It is a water bylaw that one tap be left un-softened if poss that should be the kitchen if not something near by .
The softened water will contain very small amounts of sodium so anyone on a low sodium diet or babies should not drink it .
If your going to have problem getting un-softened water to a tap there are systems out there with use a small vessel with goes under the kitchen sink and is feed by a tiny 4mm pipe which can be clipped onto the skirting or buried in a tile joint.
the law states that you must have at least one unsoftened tap direct from the mains.
the reason being that this is your drinking water though many people get around this law by keeping the garden tap unsoftened (which you want to do anyway - lawns and flowers do not like softened water) though it is not advisable to drink the water from your garden tap. don't forget to fit a non return valve to the garden tap if you intend to fit one to get around the law.
or you can get a 3-way tap which i fitted which gives both hard and soft mains water on the cold side. though as you say they are not cheap - as i found out they only come with charcoal filters which bumps up the cost quite considerably.
acording to the suppliers of the water softener that i fitted in my home, your total recommended daily intake of water, if taken from your softened supply alone, would add as much sodium chloride to your diet as one slice of bread per day. not a great deal! but the regs is the regs, if you are fitting it as a paid job it's always best to stick to the law.
Instead of fitting a traditional water softener why not try one of the latest electronic water conditioners as they are just as good cost a quarter of a traditional softener and need no salt or maintenance.
If you want to use one of those electric only water conditioners, I've also got some elephant powder you can have. It will keep all elephants at bay. I've been using it for 15 years now and never seen a single elephant in my garden...
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