Table of Contents
- 1 Find the Right Water Softener Unit
- 1.1 Best Place to Buy a System
- 1.2 Top Brands and Products
- 1.3 Water Softener Installation
- 1.4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 2 The top Water Softeners in 2018
- 2.1 Water Softeners – What Are They?
- 2.2 Why Are Water Softeners Important?
- 2.3 How Do Water Softeners Work?
- 2.4 Buying Guide on Water Softeners
- 2.5 A Review of Top Water Softeners in 2018
- 2.6 Conclusion – Water Softeners Guide
Find the Right Water Softener Unit
Finding the right water softener is amazing because hard water is unavoidable and destructive to almost everything it encounters. On top of that it is fairly benign to consume.
Additionally, even though hard water may be considered safe to drink, it can be a serious problem for several other reasons, including:
- It leaves superficial soap scum and white, crusty specks and rings in sinks, tubs and on dishware
- It can block up pipes, zapping the lifespan of water-related appliances (like kettles, coffee pots, dishwashers, etc.)
- It can damage your clothes
- It can wreak havoc on skin, especially sensitive and dry skin
Thus, water softeners enter the scene, playing a surprisingly significant role in the household.
If you have been dealing with either the minor irritations or the major problems that result from hard water, you have likely been considering the purchase of a softening system.
But there are so many types and models out there, it can be extremely difficult to make a choice.
We feel your pain. That is why we provide these thorough reviews to help you find the right system for your home and specific situation.
If you’re ready to find the best water softener unite for you, then look no further.
All of the information you need to understand about what they are, how they work, and which type will work best for you is below.
Types of Water Softeners
First, before digging to deeply into specific products, it is important you understand that there are numerous types available. Each type functions quite differently and will meet specific needs. We have included links below for the Best Price on Water Softeners.
By far the most effective type, salt-based softeners replace hard minerals with sodium through the process of ion exchange, thus softening the water. This process requires the system to have two tanks: a polystyrene, or resin bead tank, and a brine tank containing salt and liquid brine.The water is pushed through the resin bead tank where the positively charged hard-water molecules are drawn to the resin beads, which are negatively charged. The minerals attach to the resin beads at the same time that sodium ions are infused in the water.
By being softened with salt, water will no longer leave deposits on your appliances, nor will it allow clogs to form or damage your clothing or appliances; your clothes will actually receive a better cleaning for it.
Water softened by salt will give the water a somewhat slick feeling, which is fine, just be prepared for it. It will leave your skin feeling softer instead of irritated, which is a plus.
There are a couple of downsides to salt-based systems, but they are few.
First, because the resin beads will eventually become overloaded with the hard minerals, they will have to undergo a regeneration process from time to time, which will require some energy and will halt the water softening process while it is regenerating.
Second, you will need to have a drain specifically for the wastewater from the system. You will also have to periodically replenish the salt.
Besides these maintenance “inconveniences,” the only other concern is for those who are on a very strict, low-sodium diet — they may need to ensure that their drinking water source does not go through the softener to avoid the increased sodium.
The name is a slight misnomer, as they are not truly water “softeners” but conditioners.Magnetic water conditioners primarily function as descaling tools. When water passes through the magnetic conditioner, it energizes the water, causing the minerals to transition into a crystalline form that will not cling to surfaces (like pipes).
The process makes water more soluble and able to absorb more of the minerals and contents it carries. While it does not “soften” the water, it changes the problematic minerals and enables absorption. The results are improved water flow even through previously blocked up pipes and a decrease of hard deposits.
The benefits of magnetic water conditioners is that they require very little to no maintenance, unlike salt-based softeners, and use no chemicals, so there is less concern about environmental and health impact. And since it does not use salt, there is no concern for those needing to keep their sodium intake low.
However, the water will still retain its hardness – the minerals are still present, just in a form that won’t leave scaling in your pipes or on your sink and tub walls, and which may not damage your clothing as much.
Salt Free Systems
Salt-free systems function similarly to magnetic systems. They use a catalytic media to process the water and convert the minerals into a crystal that will not adhere to surfaces. Meaning, as with the magnetic systems, they do not truly soften but simply condition the water.
Best Place to Buy a System
Water softener systems are widely available online and in stores. You can start by checking online and local stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Walmart and more.
Top Brands and Products
Now that you understand that basic types of units that are on the market, let’s discuss some of the best brands and models that you could choose:
Fleck systems are perhaps the most famous brand for water softeners. They offer a very thorough line of softeners, including salt-free and even potassium-free options.They have developed a wide variety of configurations, guaranteeing that every household and situation can find what they need from a Fleck. They even have the option to add additional iron filters for extreme situations.
Fleck water softener systems use top technology, including automated regeneration cycles, making them convenient and efficient.
Whirlpool offers a substantial line of salt-based, whole-home water softeners, including their premium “Pro Series.” Their models offer very high hardness ratings, and their Whirlpool WHE44 model with 44,000 grain capacity is especially powerful for households dealing with excessively water issues. Whirlpool softeners provide control panels, which allow you to choose the best time of day for the regeneration process and which also allow you to set the hardness level.
GE’s salt-based softeners are great for value. Many of their machines use over 30% less salt and water during the regeneration process, making them very efficient.GE’s softeners are famous for their customizable settings that allow you to adjust the hardness level. They also have the technology to learn and adjust to a household’s water use patterns so that it regenerates at the most convenient times.
A favorite model is the GE 30, a 400 Grain softener that can eradicate even the toughest deposits. Because it allows you to adjust the level of hardness, you can have significantly softened water without the slick feeling that some don’t appreciate.
Morton provides a great variety of whole-home, salt-based premium units. Their Morton Demand Control Water Softener: 45,000 grain system is a particular favorite. Because its salt tank can hold up to 210 pounds, it requires very little attention, lasting a long time before needing to replenish the salt. It is effective and will help get rid of even the most stubborn deposits.
This model uses technology that enables it to learn a household’s water usage patterns to determine the best times to regenerate. Between its large salt tank and advanced technology, this salt-based machine will require very little effort to keep up.
The Clack corporation designs a vast array of water treatment accessories for filters, softeners, and other water treatment systems. These accessories include control valves, brine tanks, filters, ION exchange resin, and more.Their goal is to create accessories for water treatment equipment that would allow for a wide range of applications and compatibility.
Water Softener Installation
If you are ready to move forward with a purchase of a softener system, you may be wondering if the installation process is complicated and whether or not you need to hire a professional.
The answer to that is: “It depends.
It depends on your home, the type of pipes in your home, the location where you want to install the softener, as well as the softener system itself.
Some systems and situations are fairly straightforward and require very little previous plumbing knowledge. You can do these installs yourself. Just be sure that you are comfortable with household projects, have the necessary tools, and do your research beforehand.
In general, magnetic and salt-free systems are going to be easier for DIY projects. They require little equipment and are typically easy to install.
Whole house-hold, salt-based systems, on the other hand, will require more pipe and plumbing work, and may even require soldering. If you have no experience with plumbing and home projects, it is HIGHLY recommended that you hire a professional.
You should also be aware that certain types of whole-house water softening systems actually require that you follow building codes and may require a permit as well.
If there is a permit requirement, the work will be inspected after it is complete. If you are doing this yourself, you will need to check with your city or county government to find out whether the system you intend to install will require a permit or not.
If at all in doubt, or if you just want to spare yourself the hassle, hire a professional.
When considering the costs, you must not only think about the cost of the system itself, but the cost of running and maintaining it as well.
Magnetic systems are by far the cheapest and easiest for both installation and use. However, the benefits may not be as great, so you may not see the savings in soap and detergent use as you would with salt-based systems.
Salt-based and non-salt catalytic media-based filters run in similar price ranges, usually starting in the $400s and ranging upwards of $1000 or more.
Salt-based units will cost the most to maintain, as there will be the need to replenish the salt, and the regeneration process does use quite a bit of water.
However, the cost that it will save you in cleaning supplies, detergent, and plumbing can make up for the cost. Finally, since these systems are complex, you may also need to calculate in the cost hiring a professional for the install itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions that homeowners want answered before making their purchase.
How does a water softener work?
It depends on the type of system, so be sure to read that section above.In the case of salt-based systems, however, the water is pushed through a resin-bead tank where the hard minerals are captured at the same time that sodium is infused into the water from the salt and liquid brine tank. The removal of the hard water minerals and the infusion of the salt is what actually softens the water.
Can you drink soft water?
Yes, you can. It is perfectly safe. The only exception perhaps being for those who have health conditions that require them to keep a very close eye on their sodium intake. For these individuals, they should get a system that allows them to have faucets / water source that does not have to be softened.
Do electronic water softeners really work?
An electronic system (salt-free) works, but not in the same way that a salt-based softener does. In reality, it does not “soften” the water at all and does not actually remove the minerals – instead it changes them so that they will not produce scale and build up.So, it does work to remove and prevent clogs and calcium deposits from sticking to pipes, sinks, dishes, etc., but it will not soften the water in the same way.
Do you have to have a water softener?
No, you do not “have” to have a water softener. If you want to pay to replace plumbing when it gets blocked up and damaged, and be constantly having to buy new appliances because the hard water deposits zap their lifespan, then don’t worry about getting one. However, if you would like to prevent expensive repairs and replacement of your appliances, as well as extend the life of your clothing, among other benefits, then you should definitely consider getting a water softening system.
Do no salt water softeners work?
As with the electronic water softeners, yes, they work, but not by truly “softening” the water. Salt-free softeners will change the make up of the hard water minerals so that they will no longer adhere to pipes and surfaces, meaning no more clogging and less ugly deposit marks.
The top Water Softeners in 2018
But what exactly are water softeners and why do you need them?
Before we can move ahead checking out a few great options in terms of water softeners, how about refreshing our knowledge about the water softeners and their functionality?
So let us dig out more information on water softeners and the things you need to check out before you can actually buy one.
Water Softeners – What Are They?
From a layman’s point of view, a water softener is what removes the hardness of the potable water.
It is one of the major equipment that resolves the issues you may be facing with the hard water.
By definition, hard water is the one that contains a rich concentration of minerals like calcium, manganese and magnesium carbonate.
Finding if your water supply has any issues of hard water should be quite easy.
Check if the water does lather well with soap. If the shampoo and soap do not lather well enough, you can infer that the water is hard.
Other indications to hard water can be the coffee that has scales, spots on the dishes even after cleaning (in fact, actually after cleaning), a bathtub that has a ring and laundry that has dingy look.
Hard water can be an issue and has been treated to be not suitable for normal usage under certain conditions.
Water softeners help you by removing the additional chemicals and minerals that may not be suitable for potable purposes. They help you get rid of the issues you may be facing with the hard water.
Why Are Water Softeners Important?
It is quite common for the water to accumulate the minerals from the rocks and other natural ingredients.
But, it has other issues that make it essential to address the water hardness issues.
It can also make it a little difficult to wash your dishes, clothing and can create issues for your skin also. It can form cakes into the equipment that uses water, thereby making them fail.
It can also create issues when you bathe or cook, or even do laundry. It will create other hard water issues like scaling as also disturbing the appearance, taste or even odour.
There are several other issues also which you may face with the hard water.
How Do Water Softeners Work?
They take in the hard water that you feed into it and then removes all the minerals out of it. The amount of minerals they remove is indicated by the grain removal levels.
However, there are a few other options that can be made use of as we will be covering in the section about the types of water softeners.
The major principle behind the technology used in the water softening is all about exchanging the ions. Well, it may appear to be a complicated science.
The hard water contains hard minerals, while the soft water contains soft minerals.
If you want to soften the water, you just need to add the soft minerals to it. The electronic exchange takes place between the two chemicals or salts and thus they exchange the ions between the medium used for the softening and the water.
Thus the water is depleted of the minerals and it becomes softer.
Buying Guide on Water Softeners
You would need to check out a few factors while looking forward to the best water softener for your requirements.
Here are the aspects we advise you to check out while opting for a water softener.
Type of technology used
The type of technology used in the water softener will have a major bearing on how it functions. We would consider a water softener with ion-exchange technology as one of the better options.
The ion-exchange technology will work efficiently with the regeneration of the useful content in the water. It will handle the task of removing the hard minerals and bringing back the useful minerals. They tend to be lower on maintenance and offer a cheaper initial cost.
While ion-exchange water softeners use salt for softening water, there are salt-free options available that use potassium chloride for the purpose. They do not remove the minerals from the water but prevent scaling and other issues. If you have issues with sodium intake health-wise, it would be a great idea to go salt-free.
The third type of water softeners comes with magnetic and electronic descalers. Their main purpose is once again handling reversing the issues that scale the pipes and other electronic equipment.
In essence, if you are looking to a water softener that should address the scaling issues in your plumbing and electrical equipment that use water, you should use any of the other options. But, if you want to remove the hardness completely, the best you can opt for is the Ion-Exchange softeners.
Some prominent brands build a combo system that performs multiple functionalities. Combination of filter and softening is what may make it one of the excellent options and thus it should ideally be your great choice.
Capacity and Size
Size and capacity are the next two factors you would need to pay attention to while choosing your favourite water softener. They are available in multiple sizes and capacities.
The major deciding factor when you look for a water softener for your needs is the amount of water that your family uses on a daily basis. That should ideally not be an issue as such. Calculate an average water usage per person in your home. Multiply it by the number of persons in your family. Then multiply this value with the hardness of the water in terms of the grains per gallon in your water supply. You should be able to measure it either using any equipment or opt for the services of a qualified agency that specialises in measuring the hardness of water.
This calculation should yield the number of gallons you would need to soften each day. You should be able to choose the softener based on these calculations.
Installation and Maintenance Costs
Ideally, anyone who uses electronic equipment or otherwise will indeed need to look for the ones that have minimum costs. Rather than the initial costs, you should go with installation and maintenance costs.
If you need to opt for a little higher initial cost, that should not be a major hurdle if you can ensure that you do not need to pay high operational or other costs. Research for the best water softeners with the lower installation and operational costs. Of course, your new water softener needs to be maintained for proper functionality and years of trouble-free service. However, the maintenance costs should ideally be lower enough.
Water Softener Certification
This should be the ideal step in the direction of choosing the best water softener. NSF International is the testing agency authorised for testing and certifying the water treatment devices. Another organisation that is authorised to provide certification is the Water Quality Association.
Look whether the product you have chosen has a certification from either of these organisations. Of course, the certification may not be a guarantee any kind of performance, but that can be an assurance to indicate that the equipment is assured of the performance standards that they are marketed for.
If you are confused, you may check out the options for the well-known brands for your softening needs. That way, you can be assured of a reliable certification.
After Sales Service
This is another area that may need a special attention. The quality of after-sales service bears an important relationship with your purchase decision. Check out the companies that are well established and have a good deal of positive references. In fact, checking out a few website reviews can be of good help to you.
It may be essential to go through a research through the possible options you may have. Check out the online forums or actual references around you for a learned decision.
A Review of Top Water Softeners in 2018
We have made it a point to include the best options based on a variety of factors that we have already discussed.
#1 Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener
The Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener is more than just being the water softener. Apart from the regular options for softening the water, it also comes with an iron filter. What that means is the softener will soften the water by all means, but in addition, it will also handle removing the iron from the water.
If your household water contains iron impurities, it should be one of the great options for three multiple functionalities. It also comes with a digitally metered valve controller as well. The backlit LCD screen is an added advantage. The water softener is available in two capacities in terms of the grain capacity – 48000grains and 32000 grains. The 32000 options can be the best one for the smaller homes while the 48000 one will be a better one if you have a larger home.
You also have access to the protection against rust, sand and other sediments you may find in your water softener. The regeneration system will aid you in getting enhanced water capacity.
You can check it out at https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Combination-softener-5600SXT-32k/dp/B004LYN6CU/
Price – $ 554.32
- It helps you remove iron impurities along with water softener properties.
- Metered regeneration is helpful in getting as much water as you would need.
- The touchpad and LCD backlit option make it one of the best options
- An excellent 5 year warranty
- Installation is a little difficult
#2 Aquasana EQ – SS320
Aquasana is a well-known brand for offering excellent functionality when it comes to water softeners. In fact, it is a combo product that combines both a water filter and water softener.
It should ideally be the best whole house water purification system you can opt for. The water softener functionality works with the salt-free technology that we had a discussion about. You can get salt free water, but yes it does not remove any of the essential minerals. It filtrates your household water with the UV Sterilight technology. This should be helpful in getting crystal clear water sans any viruses and bacteria.
The water softener – water filter combo comes with dual tank design that can increase water contact time with contaminant grabbing media and prevents clogging or media channelling. It can last up to 50000 gallons before needing filter replacement.
The softener is available at https://www.amazon.com/Aquasana-EQ-SS20-SimplySoft-Salt-Free-Softener/dp/B00AQMGZIS/
Price – $ 188.87
- It leaves behind the important minerals in the water thus providing you healthy water without unneeded minerals
- It can be your best softener if you have any health issues with respect to the salt intake
- It handles both a water filter and water softening needs in one go.
- One year product warranty
#3 Morton® System Saver® 30,000 Grain Water Softener M30
One of the best features that would make it an excellent choice is the compact design that it offers you. The single tank system is what would make it a great alternative for all your water softening requirements in comparison to the competitors.
It supports the 11 gallons per minute flow rate. However, it uses salt for purifying and softening your water. In fact, it should be one of the best options for your needs if you have small and compact sized homes. The 30000 grains capacity water softener makes use of electronic look ahead technology. It will generate water only when it is needed. You also have access to power interruption protection options.
You may find more information about the water softener at https://www.amazon.com/Morton%C2%AE-System-Saver%C2%AE-Softener-M30/dp/B00FAHYA36/
Price – $ 481.60
- Compact size ensures that it takes less space.
- It is best suited for smaller houses.
- It uses less salt content. It will ensure that you will not have high salt content.
- Handling capacity can be an issue if you have more need for water
- The replacement parts are expensive
#4 Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
Are you looking for a budget option for your requirements in water softening? The Eddy Electronic Water Descaler can be the best alternative for the conventional water softeners.
As you may find from the name itself, it is not a water softener – but a descaler. As we have already discussed when checking out the types of different water softener technologies, descalers help you get rid of the issues you may be facing with your plumbing systems and equipment.
It will help you by making use of electromagnetic waves too so that the lime scales formed inside the pipes. It will also help you handle the scaling issues that you may be facing with your types of equipment that use water. The electromagnetic option of softening your water should work efficiently with all the types of water pipes except those in lead and iron.
Want to check it out? You may find it on https://www.amazon.com/Eddy-Electronic-Water-Descaler-Alternative/dp/B003Z96GR4/
Price – $ 199.99
- No salt. That can make it a great option for those who have issues with salt intake.
- The most affordable means of handling the hard water.
- The maintenance costs are quite low – possibly most cheaper amongst most of the options.
- The compact design lets you save space. It is quite easy to install.
- May not be a great option for long term application.
- It is not a complete water softener solution.
#5 Fleck 7000 SXT water Softener
If you have high water needs, it can be your best option for all your water softening requirements. It can be used for both residential and light commercial needs. It can handle the high capacity of water requirements that you may have.
It comes with a metered controller that can handle as much as 28 Gallon per minute flow rate. You have a 64000 grains capacity. It can be a great option for a home with 5 persons or more. You have an LCD panel so that it can be used for maximised efficiency. This can be the best option for minimising your daily salt consumption.
The water softener comes with a host of advanced features. Some of the excellent features that it comes with include optical positioning, flexible programming, double backwash, and a soft water brine tank refill.
You can check the water softener at https://www.amazon.com/Fleck-94FL-7000S-Meter-Grain-Softener/dp/B005XTXTCE/
Price – $ 949.99
- It is an excellent option for all your needs in case you are looking for the high water requirements.
- You can use this water softener for all your needs in high water requirements. You can be sure of not being forced to go with any pressure loss.
- The water softener is easy to install.
- The Fleck 7000 may be a little expensive.
#6 Triple Action Poly Salt Free Water Softener
How about checking an option that performs three functions in one device? The Triple Action Poly Salt-Free Water Softener does just that. It is a combination of a water conditioner, a water softener, as well as water filters all, rolled into one.
The first step in the functioning of the Triple Action Poly slat free water softener is filtering water. It removes the sediments, sand and similar other physical impurities. The second step breaks down the calcium. The third step is designed to include siliphos poly-phosphates crystals.
The filter stage has a stainless steel 50 mm filter. After getting cleaned of impurities, the water moves to the second stage where it passes through the electro-mechanical water conditioning. The last stage is all about softening the water.
Check it out for your water filtration needs at https://www.amazon.com/Poly-Salt-Free-Water-Softener/dp/B01MRAJWBW/
Price – $ 439.00
- The best option for all your needs in water filtration, softening and conditioning your water.
- It should be the ideal choice for all your needs if you are looking for options for cleaning up the water before softening it.
- The stainless steel filter is permanent and thus reduces the recurring costs of filter changes.
- You can remove the filter for cleaning.
- Installation can be a little tougher.
Well, that was a little list of formidable choices you may have for the best water softeners for your exact needs. Do note that the list is representative and includes at least one option for all use cases.
Conclusion – Water Softeners Guide
Opting for the ion-exchange softeners can be an excellent option for the reasons we have explained above.
We assume the buying guide we have featured in the above paragraphs should help you in choosing the water softener perfect for your needs.
Do remember that hard water may not be bad for general usage. Even then, it has a few effects that may not be suitable for the humans. That is exactly what necessitates softening it.
We have covered everything that has to do with water softening systems.
We covered all the aspects of the technology right from the type of water softeners, the need for water softening and a few excellent water softeners you may use for the best benefits of water softening requirements. We do consider it will be helpful for all your needs in handling water purification and softening needs.