Buying a water softener can be stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are so many different systems out there promising so many different things that trying to match one of them up with your own home’s needs can be difficult. If you’re not sure how to buy a water softener, here are four tips that could be useful.
1. Test Your Water
First thing’s first. Are you sure that you even need a water softener? If not, you should test your home’s water hardness using an at-home kit. Alternatively, you can have a water softener company do it for you for free, but this service might come with a high-pressure sales pitch.
Even if you know you need a water softener based on the evidence of scaling and other problems, it’s important to find out roughly how hard your water is in order to pick out the right system. If you have very hard water, for example, you’ll need a softener with higher capacity.
2. Make Sure the Type of Water Softener Fits Your Needs – And Limitations
There are a lot of different types of soft water systems, from ion exchange systems that use salt, to salt free alternatives. There’s also the question of whether to buy a whole house water softener or one that works only for your shower.
If you have extremely hard water, you’ll probably want a traditional salt based water softener. Unfortunately, such systems are banned in some places due to the extra strain they put on water treatment facilities. If you live in one of the areas that has banned ion exchange systems, or is currently considering a ban, you should opt for a saltless water softener.
3. Avoid Buying Something Too Big and Fancy
Salespeople naturally want to get larger commissions, so they often try to exaggerate the severity of your hard water problem in hopes of pushing you toward a more expensive system. This is where it helps to know exactly what your home’s water hardness is, and where it falls on the water hardness scale. A family of three or four most likely only needs a small water softener. Larger families may need a medium sized one.
4. Look at the True Cost of Owning the System
This applies to both the type of water softener system you get, and the specific model. The standard ion exchange softener requires a continual supply of water softener salt, which is an ongoing cost of operating these systems. If you choose to get a service for water softener salt delivery, that’s an additional fee. In contrast, saltless systems obviously don’t force you to constantly buy salt, but they may have other ongoing costs such as filter replacement.
When it comes to selecting an actual water softener model, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest one you can find. However, cheap water softeners may work less efficiently, break down more often, and ultimately need to be replaced sooner. While it’s not always true that a higher price means a better system, it is true that getting a quality water softener will save you money in the long run over a shoddily made one.
Buying a Water Softener – Worth the Trouble
Despite all the gotchas – not to mention the cost involved, buying a water softener is definitely worth it if you have hard water. Without one, hard water minerals will build up in your pipes and appliances and cost you a lot more money in the long run. So take the time to look into your home’s needs and research the available options. Don’t stop at these four tips – keep looking for more information until you’re confident you know what you want.