Water is a vital resource. In fact, we cannot live without it as well as other living things. We recognize the importance of this element to our existence and yet we cannot avoid wasting it or even neglecting the quality of water being used in our homes and residences. Such reality is a result of rapid urbanization in some areas that access to clean water is not as reliable as it should be. And so to battle out this problem, most experts recommend that we use best water softeners at home today.

Please check this table to have a quick look of the best water softener models in the market today:

Currently, there are different types of water softeners being used at home and most of which are designed to get rid of the bacterial contaminants in water. These devices are very helpful especially when you’re talking about the effects of drinking water to our health. But the truth of the matter is, germs and bacteria are not the only contaminants being found in water for there are other minerals which can affect the quality of water and make it ‘hard’. And the only way of dealing this problem is by installing a water softener system at home.

Basically, a soft water system is a type of device or appliance which uses a type of regenerant agent to make the water soft. According to experts, calcium, magnesium, and (sometimes) iron deposits are the main causes of hard water. They have the tendency to stick into the pipe’s surface and eventually affect the pressure of water being supplied at homes. Aside from that, these minerals are known to cause water spots and lime scale formations which usually affect our coffee makers and dishwashers in our kitchen. And if you are aware of these stains, then you already know that they are very tough to remove…
Now how can you tell if you are using hard water at home?

One of the simplest ways of detecting hard water at home is usually done while taking a shower. If you notice that the water coming out of the shower is kinda rough on the feel and the soap you are using is not lathering as expected or does not lather well, then you can somehow say that hard water is being supplied in your area. Another method of detecting hard water is by inspecting the drains and shower heads in your bathroom. If you notice soap scum building up on these places and is very hard to remove after several cleaning, then you can conclude that these stains are caused by hard water. Furthermore, if you see the same scum buildup in your kitchen appliances, this is a sure indicator of hard water and you really need to deal with this problem by conducting a water softener installation as soon as possible.

An Installed Water Filtering System
Plumbers and plumbing companies consider hard water as an expensive nuisance because it has the ability to ‘eat’ into our finances without even realizing it. At first, the effects of hard water may seem negligible and insignificant. But over time as the scale buildup begins to interfere with the drainage and the pressure of the water, the money being spent as a result of frequent repairs also increases. And if these stains and buildups are not addressed soon, chances are it will also affect the performance of our household appliances. In other words, we may have to replace our washing machines and dishwashers sooner than we think because they are not functioning the way they are supposed to.

And so, it is highly recommended to install the best water softener at home because it has the ability to remove ‘hard’ minerals in water which often causes the decreased availability of water in your area, prevent plumbings from being clogged, put a stop to scale buildups in water heaters, and remove that funny taste in water (in some cases).

Types Of Water Softeners

As more and more people are becoming aware about the negative effects of hard water, the demand for water softener installation in recent years has also significantly increased. Today, there are various types of water treatment devices being set up, but they usually fall under these 2 types: The salt based water softener and the salt free water softener.

Salt Based

This is one of the most popular types of water softeners being used nowadays. In this device, salt or sodium chloride is utilized as the softening regenerant for treating hard water. Since then, sodium has been considered as one of the most (if not, the most) effective agents in the softening process for ion exchange devices. The water softener salt is loaded up inside the brine tank usually in a form of pellets so it can charge up all the water softener resin with sodium ions. Once the recharging stage is complete, the beads will then strip the water of all the calcium and magnesium contaminants and replace these minerals with sodium. Once sodium is added into the water, it will immediately change its texture from rough to smooth and therefore earning its name “soft water” because of this result.

Salt-Based Water Softener

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Majority of the houses and buildings in the country today use salt based water softeners. But along with its popularity also came the controversy since a lot of health conscious people are raising concerns about the possible risks of drinking soft water with considerable traces of salt. And although no significant findings can prove this claim about the correlation of treated water to health risks, there are still a lot of believers who think that drinking softened water can cause potential harm especially to those individuals who are already at risk of kidney and heart related diseases. That is why some areas in the United States choose to regulate or totally forbid using salt based water softener system because of this much debated issue.

And since the cost of replacement is not cheap, homeowners around these areas are forced to find a softening substitute for regenerating soft water. Fortunately, potassium and hydrogen regenerants were being introduced in the market. These agents are considered as healthy substitute for softening since potassium is a necessary nutrient to keep our bodies healthy.

On the other hand, hydrogen (or hydrochloric acid) has earned its reputation of being a cleaning agent ever since and is non-harmful to humans if used in small amounts. And if you’re talking about environmental concerns, potassium and hydrogen regenerants are guaranteed eco-friendly, which makes them a more efficient solution to address any issues with the use of ion exchange soft water system devices.

Salt Free

Salt free water softener appliance are also called as no salt or salt less water softeners because their process of softening water does not include any removal of any hard water minerals, but rather make use of other methods in filtering hard water. Salt free water softeners utilize a bunch of technologies because most of these devices were invented by proprietor companies.

Some of the salt free devices being used today are the following:

  • Magnetic (Utilizes magnets which are attached outside the pipes to form a magnetic field which can alter the overall structure, morphology of particles, and composition of hard water as it passes through the magnetized pipes).
  • Electronic (This device will send electronic pulses to disrupt any suspended calcium and magnesium particles in the water to change the chemical makeup of these elements so it will not cause scaling and any other problems associated with hard water. In other words, this device effectively softens water without going through the usual process).
  • Chelation (Utilizes a type of chelant or sequestrant agents, mostly citrus based agents so their molecules will bind with hard water contaminants and prevent them from accumulating precipitates in your pipes, on your shower heads, and drains).

Electronic Water Softener

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How Do Water Softener Systems Work?

A Simple Diagram About Water Softening Process
Water softeners undergo a certain process to treat hard water. In this process, the supplied water will pass through a tank filled with charged ion resins. These rows of resins are usually charged with sodium ions (which is often considered as the most effective agent in treating hard water) or potassium ions to effectively “trap” all the unwanted scum behind. As water passes through the water softener resin bed, the sodium or potassium ions are released into the liquid while chemically attracting all the calcium and magnesium mineral ions into the resin beads at the same time.

This method of exchange is referred to as Ion Exchange and it is very necessary to make the water soft.

On other hand, salt free devices make use of different methodologies for softening water more or less like the ones being mentioned above. And although these devices are pushing its way into the mainstream market, the technologies they employ are still highly controversial due to the lack of conclusive evidence as a result of conflicting findings during scientific experiments. Nonetheless, salt free softening systems have earned a following and are not likely expected to go away from the scene any time soon.

How To Determine Water Hardness Before Using Water Softeners

A Typical Water Test Kit

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Hard water is very common nowadays. And though some areas in the country are being supplied with hard water, the amount of mineral elements suspended in water usually differs from place to place. And this very aspect usually affects the hardness of water which give use the reason why some areas have high levels of hardness in water while some have less.
Knowing the hardness factor is important since this information can help you pick the right water softener system to install. And in order for you to check the hardness of water in your area, you will need to use the right tools to get the job done.
Most experts recommend using a water test kit for determining the hardness of water. This kit is comprised of test strips or test tablets which changes in color upon coming into contact with the hard water sample. The color change will indicate the level of hardness in the water as indicated in the test chart. Water test kits can be purchased at any supply stores, hardware, and it can also be acquired at any local water testing company.
Hard Water Test

And if for some reason you cannot secure any water test kit, there is still another way of testing the hardness of water at home and that is by doing this method called the “soap test”.

Soap Test

First, you have to prepare all the materials you need for the test: a 12 oz. plastic bottle (clear) with cap and a dishwashing soap. Once you have everything you need, fill the plastic bottle with a sample of hard water from your residence and dip about 10 drops of pure soap. Shake the plastic bottle very well and look for soap suds. The richness of the lather being produced will determine the hardness of water in your area in GPG or grains per gallon. To be more specific, here’s how it works:

  • 10 drops of soap — 0-1 (GPG), which means the water is very soft
  • 20 drops of soap — 1-3.5 (GPG), the water is slightly hard
  • 30 drops of soap — 3.5-7.0 (GPG), the water is medium hard
  • 40 drops of soap — 7.0-10.5 (GPG), the water is hard
  • 50 drops of soap or more — 10.5 (GPG) and above, the water is very hard
NOTE: The soap test indicated above will not give definitive results compared to a water test kit. It can only produce an estimate or more or less an ‘educated guess’ about the level of hardness of water that is existing in your area. If you are seeking for a more reliable answer to battle out your hard water problems, then it’s highly recommended that you buy a water test kit as soon as possible so the results you have gathered will lead you to best water softener to install at home.

How To Install A Water Softener System

Though household repair and maintenance may not be meant for everyone, water softener installation is not that hard as it may appear. All you need to do is follow the directions we are going to share in this section along with the proper tools and you’re all set to install a water filtration device to help you get rid of all your nasty hard water problems:
Prepare all the tools you need – First and foremost, you need to secure all the tools you are going to use for the installation. Be sure to prepare them all so you won’t be looking for them once you start the installation process:

Prepare all the tools you need – First and foremost, you need to secure all the tools you are going to use for the installation. Be sure to prepare them all so you won’t be looking for them once you start the installation process:

  • Water softener system with the service manual
  • Softening regenerant pellets (sodium chloride or potassium)
  • Softener resin beads
  • Sand paper
  • Funnel
  • Sand Paper
  • Masking Tape
  • Drain
  • Gravel
  • Flexible tubing
  • Lubricant
An Ion Exchange Water Softener

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And make sure to prepare the plumber’s phone number just in case you might be facing any troubles with the installation.

  • Open the box of the soft water system and read the manual before doing anything – Analyze all the details and commence the process once you are ready.
  • Turn off the main water supply of the house by twisting the main switch valve – Then go to your water heater and unplug this device as well. Then turn on all the faucets in the house so the remaining water in the pipes will be fully drained.
  • Go to your water lines and try to open all the plumbing fixtures by using your tools – Drain out all the remaining water until no trace of liquid is flowing inside the pipes which can interfere with the water softener installation process that you are about to do. Do the same for the pipes you have outside.
  • Determine the best place to place the best water softener you bought – Ideally, softening devices should be located at an area where it is dry, near to the drain, and the surface of the floor is leveled flat. If in case you bought a 2 tank system, be sure to place them one after the other with the brine tank on one side and the resin tank on the other side.
  • Once the device is in place, look for the part in the mineral tank where the distributor tube is to be inserted – Then, open the top end of the tank to put the screen intake at the bottom (somewhere at the center).
  • Tape the tubes using your masking tape to prevent resin beads from entering into the distributor tube – Make sure that the tubes are sealed tight otherwise the beads will go with the flow of water and possibly block the pipe linings over time and this may compromise the quality of soft water being supplied in your house.
  • Pour enough gravel into the tank – Put it in very slowly using the funnel going through the tank just enough to cover the screen intake.
  • Inserting The Tube Into The Tank

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  • Attach the top basket to the control valve of the device all the way to the mineral tank – Take an generous amount of lubricant and use it to lubricate the inner ‘O’ ring which attaches the head to the opening of the tank of water softener system. The hole in the control valve should fit perfectly on top of the distributor tube. Tighten the valve by turning it clockwise.
  • Connect the bypass valve to the main control valve right to the point where the arrows are pointing – Align them properly. Use clamps and screwdrivers to tighten areas that need to be tightened.
  • Attach the system’s water connections to the part where the bypass valve is located – Use a 3/8 “ of plastic tubing into the fitting of the soft water system brine tank then run it down to the drain.
  • Plug in the control valve and pour at least four gallons of water into it brine tank – Once the tank is partially filled with water, add about 40 lbs. of water softener salt into the reservoir. To check for the ideal level of salt and water inside, the contents should be at least 4-6 inches away from the top portion to maintain optimal efficiency. Adjust the amount of softening regenerant if needed, but make sure that it does not exceed more than 25% of the tank’s overall size.
  • Now that everything is almost set, it’s time for you to perform the first service cycle – Set the water filtering device into the backwash stage and place the bypass valve into service position. Turn on the main switch valve of the water supply in your home and open the supply valve of your water softener system at least 1/4 of the way to allow air to be released from the line going to the drain.
  • Connecting The Tube To The Control Valve

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  • Gradually adjust the opening of the supply valve – Check for any intermittent flow of water. This means that air is still inside the pipes and it needs to be released to the drain. Once you achieve a steady flow of water, that’s the time you are going to turn on the supply valve all the way through.
Run a full backwash cycle and test the quality of water – This process usually last about 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the model of water softener that you have. Just let it run through and check for the quality of soft water that is being produced. If the end product was able to meet your expectations, then you definitely did a good job! The next thing you have to check is the regeneration process of the device. If this cycle was completed with no issues, then it means that you are able to buy the best water softener to use and is now ready to give you soft water whenever you need it.

The Best Water Softener Brands In The Market Today

Nowadays, water softening is considered more of a necessity than a luxury. And since the demand is increasing exponentially, it’s a must for every consumer to know these companies who excel in the manufacturing of water softener systems. One example of which is Fleck brand who have been known to produce high quality softening devices like the famous Fleck 500sxt model while other brands worth mentioning are Morton, Kinetico, and GE.
To know more of the top brands in water softening today, be sure to check our Buying Tips For Water Softeners article.

Prize And Size Of The Best Water Softeners

The price of a soft water system can range from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the size, features they are offering, and the brand. The specifics of these will be thoroughly discussed in the succeeding articles in our blog page.

As for ideal size of the device you are going to purchase, certain factors are to be considered to be able to determine this perfect size to meet your softening requirements:

  • The level of water hardness in your area (that is, between 3-20 GPG)
  • The average water consumption in your household (on the ave., 80 to 100 gal.)
  • The capacity of the water softener system you are going to use (anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 grains capacity)

Just keep in mind though that if you are going to buy a device that’s too small for the required usage, you are going to pay more on the electric consumption as the system will be regenerating more often than the usual. On the other hand, if you are going to buy a water softener that is larger than what is needed then you will pay more initially but can also help you to save money eventually as the device will regenerate less often. So choose wisely and get the best water softener to meet your needs.

Water Softener Systems Or Water Conditioner?

Water softeners refer to a piece of equipment that is used to change the quality of water being used in a particular area. Then again, a water conditioner is also a piece of equipment that filters water and therefore improving its taste. Now most of the time, customers tend to classify these appliances as one and the same when the truth is they are totally different in terms of functionality. In this section, we are going to tackle the specifics of a water softener and a water conditioner and identify the things that make one different from the other.

A soft water system goes through a process of water softening where all the hard minerals in the water such as calcium and magnesium are removed using a special kind of resin that traps these minerals while releasing sodium ions in the water to make it soft. Water hardness affects the quality of water, making it less reactive to soaps and more prone to scaling.


Some of the known benefits of using soft water include the following:

  • Eliminates scale problems and extend the life of any appliance using water
  • Moisturizes and prevents dry skin as the pores are not clogged by these hard minerals
  • Razor blades last longer due to less friction as a result of moisturized skin
  • Makes glasses and silverware appear shinier
  • Fabrics last longer up to 15%
  • Eliminates soap scum
On the other hand, a water conditioner filters water by removing certain chemicals like iron and chlorine, but not necessarily hard minerals. In short, these devices don’t have the capacity to produce soft water.

A water conditioner can only provide these benefits:

  • Only reduces scaling since the hard minerals in water are not removed
  • Improves the quality of tap water by getting rid of sediments that affect the taste and feel of the liquid
In conclusion, a water softener system and a water conditioner are 2 different devices used to treat tap water. And as a result, a water conditioner cannot be called a softening appliance since it does not reduce the water hardness to 1 GPG.

Are Reverse Osmosis Systems To Be Considered As Water Softeners?

Another popular device that is commonly used nowadays is the RO system. By definition, a reverse osmosis system makes use of pressure to filter tap water. The pressure pushes the liquid to a semi-permeable membrane to trap all the solid particles while allowing the water to pass through.

RO devices work effectively, but it does not guarantee to provide softened water all the time since the filter can only sift out certain impurities. In other words, they are more to be classified as a ‘water filter’ rather than a ‘water softener’. And though they treat hard water occasionally, these devices are primarily designed for drinking water and would cost a big amount of money just to scale up these devices to accommodate your entire water softening needs. So if you are looking for a device to eliminate all your hard water problems, DON’T CHOOSE THIS SYSTEM.

Moreover, reverse osmosis systems should not be confused with a faucet filter because although they both function as water filters, an RO system goes through a much more complicated system in purifying water.

Overall, a reverse osmosis device is technically a water filter and not a water softener. And although it can trap water deposits from time to time, it cannot totally solve all your hard water problems and therefore having these devices is not really practical for softening water.

CLASSIFICATION: Main Function: Capacity To Remove Hard Minerals: Produce Soft Water?:
Water Softener Eliminates Hard Water YES YES
Water Conditioner Eliminates sediments to improve taste NO – Only reduce effects of hard water NO
RO System Filters tap water but not necessarily hard minerals NO Somtimes

Looking For The Best Water Softener Reviews? Find It Here – If you would like to read reviews of some of the best water softener brands in the market today, be sure to visit out our blog page and get to know more about the top brands like Fleck, Culligan, Whirlpool, Pelican, Aqua-Pure, and a lot more…

And for more details on water softener systems as well as tips and guides to help you get the perfect system, be sure to check out this website today.