Water softener - new build flat - unfamilar pipe layout


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I've just moved into a new build flat, and am looking at getting a water softener installed. I don't have enough space under my sink, but I'm not that fussed about having a drinking water tap, so I was looking at maybe putting it in the utility cupboard.

However, my understanding with water softeners is that *usually* they are connected at the mains, and then the softened water is passed to the boiler, etc. However, in my utility cupboard, I can see the cold mains feed - but am confused as there seems to be a separate hot feed.

Photos are below - could someone more knowledgeable/experienced than me clarify? The pipes that go off to the right look like they go into the under floor heating.

I do believe there maybe some sort of communal water heater, which would explain it. But does this mean I can't have a water softener? Or if I do, it will only soften the cold water

Any help would be appreciated!
 

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Not really enough information to to be sure. What's the Danfoss unit? Is it a water heater, or valve, or heat exchanger?
Flats are complicated especially if you have communal services like heating and hot water. I am ex-water company so have some knowledge here. In a conventional house plumbing system, you would be able to install a water softener. On older "tank in the loft", "hot water storage cylinder" system , it's easy - you just fit the softener between the rising main and the tank, or tanks, if there is a separate heating header tank.
You must always keep at least one tap, usually kitchen, for drinking water - do not drink softened water. I'm assuming that you are thinking about a conventional ion exchange softener that you regenerate with salt, not one of the magnetic/radio waves type that do not remove calcium. So you also need access to a waste pipe. Softened water certainly helps with washing, showers/baths, waste pipes etc. Just remember, you are swapping the calcium and magnesium for sodium. I used to have one in a hard water area, but, I found that it used a lot of water to regenerate, so no longer use it. If you have a separate water meter, your water and waste bill will go up. My answer, which would be difficult in a flat, is to have a large rainwater tank. Rainwater is naturally soft. To date, I have used over 100 tonnes of rainwater.
Why do you want soft water? You can find out what your water hardness is from your supplier - Thames Water? - or scrape some real soap flakes into a jar of tap water and shake it up - if you get any scum or the foam disappears, your water is hard. Do the same test with some water from a water butt and see the difference. If you only want small quantities of soft water you can either add Calgon powder, or a better solution could be a Silphos unit that has water softening tablets in it, but you have to replace the chemicals periodically. There are other in line softeners from suppliers like BTW and Permutit - Screwfix used to have them in the water treatment section. They might be suitable in the hot water line as well.
So my advice would be to do some homework first, a full blown water softener will be expensive and have running costs. Overall, I would always have some form of in-house water softening in a hard-water area, especially if the hot water comes from an immersion heater or a combination boiler system.
 
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I've just moved into a new build flat, and am looking at getting a water softener installed. I don't have enough space under my sink, but I'm not that fussed about having a drinking water tap, so I was looking at maybe putting it in the utility cupboard.

However, my understanding with water softeners is that *usually* they are connected at the mains, and then the softened water is passed to the boiler, etc. However, in my utility cupboard, I can see the cold mains feed - but am confused as there seems to be a separate hot feed.

Photos are below - could someone more knowledgeable/experienced than me clarify? The pipes that go off to the right look like they go into the under floor heating.

I do believe there maybe some sort of communal water heater, which would explain it. But does this mean I can't have a water softener? Or if I do, it will only soften the cold water

Any help would be appreciated!
Before considering what action (if any) to take in respect of water softeners you should check your lease to see what limits exist on you adapting or extending any services in your flat.

If, as your use name suggests, you live in the Reading area, you almost certainly have hard water (as do the majority of people in the Thames Valley.

As suggested by the other user, soft water is not recommended for human consumption. Long term research in the UK and Scandinavia has identified a direct relationship between heart disease and the consumption of soft water (including naturally occuring soft water).

Although I live in the Thames Valley I would never consider a water softener. Central heating systems can be protected by inhibitors. I can confirm this having worked on a well maintained 45 years old system that has zero limescale. The hot water pipes likewise have zero limescale as domestic hot water is usually set to 60C which limits the effect of scaling.

It's worth noting boiler manufacturers do not offer guidance or limitation on their products for hard water even for combi boilers.

That leaves domestic appliances that operate at or near the boiling point of water eg kettles, percolators, steam irons etc. which are more likely to give rise to scaling. All these can be treated with proprietary products or dissolved citric acid.

With all the above in mind, do you really want the hassle and cost of installing a water softener?
 
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muttley

Although boilers are not involved here - we think - for at least the last 10-years, boiler manufacturers like Worcester Bosch insist on the addition of a corrosion inhibitor for full warrantee cover, and to a flushed and de-scaled system. A corrosion inhibitor is just that - some may or may not prevent scaling. A closed "conventional" or system boiler should have next to no water loss in the system, so even if the feed water is hard, the build-up of scale is negligible. A combination boiler is a different beast. The water going through the boiler for hot water service is constantly replaced and scale will build up. For efficiency and hygiene, 60-degrees would be a minimum. I would not want untreated hard water going through a heat exchanger. The water temperature in the heat exchanger is higher than the 60-degrees set on a thermostat.
In all the years of working with water supply and waste systems (sewerage), by far the most scale problems occurred in waste pipes. I have seen soil pipes almost closed down by solid calcium carbonate build up and WCs the same. When hard water reacts with alkaline cleaners like bleach or dishwasher powders, the soluble calcium salts (bicarbonates) form insoluble hydroxides and carbonates. The scale on the inside of the pipe introduces roughness and eventually reduces flow. The underground damage alone caused by deposits is worth the effort of reducing the calcium content.
 

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