Helping homeowners minimize their salt use
Service professionals who work with water softeners play a crucial role in chloride reduction. As a water softener technician, plumber or building inspector, you can help educate customers about salt reduction or carry out softener and plumbing improvements that directly reduce chloride to the sewer system. Here are a few ways water softener professionals can help homeowners minimize their salt use.
If a homeowner’s water softener is old or set up inefficiently, it can use more salt than necessary. This excess salt contributes to elevated chloride levels in the sewer system, and because the wastewater treatment plant can’t remove chloride from wastewater, it ends up in local freshwater streams.
One of the most effective actions to reduce salt use in the home is ensuring its water softener uses the smallest possible amount of salt. This may involve optimizing softeners to their highest salt efficiencies or replacing old softeners with new, more efficient units. And, be sure set up new softeners at its lowest salt setting and at a hardness setting that matches the water hardness at the address.
Since we live in an area with hard source water, most buildings have a water softener. However, not all water needs to be softened, and finding opportunities to avoid softening water can make a dramatic difference in salt use.
One straightforward fix service providers can check for when evaluating a softener is whether it’s softening outdoor water. Water used outdoors does not need to be softened, so using soft water for the outside hose wastes salt and makes the softener work harder than necessary. If you encounter a building using soft water outdoors, the outdoor water source should be disconnected from the softener.
Another option for reducing soft water use is to disconnect a building’s cold water from the softener. Hardness buildup (scale) forms more easily in hot water than in cold, so it’s more important for hot water to be softened to protect the water heater and other appliances that use hot water. Scale can still form in cold water, but may not be as much of an issue, so homeowners may prefer to have hard cold water to keep their salt use low.
Disconnecting cold water from a water softener can substantially reduce a home’s salt use. If a homeowner has their water softener connected to their toilets or hose bibbs, consider educating them on the benefits of removing those feeds from the softener so that you only soften hot water.
Resources for Professional Service Providers
The District periodically offers training for service providers interested in learning about water softener efficiency. By completing this program, you also become a trained provider listed on the District’s website. While there are no trainings scheduled at this time, contact our Pollution Prevention Team for information on attending a future training.