The first results of a major study on the effects of water softeners reveal that untreated hard water can rapidly lead to clogged showerheads — in some cases, after as soon as a year and a half of regular use. The Water Quality Association (WQA) announced June 4 in a press conference that just after one week of accelerated testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of showerhead nozzles became heavily clogged. On the other hand, showerheads using softened water performed nearly as well as on the day they were originally installed.
The results reported on are part of a larger research project being conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute, an independent nonprofit science and technology research organization in Columbus, OH. The WQA, together with key stakeholders, including the Salt Institute, oversees the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF), which is funding the study.
In addition to the showerhead tests, analysts are examining the longevity of clothes washers, water heaters and dishwashers using hard water versus softened water. Battelle also is conducting tests to determine how much energy savings softeners can provide homeowners. The final research report is scheduled for September 2009.