Just moved to your new home? Congratulations! After all that tiresome packing and unpacking challenges of moving you may want a nice, relaxing bubble bath. You fill in your new bathtub with warm water and pour that lovely smelling bubble bath. When you are ready to dive in you find that the water does not foam. It instead forms scum that lines your tub.
Wondering what’s wrong? The water in your new home may be hard water. Hard water usually has reduced soap efficiency due to the presence of positively charged ions. The soap does not dissolve easily in hard water making it harder to foam.
But that doesn’t mean you are stuck with hard water for the rest of your stay in your home. This is where a water softener comes to the rescue.
List of Best Water Softeners 2017 (Table):-
|Best Water Softeners||Editor Ranking||Review||Price|
|Fleck 5600SXT||#1||Read Review||Check Price|
|ABCwaters SS8-BLK||#2||Read Review||Check Price|
What is a water softener?
A water softener is a unit that soften hard water by removing minerals like calcium and magnesium present in the water. It is the presence of these minerals that give water its hardness. These minerals are positively charged ions that do not allow other positive ions like soap to lather, leading to reduced soap efficiency. A water softener collects these hard minerals in its tank using its resin beads and flushes them away to the drain. These softening units are available in automatic, semi-automatic and manual.
Why should you buy a water softener?
The hardness of your water depends on the geographical location of your home. Hard water is usually found in areas where the groundwater flows through or over limestone. The water carries with it minerals like calcium and magnesium from the limestone, which makes the water hard. Investing on a quality water softener is a one-time investment that lasts well over the years. A water softener requires minimum maintenance and can reap you numerous benefits, some of which are:
- Soap Efficiency
Reduced soap efficiency is one of the most annoying disadvantages of hard water. Soap and washing detergents don’t dissolve easily in hard water due to the presence of positively charged ions. This makes life harder as your dishes and fabrics either remain dirty even after washing or require extra time and effort in scrubbing the dirt off. A water softener removes the minerals that cause this hardness, thus improving the soap efficiency.
- Lime Scale Build up
In a home with hard water, build-ups are a common sight from your sinks to mirrors, glass doors, appliances, etc. The minerals from the hard water build up on household water systems as lime scale deposits. This depositing leads to clogged pipes and drains. The deposit also builds up in pipes and tubes of hot boilers and tanks affecting its efficiency. Avoid the troubles caused by limescale deposit by installing a water softener.
- Extended life of home appliances
With hard water, it is build up and deposits everywhere you see, including your appliances.
The mineral salts of hard water have damaging effects on household appliances like washing machines, water heaters and air conditioner. Get rid of hard water and its damaging effects with a water softener to extend the life of your water-based appliances.
- No more dry skin and brittle hair
These mineral salts present in hard water do not take the place of your bath salts. It does the opposite. These salts are hard on your skin leading to itchy, dry skin. Any products like soap you use are harder to wash away in hard water, staying in your skin and affecting your skin’s natural barrier. It may even make your acne worse. Not just the skin it also dries out your hair, making it dry and brittle. Itchy skin after a bath defies the whole purpose of a bath. That is exactly why you need a water softener.
Factors to consider before buying Water Softener
Spotting, scaling, dry skin, dull garments, clogged pipes, soap that doesn’t lather, washing chores that won’t end, this is what a home with hard water is characterized by. These problems are so annoying that you want to make the plunge and get your home a water softener. Water Softeners are a one-time investment that you want to last for long. Hence it is important to consider the following factors before you choose the best water softener for you.
- Holding Capacity
Water Softeners come with different holding capacities to regenerate and supply softened water. A large capacity system can get you a supply of hundreds of litres every day. This kind of softener is required for large homes and families where the water usage is high. Homes with smaller families or where the water usage is lesser, investment on a large system is not required. A small water softener will suffice to meet the daily needs.
Commercial water softeners use many techniques and technologies in the removal of minerals from the hard water. Some common methods are reverse osmosis, ion exchange and distillation. A simple water softener that employs ion exchange technology will be the most efficient for household use. Consumers have the option to choose from automated, semi-automatic and manual water softening systems as per their needs. For larger amounts of water to be regenerated an automated system will be the most effective.
- Eco-friendly systems
Most water softeners are now devised with an eco-friendly approach. These are designed with energy saving systems and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. Going for these systems are also pocket-friendly along with being eco-friendly as it helps you save energy.
This is obviously the most important factor. There are a lot of water softeners in the market and some of them are really cheap. A quality branded water softener which may not be the cheapest ones are the best as they are more durable and efficient. These products have more value for your money. But if your daily water needs are limited then you need not make big investments in large systems. While a compact, small system costs around $400, larger ones can cost a maximum of $10000.
- Resin Quality
It is the resin bed that collects all the extra minerals from your water in the softening process. When the bed gets full, the tank flushes away the accumulated minerals from the resin bed. Most water softeners use a standard cross-linked 8% resin that is expected to last for 12-15 years. But if the hardness level of your water is very high and you prefer a heavy-duty resin quality, then you must choose water softeners with 10% premium resin. This quality of resin can last up to 20 years if regenerated regularly.
- Maintenance and durability
Make sure to choose durable softening systems especially if you are investing on ones that are high in the price range. A good durable water softener also improves the durability of your other water-based appliances by softening hard water. Hard water can form deposits on your appliances like water heaters bringing their efficiency down by 30%. For durability of your water softening system, due maintenance of it is important. Verify the maintenance costs involved in repairs and replacements at the time of purchase to make sure it is within your budget frame.
How to test if your water supply is hard water?
Though some telltale signs like reduced soap efficiency and deposit build up can recognize hard water, the only way to be sure is testing the water. It is better to test your water and determine the hardness of it before buying a water softener. You can test the water by taking the services of professionals offering water-testing services. Alternatively, you can also buy a water testing kit that is available in home improvement stores for about $25 and test it yourself.
Top 2 Best Water Softener Reviews 2017
Fleck is one of the best brands when it comes to domestic water softeners. It has an extensive range of products integrated with the latest technology in a wide budget range. Let us take a look at two of the best-selling models from Fleck.
Fleck 5600SXT is perfect to meet the needs of medium to large homes at its 48,000 grain capacity. This digital metered system comes with an LCD display along with a touchpad that allows users greater control over the operations of the system. The automated regeneration cycle gives great relief as it regenerates the system in programmed periods automatically.
For a digital metered whole house system with greater performance, this version is affordably priced. Even if your water falls in the highest range of hardness you can expect Fleck 5600SXT to efficiently process the hard water into soft water. The meter based regeneration is a thoughtful feature as it regenerates water as needed and avoids wastage.
You can expect the 8 % cross linked resin bed to last for about 12-15 years with proper maintenance. The machine is quite large when compared to other machines in the range; hence it requires ample space to be installed.
- Product Dimensions – 10× 0.1 × 54 inches
- Size – 48,000 grains
- Weight – 110 pounds
- Voltage – 24 volts
- Flow Rate – 12 GPM
- 5 years warranty on control head and 10 years warranty on tank.
- Meter based regeneration that reduces wastage of water and salt usage
- LCD control head with touchpad
- Internal power backup up to 48 hours
- Brine solution tank with a safety float to avoid over-filling
- Overflow drain to manage over-filling
- High capacity 8% cross linked resin
- Programmable regeneration cycles
- Installation guide that comes with the system is not very detailed
- Despite the safety float and overflow drain, the tank overflows at times when regenerated
- Quite bulky and heavy
This water softener from ABC waters is best suited to families with 2 to 5 members at a capacity of 48,000 grains. The resin beads use a high capacity premium 8% resin which comes preloaded into the mineral tank. The installation of this water softener is simplified by the installation kit complete with silicon lube, brine line, small parts kit and an installation guide. All you have to do is install the system and forget about hard water for years to come.
The system also comes with a hardness test kit along with a sanitizer. This water softening system is comparatively lighter than the Fleck 5600SXT whole house system and is designed to take less space. The makers have used a shorter mineral tank and a brink tank that is smaller in dimension for this space saver system. The 150 pound salt capacity will give you a break from frequent refill of salts. Overall, while this may be the costlier of the two, it is definitely worth the money.
- Product Dimensions – 22 × 22 × 52 inches
- Size – 48,000 grains
- Weight – 96 pounds
- Flow Rate – 12 GPM
- Salt Capacity – 150 pounds
- 10-year warranty backup for both the mineral and brine tanks
- Compact and space saving system with a shorter mineral tank and smaller brine truck
- Salt capacity up to 150 lbs
- High-end components hand assembled in Arizona
- Easy to follow video tutorial on installation process
- Phone, text, email and Face time support
- Hardness test kit to test the hardness of the water
One of the best water softeners available in the market, this system has no cons. It is an absolute value for the money invested.
Hard water is a menace that often drives homeowners crazy. Keep it at bay with a water softener in place. These water-softening systems are a complete package with everything you need. The installation process is a breeze if you can follow the instructions manual and possess some basic plumbing skills. If not, you can always get the service of a professional plumber. Most water softener sellers also provide the option of expert installation that is a bit costly, usually around $400. But you can be assured of a quality service if you choose to opt for it.