Water Softener System Scam
I've seen and heard the water softener system scam up front and personal. The whole idea is that there are dissolved solids in hard water, and these solids are supposed to be bad for your pipes, appliances and clothes.
Unless your water is extremely hard, you don't need a water softener, and even extremely hard water won't hurt your clothes.
Let's look at how this scam works and how you can avoid it by simply thinking about the cost and effectiveness of such a system.
The main point that's being made with this water softener system scam is the dissolved solids in the water are "grinding" our clothes during the wash. The sales person will show us vials of precipitate that come from varying levels of water hardness The vials look like small stones and gravel with sand mixed in.
We're told that these materials are "grinding" or otherwise wearing our clothes out during the wash, and a water softener system will greatly reduce them.
Hold the phone! What a bunch of nonsense this is!
Let's look as some information we're not told by the sales person.
- How much water does the precipitate in each vial represent?
- What is the equivalent precipitate found in a typical full load of wash?
- Does rainwater contain precipitate? If so, how hard is natural rainwater?
- In comparison to the agitator in the washing machine (which is a solid object thrashing against our clothes), how much damage does this (dissolved) material create?
- How much damage does this material do to us in the shower?
- The dollar value associated with the clothes that I will have to replace because of premature wear due to these dissolved solids.
I could make this list much longer, but I think you get the point clearly that whether you have hard or soft water, the claim about saving wear on your clothes is dubious at best.
Most likely the whole water softener story is just an excuse to sell you an expensive water conditioning outfit.
How expensive? Try about $2,000 for a nice round number. That's just a water softener system that sits in your basement, laundry room or alongside of the house.
In fairness to our water softener system sales people, I called the local water softener "joint" and they told me the benefits were:
- using less soap - about half
- less energy to heat the water - about 25% less
- reduced sediment in the water heater - extending its life
However, there was no quantification of these numbers in terms of how much per month or per year one might save. Well, you can't say I didn't give them a shot at justifying their product.
The energy savings in heating the water is attributable to a reduction in the rate at which sediment builds in the bottom of a traditional tank water heater. A thick layer of sediment will act like insulation between the flame or heating coils and the water.
A couple solutions to this are sacrificial anodes and on demand water heaters.
Using less soap is something I endorse now, even with hard water. Reducing the amount we use by half? We can reduce it by much more than that now, regardless of water hardness.
Extended water heater life? Again let's get it quantified so we know something about our return on investment. Consider that you can buy about 5 water heaters for the price of a water softener system. How many new water heaters have you outlived so far in your life?
Be careful, because you can talk yourself into just about anything, and that's what the water softener system sales person is counting on. He or she will provide the arguments, and you'll likely try to put them together into an excuse to make a purchase. Otherwise, you'll have to defend against their arguments - on the fly - and that can be quite challenging.
That's why you need to shut down sales people with "I'll have to think about this." Of course, they'll come back with a limited time offer, but you know that's a bunch of crap as well.
To be fair, some people don't like hard water. I grew up with it, so I like it. For me, the problem with soft water is you can't get the soap rinsed off. To me it feels like trying to get bleach rinsed off your hands - they stay slippery after repeated rinsing.
The bottom line is if you like soft water, then get yourself a water softener system, but don't buy it because it's going to save you money around the house unless you have extremely hard water.
Done with Water Softener System Scams, back to Money Making Scams