It’s time to change your shower head, but the old one won’t come off. A white residue holds it in place so tight that you almost break the pipe. That residue comes from hard water.

Rainwater seeps through the soil to gather in groundwater reservoirs. During its journey, water collects minerals like calcium and magnesium. Too much mineral content in the water is what causes hard water.

Heated hard water deposits minerals on home plumbing systems and clogs water lines. The different types of water softeners trap the minerals before they enter your plumbing. Read on to learn how to pick the right water softener for your home and extend your plumbing’s lifespan.

types of water softeners

Different Types of Water Softener With Salt

Salt-based water softener systems are the most common in the US. They work the best in any size home and don’t need a lot of upkeep.

Here’s how the water softener process works:

  1. Water enters a tank with resin beads.
  2. The negative charge in the resin attracts calcium and magnesium.
  3. The softened water moves into the home’s plumbing system.
  4. Once a week, the softener system washes the resin with a brine.
  5. Salt in the brine attracts the minerals.
  6. The system flushes the brine out.

While the system regenerates the resin, it can’t provide water for the house. If you buy this type of system, get one with a timer. Set the regeneration time for around 2-3 AM.

What Types of Water Softener Provide a Constant Water Supply?

Do you live in a household where someone is always awake? Finding a time to set the regeneration cycle will always leave someone without water.

To solve the problem, invest in a dual tank water softener. The extra tank allows the system to regenerate and soften water at the same time.

These systems come in salt and salt-alternative options. Be prepared to spend more for the convenience of a constant soft water supply. Dual tank systems also need twice as much space as traditional softener systems.

What Types of Water Softeners Are There Without Salt?

Some cities in California and Texas have strict codes about salt water softeners. The systems are banned outright in places like Discovery Bay, CA. In other towns, softener systems must at least have a good salt efficiency rating.

One alternative to the salt brine regeneration process is potassium-chloride. The downside is potassium isn’t as effective, so the system regenerates more often. Regeneration uses 50 gallons of water, leading drought-stricken cities to ban potassium, too.

A new, waste-free water softening system uses template-assisted crystallization. The TAC process uses beads with small crevices to crystallize hard water minerals. TAC systems like Filter Smart are 6 times more effective at reducing hard water problems.

Ready to Banish Hard Water for Good?

Step one to picking from the different types of water softeners is checking local codes. The restrictions are in place to prevent too much salt in city water systems. Make sure you follow the codes to protect your local water sources.

When you’re ready to pick a water softener, talk to a plumber. Ask them about the best place to install the water softener system. This way, you know what size of system will fit in that area.

Ready to tackle more home improvement projects? Our Home and Gardening section has tons of project ideas.


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