Top 4 Water Softeners to Buy This Year
Are you having a hard time sifting through the dozens of water softeners out there to find the best water softener for you? If so, you’re not alone!
Luckily, we’re here to help.
We’ve created this ultimate water softener guide to help two types of people.
- Those who know a little bit about water softeners and just want to read condensed information that allows them to make a quick decision.
- Those who don’t know the first thing about water softeners but also don’t want to waste time reading an entire article.
With this in mind, here are the top five water softeners we recommend:
- Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener
- The Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener is a natural water conditioning system that reduces scaly buildiup within the water, without requring the addition of salt. Designed as a standalone softener, this unit lasts for up to six months or 50,000 gallons. Featuring a unique upflow, dual tank design.
- 25 GPG
- Home use
- Fleck 5600SXT
- Featuring programmable cycles, a polyglass tank, and a 15" x 34" brine tank complete with safety float, the Fleck 5600SXT offers easy setup, waste reduction, and minimal salt addition. Enjoy reduced sccale buildup and increased soap efficiency with this model. .
- Whole Home Use
- Watts RV PRO-1000 M7002
- The Watts RV PRO-1000 M7002 is a convenient portable water filter designed to provide soft water in RVs and campers. Weighing just 9 lbs. and measuring 21 x 9.5" x 9", this is a compact model that offers outsanding functionality for on-the-go families.
- RVs & Campers
- Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener
- Designed to use less water than any other retail water softener on the market, the WaterBoss 22,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener (700) offers a simple dirt and sediment filter to cut down on repairs and make this a user-friendly unit.
- Small Households Use
What is Hard Water? (And Why You Should Care)
We know what you’re thinking: “water can’t be hard! It’s water.”
Unfortunately, that’s not entirely accurate.
While it’s true that “hard water” doesn’t become solid, like concrete, it’s also true that it becomes riddled with chemicals and compounds that change the way it functions in your home. According to Wikipedia,
“Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water”). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates.”
While it may seem like more minerals in your water is a good thing, hard water can also wreak havoc in pipes and plumbing. In most households, it’s because of hard water that replacing boilers, cooling towers, and other water-handling equipment is a near-constant battle.
Hard water also requires you to use more soap in your laundry and dishwasher and makes your appliances run less efficiently than they could.
If you’re wondering if there’s a “standard” for hard water, there is. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS):
“Zero to 60 mg/L (milligrams per liter) of calcium carbonate is classified as “soft water” while 61 to 120 mg/L is moderately hard and 121 to 180 mg/L is classified as hard. More than 180 mg/, meanwhile, is considered very hard water.”
Check out this table for additional information:
While those statistics are helpful, it’s a little too scientific to help most at-home users. Luckily, there’s a simple way to figure out if you have hard water in just a few minutes. Start by checking for lack of suds when you agitate soap in water, or limescale on your water heater, bathroom tiles, or kettles. Confirmed the problem? Don’t fear – an excellent water softening unit can work wonders.
While many people regard soft water as a luxury, it’s a necessity. Not only will hard water cause your skin to break out and your hair to lose body and fullness, it also prevents your clothes from getting entirely clean, which is why finding the best water softener is so important. Beyond that, hard water can destroy your home’s fixtures! Here’s a standard kitchen faucet before and after the installation of a softening unit:
One 2013 study even found that there is a connection between very hard drinking water and increased rates of cardiovascular mortality! The same study found links between mineral-saturated H2O and growth retardation, reproductive problems, and other health issues – thanks in large part to the magnesium and calcium in hard water.
Finally, hard water can taste bad when you drink it, and leave a cloudy residue in your glasses, mugs, and bowls. Check out this picture of the difference in a glass of water before and after a water softener, from Geauganews.com:
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how soft water is a necessity rather than a luxury.
In addition to being hard on your home and your hair, hard water can also damage your clothing. It can also cause your appliances to fail, and cut down on the efficiency of your dishwasher.
It’s a terrible thing for your home. Because of this, putting an end to it is critical for good home performance!
Unfortunately, choosing the correct unit to rehab your home’s H2O can be tough. Lots of people are rather confused about where to start!
With so many units out there and so many options – from salt-free and magnetic to electronic – selecting a system can also feel like learning to speak a foreign language. Luckily, this guide is here to help!
2 Simple Steps to Check if You Have Hard Water
If you suspect you have hard water, but you’re not sure what you’re dealing with exactly, a water hardness test is a smart idea. Luckily, this doesn’t require a professional or any special equipment. It just takes a few moments and some simple at-home tools. Here’s the process to follow:
1.Consider Whether You Have Symptoms
The first step is to consider whether or not you’re experiencing symptoms of hard water. It’s likely that the answer is “yes,” otherwise you probably wouldn’t be conducting a water softness test.
Remember: symptoms of mineral-dense H2O include soap scum buildup, dull, lifeless hair, plumbing problems, and more. If you answered “yes” to experiencing any of these things, move on to conduct a formal test.
2. Do the Test
Find an empty plastic water bottle in your house and take the cap off. Be sure the bottle is dry inside before you start the test. Fill the bottle with water from your kitchen tap. It should only be 50% full. Finally, add ten drops of your dishwashing liquid to the water, screw the top back on, and shake the bottle for ten seconds.
Next, you’ll want to evaluate the results, which will be one of the following:
- Soapy Solution Formed Rapidly. If this was the case with your water, you don’t have to worry too much. Your water is likely not excessively hard, and won’t require a large water softener to fix. In these households, a magnetic, reverse osmosis, or salt-free system will generally work.
- All You Got Was Soapy Film. If you did the bottle test and all you came up with was a soapy film, you’ve got problems. This outcome indicates very hard water that will require a more robust softener, like a salt-based system, to remedy the problem.
This video shows another simple way to test the mineral content of your tap water:
Remember that both these options are simply at-home tests meant to give you an idea of how hard your H2O is. If you want professional results and an accurate reading, you can also hire an expert to take a sample and analyze it in a lab. Culligan is just one of the many companies to offer this type of testing service.
Alternately, you can purchase an at-home hardness kit to test it on your own. The Hach 145300 Total Hardness Test Kit is an attractive option and can be purchased for less than $25 online.
Best Water Softeners of 2017 Comparison Table
Looking for the best unit for your home? Here’s a comparison table to help you decide.
Keep in mind that small households generally contain 1-2 people, while medium and large households contain 3-6 people or more.
8 Benefits of Water Softeners You’re Missing Out On
Curious about the benefits of using the best water softener? Here’s everything you need to know:
Cleaner Dishes and Silverware
Hard water contains minerals that leave behind scum and stains. While these stains may seem harmless, they can damage the appearance of your household items, including glassware, silverware, mirrors, plumbing fixtures, and bathroom fixtures.
By installing a water softener, you remove the troublesome components from your water and decrease the amount of time you’ll have to spend cleaning up water spots.
Softer, Healthier Skin
If it seems like additional minerals in your water would work wonders for your skin and hair, you’re wrong. In fact, minerals in hard water interact with soap and household beauty products to create a greasy film that builds up in your hair and on your skin, creating
In fact, minerals in hard water interact with soap and household beauty products to create a greasy film that builds up in your hair and on your skin, creating limp, greasy-looking hair and acne-prone skin.
The softer your water, the easier it is to care for yourself without the complication of hard water and mineral buildups.
If you’ve ever tried to scrub soap crud off of your bathroom tiles or kitchen fixtures, you understand just how exhausting it can be.
Filmy, greasy, and seemingly impenetrable, soap crud can create a thick film on your household surfaces and require you to spend precious hours of your life scrubbing them to get it clean.
With this in mind, installing a mineral-reducing unit can decrease the time you spend doing housework and make routine cleaning easier.
Soap and Shampoo Conservation
Want to use less soap and shampoo? Find the right softener unit for your home. Because soft water makes it easy for soap and soap-like compounds to create a rich lather, you can use a fraction of the amount and still enjoy the same benefits.
This is an eco-friendly move that’s not only good for your pocketbook but also for the earth, as well.
When your clothes don’t have to accumulate hard minerals in the fabric, they last longer, stay whiter and brighter and don’t succumb to the rough and scratchy feel of clothing washed in hard water.
This means you can spend less money on clothing and enjoy fewer loads of laundry.
Longer Lifespan for Appliances
Appliances like coffee makers, dishwashers, and ice makers also last longer when they’re not always fighting against mineral-dense H2O.
Finally, installing a functional unit designed for your home can save you money on appliances and make it easy to get the performance you expect from your small household electronics. It also cuts down on costly repair bills and troublesome outages.
Decreased Monthly Energy Costs
Want to spend less money on monthly energy costs? Install an energy-efficient unit designed to resolve the problems your household has with its H20. Because soft water is easier on appliances and more efficient to process, it saves money in two ways.
On the one hand, appliances run through less of it, and so your water bills will be lower. On the other hand, it helps extend the lifespan of appliances and makes it less likely that you’ll have to replace yours in the coming months or years.
The Ability to Use Chemical-Free Laundry and Skincare Products
If you’ve ever attempted to use a natural skin care or laundry product, only to be disappointed by how it performed or lathered in your home, a water unit can fix that. Because soft water lathers more efficiently and reduces the buildup associated with tap water, it’s conducive to less abrasive products and the use of fewer chemicals.
Top 12 Water Softeners for 2017
In this section, we’re going to provide a detailed discussion of each product, and whether or not it’s right for you and your purposes.
Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener
The Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener is an NSF certified unit that’s been proven to reduce or eliminate a whopping 68 contaminants from household H20!
This includes more than 97% of chloramines and chlorine, as well as asbestos, lead, mercury, turbidity, cysts, and VOCs, which can damage your health over time.
Additionally, the robust and long-lasting filter is certified to last to at least 600 gallons of water and features a pre-filter designed to reduce sediment, cut down on clogging, and enhance the lifespan of the unit.
It requires minimal maintenance and is easy to install and replace. It also offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee, a complete 1-year warranty, and environmentally-friendly cartridges so you can feel good about installing this unit in your home.
One of the least expensive units on the market, the Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener functions either as a stand-alone system or can work in concert with your existing system to update your household’s H20 treatment approach.
Featuring something called SLOW PHOS salt-free water technology, the Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener acknowledges that adding sodium to home water results in salty wastewater that can put the environment at risk and make retreatment difficult.
As such, the Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener’s SLOW PHOS technology works by targeting the ionic charges of in-water materials, which also prevents them from sticking together and creating scum or spots. In this way, this unit protects your appliances, provides your household with safe water, and reduces your energy costs.
The unit is simple to install, and the filter will not need to be changed for at least six months or 50,000 gallons of water.
Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
The Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System is one of the best-selling units for medium and large households that require a large volume capacity and excellent functionality.
Featuring excellent perks like a digital display system and unique specifications, this unit is simple to install, run, and use.
As a salt-based system, this unit requires regeneration, but the process is simple thanks to Fleck’s automation. When it comes to removing chemicals from water and softening it for easier use, this is one of the most efficient systems out there.
Designed for large household use, this system promises healthy, soft water every time you open the tap and is reliable to boot. Aside from being extremely useful, it also offers an outstanding warranty, a meter regenerated system, which runs automatically off of your water meter, large capacity, and simple use.
All of this makes it ideal for people who want a user-friendly, hands-off system that doesn’t require a massive headache to set up or use for years to come. Efficient and effective, this unit is a user favorite year after year.
Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
The Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener is one of the few water softeners designed for people who frequently travel in an RV.
Intended for use in portable vehicles, for camping or extended trips, The Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener offers a unique mixture of portability and efficiency, the likes of which many consumers wouldn’t expect.
Affordable, equipped with a series of unique features, and efficient, this system is ideal for anyone who wants a light, compact unit that won’t break the bank, but will deliver sweet, soft water regardless.
Some of the benefits of The Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 include a custom-designed flow valve, which allows you to regenerate the system’s salt supply without disconnecting it.
The unit also offers a full base which provides ongoing security and stability in bumpy or jostling environments, such as an RV or camper, a high flow rate reaching 4 GPM, and a 10,000-grain capacity, which is plenty large for most portable uses.
Featuring 10-year warranty and a system that’s fully made and manufactured in the U.S.A., this unit is a winner. Customers love its compact size, efficiency, and high-performance output. It’s also highly stable and won’t move around excessively or come loose as you travel through the country. It regenerates efficiently and is very cost effective to operate.
Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener
Commonly regarded as an alternative to a traditional water softener system, the Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener is different in that it does the same thing as a traditional softener, but in a unique way.
Instead of using salt to combat mineral collection, this best water softener system uses a magnetic field that allows it to suspend mineral particles rather than removing them. This allows the system to prevent hard water for 48 hours.
Magnetic systems like this one are becoming very popular in the world of water softeners for many reasons. In addition to the fact that they’re small, easy to install, and inexpensive, they also provide a pathway for people who want softer H20 without the requirement that they use additives like salts.
This system uses a series of magnets and wires that target the water and alter its fundamental structure. This softens the construct of the water and “paralyzes” its mineral compounds for an average of 48 hours. After that point, however, the water reconstitutes to its normal structure and becomes “hard” once more.
While this system will work well in households with only mildly hard H20, it’s not designed to handle liquid that features more than 8 GPGs of hardness.
This system is compact, inexpensive, simple to install, and offers all of the benefits of other water softeners, just with a shorter effectiveness period. It is designed to wrap around water supply pipes on install and can be useful for households that want to get rid of troublesome lime-scale buildup.
It is designed to wrap around water supply pipes on install and can be useful for households that want to get rid of troublesome lime-scale buildup.
WaterBoss 22,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener (700)
The WaterBoss 22,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener (700) is designed to move heavy minerals like calcium and magnesium from your household’s H20 for longer-lasting appliances, fewer spots on your fixtures, and healthier skin, hair, and clothing. Featuring a self-cleaning sediment filter and the ability to remove
Featuring a self-cleaning sediment filter and the ability to remove clear water iron, this best water softener system is one of the best-loved in the industry.
A salt-based system, the WaterBoss 22,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener (700) uses an ion exchange system that traps minerals in resin and efficiently treats water ranging up to 70 GPG of hardness, which makes it ideal for households with very hard or moderately hard H2O.
It’s also approved to treat water with hardness ranging to 10 PPM of iron and is capable of removing 22,000 grains of hardness between regeneration cycles.
Thanks to this best water softener system’s advanced resin media filter, it is capable of trapping sediment and preventing particles from migrating into your home’s plumbing system, which can extend the lifespan of your appliances, electronics, and plumbing fixtures.
Like other salt-based systems, this system requires connection to a wastewater drain and relies on electricity during its regeneration cycle, which is meant to get rid of collected minerals, like calcium and magnesium.
Unlike other such systems, however, the recovery system is rapid and is typically complete within 17-19 minutes, and only uses about 2.5 lbs. of salt per 16 gallons of H2O.
The system also features a fully electronic control panel that allows you to plan the regeneration process and ensure that you don’t regenerate the system while your household is requiring water.
The softener relies on a single canister and takes up a minimal amount of space, which makes it ideal for homes who need a robust system that fits in a small closet or other utility space.
3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System – Model AP902
The 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System – Model AP902 is a smart way to enjoy softer H2O without breaking the bank.
Priced in the middle of the road, as far as filtration systems go, this unit reduces sediment to a manageable level of 5 microns, which helps address both taste and staining issues.
Unlike other units on this list, the 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Filtration System – Model AP902 works to both filter and soften H2O.
Light enough to be lifted and installed by a single person, this unit prevents mineral buildup on fixtures and surfaces and offers a unique “sweat-in-place” steel head, which is simple to install, even for novices. It has a capacity of 20 GPM, reduces chlorine taste, H2O odors, and uses a handy carbon filter to cut down on contaminants in the water.
While this unit filters lime particles, it only traps the largest particles in a solution, which means that, while new stains won’t form on your fixtures or appliances, it may take a while for the existing ones to disappear. Other units typically facilitate this disappearance faster and more efficiently.
Ideal for small households that need a filter unit to address mildly hard H2O, this system will do the job. Simple, straightforward, and functional, this unit offers brand-name coverage, this unit will chug along for years and require minimal maintenance, and minimal hands-on time.
Aquios FS-220 Salt-Free Water Softener and Filtration System, Blue
Aquios FS-220 Salt-Free Water Softener and Filtration System is the perfect unit for people who are sick and tired of coping with salt-based softeners and want something that meets their needs without adding extra salt to their diet or making tap water feel slippery.
Known in the industry as an “All-in-one” unit, the Aquios FS-220 System reduces scale, improves pressure, and helps ensure your household always has access to soft, delicious water.
Unlike many other salt-free systems, this one features a series of unique specifications and benefits. Most notably, this is a double-acting system, which means it softens and filters H2O at the same time.
When it comes to softening mineral buildup in H2O, this unit uses technology to prevent spots and scale, and keep water healthy and delicious. The filter component of the unit is made up of a carbon block system, which strips sediments like chlorine from drinking water and makes it that much more healthful.
The original cartridge that comes with the unit is rated for 40,000 gallons, and will need to be replaced after an average of 6 months. This is attractive for busy families who don’t want to spend a great deal of time worrying about their water system, or maintaining it.
What’s more, this unit features a sleek and straightforward design, which makes it easy to install and fit inside small spaces. The unit only uses one tank and does all of its filterings within the system. What’s more, it does not require electricity, and features a 20-year warranty!
Easy to use, simple to install, and designed to reduce buildup and fit into virtually any place, the Aquios FS-220 Salt-Free System is one of the hardest-working, most comprehensive systems available.
Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT Digital Unit
The Iron Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT Digital metered valve 64,000 grain, 64k for whole house unit is a high-priced unit with equally high functionality.
Featuring a filter and softener in one, this unit is ideal for whole-home use, in both small and large households. Unlike many other systems on the market, this one comes in various colors, so you can match it to your decor, no matter where you choose to install it. Powerful enough to remove hardness ranging to 75 GPG, this is an excellent unit that will serve well for years to come.
Designed to filter even the finest sediment from household H2O, this unit offers a fine mesh resin filter that targets iron and other contaminants and strips them from your liquid. It also provides an advanced, digital metered valve and a full 5-year warranty.
Backed by the ongoing excellence of the Fleck name, this unit promises high performance and longevity.
While it is a huge unit, weighing more than 200 lbs., it’s also well worth the weight. Because it’s so heavy, you’ll want to be sure you have at least two people on hand to install this beast if you choose to purchase it. Once the installation is over, sit back and watch it work wonders on your water.
Keep in mind that this filter also has many technological features, such as a digital valve monitor and other specifications. As such, it’s essential to read the manual and understand how to operate it before you install it.
While this doesn’t offer the same “set it and forget it” functionality as other models, it’s highly recommended by experts in the field and promises long-term efficiency homeowners will love.
Scalewatcher Small Wonder Treatment Unit
The Scalewatcher Small Wonder hard water treatment unit is a tiny household unit designed for use in small households and RVs. Instead of using salt to soften H2O, this unit includes wire coils designed to wrap around pipes.
This means homeowners who purchase this unit never have to worry about a troublesome regeneration period or purchasing expensive bags of salt!
One of the first electronic H2O conditioners on the market, this unit has grown to worldwide acclaim in recent years. Small enough that it adds virtually no money to your monthly energy bill, this unique little unit treats mineral buildup without additives or complex plumbing requirements.
Curious how the product works? This customer-centric company is happy to provide you with an in-depth brochure explaining it.
One of the biggest draws of this unit is that it’s so environmentally-friendly and minimally impactful, which makes it fantastic for people on a budget or those who want to ensure the system they buy doesn’t do any damage to the environment.
Despite its small size, this unit works well in larger households. What’s more, the installation only takes a few minutes. Therefore, consumers start to see results in their water within one full day- just wrap the coils around your water supply pipes, and it’s off to the races!
The one place this unit won’t perform very well is in households with very hard H2O. Because all electronic units don’t truly remove mineral buildup, but rather reconstitute and discourage it, they won’t fix the hard water problem.
Instead, they’ll just gather harmful particles and work to make your appliances last longer, and reduce the mineral spotting throughout the house.
While this isn’t as efficient as a salt-based system for very hard water, it’s a smart place to start for anyone who wants to enjoy a safe, natural path to better water.
USA Fleck 9100SXT Water Softeners Great for Large Homes & Light Commercial Softening Ships Loaded
The USA Fleck 9100SXT Water Softeners Great for Large Homes & Light Commercial Softening Ships Loaded is a unit that was designed to function around the clock, every day. With a capacity of 48,000 GPG, it’s one of the largest units on the market and is a fantastic system for medium-sized and large households.
Each tank measures 10 inches by 54 inches, so it’s not exactly small, but it will function well enough that you’ll come to love it in no time at all.
With a flow rate of 12 GPM, this system promises your household won’t ever run out of the soft water you crave. Advanced and highly technological, this system features a microprocessor designed to make controlling the unit easy, and a twin tank design that uses 100% of the system’s capacity before trading over to the other tank, and vice-versa.
Designed to get rid of hard water in a hurry, this unit promises to diminish scale and buildup, and keep your appliances spot-free for years to come.
What’s more, the twin-tank design of this unit saves water and salt and makes it easy to feel good about how your system is impacting the environment.
To ensure the system isn’t over-using resources, it’s controlled by a safety float positioned inside the tank, and equipped with a regeneration flow meter, which takes your water usage into account before requiring renewal. Finally, the system features a 48-hour power capacitor, which will keep it running even if the power goes out.
Solid, sturdy, and ideal for heavy use, this unit is fully programmable and sets up quickly. It also offers an outstanding warranty, salt-saving intelligence, and minimal maintenance requirements!
Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000 Gallon Whole House Water Filter with Professional Installation Kit
The Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000 Gallon Whole House Water Filter with Professional Installation Kit doesn’t function the same way a traditional water softener does – so be advised.
Instead, it’s a water filter that works to filter out sediment and contaminants and reduce bad taste, spotting, and discoloration as a result.
It features a 3-stage filtration system designed to remove dust, dirt, minerals, and sediments and organic compounds down to a size of .35 microns. Designed to be long-lasting, this system is certified to operate for at least ten years or a massive 1 million gallons, which easily makes it one of the largest units on the market.
This unit includes all the needed fittings and even comes with a professional installation kit. It also comes with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee, which means customers can return it if they’re not satisfied after three months.
Customers love this unit’s high output, efficiency, and also its outstanding customer service.
It has a four-star rating online and, despite its high sticker price, remains one of the most popular units in the industry. The unit’s activated carbon filter is NSF rated and removes 98% of all chlorine in the H2O. It also removes herbicides, chemical compounds, and pesticides.
This makes for better cooking, healthier skin, hair, clothes, utilities, and better-tasting H2O.
Morton® System Saver® 30,000 M30
The Morton® System Saver® M30 is one of the best systems for large households who need the reliability of a salt-water system. Unlike other salt-based systems on this list, this unit features a single tank design, which makes it compact enough for a small closet or utility area.
Developed by Morton, one of the leading brands in the industry, this unit offers System Saver technology, which helps your laundry appliances and washing machines work more efficiently with the soap and detergent you add.
This, in turn, saves you time and money. Beyond that, the system uses advanced technology to start learning about your home’s water usage needs and start predicting water consumption down the road. This, in turn, allows it to predict future trends and regenerate at the exact right time.
To ensure your household stays functional in the event of a power outage, this system also offers technology designed to withstand power outages for up to eight hours.
While this system provides some filtering capabilities, it’s not as efficient as systems with dual-functionality. If you have sediment in your water that you’re concerned about, the smartest route is to add a filter to this system.
This system’s tank weighs upwards of 200 lbs, so while it’s too large for one person to install on their own, it is a great option for large households who need a robust unit. Surprisingly, it also doesn’t take up too much space, claiming only 1.3 square feet of floor space.
Finally, this system offers automatic regeneration and look-ahead technology, which allows it to use as little salt as possible and to regenerate automatically, depending on your home’s water consumption.
How a Water Softener Works
Even though softening units serve a critical role in most households, it’s easy to forget how they work! This makes sense – because most people don’t have a ton of hands-on experience with their water units, and may not have ever learned how one works in the first place!
If you’re curious how your system works, here’s a quick breakdown:
To make hard H2O “soft,” home systems use a simple idea: magnesium and calcium ions in the water (the troublesome minerals that cause scale and buildup) can switch places when more desirable ions, such as sodium, are introduced.
Because of this, most units use salt in the exchange process. By adding salt to mineral-rich water, softening units achieve two purposes: they cut the mineral content of water and help ensure that the H2O you get from your tap won’t react poorly with detergents or harm your pipes.
While some people are concerned about the dietary and health effects of adding additional sodium to their diets, most in-home units add fewer than 12.5 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces of water, which is well below the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standards for “very low sodium.”
During the exchange process, a softening unit uses a resin tank that contains negatively charged beads of resin or a material called zeolite. These negatively charged ions bond to positively-charged sodium ions.
As the water in your household’s system flows over them, the ions of calcium and magnesium in the H2O, which boast a strong positive charge, swap out with the sodium ions. This results in softer H2O from your taps, a better taste, clearer appearance, and longer lifespan for your home appliances.
Once people realize how resin tanks work, some start to wonder why salt is even needed. After all, aren’t the resin ions enough to resolve mineral buildup? The answer is no!
Over time, the resin ions use up all the salt that has bound to them. When this happens, the unit stops being able to soften water as efficiently, and you’ll start to notice the same troublesome lime stains and hard H2O symptoms you had before you installed the system!This is where the regeneration cycle comes in.
The Regeneration Process
The regeneration cycle of a best water softener uses a solution of sodium chloride to soak the resin tank’s beads in a strong solution, which loosens the magnesium and calcium ions on the resin tank’s beads and recharges them with the sodium they need to soften your home’s water.
Once the regeneration cycle is finished, the unit flushes out all the remaining solution, as well as all the mineral buildup pulled from the resin beads and dumps them out through a drainpipe. While some use a set schedule to regenerate, other units are “smart” and base their regeneration cycles on your family’s water use.
Here’s a simple video illustrating a standard salt-based system’s regeneration cycle:
If you choose a salt-free system, you’ll likely wind up with an electronic or magnetic system that will use either magnets or electric signals to disassemble mineral buildup or bind ions for filtration.
What Size of Water Softener Should You Buy?
The size of waters oftener you buy will depend in large part on the size of your household and the mineral content of your tap H2O. Here’s a general breakdown, from DiscountWaterSofteners.com:
|GPG||PEOPLE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD|
|1 TO 2 people||3 TO 4 people||5 TO 6 people||7 TO 8 people|
|5-10 GPG||32,000 Grain||32,000 Grain||32,000 Grain||40,000 Grain|
|11-20 GPG||32,000 Grain||32,000 Grain||40,000 Grain||48,000 Grain|
|21-30 GPG||32,000 Grain||40,000 Grain||48,000 Grain||80,000 Grain|
|31-40 GPG||40,000 Grain||64,000 Grain||64,000 Grain||96,000 Grain|
|41-50 GPG||64,000 Grain||80,000 Grain||96,000 Grain||96,000 Grain|
|51-75 GPG||64,000 Grain||80,000 Grain||96,000 Grain||110,000 Grain|
|76-100 GPG||80,000 Grain||96,000 Grain||96,000 Grain||110,000 Grain|
Here are a few additional steps to consider as you determine the size of softener your household will need:
- How Hard Your Water is. If you have very hard water, you’ll need a larger and more robust system. If you have only moderately or slightly hard water, on the other hand, you’ll be able to get by with a smaller system with lower output capacity.
- Your Average Water Use. A large household will use many more gallons than a smaller household and will require a larger system, as a result. According to the United States Geological Survey, the average person in a U.S. household uses between 80-100 gallons of water each day. This means a household with four people could easily be using more than 400 gallons of water each day!
- The Output Capacity of the System You Like. If you’ve got your eye on a specific system, be sure to consider its output capacity before you take the leap! If it’s not large enough to suit your household’s water use levels, you’ll find yourself disappointed down the road!
What Kind of Water Softener do you Need?
The type of water unit you purchase is a personal decision and will depend on your preferences, needs, and household type. In this section, we’ve listed a few of the biggest considerations you’ll want to take into mind as you shop for the best water softener for your household. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- How Hard is Your Water? Again, water hardness has a large impact on what type of system you’ll want to buy. If you have very a high level of mineral content, you’ll do best with a salt-based system. If you have slightly hard H2O, though, you’ll have the freedom to seek out an electronic or magnetic system. While these aren’t designed to handle high GPG counts, they do well in households with minimal mineral content.
- How Much Water Does Your Household Use Daily? Most units have filters that need to be changed after a certain number of gallons filter through them. As such, knowing how many gallons of H2O your home uses each day can help you ensure you get a system that can stand up to your usage, without requiring consistent maintenance or filter changes. Multiply the USGS’s average use numbers (80-100 gallons of H2O per day) by the number of people living in your household.
- Determine How Many Grains Per Week You Need a Unit to Remove. How many GPG you’ll need removed weekly will depend on the hardness of your home’s H2O. To calculate this number, consider how much water your household uses each week and multiply that number by the average GPG of your household’s H2O. Choose your system accordingly.
- Pay Attention to Output Capacity. If your household uses lots of liquid daily, you’ll need a system with high output capabilities.
What Are The Best Water Softener Brands Today? (we reveal our top 4)
Shopping for an in-home unit is a big decision, and it’s important to find one that suits your needs and promises to last for a long time.
As such, lots of people choose to shop for their units based on brand. Just like any other industry, there are some brands of water softeners that are more trustworthy or reliable than others.
These brands promise the longevity customers need, as well as the durability for large households. Here are a few of the top brands to choose from:
- Fleck. Fleck is one of the largest brands in the industry and it puts out may high-quality options for consumers. From metered on-demand systems to mini units designed for RV or camper use, Fleck is known for putting out brand-name and incredibly high-quality units for domestic and commercial customers. Their units collect 5-star reviews and their extensive options make it easy to find something that works for you.
- NuvoH2O. NuvoH2O offers a wide selection of salt-free units designed to address moderately hard liquid and cater to people who are wary about adding salt to their home water or the environment. A brand that’s rapidly becoming more popular, NuvoH2O specializes in clean, sleek products that appeal to tech-savvy consumers.
- Eddy. Eddy is a brand that’s been around for some time and is primarily known for their descaling system, which is listed in this guide! While this unit isn’t suited for homes with very hard H2O, it’s ideal to decrease lime buildup and scale over time. Beyond that, Eddy is famous for affordable and accessible systems consumers love.
- Morton. Morton is a leading brand in the softener industry. One of the oldest salt producers in the country, this brand offers quality units at affordable prices.
5 Common Water Softener Problems Everyone Experiences
While they’re generally simple systems to use, even the best system can run into problems every now and again. As such, it’s important that customers have an idea of what the most common water softener problems are and how to fix them. Here are a few of the top concerns water softener owners face:
1. Difficulties With the System’s Resin Beads
If you’re using a salt-based system, you probably have resin beads in your resin tank. These beads are meant to help your system strip sodium out of the water and leave it clean and fresh. In most cases, they last for the entire lifetime of the device without the need for service or replacement. In some cases, though, they can cause problems.
The most common symptom of this problem is that the system needs recharging more frequently than it should. Sometimes, it’s also possible to see resin beads or particles of them floating in the water you get from your tap. This is common if there’s some disorder that is causing the beads to rupture or break.
SOLUTION: If either of these symptoms begins to affect your system, you’ll need to open the resin tank and evaluate the beads. While they may need complete replacement, a simple cleaning will often do.
2. Obstructions in the System
Because water softeners deal with flowing liquid, the potential for an obstruction to arise is always there. If a blockage does occur, it can wreak havoc on your system. By backing up passage routes and causing a buildup of mineral and salt, blockages can quickly impede the flow of water through the tank and cause flooding or improper softening.
By backing up passage routes and causing a buildup of mineral and salt, blockages can quickly impede the flow of water through the tank and cause flooding or improper softening.
SOLUTION:If your system is suffering from these symptoms, the first two places you’ll want to look are the brine line and the filter screen. From there, you can determine whether you’ll be able to remove the blockage on your own or if you’ll have to hire a professional to help you.
3. Problems With the System Motor
Motors all have moving pieces, and a water softener motor is no different. If you’ve noticed your system is running much less efficiently, or that it’s suddenly not softening H2O the way it should, the problem is likely your motor.
SOLUTION: In this event, you’ll want to evaluate your system’s cables, connections, and moving parts. If something seems amiss, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. Instead, contact a local repair technician for expert assistance.
4. User Mistakes
While few people want to admit it, user error is a large cause of issues. This is especially true in systems that aren’t fully automated and rely, instead, on manual settings and processes.
SOLUTION: If you’re having trouble getting your unit to perform the way you had expected it to, re-visit your manual and make sure you’re using the system correctly.
If there are settings or processes you don’t fully understand, contact a local professional for assistance or call the manufacturer help center.
5. Bridging Salt
In salt-based systems, it’s possible for salt to build up inside the tank and to form piles or deposits that can interrupt the tank’s functionality.
If you’ve noticed that your unit is running but that it’s not working the way you expect it to, the problem is likely a salt bridge. Luckily, this problem is easy to resolve!
SOLUTION: All you need to do is break up the formation using a rod or something equivalent. The system will then flush out the residue and return to good working order.
4 Expert Tips to Keep Your Unit in Great Condition
Equipment lasts longer when it’s well-maintained. This is as true for your H2O unit as it is for anything else. Whether you’re a newbie to the field or an experienced unit owner, these simple tips will help you keep your system in great shape:
1. Add Salt at the Right Time
One of the most important things you can do for your softening system is to add salt at the right time. If you
overload your system with salt, it will be harder for it to function properly.
If you don’t add enough salt, however, or if you add it at the wrong time, you’re just putting additional stress on the system.
With this in mind, be sure to add salt at the right time. This depends on the size of your system’s tank, the mineral content of your H2O, the amount of water you use daily, and the size of your household.
For best results, check the brine tank at least once a month and add salt as needed. As a general rule, the salt should extend 3-4″ above the liquid level of the brine tank at all times.
2. Keep the Water Level Right
The amount of water you should have in your unit depends on the size of your system.
It also depends on the amount of the solution that’s already in your brine tank.
Generally, there is fewer than 12″ of water in the brine tank at all times.
Be sure to check the system at least once a month to ensure your water levels are where they need to be.
3. Clean Your Resin Beads Regularly
While your system’s recharge cycle helps keep the resin beads clean and
functional, it’s wise to also use a solution that’s specially formulated to clean the beads. Clean the beads at least once a year for the best functionality from your system.
4. Hire a Professional to Maintain the System
If you’re an amateur system owner or you’re simply not comfortable maintaining it on your own, hire a professional to do it for you.
Comprehensive professional maintenance is one of the best tools you have in your arsenal for keeping your system running well, and can stave off troublesome problems for years to come.
It’s also a great way to catch any problems with your system early enough to address them.
Water Softener vs. Water Filtration Systems: What’s the Difference?
When it comes time to shop for a treatment system, many people have a hard time understanding the difference between water softening and water filtration systems.
While a water softening unit breaks up mineral deposits, a filter strips them from the liquid and catches them in a filter. A reverse osmosis system, on the other hand, removes inorganic solid solutions in the water by forcing liquid through a membrane that strips them out.
Still confused about the difference? Here’s a simple breakdown to help you decide and also to increase your personal knowledge:
- Function. Water softeners are units designed to break up mineral deposits and also to treat problems like lime scale and soap scum.
- Filtration. While they remove most of the buildup present in H2O, they don’t generally do it by “filtering” the solution. Instead, they neutralize buildup and exert a chemical process that replaces mineral deposits with salt, resulting in softer water for home or commercial use.
- Price. Softeners tend to be some of the most expensive units out there, especially when they’re partnered with a filter.
- Function. Water filters are designed to strip dissolved inorganic compounds from H2O by using substances like charcoal fibers, and also to make H2O taste better.
- Filtration. Filters are designed to do just that – filter. They remove the majority of inorganic solids from water, with some filters being more efficient than others.
- Price. Filters can be less expensive than softening unit, although there are many exceptions.
How To Fit A Water Softener
So, you’ve found a unit you love and now it’s time to install it! Where do you start? Well, you have three options: you can fit it yourself, have this service do it, or hire a professional to do it for you. Here’s a breakdown of the three options:
Doing it Yourself
If you have some basic plumbing skills, you can generally fit the unit on your own. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of this will depend on the age of your home, the type of your pipes, and the location of the system. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:
- Check if you Need a Permit. In some places, you might need a permit fo the work you intend to do. Check with the city before you begin.
- Read the Manual. Your new system will come with lengthy installation instructions. Read them carefully before you begin.
- Choose the Right Location. The location of your installed system will have a lot to dow ith its overall functionality. Be sure you choose the right location. While whole-home systems need to be installed as close to your home’s H2O source as possible, other systems, like salt-based systems, require proximity to a drain, instead.
Hiring a Professional
Don’t feel like getting your hands dirty? No problem! It’s easy to hire a professional to install your system for you. Here are a few tips to help you take the step:
- Read Online Reviews. Online reviews can be some of your best tools for choosing a plumber. Look for reviews on sites like Google and Facebook to get a feel for how other customers have liked the service you want to use.
- Check Prices. Hiring a plumber will add some cost to your unit. Be sure you check the price beforehand, so you know you can afford it.
- Schedule a Time. When you schedule your installation, be sure you’ll be home as it takes place. This allows the plumber to resolve any questions he or she may have about your home’s features and allows you to partake in the process.
Water Softener FAQs
Here are some of the most common questions people ask about these important H2O systems:
How do I Choose the Right Water Softener Company?
Choosing the right water system company comes down to your requirements,
price range, and household style. For best results, do your research, look into popular brands, and ensure that you’re talking to other system owners about the benefits and drawbacks of the brands they use.
This will help you make an informed decision.
Should I buy or Lease a System?
The answer to this question also depends on how long you intend to use it.
If you own your home and intend to stay in it for several years, buying a system is smart. That changes, however, if you plan to eventually move out and will no longer need the system.
In this event, you can sell it or take it with you, if you also need it at your new location.
Are you merely renting a home, however? In that case, leasing a system can be a smart move, since it saves you the cost of buying the system and also provides a short-term option for use.
Will a Filter Increase the Life of a Softener?
There’s no doubt that installing a filter can help increase the lifespan of your
softening unit. By decreasing the grit and grime that passes through the softening unit, a filter can help your softening unit work more efficiently.
If you’re considering installing a filter, look for a softening unit that includes a filter, as well, or purchase an external model that will work with your softener.
Are there Any Softeners That Don’t Use Salt?
Yes! Salt-free units are becoming very popular, and include magnetic and electronic models.
While these units aren’t well-suited to households with high mineral content in their H2O, they work well for smaller households with only moderate mineral buildup.
How Long do Softeners Last?
This depends on the type of system you get. Many new brands offer 5-year
warranties on parts and service, and it’s fair to expect the softener you purchase to last at least ten years, if not more.
Keep in mind that higher-quality systems will also last much longer than lower-quality systems.
How Often do Systems Regenerate?
In a standard household, a softener system will regenerate every 3-7 days, and the process will take about two hours to complete.
Some systems also have demand-initiated regeneration cycles, which will make the process less frequent, depending on your household.
How Much Salt do Salt-Based Systems Need?
The standard system requires about 9-10 lbs. of salt each week, or approximately 40 lbs. of salt a month.
This is the rule of thumb for 7-10 GPG softeners used in households of four people or fewer.
How do I Clean my Softener?
Cleaning a softener is easy, and only requires that you pour about 2-3 gallons of clean H2O into the brine tank, and another 1/4 cup of household cleaning solution.
The solution should sit for approximately 15 minutes, after which point you can scrub the tank’s interior, connect the lines once more, and allow it to drain itself out.
Water Softener Wiki’s Top 5 Things to Remember
While you run out and grab that system of your dreams, keep these 5 things in mind:
1. Choosing the Right Size System Matters
Before you purchase anything, make sure it’s the right size for your household. This will save you lots of time, money, and hassle down the road and will also help resolve your H2O problems faster.
To choose the right size for your household, calculate the number of gallons you’ll use each day. Finally, multiply it by the GPG of hardness in your H2O.
2. Salt-Based Systems are Most Effective
If you’ve got high mineral content you’ll need a salt-based system and maybe one that features a filter, as well. While lots of people think they can get by with less, this is seldom true. In addition, it will result in disappointment down the road.
3. Filters and Softeners do Not do the Same Things
While some softeners have filters built in, not all filters will soften your H2O. Remember this while you start searching for a unit for your household.
4. You May Need Professional Help on the Install
Unless you have some basic plumbing skills, you’ll probably want to hire a professional to help you install your system. Because systems can be complex, this is often a smart decision. While installation is fast and easy for professionals, it can add between $100-$600 to your overall cost, so be sure to factor this in ahead of time.
While installation is fast and easy for professionals, it can add between $100-$600 to your overall cost, so be sure to factor this in ahead of time.
5. Location Matters
The type of unit you purchase will also influence the location of the installation. While whole-home systems need to be placed close to water inlets, salt-based systems rely on proximity to a drain. Keep this in mind while you select and install your system.
Congratulations on making it to the end of this piece! By now, you should be mini water softener expert and also feel capable of making smart buying decisions! You should also have all the information you need to choose the right unit for your own home!
If you ever need to refer back to this information, remember that this guide has all the details you need to succeed and choose the right system for your household’s use – whether you have a large home with very mineral-rich H2O or a smaller home with minimal limescale problems.
While not all softener or filter systems are created the same, each has its pros and cons for household use. Due to that fact, understanding these things is the best way to make an informed decision. Salt-based systems are the most efficient, but small portable systems can work for some situations.
Also remember that proper maintenance is critical for good functionality, and ongoing care will keep your softener performing strongly (and your glasses of H2O tasting delicious!) for years to come.
Have any questions? See anything we missed in this post? Tell us in the comments below!