Kevin Johnson, MD of Monarch Water and technical director of the UK Water Treatment Association is urging the use of water softeners on kitchen and bathroom projects.
Installing a new kitchen or bathroom is a significant investment, but despite the in-depth consideration given to every conceivable aspect of the new installation, little, if any, thought is given to water quality.
Scale of the issue
A staggering 60 per cent of the UK suffers with hard water, but consumers have little knowledge of the serious damage limescale can cause around the home. With just 5 per cent of homes owning a water softener, it’s a relatively untapped market. By educating customers on the importance of protecting their investment with a sustainable water softener, professional builders can help them safeguard their homes while increasing the project value.
Water isn’t inherently hard – it changes after passing though limestone and chalk beds, deep underground. The magnesium and calcium clings to the water and once these minerals are heated in showers, kettles, boilers, dishwashers and washing machines, they turn to limescale.
No matter how shiny and new a bathroom or kitchen may be, the effects of limescale will soon be evident with scum deposits on taps, shower screens, basins and toilet bowls.
It’s not just the visible signs of limescale that consumers need to be aware of, but the hidden damage inside their pipes. Limescale coats the heating elements in boilers, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, coffee machines and kettles, making them work harder and cost more to run.
In fact, according to British Water, just a 1.6mm coating of limescale on a heating element makes it up to 12 per cent less effective. This means appliances are more likely to suffer breakdowns and their working life significantly decreased.
With hard water estimated to be responsible for 70 per cent of equipment failures, tackling limescale is essential to prevent breakdowns of household appliances. Installing the latest generation of sustainable water softeners will not only protect customers’ new kitchens and bathrooms, but offer whole house protection. Not only will they prevent future limescale build up, but remove any existing deposits too.
New water softening units are smaller, faster and more efficient than their equivalent counterparts and are compatible with any boiler, meaning every household in a hard water area is a potential customer.
The latest water softening units feature the innovative rapid-fit bypass which removes 80 per cent of equipment needed to fit, making installation quicker and easier than ever before. There are also models that use 12 per cent less salt and 24 per cent less water, making them the most sustainable option in their class.
It’s vital that professional builders keep up-to-date with advancements in technology to ensure they are offering their customers cutting edge technology and maximising profit potential. Educating customers about the latest sustainable water softeners and the benefits they offer is the key to securing sales and encouraging customer loyalty.
Professional builders should help customers to view water softeners as an investment and insurance to protect their homes from limescale. After all, reduced energy and water consumption means lower bills, making the latest water softening technology an affordable luxury.
Consumers may see a water softener as an expensive investment, but with a payback of as little as four years, the lifetime benefits and costs should be considered when looking at the price tag. Water softeners offer savings of around £200 a year once installed, making the running costs of around £8-10 per household member negligible.
It’s not just customers that will benefit from installing a water softener, professional builders can reap financial rewards too. Purchasing the latest water softening technology from a merchant, at a trade discount, will enable them to offer customers a competitive supply and install quote, allowing them to pocket a decent profit of around £100-150.
The type of water softener a customer will need will depend on the size of the household. Units are rated according to the number amount of hard grains they can remove between regenerations, so installers need to test the water with kits provided by the manufacturers.
When it comes to water softeners, working out which size unit is best suited to customers is fairly straightforward. Take the number of bedrooms and maximum number of potential occupants and allow 160 litres per person, per day.
It’s also important to check the pipe size where the softener will be installed as well as the incoming mains pressure and maximum flow rate. Below one bar and the machine may not function, over five bar and a pressure reducing valve may be needed. Access for maintenance and refilling salt should also be considered when siting a water softener.