Water Softeners vs Water Filters
Keeping a safe and healthy home requires a lot of effort put into home maintenance projects and learning how to care for things properly. One area that can be of particular confusion is water quality. Many people throw around terms without explaining what they mean and what you really need to keep your home’s water safe and healthy for the whole family. In this article, we’ll break down water softener vs water filter options, what they do for your water quality, and how to know what’s best for your home’s needs.
What Are Water Softeners?
Calcium and magnesium are hard minerals. When you have a lot of hard minerals in your water supply, they can cause problems as they build up in your home’s pipes and appliances. They also cause problems for your hair and skin. This becomes more noticeable when you go to shower because the hard minerals combine with soap to create a film that can be difficult to rinse off your skin.
A water softener uses ion exchange to soften the water. Your home’s water passes through a device with plastic beads. These beads contain either potassium or sodium ions which are then exchanged with the calcium or magnesium ions currently in the water supply. This softens the water and resolves hard water issues.
What Are Reverse Osmosis Water Filters?
Reverse Osmosis water filters are used to remove contaminants like chlorine and sediment from a water supply so that a home has pure drinking water.
There are usually one or two pre-filters in these systems. They’re responsible for removing the larger debris from the water. Then, using pressure, water is forced through a permeable membrane. The water that makes its way through then passes through a post-filter and is ready for drinking.
While there are reverse osmosis water filters available, most homeowners choose to use an RO system just for under their kitchen sink for drinking water. These smaller systems are more efficient than whole-house filters.
The Results – Water Softener vs Water Filter
Often, people wonder if a water filter will soften their water for them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A water filter removes debris and contaminants in the water supply. A water softener changes the mineral composition of the water. These are two separate ways of improving your water quality.
If you plan to employ both of these strategies for better drinking water, it’s best to have the water pass through the softener first. This keeps the membrane filter for the reverse osmosis water filter system in better shape for longer.
Choosing the Right System
Your water quality is different from everyone else’s, and so the needs of your water filtration system are also different. There are filters available to block out contaminants like chlorine, iron, ammonia, or bacteria. Until you know what contaminants are in your water, you won’t know the type of whole-house water filtration system you personally need. For this reason, it’s essential that you have a state-certified laboratory test your water. Armed with this information, you can buy the right system for your needs and not waste money on filters that aren’t advancing your water quality.
For many homes, the water supply may both have contaminants and high-level mineral content, so a combination of both a water filter and water softener may be the best solution for great tasting, healthy drinking water.
Common Signs You Need a Water Softener:
- There is a scale buildup in your pipes or appliances.
- You have dry skin and hair, especially right after you shower.
- You’ve had a water test performed. There aren’t contaminants in your water, but there are high levels of mineral content in your water.
- It tastes funny or “hard”.
Common Signs You Need a Water Filter:
- You’ve read the water reports from your local government and it’s been confirmed there are high levels of chlorine or fluoride in your water system.
- Your water test says there aren’t high levels of minerals in your water, though it still tastes funny to you.
- You’ve performed a water test and found contaminants.
Whole House Vs. Under The Sink
This is an individual decision that will be based on your own needs. You will want to consider both your water quality and what you personally want to come from your taps. Many people find that a reverse osmosis water filter only at point-of-use (often their kitchen sink) is their best solution for a water filter. They have a whole-house system for their water softener, so their pipes and appliances benefit from soft water, and so they don’t have skin problems after they shower. The water filter in their kitchen provides the best drinking water, which is really all they need and is the most efficient solution.
When looking at home improvements, it’s common to look at water softener vs water filter systems and believe the only solution will be one or the other, but for most people, a combination system is what will best suit the needs of their water quality and the routine of their daily lives.
Get all the information you need to know the quality of your water with a water test from an authorized dealer. With the right information in front of you, you’ll have an easier time making the best decision for your home.