How To Choose A Water Softener

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We often heard home owners asking on how to choose a water softener for their home as the selections are overwhelmed. There are so many types, functionalities and brands of water softener in America. Contradicting information on the same type of softener are often seen online which made selections even harder.

To simplified the selection process, we have summarized the important elements that you need to consider while choosing your first water softener.

Facts That You Need To Know About Softener

Some basic facts that you need to know about water softener.

  • It is not water purification system unless stated otherwise
    Most whole house water softeners are standalone products and do not remove contamination.
  • Salt based and salt free softener in the market.
    Salt based softener required constant refilling of salt and it required electricity to power up the softener system.
    For salt free softener converts the hard water into crystal particles that isn’t sticky to surface. It doesn’t require electricity and constant salt refilling.

Why Are You Getting A Water Softener?

The most common answers are getting a clean and soft water. What is the real problem that you faced that forced you on getting a water softener? That’s the reason that I’m looking for.

Generally it can be categorized into 3 different water softeners. It is all depending on the your use case and the problems that you faced.

Shower Head Softener

This particular softener has been a star in the market because a lot of people are facing various problems when showering hard water. You probably will not notice the cause until you changed all the shampoo and body wash but the problem still persists.

Shower Head Softener

You should be using this if :

  • Dry skin that causes skin irritation such as eczema.
  • Hair scalp problem.
  • Wire-like and tangle hair.

Dry skins are due to the hard water clogged on pores and trap the dirts on your skin. While hair problems are due to the scale that was form in hard water which makes your hair feel greasy when it is wet and dull, tangle when it is dry.

Price: Less than $50.

Installation: Easy. Most of the problem are screw on to the existing shower head.

Maintenance: 6 months to a year depending on product and water usage.

Summary: If you have limited funds, you can started off with a $25  shower head softener to ease the problem that you face while showering and invest in another systems when you have a bigger budget.

Drinking Water Softener

There are actually no specific drinking water softeners in the market. However, most of the drinking water filtration system will reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium to make the water less hard. In other words, you can have purification and softener in just one machine.

Drinking Water Softener

You should be using this if :

  • Bad smell and taste of your drinking water.
  • Chlorine smell is strong.
  • Heavy material contamination such as lead and mercury exists in your community

These type of water softener or purifier will significantly reduce the amount of contamination up to 97% and makes it more drinkable. Water is relatively important in our body as it made up of 65% of it. Drinking clean water can prevent viruses or bacteria entering our body.

Price: In the range of $50-$300. (You can get a pretty good ones around $150.)

Installation: Moderate.

Maintenance: 6 months to a year depending on product and usage of water.

Summary: If you have a couple hundred to spare, you can go for the drinking water systems where provides clean water to your body.

Whole House Water Softener

Undoubtedly, this water softener will be install at the main inlet of the pipe that supplies water to the house. It normally looks like a blue fire extinguisher sitting at the side of the garage. It is normally the most expensive among all 3 categories as it supplies soft water to the whole house.

Whole House Water Softener

You should be using this if:

  • Laundry problems due to hard water.
  • Low water pressure on showering due to serious clogged pipes.
  • Serious white spots on dishes cleaning.

The water softener will reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water that comes in to your house. It will protect your household appliances, laundry and water pipes to avoid early replacement.

Price: In the range of $500 – $1000. (Mostly excluding water purification systems)

Installation: Moderate to Hard. It might required plumbing assistance.

Maintenance: Zero (Salt Free Softeners) , No frequent maintenance is required for salt free softeners. Probably is just once a year for filter replacement

Summary: If you have some amount of budget to invest in providing a good water condition to your family, go for the whole house water softener. It will save you money in the long run in reducing the cost of repair and replacement on your home appliances.

What’s Your Choice?

I will definitely go for the whole house water softener. Check out our water softener review article to find out which system do we recommend.

20 thoughts on “How To Choose A Water Softener”

  1. The water softener in my house just stopped working, and we were curious about how you would choose the right system to replace it. One thing that really stood out to me is that you say that salt free systems actually don’t require electricity! It would be nice to know that we can save a little bit of energy for our home.

    • The first criteria for me on choosing a softener is quality. The pressure in my house is relatively huge hence most of the low quality products can’t withstand the pressure and eventually leak after a few months.
      Secondly, maintenance and replacement frequency. Which leads to me on choosing salt free softeners. Salt based softeners required constant refilling of salt and it’s expensive in the long run.

      Most of the salt based are using the technology of altering the ion of hard minerals to made it crystal structure to prevent scaling and clogging on pipes.


  2. It really helped when you mentioned how you only need to maintain your salt-free water softener one a year for filter replacement. I can understand that taking the time to understand how often your water softener will need to be maintained can help you find the best one for your needs. We are planning on replacing our water softener and wanted to make sure we did our research beforehand to choose the best one, soI;m glad I found your post.

  3. Thanks for the information on how there are 3 different water softeners and you choose one based on the problems you face. Choosing the right option would probably be important so that you can stay healthy and be comfortable. When choosing a water softener, you’d probably want to figure out the one you need and then research the different brands and models online in order to find the best option.

    • Exactly. You need to choose the correct water softener that actually solves your problem. I hope this article helps you when choosing a water softener for your home.

  4. I really like that one of the first questions that the article asks is why you are getting a water softener. After all, if you’re getting one for drinking water than you are going to need a different kind of softener for everything else. Your best bet is probably to talk to the person selling you the water softener and asking them what they think you’ll need.

  5. Thanks for the tip about considering a drinking water softener if you notice a bad smell coming from your tap water. Finding something that is going to be highly efficient and also easy to use would be really helpful. My husband and I are looking for a water softener now that we moved into a home with hard water, so we’ll have to find one that is efficient.

  6. It’s so awesome that I stumbled upon your post because my brother is looking for this kind of information. He had just bought a new house and he needs to install a water softener system on it. I will be forwarding this post to him so he could start choosing for the right system.

  7. Thank you for suggesting that you should be using a whole water softener if you are experiencing issues with laundry. My husband and I are needing to install a hard water softener to help make sure our clothes are washed properly> I’ll have to look into finding the best company to come and install it for us.

  8. I like that you pointed out the benefits of a salt-free water softener in removing white spots in dishes and increasing water pressure by removing clogged pipes. My father is thinking of getting our home upgraded to using a salt-free water system. I’ll talk to him about the benefits next month, so he’ll consider what water services would best fit our needs.

  9. It really can help to ask why you are choosing a water softener for your home. As the article points out, you can break it down into one of a few decisions. For example, if you are looking to soften the water that you are drinking then you’ll want a softener that was specifically designed for that.

  10. I did not know that there was so much to choose from when looking for a water softener. Although, it does make sense that you should look at what you’re going to use the softener for. After all, if you’re planning to use it throughout your whole home then it makes sense to expect to pay more for it.

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