Knowledge: Your Second Most Valuable Resource

Whether we realize it or not, water influences so many aspects of our everyday lives. So why wouldn’t we want to know more about it? Take a look at our facts sheet, and learn how to live healthier, safer—perhaps even save a little money—and it all begins with your water!

EQUIPMENT FAQs


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What is reverse osmosis?

Reverse osmosis, often referred to as RO, is an advanced water purification method that was initially developed by the U.S. Navy to produce drinking water from sea water for submarine crews. It is a membrane filtration technology that works by forcing water under pressure through the very tiny pores of a semi-permeable membrane. Modern reverse osmosis units for the home combine membrane technology with carbon and mechanical filtration to produce highly purified, great-tasting water.

How effective is reverse osmosis technology?

It is currently the most effective water filtration method available. This technology is used to produce bottled water.

How should I choose which model to get?

The most important consideration should be the household water pressure. Each model is designed with low, very low or regular water pressure levels in mind. Those with low water pressure levels (below 40 psi) will require a pump to be included in their system.

Where can we install the system?

Most RO systems are designed to be installed under the kitchen sink. They can also be installed in the basement or garage if need be. The water pressure would have to be good, or a pump would be needed though.

If we move can we take the system with us?

Yes, RO systems are easy to uninstall. Manufacturers offer a ‘Move-kit‘ to aid re-installation.

Can I connect the RO system to my ice maker?

Yes, using a 1/4″ tube.

How long will it last?

If it is well serviced and parts are replaced in good time then virtually forever. The typical life span of the membrane is 2-5 years (depends on the initial water quality). The filters should be replaced every 6-12 months. These figures vary from company to company.

Will it affect the mineral content of my water?

A reverse osmosis system cannot distinguish between good minerals and bad impurities, so it will affect the mineral content of your water. It will remove around 90-99% of impurities though. An alkaline or calcite filter can be used to add the minerals back at the end of the process.

Will it affect the PH of my drinking water?

By removing some minerals then yes it will make the water slightly more acidic. An alkaline filter can be included with most RO systems that will improve the pH of the filtered water and return it to more natural, alkaline pH levels.

Does a reverse osmosis filter need electricity?

No, they use water pressure.

Will a water softener affect the RO filter?

No, a water softener will actually extend the life of the membrane. By softening the water it helps to protect the RO unit.

I’ve heard reverse osmosis system waste a lot of water. How much do they typically waste?

Leading brands typically waste around 2 or 3 gallons of water for every gallon of drinking water. These figures can be improved by situating your RO system on the counter-top instead of under the sink, and also be using a pump (can be included at extra cost). With the addition of a pump, the waste water to drinking water ratio can reach around 1:1.

Is a reverse osmosis unit like a distiller?

Both effectively reduce “dissolved solids” content of water, but the processes are quite different. RO filters water through a very tight semi-permeable membrane. A distiller is like a big tea kettle: it boils water, catches the steam, condenses it, and captures the resulting water. Most impurities are left behind in the boiling chamber. Both distillers and reverse osmosis systems rely heavily on carbon filtration for chemical removal. (Cheap distillers often have little or no carbon filtration and are, therefore, of limited effectiveness.)

But isn’t distilled water purer than reverse osmosis water?

Distillers typically remove a few parts per million more of common mineral constituents like sodium. However, distillers don’t do a good job with volatile chemicals with a low boiling point. Chloramines, for example, which many cities now use instead of chlorine as a disinfectant, aren’t removed well by distillers. Reverse osmosis, with the carbon filters that accompany it, does a very good job with chloramines. Unless volatile chemicals like chlorine are removed by carbon filtration before they enter the distiller, they will be released into the room air or they will end up in the distilled water. But in general, distilled water is very pure, as is reverse osmosis water.


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What is a water softener?

A water softener is a device that removes unwanted, and potentially harmful, minerals (ex: calcium, magnesium, etc) that cause hardness in your home’s water. In order to soften water, a salt solution, or brine, is used to perform a “scientific swap” between the salt and hardness minerals present in the water in your home.

How is water softening beneficial?

Hard water can dry out your skin and hair, cause water spots to appear on freshly cleaned glassware, and cause calcium and limestone buildups within your plumbing system that lead to potentially damaging clogs and low water pressure. In short, choosing to condition the hard water in your home can make cleaning, showering and appliance shopping a whole lot easier and less stressful!

What are the benefits of a salt water softener?

With a salt-powered system, you’ll enjoy completely mineral-free water — which means softer linens, hydrated hair and skin, and less stress on your appliances. Also, salt-powered water softeners use about as much electricity as a digital alarm clock. Saltless, electric water softeners on the other hand use a lot more.

What is the difference between salt water softeners & salt-free water softeners?

While some hard water symptoms will be alleviated by salt-free water softeners, the minerals causing the hardness aren’t actually removed, just restructured. Using a method called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC), salt-free water softeners charge the minerals with electricity, transforming them into crystals that cannot bind to surfaces. Salt Softeners can be more expensive up front and do require more maintenance than salt-free water softeners. However, salt-free softeners are not actually removing the hard minerals from your water, which means they are not as effective.

How do you know what size water softener you need?

As a general rule, multiply the number of people in your home by 80, the average number of gallons of water a person uses per day. Then, multiply that number by the grains of hardness detected in your water after you have it tested. This will tell you which grain capacity to look for.

What does “grain capacity” refer to?

Pay close attention to this rating when selecting your water softener. “Grain capacity,” refers to the maximum number of grains of water hardness it will be able to remove before having to regenerate. A higher grain capacity rating means your water softener will be more energy efficient!

How much water do water softeners need to regenerate?

Typically, regeneration uses about as much water as it takes to wash a load of laundry. That’s why choosing a system with the right grain capacity rating is so important. The less your water softening system needs to recharge, the less water you’ll waste.

How does water softener regeneration work?

In short, your water softener will need to regenerate itself once it has gone through a full water softening cycle. The resin beads that attract and remove the harsh minerals will need to be rinsed and reset to handle the next round. Once the minerals are drained from the machine, your system is ready to soften water all over again.

How do water softeners save you money?

By installing a water softener, you are taking preventative measures to eliminate hard water at the source, along with all of the maintenance issues that come with it later down the road. Hard water can add unreasonable wear and tear to all of your water using appliances and plumbing system. Your appliances use more energy when they are required to work overtime, causing energy bills to increase. Additionally, water softeners are considered a valuable upgrade to your home. A water softener can easily add upwards of $10,000 in equity to the value of your home once it is installed.

Does my water softener need service?

Is your salt water softener not using a normal amount of salt?
Is your water pressure dropping significantly?
Does your water softener sound like it’s constantly running?

All of these are signs that your water softener may be in distress and needs maintenance.

What is a prefilter?

A prefilter is just as it sounds — a filter that your water runs through before it enters your water softening system. Depending on your water issues, a prefilter may be required, or at least recommended by your water treatment professional, in order to best correct your hard water issues.

Do I need a prefilter for my water softener?

Many times, a prefilter is suggested along with a water softening system, especially if the system will be meant to soften water for the whole house. They’re not meant to assist the water softening process per se, but more to assist with conditioning your water overall. That way, your water arrives at your faucet not only soft, but clean and clear of any residual sediment as well. That being said, here’s a list of common signs a prefilter would be beneficial for your home’s softening system:
Hazy or Cloudy Water
Sediment or Sand Present
Dark Red Staining

Is your home ready for a water softener?

While you might be mentally prepared to embrace all the fantastic benefits of a new water softener, your home may not be physically ready for the new addition. Do you have a spot picked out? Is it close to your water main? Is there an electrical outlet available? Is there a drain easily accessible? All of these things are important to consider when installing a water softener.

What to consider when selecting a water softener?

Do you require a salt water softener or a salt-free option? What’s the current hardness of your water? What kind of warranty is included? These are all great questions to ask a professional.


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How do I know if my drinking water could benefit from a drinking water system?

The first thing you should do is call us for a free water analysis and estimate. This test will check your water for total hardness, chlorine iron, dissolved solids and pH level. Our free estimate can help you decide which drinking water systems to choose from and help determine your budget.

Are there any special circumstances that should make me consider drinking water systems?

If you are expecting a new baby, if there are any unexplained illnesses or if anyone is pregnant or nursing in your home, this may be a great time to look into having a water analysis.

Can I hook it to my ice maker?

Yes—in most cases we can connect the drinking water system directly to your refrigerator. Connecting the system will extend the life of your ice maker and make clearer, great tasting ice.

Is the water really as good as bottled?

Yes—Our drinking water systems use multiple processes including Reverse Osmosis to make great tasting, low sodium drinking water. Reverse Osmosis removes about 97% of the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) from most tap water. Read the labels on bottled water and you will discover Reverse Osmosis is the same process used by most bottlers—so in effect—you really are getting “bottled water without the bottle”!

Does the system require any maintenance or service?

Yes—We recommend annual service for our drinking water systems. Our service technician will test your water each time, replace necessary filters and sanitize the system.


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What is deionization?

Deionization (DI) is a very convenient and cost-effective water filtration process for producing highly purified water on demand for aquarium or hydroponic use. By definition, deionization, often called DI for short, is the removal of all ionized minerals and salts (both organic and inorganic) from water through the process of ion exchange. Because most non-particulate water impurities are dissolved salts, deionization produces high purity water that is generally similar to distilled water, but compared to distillation deionization is much faster, less energy-intensive, and more cost-effective. In addition, it is an on-demand process that supplies large amounts of highly purified water as needed.

What does deionization treat?

Deionization removes total dissolved solids (TDS) from water using ion exchange resins, controlling the electric charge of ions in the water to remove the TDS. Much like a positively charge magnet will attract a negatively charged magnet; DI resins attract non-water ions and replace them with water ions, producing a more purified water.

WATER FACTS

  • There is an estimated 326 million trillion gallons of water on earth.
  • 30% of fresh water is in the ground.
  • About 27 trillion gallons of groundwater are withdrawn for use in the U.S. each year.
  • In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about 2 weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere.
  • The United States draws more than 40 billion gallons (151 million liters) of water from the Great Lakes every day—half of which is used for electrical power production.
  • Water makes up about 66 percent of the human body.
  • 70% of the human brain is water.
  • Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day.
  • A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water.
  • It takes about 12 gallons per day to sustain a human (this figure takes into account all uses for water, like drinking, sanitation and food production).
  • Children in the first 6 months of life consume seven times as much water per pound as the average American adult.
  • The average family of four uses 180 gallons of water per day outdoors. It is estimated that over 50% is wasted from evaporation, wind, or overwatering.
  • Each day, we also lose a little more than a cup of water (237 ml) when we exhale it.
  • 1/3 what the world spends on bottled water in one year could pay for projects providing water to everyone in need.
  • Refilling a half-liter water bottle 1,740 times with tap water is the equivalent cost of a 99 cent water bottle at a convenience store.
  • The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill.
  • It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub.
  • A water-efficient dishwasher uses as little as 4 gallons per cycle but hand washing dishes uses 20 gallons of water.
  • On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks.
  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
  • A swimming pool naturally loses about 1,000 gallons (3,785 liters) a month to evaporation.
  • If everyone in the US flushed the toilet just one less time per day, we could save a lake full of water about one mile long, one mile wide and four feet deep.
  • There have been 265 recorded incidences of water conflicts from 3000 BC to 2012.
  • Three quarters of all Americans live within 10 miles of polluted water.
  • 780 million people lack access to an improved water source.
  • 80% of all illness in the developing world is water related.
  • Unsafe water kills 200 children every hour.
  • Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States per day.
  • Nearly one-half of the water used by Americans is used for thermoelectric power generation.
  • In one year, the average American residence uses over 100,000 gallons (indoors and outside).
  • About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day’s food for a family of four.
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We’re celebrating over 30 years, thanks to our valued customers.
Tri-County Water Conditioning wants you to know we appreciate your business and will never stop giving you our very best.

I needed a tiny plastic clip for my water softener that was purchased at Tri-County more than a decade ago. I called them a few minutes after closing time, not really expecting anyone to answer. Not only did someone answer, but the service man I spoke with was very friendly, knew exactly what part I needed, and was so kind as to leave it in an envelope outside the office so that I could pick it up after hours. He didn’t even charge me for it. Outstanding service! Thanks!
—Nathan B.