If you’ve been thinking of installing a water softener in your home, you’ve likely realized that there is no shortage of options, making it a tough decision. When shopping for a water softener, keep in mind that the manufacturer’s job is to make you feel like their product will solve your problems. But will it?
Hard water can cause problems in many aspects. You will not only have to clean sinks and showers more frequently, but you’ll also find that you need to use more soap to get things clean. The mineral scale can also build up in your pipes until you need to replace them.
A water softener is a great investment in your home, but it’s essential to choose the right softener to fit your needs. Before you get overwhelmed, keep reading! This guide will give you an idea of what you need to look for when shopping for a water softener and how to decide what the best solution is.
Types of Water Softeners
The first decision you need to make is what type of water softener you need. The softener you choose will depend on your household needs and personal preference.
Salt-Based Ion Exchange
Salt-based water softeners are what most people think of when it comes to water softeners. Water softener salt is needed to perform an ion exchange. Magnesium and calcium (the minerals that make your water hard) are exchanged with sodium ions, removing the hardness from your water.
Salt-based water softeners need to run a regeneration cycle periodically to flush out and wash away the hard minerals. During this cycle, the resin bed will be replenished with sodium. That process is called reverse ion exchange.
Salt-free water conditioners don’t soften your water. Instead, they combat limescale. To keep them from sticking to surfaces, hard water minerals are crystallized. You will still have calcium and magnesium in your water, but it will eliminate limescale.
Dual Tank System
Dual tank systems utilize two resin tanks to ensure that soft water is always available. When one tank is regenerating, the other tank is producing soft water. Dual tank systems usually cost more than single tank units.
The cost of a water softener is dependent on the type you choose, its size, its brand, and the features you desire. You can spend between $350 to $3,500 or more on a softener. Installation charges can add another $300 to $1,000, and there are also recurring costs for salt, water, servicing, etc. While those numbers may seem high to you right now, a water softener that functions properly and can provide your family with soft water pays for itself in the long run.
Capacity and Flow Rate
The capacity, or size, of a water softener specifies how many grains of hardness it can remove before it needs to regenerate. These capacities range from 8,000 up to 80,000 grains. The size will also determine the flow rate, meaning how many outlets you can use simultaneously.
To determine the capacity you need, you must figure out how hard your water is and the average amount of water you use in a day. You can complete this questionnaire to determine how much water you use.
You can choose a tank that has metered or time-based regeneration. Metered regeneration uses an electronic sensor to measure your water consumption allowing the system to regenerate only when necessary. Time-based softeners start the regeneration process based on a preset clock, regardless of how much water you’ve used.
Ensure that the water softener you are choosing has NSF/ANSI certifications to substantiate the performance claims made by the manufacturer. You can also look for the WQA Gold seal. These certifications ensure that you are getting a reliable, quality product.
One of the most important things to look for is a warranty. Review the warranty to ensure that it covers labor and parts, specifically electronics.
Water softeners produce substantial wastewater when they regenerate and discharge excess sodium. Because of this, some localities have banned the use of salt-based water softeners. Before purchasing a water softener, ensure that it complies with state regulations and plumbing codes. If you have questions, contact a local plumber.
Let the Water Experts Help You Choose the Water Softener That’s Right For You
One of the first steps you should take when choosing the water softener best for you is to get a water analysis to determine your exact needs. A technician will check your water for softness, impurities, and other factors that can affect your water. They can then recommend the system that is best for you.
At Independent Water Services Inc., we’ve spent almost four decades helping customers around Central Washington find the water solutions to fit their needs. But, our job doesn’t stop after we’ve installed your ideal water system. You can turn to our water experts to maintain any water system to improve your water.
Don’t wait. Schedule your FREE water analysis today and get started on the track to making hard water a thing of the past.