That is the first thing we noticed when we washed dishes after installing a water softener for our RV—it definitely took a lot less dishwashing liquid, there were much fewer spots on the glasses, and it felt better on the hands. It also made a huge difference in the shower with the body wash and shampoo. My initial thought was, “we should have done this sooner.” If it does this well for the easy-to-see stuff, just imagine how much better it is for our water heater and all the fittings and such (water from fridge, ice-maker, faucets, etc.).
We thought a lot about getting a water softener ever since we started full-timing and we changed the inline filter the first time and noticed all the gunk that was building up there. In some places, it seemed that filter needed to be changed quite quickly and the interesting colors let us know a lot of minerals were in the system. So, we decided to start doing some research.
Water softeners work by running the water through a resin bed prior to it entering the RV. The resin removes the minerals from the water; and when the resin is depleted, you need to regenerate it. We discovered that the amount and quality of resin determined the length of time between regeneration; and, of course, the hardness of the water entering the system. For example, the unit we chose is rated for 8000 grains of hardness. Then the hardness of the water determines how many gallons this translates to. For example, if your water is 10 grains hard, then you can soften 800 gallons (more hard water reduces this number and less hard water increases this number).
The next thing we looked at when trying to choose a unit was ease of use. Many systems involved a lot of metering and automation which seemed to require calibration and some allowed the system to decide when to regenerate on its own. So, we looked at the simplest systems. The one we found uses “dip sticks” to measure the water hardness in order to determine when to regenerate the resin (to use the dip stick you run water over it and then match the color). Our neighbor says that he doesn’t need the dip sticks because his wife can tell him when to regenerate the system based on how her hair feels when she washes it.
The other reason we went with this system is that it uses regular table salt (a 26 oz box, that costs about 30 cents) to regenerate the resin. Some systems used special salt (rock or something like potassium chloride) that made it difficult to find and prepare, causing you to carry the salt with you.
The one we chose allows us to purchase the salt whenever we need it, wherever we are. And, the regeneration process was easy—you turn off the water, open the top, pour in the salt, and wait. Then flush and reconnect the water. We chose the Mark8000 by WaterPur.
The only issue we have discovered in the design of the system we chose was the connection for the inlet line. The connector does not “spin,” so you have to twist the hose in order to screw it into the softener (which means you have to disconnect the hose from the supply so that you can turn it). Also, we noticed that the buildup at this connection makes it difficult to remove the hose—so putting another fitting between the softener and inlet hose would alleviate this issue.
As the FlowPur website states; Do you need a water softener for your RV? No. But then again, do you need an RV? In other words, it is an option for your RV to help make the experience more enjoyable and help the equipment last a bit longer. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the water softener does not eliminate the need for a carbon filter, because this filter is addressing different issues in the quality of your water.