About 85% of water in the US is considered hard water.
Hard water often contains high concentrations of calcium and magnesium, as well as other materials. While hard water won’t harm your health, it can damage your plumbing system over time. It can also affect your skin and various home appliances.
Many people opt for water softeners to improve the water in their homes. There are plenty of types available, however, so it’s not easy to determine the best one for you.
In this guide, we’ll go over how you can find the best water softener for well water. Keep reading for more.
Determine Your Needs
Before looking for a water softener, you should make sure it’s the best option for you. While most people in the US could benefit from a water softener, it might not make a huge difference for some.
You can test your water to find it’s grains of hardness per gallon. This measurement of grains per gallon (GPG) will give you an idea of the concentration of calcium and magnesium minerals in your water.
Before getting to this point, you may simply be able to tell from looking at your dishes, laundry, or coffee pot. If you see a lot of limescale, this is a clear sign you have hard water.
If you think there’s something wrong with your water, there are various issues that could be the cause. Hundreds of different contaminants can get into drinking water, and water softeners will only help with hard water. Testing the GPG will give you an idea of whether or not you should invest in a water softener.
There are several risks of hard water. These include causing dry skin and hair, leaving clothes feeling scratchy or unclean, staining faucets and dishes, leaving limescale buildups on appliances, and more.
Consider the Different Types of Water Softeners
Not all water softeners are the same. If you choose the wrong one, you likely won’t get the results that you’re after.
Salt-Based Ion Exchange Water Softener
These are often considered traditional water-softening systems. They perform an ion exchange using water softener salt. This replaces the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions.
About twice a week these water softeners perform a regeneration cycle to flush minerals down a drain. During this cycle, they also replenish the sodium through reverse ion exchange.
These types of softeners typically cost between about $800 and $2,000.
Salt-Free Water Conditioner
These don’t technically “soften” your water, and instead tackle limescale head-on. It does this through a crystallization method such as TAC (template-assisted crystallization). This crystallizes the hard water minerals so that they can’t stick to surfaces.
They’ll remain in the water so you can still enjoy the health and taste benefits, but you won’t have any issues with limescale. These models tend to cost around $700 to $1,500.
Dual Tank Water Softener
These water softeners use two resin tanks and this means they can function continuously so there are no gaps in your soft water production. Single-tank softeners have downtime when performing regeneration, but these can switch between tanks to avoid this issue. One of these could be the best water softener for you if you want to ensure your soft water supply is continuous.
They’re popular in commercial businesses that need to use a lot of water, but plenty of people still choose to have them in their homes. These are a bit more expensive, typically being priced between about $1,500 and $3,000.
Like salt-free water softeners, these don’t technically “soften” water. They use an electronic or magnetic descaler to alter the composition of hard water minerals. This prevents them from forming limescale.
They use magnets or a coil of wire to achieve this. As such, they don’t use salt and therefore don’t need to regenerate.
One of the main benefits of these units is that they require the least maintenance. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that they don’t have the same kind of scientific backing as other types. As such, their effectiveness hasn’t been fully confirmed.
They’re the cheapest options available, typically costing from $250 to $500.
Think About Water Softener Sized and Capacities
When thinking about how to choose a water softener, you need to consider your water usage. Water softeners are rated by their GPG size. These ratings typically start at 24,000 GPG and go up to 64,000 for whole-home use.
If you get a water softener that’s too small it will struggle to keep up. It’s likely to run out of salt before its next regeneration cycle.
Going too big can also be an issue. It may not regenerate often enough, resulting in contaminants building up in the resin tank.
If you want to reap the benefits of a water softener, you should speak to a professional. They’ll be able to advise you of a suitable size for your home.
You need to consider some other factors before making your decision on a water softener. Firstly, think about your budget.
Look at some options that are suitable for you. You can then compare the costs, as this will likely play a part in your choice. Don’t just think about the initial cost, but also the long-term investment.
You also need to think about space. If you don’t have much room, you might need to go for a smaller water softener. Ion exchange water softeners are the largest, so before you commit to investing in one, check that it will actually fit where you want to put it.
Take the maintenance into account. An ion exchange softener will require a lot of maintenance, while water conditioners are almost maintenance-free.
Some other factors to keep in mind are:
- Local regulations
- Technology type
- Bluetooth connectivity and control
Don’t rush into your decision. Take the time to find a solution that you know you’ll be happy with.
Finding the Right Water Softener for Well Water
It’s not easy to find the right water softener for well water if you don’t have a lot of knowledge of them. J&S Plumbing offers a wide range of residential and commercial plumbing services, and we can help you find the perfect water softener for your needs.
Take a look at our Water Softeners and Filtration page to find out more today.