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Water softeners- Salting the earth?

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Hello Permies,

A lost Gert here, recently found myself living at a place with softened well water... Previous owner decided to deal with situation by running everything through a water softener (including the two outside hose bibs). Looks like some blue chemy gic, I am told is "just sodium chloride"

Current land owner believes it is essential for lifespan of water heater, etc. I am very dubious! Even with the gic, the water leaves white residue everywhere. And what happens to all the salt? Currently running into a septic system, seems like the salt build up would be a big problem. Also if I am to stay long term would want to do greywater watering, is that even an option with softened water?  

Had some issues with a worm bin we set up (before we figured out the outside hose bibs were also softened) and am now scared to water anything, carrying water from a nearby structure that isn't softened, ok for a couple indoor plants but once the rain stops will be fairly limiting. [I mean could be a good design challenge...] Except salted water still runs into my local environment every time I run the tap! I got a berkey filter for drinking water and am trying to convince landowner to pull the softener out, or find an alternative. So far not getting much traction.

Wondering if anyone has some advice on dealing with the situation? Am I overreacting to the salt content? Also why does the water turn blue when I boil potatoes?! Or when leaching acorns?
 
gardener
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Welcome to Permies! Glad you found your way here.

I wouldn't be thrilled about the water softener either. Is it possible that the landowner would be okay with making it such that the outside hose bibs don't go through the water softener? That shouldn't affect the water heater in any way. In fact, it would save wear and tear on the water softener as well as save money on salt. Plus, it would get you the ability to water plants with clean water at least.

I wouldn't necessarily advise this, because it could get you in trouble with the landowner, but most water softeners can be bypassed temporarily...I did this when I still lived with my parents so that I could change water in my fish tanks (softened water is no good for them). It was very easy to do and allowed the water softener to run the rest of the time while allowing me access to clean water for my fishy friends. Perhaps you could ask for permission to do this, just so you could use the hose for watering and they don't have to make any changes to plumbing?  3 Simple ways to bypass a water softener
 
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My last house had a water softener, and I never noticed any bluing or residues from the water. If you are getting residues, it could be that there's something else in the water already (that the softener isn't removing), or the water softener isn't working properly. I don't think I've ever seen a water softener connected to the outside hose bibs - they are usually hooked up before the softener. Some people only soften the water going into the water heater, so the hot water is soft but the cold remains hard.

It is my understanding that soft water is easier on appliances (water heaters, dishwashers, etc) - you can get a lot of scaly buildup in those and elsewhere from the minerals in the water (depending on what's coming out of the well, of course!) that leads to them failing earlier than they otherwise might.

It might be worth having a plumber come and test the softener to make sure it's working - I wouldn't think there should be an appreciable amount of salt in the softened water (though I know it does taste weird, so maybe?). It might also make sense to see if it's possible to get the hose bibs plumbed in before the softener - it would save on softener salt if you're running any decent amount of water outside, and you wouldn't have to worry about what it may do to your plants.
 
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I googled Problems with water softeners
And fond some interesting answers.
 
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Before our water was very hard so we had to install water softeners after that, since installing them our skin and hair are softer and I don't see any water residue anymore. On the go OTG4-DBLSOFT, I just thought why not buy it sooner, it's very easy to use and makes an amazing difference.
 
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