Water Filter vs. Water Softener: How Do They Differ and Which is Best for My Home?

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to have the cleanest, healthiest water possible flowing through your taps. However, you might be unsure of the best way to achieve clean, good-tasting water in a way that works for your home and your budget. There are two options to consider to provide your home with clean, clear water: water filters and water softeners.

The first step you must take in your quest for pristine water is to get a water quality test. Quality testing gives you a report of the types of contaminants and minerals that are in your home’s tap water. You can then consider your options from the report’s results — and choose a water softener or filter system that works for your needs.

You might not know the difference between water filters and softeners, and that’s okay! In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of home water treatment systems and help you make an informed decision on which is best for your home.

How Does a Water Filtration System Work?

Water filters remove sediment, chlorine, chemicals, heavy metals, and many other impurities from your water through different filter mediums. In a filtration system, water passes through several different stages of filters before it reaches your tap. The end result of a water filter system is clean, safe, and good-tasting water.

Common Types of Water Filtration Systems

There are multiple different types of water filtering systems. Most providers, including Independent Water Services, offer customized filtration systems tailored to the specific types of contaminants within your water. However, there are two main subtypes of filtration systems: whole home filtration systems, and drinking water filtration systems.

Drinking-Water Filtration System

A drinking water filtration system filters water to drink and is usually installed in the kitchen. It can come as a stand-alone unit that offers both hot and cold water, a compact one that is countertop sized, or one that fits under the sink with a separate faucet. Drinking water filtration systems are often self-installed and inexpensive.

Whole-Home Filtration System

A whole-home water filtration system filters all the water coming into your home. Because of its size, installers would place the filtration system in the garage, basement, or utility closet. It is similar to a drinking water filtration system, but at a larger scale. Home filtration systems typically have multiple filters and sometimes use specialized filters to remove specific contaminants.

What Does a Water Softener Do?

Water softeners use salt to modify the properties of your home’s water to remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium from your water. Calcium and magnesium contribute to scale buildup in your pipes and fixtures, which we refer to as hard water. Hard water causes wear and tear on appliances that use water and all of your plumbing fixtures. You also may notice how it takes a lot of detergent to clean your clothing and that your skin still feels unclean after a shower if you have hard water.

How Do Water Filters and Softeners Compare?

Water filters and softeners fix two different types of water problems. Water filters remove contaminants, while water softeners remove only calcium and magnesium from the water source. Which type of water treatment you choose depends on what type of water problem you have.

Which Type of Water Treatment Should I Choose?

Before making any decision, water quality testing is necessary.  If the water test indicates that you have high levels of contaminants, your water tastes or smells bad, or has discoloration; you should install a water filter. However, if your only issue is hard water, a water softener would solve your water issues effectively. 

It’s possible to have both hard water and contaminants. In this case, you could install both a water softener and a filtration system. You have multiple options of configurations, such as having a water softener and a reverse osmosis system for drinking water inside your kitchen. Having both types of water treatment systems is common in areas with poor quality well water or unsafe city water.

Clear and Clean Water Solutions with IWS

At Independent Water Service, our installation experts can recommend and install the right water softener system for your specific needs. 

We offer free water analysis and help you choose which system works for you. Our free water analysis checks for softness, impurities and other factors that may affect your household or business’ water. We offer systems for both residential and commercial spaces.

We proudly serve Yakima and Kittitas Counties and have been your local trusted water service since 1986. Call to schedule your free water analysis and upgrade your water system for your home or business with the water experts.