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Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Preparation & Readiness, RV Maintenance

Lots of Suds and No Spots!

May 15, 2011 by · 6 Comments 

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Washing Dishes

(Photo Caption: Washing Dishes)

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.

Ion Exchange

Ion Exchange

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. 

Water Softener

RV Water Softener

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.

Inlet fitting

Inlet fitting

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.

Comments

6 Responses to “Lots of Suds and No Spots!”
  1. Paul Garnett says:

    Big difference in taste though between soft and hard water. And with soft water I always find that my mouth fully dries out after brushing my teeth. Personally I would never switch from hard water to soft water and definitely 100 % NOT for the sake of better and cleaner dishes :-)

  2. Hoby says:

    Paul, I think the main reason is for the life of the water heater (and other items in the RV); of course, my wife likes soft water when she does her hair… And, I suppose in the long run it saves some money (water heater life, less filters, less soap, etc.).

  3. Jon delPozo says:

    A couple of years ago, I installed a “Whole House” filtration system on the motorhome. Got if from Lowes and it used a charcoal filter. Filters the water, makes it nicer for showers, dishs and everything else. Even the taste is way better than the local water holes. When we fill the tank, (a little for travel) I run the tap water into and thru the filter system via a switchable by-pass (from city or tank)

    The filters are about $ 12.00 for three and they do go a long –long way. They get changed when the water pressure drops. Very easy to change and it is mounted in the water cabinet. Actually a very simple mounting and installation. Filters are available everywhere at the big-box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Cost was about $ 40.00 for all the parts plus $ 12.00 for spare filters for on the road. Purchased the system from Lowes. Others have mounted the same after seeing ours. Pretty cheap considering the inline units even from wal-Mart are $17.00 and they end up getting changed seems like constantly.

  4. Hoby says:

    Jon, our MH has a “whole house” filtration system already installed. It is a must have (in my opinion) for the improvement in the flavor of the water. The softener does not do the same as the charcoal filter (the most important thing from the charcoal filter is to keep the chlorine taste from the water). However, the charcoal filter does not remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

  5. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Hoby,

    Good blog and a needed item.. We have hard water in West Texas and need a softener.. The difference is the soft water takes longer to rinse out or off..

    Smooth roads & balmy breezes !!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Hoby says:

    Butterbean, very good point. I think that is probably the quickest way to know you have soft water (how much time it takes to rinse the soap off in the shower)!

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