Berlin, OH - Events of Monday, August 25, 2014
One of the things RVers put up with as we travel around the country is varying water quality. We have a whole-house water filter that is equipped with a taste/odor/sediment cartridge that really helps with water that may be less than desirable. However, this filter does nothing for hard water, which is a BIG problem in many parts of the country. Water in the southwest is very hard as is the water in Florida where we spend our winters.
Hard water can gunk up your faucets, cause laundry problems and leave deposits in the water heater that can actually shorten the life of the appliance. We're constantly having to remove our faucet aerators and soak them in white vinegar to remove the calcium deposits and to get them to flow properly again.
The solution is a portable water softener. There are several makes available, and we have been kicking around the possibility of getting one for a couple of years. Paul has been doing more research for the past few weeks, and we finally ordered one from Amazon.
We went with the On the Go portable water softener. Three models are available - standard capacity, double capacity and one for park models (quadruple capacity). Because of how much we use our on-board washer/dryer, we decided against the smallest unit because we wanted to be able to go longer between recharging. The park model version is obviously too big and heavy for RVs, so we opted for the double capacity version. The reason we chose On the Go is it gets good reviews and it uses ordinary table sale for recharging. One brand requires water softener salt pellets, which come in 40-pound bags which would be a pain to have to carry around in an RV.
A pre-filter to remove particulates from the water is recommended for the water softener. As we said, we have an existing whole-house water filter that removes particulates, but it is plumbed in after the city water hookup so it doesn't do any good for the water softener, which gets hooked up before the city water inlet. Therefore, Paul ordered a second water filter housing with a particulate cartridge.
There isn't much involved in the initial setup of the water softener. It just has to be flushed with clear water for a few minutes, then it's ready to go. However, Paul wanted to permanently mount the housing for the pre-filter so it wouldn't be banging around the wet bay, so that meant he had a little work to do.
One thing we really like about our Allegro Bay is that is has separate wet bays for the black/gray water drains and for the fresh water hookup. This is not only more sanitary, but it also provides plenty of room to store hoses and spare fittings. It will also give us room to keep the water softener inside the wet bay so we won't have to worry about it freezing. Even central Florida has an occasional cold night or two during January.
Paul started by cleaning all the hoses, adapters and fittings out of the wet bay to give himself more room to work.
He then mounted the pre-filter on the side wall near the existing whole-house filter housing.
After that, it was only a matter of connecting everything together with a couple of short hoses.
What a difference the water softener makes! Everyone always talks about how much more lather you get from soap and shampoo with soft water; but the real difference is how squeaky clean skin, hair and dishes feel after rinsing. We can't wait to see if our clothes start looking brighter after several washings.
They give you test strips to measure water hardness. Most people say you'll know without testing, but it's nice to have the strips for confirmation. Paul tested the water before hooking up the softener and found a hardness of 11-15 grains. Without getting too technical, grain is unit of measure used to indicate of the amount of minerals dissolved in the water. Anything over 7 grains is considered hard. The water had a hardness of only 2 grains after the softener was installed.
Although it's extra weight to haul around and Paul will have to spend half an hour or so every few weeks recharging the softener, we really like it. It's one of those things you wonder why you waited so long to get.
Well, that's enough work for now. We have something special planned for the Labor Day weekend, so stay tuned.