Buying a Water Softener
Soft water has numerous benefits, from better lathering when you bathe to cleaner laundry and dishes to preventing clogs and corrosion in pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Those are just a few reasons so many people purchase water softeners. Here are some tips on shopping for one.
- Know what type you want. There are several types of water softeners:
- Salt-based ion exchange water softeners are the most popular. They soften hard water by removing hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium and substituting them with salt. They will need to be recharged every few days and will not soften while recharging.
- Salt-free water softeners use a potassium-chloride mix instead of salt. They are generally not considered as effective as salt-based softeners, but people who want to minimize salt intake could prefer them. These also need to be recharged.
- Dual-tank water softeners contain two resin tanks, so one can be working while the other is recharging. These are particularly useful if the water is very hard, or if your household uses a lot of water. These do tend to be more expensive, but perhaps worth it if your household uses a lot of water or uses water at different times. These are available salt-based and salt-free.
- Magnetic water softeners set up a magnetic field that changes the electromagnetic properties of the minerals, so they are repelled by pipes and each other.
- Determine what size you need. A quick guide is to multiply the number of people in your household by the amount of water they use in a day (let’s say 90 gallons per day). Then multiply that by the hardness level of your water as measured by grains per gallon (gpg). So, let’s say four people and 90 gallons a day, for 360 total gallons. Lake Michigan water is about 8 gpg. So multiply 360 times 8, and you will need a water softener that can process at least 2,880 gpg per day.
- Check out other features that may be “nice to haves.”
- Timer controls allow you to recharge the softener at a specific time
- Demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) controls detect when recharging is needed
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