Water Softener Buying Guide – Things to Consider

water drops and water pouring close-up

It’s completely unnecessary to elaborate on the importance of water usage on a daily basis. However, people do not often stop to consider the processes through which the water gets purified every day. The process of transforming hard water into a more potable and less damaging resource is called water softening. The present article is a water softener buying guide that will go over the important things anyone should take into account when buying this product.

4 Important Things to Consider When Buying a Water Softener

1. The Importance of a Water Softener – What Issues Can It Fix?

a water softener system

Before we actually start to include specific aspects such as types, sizes, and prices into our water softener buying guide, we should state the importance of this kind of household tool.

Any water that contains more than one grain per gallon of dissolved minerals is considered hard water. However, water with up to 3.5 mineral grains per gallon is still considered soft enough for use. By the same standards, water with more than 10.5 GPG is considered to be too hard for domestic use. Even though it may not be evident in plain sight, hard water is not pure enough to use domestically. This fact becomes quite apparent from the stains and spots that remain after washing clothes or dishes.

Even though hard water is not necessarily a health risk, hard water can damage water-using appliances, plumbing, clothing and anything else that is regularly in contact with the liquid element. Luckily, solving this problem is as easy as obtaining and installing a properly sized water softener. To assist you with this, we have created this comprehensive water softener buying guide.

the illustration of the way a water softener works

2. Water Softener Types

In this water softener buying guide, we will present you the main types of softeners available on the market. No matter what type you buy, always choose one that has an NSF/ANSI 44 certification. This states that the softener operates efficiently. There are four main types of water softeners.

#1. Salt-Based Ion Exchange Softener

By cycling water through two tanks, a salt-based ion exchange softener eliminates most of the mineral residue that contaminates your water. It employs two separate tanks: one filled with brine and another with special resin beads.

#2. Salt-Free Water Softener

Instead of sodium, a salt-free softener uses a potassium chloride salt substitute. This makes it particularly useful for people that are concerned about excessive salt intake. In reality, this type of water softener works as a scaler, preventing mineral from accumulating and forming harmful deposits.

#3. Dual-Tank Water Softener

Water softeners need regular recharging in order to work properly. During recharging periods, water softeners can’t function. For that reason, dual-tank softeners use two tanks that function alternatively whenever the other one needs recharging.

#4. Magnetic Water Softener or Descaler

Clipped onto the incoming pipe, the electronic or magnetic water softener creates a magnetic field that changes the electromagnetic properties of the calcium carbonate minerals. As a result, these mineral particles repel both the metal pipes and each other. This way, deposits will not form anymore as they used to.

3. Water Softener Sizes

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a water softener is its size. In our water softener buying guide, you will find the proper way to calculate the size of a softener. In order to function properly, it must be large enough to adapt itself to each the particular needs of each household. Rather than physical size, water softeners are rated according to the number of hardness grains they are able to remove between regenerations. This rate is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) of water.

How to Calculate the Appropriate Water Softener Size for Your Home

What our water softener buying guide provides that not many others do, is the proper way to calculate the softener size that matches your household.

Experts often calculate the size of softener a household needs in relation to the number of people that will use the water daily. A simple way to do this is by first multiplying the number of people in the family by 75 (the average number of gallons used by each person daily) and then multiplying the result by the number of grains per gallon of hard minerals existing in the water. The resulting number is the minimum capacity the new softener should be able to handle daily. As a reference, we should mention that the average household will be set with a 33,000-grain unit.

the water softening process explained in an illustration

4. Water Softener Controls and Features

Before committing to any particular softener mode, it may be useful to carefully read this part of our water softener buying guide that states the features of a good softener. Most softeners feature automatic functions that control basic things like regeneration cycles and water amounts. However, there are softeners that employ adjustable controls. There are various forms of controls but the most common are these following ones.

#1. Water Softener Timer Controls

Based on your average usage, an electronic timer can easily regulate regeneration cycles. Although this type of control is useful, some people do not like the fact that they often regenerate without need, wasting sodium and water. Additionally, this type of control may fall short on days in which the water usage is unusually extensive.

#2. Softener DIR Controls

Demand-initiated regeneration is a sophisticated type of softener control that is able to determine when one needs to recharge the resin. This is done through either an electronic sensor or a mechanical meter that measures and calculates water usage. By only entering regeneration mode when it is necessary, demand-initiated regeneration saves on salt and water. Because of its smart regeneration cycles, this type of system is ideal for households with an abnormally large usage of water.

Bottom Line

Without a doubt, people that obtain their water from aquifers and other underground sources will greatly benefit from purchasing the right kind of softener. Hard water can cause damage to appliances, clothing and other important objects. Simply take into account the factors mentioned in this water softener buying guide and you will have pure water in your home. Let us know in the comments what type of softener you use.

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