Hard water is not an issue to our health, but it is known for its harmful side effect when used on water using home appliances because of this making a decision to add a water softener will help overcome the problem. There are different types of water softener in the market and choosing the water softener for your hard water is not easy. The different brand available in the market removes hardness in different ways, the price, features and size ranges. That’s why we have taken time to review top 10 Salt-based water softeners 2018 that will help completely remove hardness in water.
Comparison table of Top 10 Salt-based water softeners
|ABC waters Fleck Structural 48k-56sxt||22,000 grains||check latest price at Amazon|
|Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Water Softener||48,000 grains||check latest price at Amazon|
|Whirlpool WHES30 30,000 Grain Water Softener||30,000 grains||check latest price at Amazon|
|Tier1 48,000 Grain||48,000 grains||check the latest price at Amazon|
|Discount Water Softeners||40,000 grains||check the latest price at Amazon|
|Fleck 9100SXT Dual tank water softener||50,000 grains||check the latest price at Amazon|
What is a salt based water softener
Hard water is water that has a mineral such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals cause soap and shampoo don’t lather well; clothes look dull, dishes stain and form scale deposit on the house appliances causing clogging.
The hardness of water is measured by grains per gallon (GPG) or by parts per million of mineral (PMM)
1GPG=17.1PPM. The grain is a number of hardness present in your water. You can use a water hardness test kit/ water test kit to know how hard your water is.
The higher the number of gallons the harder the water.
Any water that contains 1GPG-3GPG is considered relatively soft you can use salt-free water softener but more than 10 GPG is hard requires a salt based water softener.
A salt-based water softener works by removing this mineral replacing them with sodium that is well known as salt.
How does a salt based water softener work
The salt based water softener has a tanks brine tank, resin tank/mineral tank, and other controls.
The resin tank contains salt/sodium which is negatively charged and beads.
The water supply or hard water supply line is connected to a control valve and timer at the top of the resin tank. It flows down to a resin tank filled with salt and beads.
The negatively charged beads attract positively charged ions present in unconditioned water/ hard water while giving sodium ions through a process called cation exchange/ ion exchange
Minerals in the hard water remain on the resin beads, and softened water passes through the tank and is ready for human consumption.
After a period resin beads become coated with minerals and must be cleaned to operate effectively.
The brine tank is filled with brine (salt) solution; water softer timer automatically runs brine solution to the resin tank. The beads pick soft ion from the brine solution in an exchange with positive ions for the hardness on the beads. The process washes off the hard minerals on the beads carrying it out through a drain pipe.
How do you prepare brine solution?
You add bags of salt to the brine tank.
The process of flushing out coated minerals on the resin beads is called regeneration.
Regeneration works the same way as water softening, but it is a reverse process.
What to consider when buying a salt-free water softener
- Water softener size
What differentiates one softener to the other mostly is size. Size is the main features that you need to check when buying a water softener. In size, we don’t mean the physical size but ability to remove hardness without frequent regeneration.
How do you know the right size that handles the demand of your water usage for your household?
Water softeners are sold in different sizes which are measured using by the number of grains of hardness known as grains per gallon (GPG).
You calculate the size of water softener you family need by multiplying a number of members present in your household by gallons used by each person every day. Then some hardness present in your water by total family consumption.
An average person uses 80-100 gallons per day.
For instance, If you have five members of the family, you multiply 85X5=425gallons. You consume 425 gallons of water every day.
If you water has a hardness of 10GPG multiply 425X10=4250. So you need the water softener that removes an average of 4250GPM/ hardness per day.
Per week = 425X7=2950×10=29500
Per month= 425X30=
Now that you have known how to calculate your water consumption, water softener comes in various capacity from 15000 to 100 000 GPG.
Make sure the hardness you want to remove doesn’t exceed your water softener capacity so as regeneration doesn’t happen more frequent.
So for the case above a family of five people (2950 grains per week), a water softener of 35000 would best fit, or you go up.
Purchasing a water softener with small capacity will be regenerating more often and will cost you more while buying water softer with high capacity will cost you more when buying the whole unit but will regenerate less frequent saving you money.
- Water usage
Knowing the amount of water that you use per day helps choose the right size of water softener also helps you know the right amount of salt that is needed for regeneration.
- Regeneration method
Softener regenerates in different ways. Some are demand initiated regeneration (DIR) water softener. The DIR water softener also known as meter regeneration meters / measures water usage over a period and regenerates when needed. This type of water softener regenerates in water usage and is most commonly sold.
The DIR water softener saves a lot of salt and water because they charge when necessary.
The other type of regeneration is a timer/scheduled regeneration water softener. The timer regeneration is set/scheduled to regenerate on a specific period. This method is old technology and sometimes can waste a lot of salt because it can regenerate during times you have used a small amount of water. For instance, when you have traveled for a time, and you have not used water it will still regenerate when the time you have set reaches.
In addition to timer regeneration, you can have short of soft water during the times you have high usage of water for example when you have visitors.
There is manual regeneration which you decide it is the right time for you to regenerate.
- Types of minerals it removes
The most common mineral present in your hard water are calcium and manganese, but some water has iron which also needs to be removed. Make sure your water softener removes all unwanted minerals from the water.
- Maintenance fee
Find out whether you need a professional or a plumber to install the softener. Also pay attention to maintenance cost either annually or monthly.
Certification by certain independents body guarantee the water softener is good at removing hardness effectively and passed industry standards. Such bodies are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) which certifies water treatment products. Also, the water industry’s trade organization and the Water Quality Association certify equipment.
- Warranty on both control valve and mineral tanks
A good water softener lasts for 20 years. So on warranty control, the valve should have a guarantee of three years while the mineral tank should have a warranty of 10 years on most brands.
What are other methods for treating hard water?
There is another option for treating hard water but the technology does soften water/ remove hard minerals present in your water but a condition to stop scales from forming on the water using home appliances. This alternative is called salt free water softener.
Does salt-based water softener makes your water taste salty
The answer is no.
Is softened water safe for drinking?
Yes, it is safe. More on explanation here
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