener, the scale created from hard water will attack the RO membrane. This can make your filtration really inefficient and even wreck your RO unit. These systems are much better at filtering soft water, so a water softener has multiple benefits. It protects your drinking water filter as much as every other home water-using appliance.

Most homes need both kinds of systems to treat their water. Drinking water filters and water softeners often work together as whole house systems. Consulting with a local water expert will help you identify the kinds of water quality issues you have in your home—whether it’s with bacteria and well water filtration, iron levels, chlorine-removal, or anything else your home’s water might need.

It’s important to know your water’s hardness level before installing an RO unit. Otherwise, you might accidently be destroying your drinking water system. Your utility water needs to be at its best for both your drinking water system to function properly. Plus, a softener has lots of other perks the water uses all throughout your home. By getting your utility water and drinking water to work together in harmony with a whole house system, you can usually tackle all types of water issues in your home in one go!

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