One of the primary reasons for softening the water in your home is to help soap dissolve easier so that the water lathers better. This, in turn, leaves clothes not feeling so stiff and looking dingy. Another factor in purchasing a water softening system is that reducing or eliminating “hard” minerals can prevent limescale buildup in your pipes. The effect is that you can stop the ugly white residue from showing up around faucets, shower heads, and appliances.
- A typical water softener works by having water pass through a tank. The water comes into contact with small plastic resin beads coated with sodium ions. The result is that mineral ions present in the water are replaced with sodium ions. A home water filtration system will frequently contain a carbon block media and remove “hard water” by blocking and attracting unwanted minerals.
- Home water filtration systems are effective at reducing calcium, iron, and other minerals that cause “hard water.” A high-quality unit will reduce hardening agents down to a sub-micron level. It therefore performs similarly to a water softener. The water softener’s method of using sodium to replace the ions is more effective at softening the water, but it also means that all your water will have salt in it.
- The cost of a water softener or water filtration system depends on factors such as the size of your home and the quality of the unit. Since both systems are often installed by a plumber, you should include that cost in your budget. Ongoing maintenance of the machines should also be considered. A salt-based water softener falls in the range of $400 to $2,700. Water filtration systems can vary in price anywhere from $800 to $6,000.
- Besides removing “hard water,” water softeners can reduce certain contaminants, such as heavy metals and sulfates. However, water filtration systems are much more effective at removing and filtering out undesirable contaminants. The list includes chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, mercury, lead, cysts, and bacteria. A house water filter performs similarly to a salt-based standard softener, but it doesn’t add sodium. That’s a big difference if you are concerned about the quality of water you drink.