Best Water Softener Consumer Reports, Tips, Ratings, Reviews, and Guides in 2022
Are you in the market for a new water softener? Looking for consumer ratings, tips, reviews, and reports to help you make your decision? This blog post is for you. In it, we will share some of the best water softener consumer reports available. We’ll also provide information on how to choose the right water softener for your needs. So, whether you’re looking to buy your first water softener or are just curious about what’s out there, keep reading! We’ll help you get started.
Top 10 Best Water Softener to Buy in 2022:
*Note: Score is based on our AI score (Editor’s choice and rating)
What is water softener?
A water softener is a device that removes the minerals from hard water. The main benefit of softening your water is that it can improve the way you shower and wash dishes, as well as how your clothes get clean.
Softeners can either be installed on-demand or on a continuous basis. In other words, an on-demand water softener only produces softened water when you need it. A continuous system, however, runs all day long to produce softened water for every faucet in the house. If you have particularly tough hard water or are worried about scaling (buildup) in your pipes or appliances, then an on-demand system might not be sufficient for your needs.
Most Common Types of water softener:
-There are several different types of water softeners. For example, a salt-based system uses salt to remove minerals from the water, a resin-based system uses a resin tank in which hard water flows through and is softened, and a magnetic system simply uses magnets to soften the water by creating an electric field in the brine solution. The most common type of water softener is one that uses salt as its main ingredient because it’s cheap and has been proven to be very effective.
Types of water softener:
Salt Based: These water softeners contain a brine tank and a salt tank. The salt used in these systems is commonly known as solar salt or rock salt (because it was first harvested from the ground, not because it contains any actual salt). Salt-based systems are the most popular type of water softener for good reason: they’re effective and extremely affordable.
Resin Based: These types of system use electrically charged beads that attract and capture minerals like magnesium and calcium from the water. Once caught by the resin, these minerals become part of the beads themselves and will be flushed out during backwashing mode.
Magnetic: A magnetic water softener uses magnets to force ionic bonds between positively charged metal ions (calcium) and negatively charged organic molecules (citric acid). The result is softened water that flows freely through your plumbing. Magnetic systems are non-chemical and don’t use salt at all; on the downside, however, they do require back-up system as they can’t produce soft water without power.
Factors to Consider before buying water softener:
Capacity: The capacity of a water softener is measured in grains. All water contains mineral and metal deposits that combine to form hard water, which can clog up your pipes and fixtures. These deposits can be dissolved with the addition of salt to your water, but only if the size of the grains does not exceed the capacity of your filter/softener.
The greater the number of grains present in your water, the more salt you’ll need to adequately soften it because larger grains take longer to dissolve. If you have very hard water (lots of calcium and magnesium) then it’s advised that you purchase a unit with a high grain capacity (target between 100-150 gr/gal). This will ensure that your softened water lasts for a long time before you need to regenerate (i.e., add more salt).
Kinetic Degradation: Kinetic degradation refers to how much your water softener will “work” after it’s installed; it measures how much material (in this case, calcium) the softener can trap during its normal course of action. Capacity is static and can be measured easily; kinetic degradation depends on several factors which are hard to predict – the only way to measure this accurately is through testing using lab equipment. With that said, however, manufacturers do try their best to provide an estimated rating based on calculations and experience with their own systems.
Regeneration Rate: The regeneration rate refers to how often your water softener will need to run a regeneration cycle. A good rule of thumb is one hour of backwash for every 30 minutes of use, though this can be increased or decreased depending on demand. For example, if your home only has 2-3 people then it may not require as much water as a house with 5-6 occupants; it’ll also need less softening and thus a shorter regeneration cycle.
Installation: Some units are easier to install than others – this largely depends on the price range you’re looking at. Salt-based systems are quite easy to set up because they only need a dedicated water line going to them (no extra wiring) and standard plumbing connections (PVC pipe). The more expensive magnetic systems are a bit more complicated because they require installation of an electrical panel.
Price: Of course, the final consideration is always price – you get what you pay for, after all! Salt-based water softeners are usually within the $300-$700 range while magnetic units can go anywhere from $800 to well over $1,000. You may also need to install additional plumbing if you choose to purchase a magnetic system (in case your home already has hard water).
Size: When it comes to choosing the size of your water softener, you need to take into consideration the number of occupants in your household. If you have a large family or frequently host guest, then you’ll require greater amounts of softened water. Naturally, this will mean that you’ll have to regenerate more often – inversely, if your shower never seems to possess any hard water then there’s no need for a large system.
Materials: There are three different types of water softeners: salt-based, magnetic, and resin/cationic exchange systems. Salt-based softeners work using a brine solution (salt + water) which is passed through a bed of ion-exchange resin beads; the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water replace the sodium ions on the surface of the resin, rendering the softened water safe for use. Magnetic devices also work via ionization, but they do so use magnetic energy rather than salt; this method is quite popular with well owners because it doesn’t impact pH levels or add more sodium to your drinking supply. Finally, resin/cationic exchange softeners use an organic polymer membrane to trap in much the same way as salt-based systems.
Warranty: It’s always a good idea to purchase from a trusted brand with a long warranty – typically, you should expect anywhere between 5-10 years on parts and 2-3 years on labor. In terms of salt-based systems, it should be noted that the brine tank is often not covered by the warranty; this is because it has a high risk of being cracked or damaged due to frequent use. Most other parts will have a lifetime warranty, though!
Brands: Some of the more reputable options include Fleck, GE, Kenmore, Maytag and Waterboss. It’s crucial to do some research before buying – you should always check reviews online (such as on Amazon) to get a better idea of what other users think about the product.
Methods: Salt-based softeners only require you to pour water into them as needed – typically, around 1/2 gallon for every 50 square feet of household space is sufficient. Magnetic devices are very different in that they need backwash water as well as treated water; backwash water is the waste product which comes out of these units. This means that you’ll need to keep a supply stored for regeneration purposes.
-Resin/cationic exchange systems are similar in most respects to salt-based softeners, though they usually require less frequent regenerate cycles (around once every 24 hours) and cannot be hooked up to your existing plumbing system; instead, they feed into an inline brine tank before entering the home. The resin will last for several years but it must be cleaned regularly by running clean water through it – this removes any dirt or heavy metals and restores its effectiveness.
-Most appliances include all the basic features like automatic safety shutoffs, low/high pressure valves and effective filtration. Some also come with a drain pump for draining the brine tank – this is a handy feature if you have a little more room to spare in your backyard, as it allows you to create a drainage area like what would be found on any pond or swimming pool.
-In terms of advanced features, some water softeners include audio/visual alerts, built-in timers and computerized controls which allow for easy customization of your settings. For instance, if your kids like taking lots of hot showers then you can reduce the amount of time needed before regeneration occurs; similarly, on days when only one person will be using the shower (such as during illness) then there’s no need to regenerate at all!
-Magnetic systems are the simplest to use, requiring only that you install them onto your water supply line and plug them into an electrical socket.
The Pros and Cons of water softener:
Pros: As stated above, soft water will not leave mineral deposits or scum in your shower – this means that you’ll have a much easier time maintaining clean surfaces. Most people report fewer skin irritations and allergies when they switch from hard to soft water – though some individuals may experience a temporary breakout while using softened water for the first few weeks. The appliances will pay for themselves quickly if you do not have a municipal water supply; however, if you receive free/subsidized tap water then it’s an even better deal! You can also install multiple systems throughout different parts of the home without having to worry about over-softening as salt-based systems are equipped with valves which allow them to be turned off independently. In addition, because these appliances allow you to regenerate on demand, it’s possible for some people to reduce the amount of water they use.
Lastly, if you have a family then softening your water can save you hundreds in hair care costs – most families report saving around $20/month in shampoo and conditioner expenses since installing a home appliance!
Cons: Most devices require regular maintenance – this will vary depending on what type of system you have but they all need to be occasionally cleaned or replaced. If salt-based systems don’t receive enough regeneration water, their effectiveness drops significantly which can lead to low pressure issues throughout your house. Magnetic units must also be regularly regenerated, though this process is considerably less frequent than that seen with traditional softening units. If you have a lot of sediment in your water then salt-based appliances can clog quickly, which is why it’s best to use the appropriate type of resin for your situation. Note: You might also encounter problems if you decide to switch from softening to non-softened water – this will probably damage the appliance due to mineral buildup on its parts. Make sure that you check whether your unit is compatible with untreated/raw water beforehand!
If you want an appliance that has some extra bells and whistles, then go ahead and choose one that comes equipped with advanced controls. It’s important to note that these are considerably more expensive than basic models, though they’re not completely necessary unless you have some special needs.
How does it work?
-Salt systems usually consist of two tanks; one is filled with pressurized salty water while the other holds pure water. When you turn the water on, it automatically follows a pre-determined path and is cleaned or “softened” as needed; once the cycle is complete, it changes direction and heads out to your faucets.
How do I know if my current system needs repairs?
-It’s always best to check with the manufacturer every few years (or months for more minor issues) but some warning signs include persistent leaks, discolored water coming out of your taps, freezing pipes in the middle of winter/swampy basements during summertime or any audible alarms which indicate an issue has arisen within the device itself.
Is salt-based softening harmful to my health?
-No – not unless you’re very sensitive to added sodium. Most units will only add between 5-15% of the recommended daily intake into your water, so it’s unnoticeable at best and harmless at worst. Keep in mind that water softened with this method is not inherently “healthier” than untreated tap water.
How long does it take to regenerate?
-It depends on the size of your tank, household demand and the type of resin you have installed – anywhere between 5 minutes and 4 hours. If you have a lot of people using water throughout your home, then the process will require more time.
How often should I regenerate my system?
-Depending on how much sediment is in your water and what type of resin you have installed, anywhere between 3 months and 6 months. It’s important to note that salt-based devices need to be recharged regularly – if not, they can become overwhelmed by sediment build up and won’t function correctly when called upon (or at all).
What kind of maintenance does a salt-softening system require?
-It varies from device to device, but most need to be completely recharged every 2 years or so. Note: If you have a salt-based model, it is crucial that you use the appropriate type of resin for your water – otherwise, it will quickly clog and diminish the effectiveness of your appliance.
Is salt-based softening cheaper than other models?
-No, not usually – this is because these appliances must be replaced more often than non-salt versions (every 5 years as opposed to 10). Also keep in mind that they usually have fewer settings and don’t come with any sort of digital interface. Salt devices are mostly recommended for serious iron/sulfur pollution problems.
How much water does it produce?
-They usually hold anywhere between 50-300 gallons of potable water, which can be accessed via your faucets at any time. It’s important to note that these appliances won’t make up for serious shortages if your home loses its main supply unexpectedly – you’ll still need a backup battery or generator under those circumstances.
Which salt system is best for me?
-The specific model that’s best for you will depend on how much sediment is in your water and what type of resin you have installed (if applicable). Salt systems are recommended for serious cases of iron/sulfur pollution but they’re not very useful against other contaminants like bacteria or calcium build up.
Is my system’s lifespan affected by the hardness level of my incoming water?
-Salt-based softening systems are designed to work with a minimum amount of 28 grains per gallon, but you might get away with slightly harder levels if you have resin that’s been specifically hardened for this purpose. If your water is hard though, then it could reduce the lifespan of your appliance by over 50%.
What is the highest rated water softener?
-While most quality devices have a top rating of 5 TDS (total dissolved solids), there are some notable exceptions. For instance, the few models in its class with a TDS maximum setting of 4, which means it’s particularly effective at removing minerals and other impurities but can’t handle as much regular use.
What does TDS mean?
-TDS stands for total dissolved solids – this includes all solid organic and inorganic matter that’s dissolved into water (so not just salt or sodium). Brands like Spectra and Nature2 that advertise low ratings usually get away with this because their units don’t treat hard water very effectively. Don’t be turned off by high numbers though – many top models with TDS ratings of over 4, which means they’re good at removing just about everything .
Does this appliance remove mercury from my drinking water?
-No, these devices are designed to treat existing problems – not prevent them. So, if there’s a lot of mercury in your incoming supply, then you’ll end up with dangerously high levels in your final output (which means it won’t be safe to drink). If you’re worried about this, make sure you use a device with NSF certification and one that can remove other contaminants like bacteria or pesticides.
What does NSF certification mean?
-NSF is the National Sanitation Foundation – which is an independent non-profit organization that certifies products for compliance with public health standards. They don’t manufacture any consumer goods themselves, but they do approve certain models if they meet their standards of safety and effectiveness. It’s important to note that not every model has been tested by them so some brands might advertise this without being fully compliant.
Can you drink softened water?
-Yes, but it’s usually not recommended because of its high salt content. You can still use it for things like washing your hands and face though – just not drinking or cooking. If you’re using hard resin, then softened water is also safe to drink but it might take some getting used to since the salt creates a weird aftertaste.
What should I do if my water tastes/smells weird?
-Just hold down the bypass switch on the control panel until all of the air seeps out (it only takes 5-10 seconds). This will reset it so that your system isn’t processing anything right now – which means there won’t be any odor or taste from previous output during this cycle.
How much maintenance does it need?
-If you have resin, then you just need to brush it down with a toothbrush or some other small tool once every month or so. If it’s hard/corrosive, then this will be more often. Also, tiny black beads might come out of the water on occasion so make sure they don’t go into your internal tank – if they do, contact customer service.
Do I have to change my resin?
-No, but you should replace it after three years of use max (and sooner if there are signs that it’s wearing down). A lot of people also like to rotate their resins between appliances due to how much salt each one can process during that time frame. This is convenient since most systems can run on more than one type of media.
Does this appliance require a drain hose?
-These devices don’t need any special installation because they’re self-contained and meant to be installed underneath the sink (if there’s enough room). They’ll come out through your faucet, so you won’t have to worry about running it back through the cabinet or wall.
How much salt does this use?
-Most solid resin types will use approximately 8 pounds per regeneration cycle – which means you only need to fill up the tank once every couple of years if you live in an average sized household. If it uses hard/corrosive resin, then expect upwards of 20 lbs. per cycle. This will obviously vary depending on how much water you use and how hard your local supply is.
Is it easy to install?
-It only takes about an hour or so (assuming you have all the necessary tools) but most models come with detailed instructions for those who aren’t very handy. If you need help, contact customer service. Also note that some brands like Culligan offer free installation if you buy one of their appliances – it’s typically done within 7-10 days.
How much power does this appliance require?
-They’re designed to work on both 15A and 20A circuits (which are standard 120V) but check the label first before buying anything online. They’ll also draw around 30W during operation which means it won’t cause problems with other appliances. If you only have a 15A line, then this won’t be an issue anyway.
-The most significant and noticeable difference in water quality is the salt levels. Despite what some companies might say, there’s no hard resin on the market that can match the performance of a salt system. The issue is mainly with cost since it’s more expensive to make – not surprisingly, these appliances are usually sold at a premium price. In contrast, salt systems offer efficiency and purer output for far less money – which means you get a better bang for your buck if you need softened water for drinking or cooking purposes. There’s some debate regarding whether softening cartridges last longer depending on how much difficult minerals they’re blocking out, but it simply comes down to money in this case. If you’re willing to spend more up front then go for a salt system, otherwise there’s no reason to get anything else. These appliances are also better for the environment since they use less resin and salt – which is beneficial if you want to reduce your footprint over time. Overall, none of these devices will require a drain hose, but it’s still best to check beforehand. The process can be done in 5-10 seconds with a few pumps every month or so, but certain models might run for longer depending on how efficient their systems are. In terms of functionality, most appliances will provide hot water instantly without any trouble – if there isn’t an electricity breaker being tripped by another appliance.