Last Updated: December 21, 2020
Before getting into this water softener buyers guide let’s answer a more basic question: “What Is A Water Softener?”
“Hard minerals” are typically things like calcium and magnesium.
These minerals and ions are naturally absorbed by the earth.
If you do not stop using hard water, you will have to deal with many problems. The most annoying is the accumulation of waste such as limescale in your equipment and pipes.
Hard water also complicates the correct foaming of detergents and soaps. This causes hardness in hair, skin and clothing.
- How Do Water Softeners Work?
- Types of Water Softeners
- Are Water Softeners Worth It?
- Why Should I Buy A Water Softener With A Timer?
- What Water Softener Size Do I Need?
- What To Do Before I Buy A Water Softener?
- DON’T Make These DUMB Mistakes When Buying Your Water Softener
- Water Softener Buying Guide Comparison Table
- Choose the Right Softener By Reading Water Softener Reviews.
- Water Softener Reviews
- So, Which is the Best Water Softener?
How Do Water Softeners Work?
Water softeners work by removing calcium, magnesium and other hard minerals naturally found in water.
This is done by creating an environment that causes the minerals to get stuck in the softening machine.
The video below explains how water softeners work.
Types of Water Softeners
There is only one type of water softener, the standard type.
I say this because all water softeners do the same job. They remove hard water minerals with potassium chloride or sodium (salt) to soften the water.
Electronic water systems. This type of machine uses electrical cables to change the charge of hard mineral ions.
The electronic system resembles units without salt because they do not remove hard minerals or soften water.
Magnetic water systems. These work in a similar way to electronic water softening devices. They are known as magnetic softeners because strong magnets adhere to the tube of this device.
The magnets then interfere with the way in which hard mineral ions are charged. This prevents blockages in the fittings and pipes.
Water systems without salt. If salt is a problem for you, try using a salt-free system. However, this usually leads to a device that only conditions the water and decalcifies it. Therefore, they should not really be called “water softeners”.
Are Water Softeners Worth It?
Do a full water test to see if you suffer from hard water.
- There is a lot of limescale in my boiler and it’s really annoying because it’s hard to eliminate.
- Do not like the smell or taste of my tap water.
- We spend too much money on bottled water and filtration equipment. I just want nice water from the tap.
- The water in my house is already quite clean, it does not need filtration. But it has to be smoother.
- I noticed that there is a lot of lime around my sink, the dishwasher, the bathtub and the shower head and that are difficult to remove.
- I or my children suffer from dry skin, hair, etc. and it gets worse after the shower.
Hard water can cause many problems in your home. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can also be unhealthy as it affects the skin and hair. It can cost a lot of money in the long term not to treat the water properly. This is because hard water can shorten the life of appliances.
If any of these things is a problem for you, it is best to obtain a water softener. Although it can be quite expensive in advance. It will actually save you money in the long run. Your health and quality of life will also improve.
Benefits Of Soft Water
- People prefer to drink soft water because they do not drink unnecessarily many “hard” minerals in the water.
- Eliminating water hardness reduces lime deposits.
- By softening the water you get water that tastes good, smells better and has a fresher taste.
- Many people also report that soft water improves hair, skin and clothing.
Why Should I Buy A Water Softener With A Timer?
In the Waterloo region, it is estimated that 134,723 water softeners for domestic use use at least 2.7 billion liters of water and 44,700 tons of salt per year for the generation of soft water.
This is equivalent to more than ten Olympic-size swimming pools filled with water. And about a third of the CN Tower’s weight in salt. Dissolved sodium and chloride ions end up in the Great River and in drinking water supplies.
The water used to regenerate the resin is not just a wasted resource. It is like throwing money into the drain. This also affects the quality of the water.
A non timer-based water softener will cost you as much as $400 a year in water and salt.
The average demand for softener salt in the market will cost a three-person household around $200 per year.
However, the right water softener will use less salt and less water. It’s good for the environment, our community and your wallet.
For the best savings and water softener efficiency (i.e. why you need a timer based softener):
- Calculate the correct size of water softener for your home’s needs.
- Choose one that certified according to the NSF44 performance standards.
- Configure your water softener with the most efficient configuration.
- Use the correct softener salt.
What Water Softener Size Do I Need?
Domestic water softeners are classified according to the number of degrees of hardness they remove. This is measured by the given volume of resin in the tank and the amount of salt needed to regenerate the resin.
Many retailers and product websites provide conflicting information on how to calculate the right size of water softener for your home’s needs. Keep in mind that most, if not all, retailers in North America specify US weights and measures.
To find the right size of water softener for your home, you need two things:
1. The average daily consumption of water in the home without outdoor irrigation.
2. The average of grains per gallon hardness in tap water.
Once you have these numbers, you can determine your daily hardness elimination requirements and the recommended size of water softener. If you’re unsure provide these numbers to a company selling water softeners. Then take their recommendation and use it to determine which softener model is best.
What To Do Before I Buy A Water Softener?
Research shows that some water softeners work more efficiently with ion exchange than others. The Waterloo region and the city of Guelph are working with experts in the field to develop performance indicators for water softeners to reduce the consumption of salt, water and energy.
1. Only Buy A Softener Certified According To The Performance Standard NSF / ANSI 44
This is a voluntary certification. It confirms that the softener is effective because it can remove at least 3,350 degrees of hardness per pound of salt. At the same time, there is no more than 5 gallons of water per 1000 degrees of hardness. This is a minimum standard. Many softeners in the market are even more efficient than this.
2. Ask About Softener Performance And Compare.
This is to comply with the NSF / ANSI 44 performance standard. Company’s must provide saline efficiency information with the device. This information is also in the User’s Guide, on a separate sheet of paper or on the Internet.
DON’T Make These DUMB Mistakes When Buying Your Water Softener
If you are looking for the best water softener, here is a quick 3 step plan to avoid issues when you buy a water softener. The following are 3 of the biggest mistakes people make when buying a water softening machine.
- You buy a water softener that is too powerful for your needs. Yes, you need a water softener that can provide enough water for the whole family. But does the unit that interests you have the right capacity for you? Most units will tell you how many people they can serve e.g. a “1-3 bathroom home”. Just make sure you get one that’s strong enough. But not too strong, because that’s just wasting your money.
- Have you checked to see if you have enough space for the water softener? It seems an obvious question, but where will you put it within each reach of plumbing, pipes etc? Find the right place in your home where the water softener will go. Also, to can not be anywhere with a fluctuating temperature and ideally has easy access. Keep in mind that you also need enough space to carry out regular maintenance and to clean the device.
- Do you know if you really need a water softeners OR a water filter. The best way to find out is to have a complete test on your water. Take a test to see how hard your water is and another to see if your water is contaminated. The results will help you decide what you really need.
Water Softener Buying Guide Comparison Table
Choose the Right Softener By Reading Water Softener Reviews.
Here are the best selling water softeners with the highest rated reviews.
In the following sections, I will review the best selling and most popular water softeners available on the market that you can buy today.
These includes all the top quality water softeners available in the US like Pelican water softeners.
Water Softener Reviews
Pelican Softener and Whole House
This Pelican water softener comes with a digital control valve. In this way, you can control the regeneration cycle and set it up to work automatically.
On the other hand, you can choose to regenerate more often if you have a large home or require a large capacity.
The digital controller that comes with this has many good features. One of the best is the touch control, which has an screen. These values are what allow you to program and monitor the machine.
This system also comes with post and pre filters so that it won’t just treat hard water but all contaminants. It filters everything from basic sand, dirt, dust to insecticides, industrial solvents and pesticides.
Aquasana Salt Free Water Softener and Whole House Filter System
It is very effective at removing sediment and treating hard water up to 25 ppm.
- It can treat up to 1,000,000 gallons of water.
- The cartridges are easy to replace.
- Not only prevents the accumulation of limescale and sediment this Aquasana machine really works to eliminate the existing scale in your pipes. Therefore it can help you if you already have some hard water damage. It does all of this WITHOUT using salt.
- Comes with a professional installation kit so you can save on the cost of hiring a plumber.
- Price: $$$
FilterSmart Whole House Water Systems for Tap and Well Water
Another selling point is it has a very high-capacity. This particular FilterSmart point of entry filtration model has a 1,000,000-gallon water capacity.
- Filters and softens without using salt.
- The filter treats herbicides, pesticides, chlorine, industrial solvents, VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) and chloramines.
- No electricity, backwashing or waste water.
- Price $$
So, Which is the Best Water Softener?
Want to install one? It will cost at between $2000-$2500 on the device and more money for installation. Unless you can do it yourself.
If hard water is a problem in your area, then you need a water softener.Extremely hard water requires a salt based softener.
Meanwhile moderatly hard water (up to 25 ppm) can effectively be treated with a salt free softener. If your level of hard water qualfies for this, I highly recommend a salt free system.
Salt free water treatment systems like the one from Aquasana are better for lots of reasons. It is cheaper to run (because you don’t need to keep buying salt), easier to maintain and you don’t have to worry about salt clogs etc.
However, installing any good quality water treatment system will greatly improve the quality of drinking water and help you avoid limescale problems.