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Water Softeners vs Water Softener Alternatives

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What are Water Softening Systems?

Nearly 85% of Americans experience “hard water” at home. Hard water has high levels of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which can cause issues for plumbing and appliances. A water softening system helps you avoid these homeowner headaches.

Both salt and salt-free water softening systems work to reduce mineral ions and prevent scaling and etching — two things that shorten the life of appliances. Read on to discover the benefits of both types of water treatment systems and how to choose the best water softening solution for your home.

Do I Need A Water Softener?

Not all water problems are visible, but hard water often reveals itself through noticeable buildup on the kitchen and bathroom fixtures you use every day (think faucets, sinks, showerheads and bathtubs). Even the feeling of your clothes, skin and hair can indicate that you have hard water.

Telltale Hard Water Signs:

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Limescale or soap scum buildup

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Stiff laundry after washing

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Pipe or plumbing corrosion

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Dry/Itchy skin

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Dishes with streaks or water spots

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Flat, frizzy or coarse hair

SHOULD I GET A SALT BASED WATER SOFTENER OR A SALT-FREE WATER SOFTENING ALTERNATIVE?

If you notice any hard water signs, it may be a good time to install a water softening system. The type of water softening treatment that will work best for your home depends on how hard your water actually is. That number will point you to a traditional, salt-based water softener or a salt-free water softening alternative. A home water test like our Pentair Rapid Water Test can determine your local water hardness level:

  • Acceptable levels of hard water <= 2 gpg or 35 mg/L
  • Water hardness should be addressed >2 gpg <7 gpg or 35-120 mg/L
  • Water hardness is above the recommended standard >7 gpg or 120 mg/L

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WATER SOFTENERS AND SALT-FREE WATER SOFTENING ALTERNATIVES 

 

Water softeners
  • For moderate to very hard water
  • Softer skin, shinier hair
  • Reduces scale buildup
  • Maintains water pressure
  • Eliminate spotty dishes and glassware
Salt-Free Water Softener Alternatives
  • For slightly hard water
  • Hassle-free maintenance
  • Can help extend the life of appliances
  • Can reduce scale buildup
  • No expensive salt to buy

Related Content

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Soft water doesn't have to be hard. Learn about what causes hard water and identify solutions to help reduce the related water woes.

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Identifying what's in your water is the first step to higher quality, more refreshing water. We have your guide to water testing from A to Z.

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