People with hard water issues usually come across two solutions: water softeners and water conditioners. Both can solve problems with hard water, but they are different. Choosing a water conditioner vs. water softener will depend on your needs.
Which water treatment solution should you choose for your home? Read on to learn about the differences between water conditioners and softeners.
While both can offer a solution to hard water, they do so in different ways. A water softener removes mineral content through a process of ion exchange. Water conditioners neutralize mineral content by way of crystallization. Some people don’t like the feel of softened water, so they might choose a water conditioner over a water softener.
People often refer to water conditioners as “salt-free water softeners.” A water softener is different because it removes the hard minerals. Water conditioners don’t soften the water. Instead of having dissolved minerals in the water, you have crystallized minerals. All the mineral content is still there; it is just in a new state.
Many homeowners look for these solutions to hard water to prevent the buildup of scale on fixtures and appliances. A water conditioner and a water softener will help eliminate or reduce scaling. However, water softeners perform much better in this regard. Since water softeners remove the minerals that cause scale, you do not have to worry about it. With a conditioner, you might still see a slight discoloration from scaling. That said, the crystallized minerals are easy to wipe away or rinse off.
The water can perform differently depending on whether you use a water softener or a conditioner. For example, the salt content in softened water can make it feel slimy when you shower or wash your hands. On the other hand, conditioned water might still leave spots on your dishes. It won’t be as bad as hard water, but they still might be there. However, you can quickly rinse them off the dishes.
The upfront costs can vary depending on your needs and some other factors. That said, the installation costs are usually comparable for water softeners and conditioners. However, there is a difference in the operating expenses. Properly sized water softeners need to regenerate once every 7-10 days producing wastewater, so they do consume more water. The amount is equivalent to an extra shower per week. Water softeners also require you to maintain salt levels in the brine tank. It isn’t much, but the costs can add up if you look at it on the scale of many years. Salt free systems on the other hand, do not require any salt maintenance and do not produce wastewater. However, they do require you to change out the media more frequently than water softeners. Most companies use filtersorb sp3 salt free media for their water conditioners and it has a service life of 5 years or less depending on the size of the system. A good quality water softener using high capacity 10% crosslink resin can operate for 12-15 years or more before any major maintenance is needed.
Contact the Red Rock Water Systems team to learn more about home water products. We are a local company with 22 years of experience with water systems. We would be happy to offer a free estimate or provide more information.
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