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Even though most people don’t realize it, nearly every home has a hard water problem. If you’re here, that means you’re probably facing the same challenge.
Luckily, you can easily overcome this by installing a water softener. By doing this, you will not only be maximizing your municipal water but also end all those problems of stained dishes and laundry, and ashy skin caused by hard water.
In this article, we are going to be reviewing the best home water softener for the money. But it’s not only the finest products you will get; we’ve also provided a buying guide to help you identify the right unit to meet the needs of your home.
What to Look for Before Buying a Whole House Water Softener for Well Water
All water softeners are not the same, and since you will be spending a good sum of money to purchase one, it’s important to get it right.
Below are the key things you should consider when shopping for the best home water softener for your home.
Top on the list of important considerations is the softener’s grain capacity. Grain capacity is simply a measure of how much hardness grains the softener can remove before it needs to undergo regeneration.
Choosing a suitable grain capacity largely depends on the model and your family size. Some softeners come with a low grain capacity such as 40,000 or even lesser, while others offer as high as 300,000 or more.
Though a large grain capacity is desirable, it might not be necessary if the softener won’t be processing a lot of hard water. But purchasing such a unit means regeneration will be less frequent, so you don’t have to worry about adding salt every time just to keep the system running.
Water softeners generally fall into two categories – those that use salt and those that use resins.
- Salt Based Softeners
The salt-based models use a salt-water solution for the softening process. This is why users are required to add salt to the unit during regeneration.
- Resin Based Softeners
On the other hand, there are also salt-free systems that don’t require you to add salt from time to time; instead, they employ other solutions to carry out the same function.
Another important thing you need to look out for when purchasing a softener or a filter is the water flow rate, which is often expressed in gallons per minute (GPM).
You should choose a softener with a flow rate that can adequately meet the needs of your household. So before making your final decision, consider how many people you have in the house or the number of showers or faucets you will be using.
A low flow rate will be OK if you’re leaving alone or with someone. But for a large household where you’re most likely to have multiple showers or faucets running simultaneously, a high flow rate is non-negotiable.
Operating Temperature and Pressure
Most softeners have operating temperature and pressure range where they are effective. If you live in a place where the temperature or pressure is outside this range, then the water softener is most likely not going to work.
So make sure the pluming pressure and surrounding temperature in your home match with that of the softener before making a purchase, or else you will end up wasting your money.
Top 5 Best Whole House Water Softener for Well Water Reviews
After a lot of research, we’ve finally come up with a list of the best home water softener in the market.
Without wasting any more time, let’s delve straight in.
1. Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener
Salt-based water softeners are without doubts the most preferred choice for softening water in homes and residents. This is why we are going to commence this list with an MVP in the world of soft-based softeners – the Fleck 5600 SXT Digital On-Demand Water Softener.
Made in the US, the Fleck 5600SXT is a great choice for handling medium to very hard water in households. It has a flow rate of 12GPM, which makes it ideal for homes with no more than six occupants.
Top on the list of the reasons why many people love this unit is its user-friendliness. As the name suggests, it features a digital display, which makes it super easy to operate. Even if it’s your first time using a water softener in your home, you will find it intuitive and easy to use.
It is also noteworthy to mention that regeneration is automatic with this unit, so less maintenance is required. In fact, the only maintenance you will ever need to do is check the salt level. And this can be done once a month.
Furthermore, the system also features a digital display which makes it easy to operate. The grain capacity is 48000, while salt capacity is 250 pounds. So the system should be able to run up to six months before replacement.
Installation is easy, and you can do it provided you have some basic pluming experience.
- Easy installation
- Suitable for large households
- NSF certified
- Reliable customer service
- Some parts are plastic
2. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter is a salt-free water softener you can add to your supply line to start enjoying clear and crisp water in your home.
Like most modern softeners, the system helps to crystalize the grains in hard water so they can flow freely through your pipes without damaging them.
The system employs a highly efficient filter media that utilizes Scale Control media Salt-free technology to reduce contaminants in your water supply without taking out important minerals as many reverse osmosis systems do. It removes chlorine as well as other harmful chemicals such as mercury, VOCs, pesticides, and so on.
In other words, the system acts both as a softener and a filter. And because of its huge capacity, it is able to meet the needs of large homes.
However, it’s important to note that this unit does not take care of total dissolved solids (TDS). As a result, filter change may be frequent (usually every six months) depending on the quality of your water supply.
This system provides a flow rate of 7GPM, which makes it suitable for small to medium-sized households (ideally three to four persons). The flow rate is enough to support two showers, one faucet, and one appliance at the same time.
The softener also prides itself on being very cost-effective. You can save twice as much with it compared to other models.
- Easy to maintain
- Added filtration system
3. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener
If you don’t like the idea of a salt-based softener, the Whirlpool WHES30E will make a great alternative.
The Whirlpool WHES30 Softener is specifically designed to cater to the needs of small to medium households, ideally 1 to 5 people or even more depending on your water demand.
It is NSF certified so that you can rely on its quality and safety for home use. By installing the unit, you can expect a significant reduction in hard water symptoms.
While most traditional water softeners utilize a control head and a cylindrical tank, this one has a completely different design. However, it still offers the same basic functionality, which is reducing hardness in water. But in addition, it also removes iron and keeps your appliances running for a longer time.
One of the major perks of this unit is its ability to automatically compute the exact amount of water and salt it needs for regeneration. This prevents wastage and helps you to save a significant amount of salt and water in the long run.
However, we must let you know that this is a pretty large unit. It is far from compact, so that it will require a considerable amount of space for storage.
But overall, this is an impressive water softener that promises to deliver.
- Great quality
- Easy to install
- Reduces wastage
- Very bulky
4. ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt 48,000 Black WATER SOFTENER
Here’s another home water softener that relies on a Fleck 5600sxt digital valve. The ABCwaters softener is guaranteed to last longer than most conventional water softening systems out there.
The softener is provided with mineral and brine tanks and offers a grain capacity of 48,000 with a flow rate of 12 GPM. This makes it a good choice for small family households made up of two to five individuals. If you need something higher or you have a larger home, then you might want to check out other models on the list.
Moreover, the Fleck 5600sxt digital valve is not the only attractive thing about this unit. In fact, the system uses a 10 percent cross-linked resin for its softening process instead of the standard 8 percent resin used in many models. This is what is responsible for its long life span.
As expected, this system is eco-friendly. The parts are made from high-grade materials, which ensure lower power consumption. More so, it doesn’t use as much salt as many similar models; this makes it a more viable option for the environment.
In addition, the unit is pretty easy to use. You can program it using the push buttons from the electronic powerhead. Installation is easy, especially if you have some pluming experience.
- Good quality
- Simple to install
- WQA certified
- Reliable customer support
- Very bulky
5. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener
Last on the list of our best home water softeners is another Fleck unit from AFW Filters. Like the previous model, the AFW is made in the US, so you can rest assured you’re getting a quality product.
This unit is one of our favorites because it offers everything you can expect in a modern water softener. It uses the popular Fleck meter, which puts it in the league of highly efficient water softeners.
But don’t just take our word for it; this is actually one of the highest-rated models in the market. A quick search online will convince you.
Like most high-end models, the system uses a highly efficient digital valve to ensure regeneration is less frequent, and you save salt and water.
With this unit, you get 12 GPM flow rate and up to 28 GPM at temperature peak limit, which makes it perfect for softening medium to very hard water in large homes with 4 to 6 people.
The provision of a brine tank also makes it easier to install. A detailed instruction manual is provided with the system to guide you through the installation process. You should be able to install the unit if you have any previous pluming experience. Once installed, just add salt to start enjoying soft water in your home.
- Reliable quality
- Easy to install
- Highly efficient
- Reasonable price
- No instructions on how to program the system
How to Install Your Home Water Softener?
Water softeners are not exactly the easiest systems to install, but they are also not the hardest. If you’re going to successfully set one up, then you need to have some previous pluming experience, or else you might consider hiring a professional to do the job for you.
While the guide below represents the general steps for installing most softeners, we still advise you to look up your manual to draw the parallels.
That being said, here are the necessary steps to take in order to install a water softener:
- Shut off your main water supply
- Next, locate a suitable section of the pipe where you want to install the water softener.
- Then cut the pipe at this point.
- Next, install three valves to the pipe connection – one valve to stop water from flowing into the softener, one valve to stop water from leaving the system, and one valve for bypass control.
- Next, make the following connections – resin tank to drain tank, drain line to the drain elbow, discharge pipe to wastewater drain.
- Tighten all the connections to avoid any leakage.
We still advise you to check your manual for specific instructions on the particular softener.
How Does Home Water Softener Work?
If you know how magnets work, then you won’t have a hard time understanding how water softeners work.
Water softeners basically function in similar way magnets work. We all know magnets have two ends or poles – negative and positive. Now, what happens when you try to bring two magnets together?
Obviously, when you have the same sides close together (e.g. positive and positive), they repel each other. And when you have different sides close together (e.g. positive and negative), they attract each other.
A generic water heater basically applies the same mechanism.
Hard water passes through the filter of the softener. The positively charged minerals (ions) in the water get attached to the negatively charged resin beads in the filter.
As a result, the water that flows out of the unit is soft and free of the minerals causing hardness.
The Benefits of Water Softening Systems in Our Daily Life
Like most household appliances, water softeners offer a good number of benefits.
Hard water is often loaded with a lot of mineral ions that can potentially damage your pipes when they build up. Softening helps to remove these minerals, thus helping to prevent costly repairs in the future.
Buildups increase the pressure in pipes and, consequently, the energy used by the softener.
Apart from your plumbing, buildups can also create problems in your appliances, prompting you to replace them with new ones.
One of these problems is leakage. However, when you install a softener, this can be prevented.
Mineral accumulation can also lead to foul smell in your sinks, faucets, and heater. You can prevent all these by installing a reliable water softener.
Prevent Skin Irritations
If you’ve been using hard water for bathing and have not been happy with the way your skin looks, then you should consider making the transition to soft water.
Though not a general problem, hard water can have devastating effects on the skin and hair, leading to dryness and various irritations. However, you might not like the sensation it brings, as it can be somewhat slippery.
Cleaner Laundry and Silverware
Stains and soap scum are some of the common problems that arise when you wash with hard water. You can reduce this by using soft water instead. Apart from removing stains, washing with soft water can also soften your fabric and make your silverware and glassware spotless.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is home water softener so expensive?
This can be linked to the value they provide, coupled with the fact that the parts are expensive. Also, you can get a lot of tax credit on such products.
- How healthy is a home water softener?
Soft water works for most people. However, if you have high blood pressure or other salt-sensitive conditions, due to the added salt, consider checking with a doctor before consuming it.
- How to choose Your Water Softener?
In order to determine the right water softener for you, first, check the hardness of your water supply. You can use a test kit for this purpose or call your local utility company. An independent laboratory is another place you can go to have your water analyzed.
- Why need Digital Water Softener?
It is much easier to control temperature and pressure in a digital water softener. This increases efficiency and saves you money.
- How long does it take for a softener to regenerate?
This depends on the particular model, whether it’s a salt-based system or a salt-free system. In some softeners, regeneration might last for only a few minutes, while in others, it might take a few hours. You can check your product manual for specific information on this.
Installing a reliable water softener is your only chance to get rid of hardness in your water supply effectively. And there’s a lot you stand to gain from doing so – healthy skin, shiny dishes, clean fabric and so on. No longer will you have to do those costly repairs on your pipes or appliances.
But getting all these benefits highly depends on your ability to purchase the right unit. Hopefully, with our best home water softener reviews, your job is so much easier.
We will gladly provide answers to any other questions you may have about choosing the right water softener. Drop something in the comment section!