Living in an apartment can come with many challenges, including hard water. Which can lead to costly plumbing repairs and damage to pipes and appliances. Hard water can be a nuisance in any home, but it is especially inconvenient in apartments due to their limited space and resources. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available that effectively reduce hard water and its effects.
In this article, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the best water softener systems for apartments, discussing their features, benefits, and drawbacks.
Considerations for Apartment Living
If you’ve recently moved into an apartment, chances are you’ve already encountered a hard water problem – and it’s not a pleasant one. Hard water can leave deposits on dishes, cause scaling on bathroom surfaces, and even affect the taste and odor of your drinking water.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help mitigate the effects of hard water on your apartment living experience.
Here are some considerations for apartments with a hard water problem:
Invest in a water softener
One of the best ways to reduce the hardness of your water is to invest in a water softener. Water softeners work by removing minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water supply – which, in turn, helps reduce the amount of residue and sediment build-up in your pipes and appliances.
Opt for water-efficient appliances
When shopping for new appliances, look for those that come with a WaterSense label. Appliances with this label are certified to use at least 20 percent less water than standard models – which can help reduce the amount of hard water residue in your pipes.
Get your pipes checked
Hard water can have an adverse effect on your pipes, so it’s important to have them inspected regularly. Your local plumbing company should be able to help you with this.
Use vinegar to clean your bathroom surfaces
Vinegar is an excellent natural cleaner for bathroom surfaces, and it’s great for removing hard water residue. Simply mix one part vinegar with two parts water and use a sponge or cloth to wipe down your fixtures, tiles, and tubs.
Install a showerhead filter
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, consider investing in a showerhead filter. These filters work by removing hard water minerals from the water, while also providing a more comfortable shower experience.
By taking these steps, you can help reduce the effects of hard water in your apartment. Of course, if the problem persists, you should contact a professional plumber for further assistance.
Benefits of Installing a Water Softener
Here are some of the top benefits of installing a water softener in your apartment:
1. Better Skin and Hair: Hard water can dry out your skin and hair, making it difficult to maintain healthy locks and hydrated skin. Soft water can make a big difference in keeping your skin and hair looking and feeling their best.
2. Improved Water Pressure: Hard water can reduce the flow of water and reduce water pressure. This can make it difficult to use your shower, dishwasher, and other appliances. Softened water can help maintain a steady flow and better water pressure.
3. Cleaner Clothes: Hard water can leave a deposit on clothes after they’re washed, which can cause them to look dingy and dull. Soft water helps keep your clothes looking and smelling fresh.
4. Reduced Buildup: Softened water can help reduce the amount of mineral buildup in your pipes and extend the life of your plumbing system.
5. Easier Cleaning: Hard water can make it harder to clean dishes and surfaces. Softened water can help make your cleaning tasks easier, so you don’t have to work as hard to keep your home clean.
5 Best Water Softeners for Apartments
#1. Best Overall: Whirlpool WHES30E NSF-Certified Water Softener
- Whirlpool WHES30E is ideal for households of 1-4 plus people and removes up to 8ppm of clear water (ferrous) iron
- NSF certified to reduce hard water symptoms such as embarrassing stains, build-up on your plumbing and faucets as well as spotting on dishes
- Whirlpool water softeners automatically calculate how much salt and water is required to regenerate and only use what is necessary, resulting in a significant salt and water savings
- Full 1-year parts and labor . The system can be extended to 2 years parts and labor when you buy 3 bottles of Whirlpool WHEWSC water softener cleanser (sold separately)
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 30,000
- Max Water Hardness: 95 grains per gallon
- Dimensions: 19 x 18 x 43.5 inches
- Warranty: 1-year parts and labor
This NSF-Certified Water Softener is the perfect solution to soft water needs, no matter your apartment size! With 30,000 grains of capacity, it’s the ideal choice for apartments hosting 1-4 plus people. Experience softer laundry, less soap scum on dishes and tile surfaces, and a more gentle shower with this reliable and powerful product.
Thanks to its advanced technologies, this softener automatically calculates how much salt and water are needed in order to initiate the regeneration cycle. It also reduces the levels of iron up to 8 parts per million.
Not only does this water softener make the whole process easy and hassle-free – it also makes sure that your drinking water remains consistently clean and pure!
- Includes a step-by-step installation kit
- Auto sense and regeneration
- Reduce water waste
- Easy to clean
- The unit requires frequent refilling in order to work properly.
#2. Best Value: Aquasure Harmony Water Softener
- 💧【 PERFECTLY DESIGNED FOR 1-2 BATHROOMS 】The Aquasure Harmony Series is the professional grade water softener that delivers ultra-softened water to every outlet throughout your entire home.
- 💧【 PROTECTS YOUR APPLIANCES 】Reduces water hardness and eliminates scale buildup while preventing damage to your plumbing and prolonging the lifespan of household appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, etc.
- 💧【 CLEANER HOME WATER 】Rated to treat 32,000 grains of hardness by removing skin damaging hard minerals like calcium and magnesium that clog up the skin pore and causes irritation.
- 💧【 AUTOMATIC DIGITAL METERED CONTROL HEAD 】Comes with a fully programmable backlit digital display which allows you to easily customize your auto-flush intervals depending on your incoming water quality and water usage. Also allows for easy monitoring and hassle-free maintenance.
- 💧【 PREMIUM QUALITY 】Every Aquasure Water Softener is constructed with a high-strength, corrosion-resistant, fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank, durable bypass valve, and prefilled premium-grade resin. Besides the 30-day money-back, Aquasure stands behind its products by providing 5-year extended manufacturer warranty and life-time free US based tech support when you activate your product online within 60 days.
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 32,000
- Max Water Hardness: 120 grains per gallon
- Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 54 inches
- Warranty: 5 year manufacturer warranty
This Aquasure Water Softener treats up to 32,000 grains of hardness in one complete process. Plus, it includes a convenient quick connection fitting so you can finish your setup with no hassle or extra tools needed.
This water softener provides the highest level of convenience, allowing you to pre-program settings so that your home is always supplied with pure and softened water. But if you’re looking for more control over the preferences of hardness or pressure levels, then you can feel confident in manually adjusting the settings until they meet your satisfaction.
Its metered and manual double backwash feature reliably regenerates the filter so it consistently delivers softer water on demand. This powerful feature allows the system to serve soft water with optimal results, offering the best savings in both salt usage and water consumption.
As long as you follow the supplied guidelines, rest assured that your Aquasure Harmony Water Softener will be ready-to-go in a flash!
- Smart digital control head
- Durable high capacity tank
- Plug and play installation
- Detachable bypass valve
- No indicator for salt level
#3. Best Electric: iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler
- [Improve Water Quality] Solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance, while keeping healthy minerals in the water by preventing scale deposits from forming and allowing existing scale to break down.
- [Reliable Descaler] Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup in pipes. Reduces energy consumption with an average one year payback period. Great for your home and the environment, individuals on salt-restricted diets, and those looking for healthier skin and hair.
- [Environmental Friendly] Designed for very hard water areas (10-19 grains per gallon). Saves energy and extends the life of your appliances.
- [Easy Installation] No plumbing modifications required. Maintenance-free. Works on any pipe, even PEX and PVC. 1-year money-back and lifetime tech support from iSpring.
- [No change on Chemistry of Water] Unlike salt water softeners, ED2000 does not change the chemistry of water.
- Type: Electronic-based water descaler
- Process: Electromagnetic wave
- Iron Limit: 0.3 ppm
- Flow rate: Does not affect flow rate
- Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 2 inches
- Warranty: 1–year
This Water Descaler for apartments provides a hassle-free, chemical-free solution to hard water problems. This product eliminates the need to use chemicals and salt, thus saving money on costly treatments with no maintenance required. It also protects your pipes from scale buildup and helps extend the life of your plumbing system, so you don’t have to worry about or deal with unnecessary repairs.
It is the perfect solution for individuals on salt restricted diets. It’s specifically designed for 10-19 GPG of water hardness. With no plumbing modifications required, the descaler works on any type of pipe material in use. However, a minimum of 20-inch pipe space is needed for the coils.
This makes it ideal for those living in small apartments who don’t want to deal with the expense and trouble of plumbing adjustments or upgrades. With minimal energy use, you can rest assured that your electricity bill won’t spike as a result.
- Easy to install
- Prevents and reduces scale on fixtures
- Ideal for individuals on low sodium diets
- It doesn’t work with water that has iron more than 0.3 ppm. If this is the case, you should install a pre-water filter for the optimum results.
#4. Best Portable: Mobile-Soft-Water Portable Water Softener
- 16,000 grains Total Hardness Removal Portable and Manual
- Removes Total Hardness and Soluble Iron
- Suitable for Recreational Vehicle Use
- LEAD FREE USEPA, NSF61 Approved Water Connections
- Includes Manual
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 16,000
- Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 21.63 inches
- Warranty: 1-year
This portable water softener provides superior quality softened water, guaranteed. It removes up to 16,000 grains of hardness—meeting environmental standards set by the NSF 61 Certification. In addition to its remarkable capacity to remove excess minerals from water, it also comes with easy to install connections that make setup a breeze.
Its convenient and hassle free design requires no electricity, allowing you to simply plug in the device and enjoy softened water almost immediately. Plus, its incredibly efficient system can treat up to 5 gallons per minute for all your needs without having to worry about cost or refill frequency.
Its 10-grain total hardness removal provides maximum efficiency and long lasting reliability that fits conveniently with any lifestyle. The robust nylon fittings are reliable enough to stand up against most wear and tear for years to come.
- Easy to install
- Requires minimal maintenance
- NSF61 Approved
- It does not have brass fittings
#5. Best Budget: H2oEliteLabs Electronic Water Conditioner
- PROTECTS ENTIRE PLUMBING SYSTEM: This compact device helps protect your home from lime scale and calcium hardness buildup in showers, sinks, faucets, pipes, and hot water heaters helping to improve water efficiency in washing machines, coffee makers, heating elements and irons
- SIMPLE DESCALING PROCESS: Our whole house water descaler system is not a water filter and does not eliminate minerals like calcium and magnesium instead it prevents mineral particles from sticking together and forming scale deposits without the use of salts or chemicals found in traditional water softeners
- CHEMICAL FREE, SALT FREE: Our eco-friendly and maintenance-free technology eliminates hard water material build up without the use of harsh chemicals or salt; depending on the scale buildup and age of your pipes as well as the grains per gallon of your water it can take up to 90 days to have noticeably cleaner pipes
- SAVES TIME, MONEY AND WATER: Our system takes away the need to use harsh cleaners for descaling toilets, faucets, and shower heads and with higher water efficiency results in lower water usage especially in larger appliances like dishwashers and washing machines
- INSTALLATION AND USE: For indoor use only in homes up to 5,000-sq. ft., handles up to 35 gpg (grains per gallon) or 598 ppm of calcium hardness, can be installed on any type of pipe (up to 1.25â€³ diameter) including Copper, PVC, CPVC, and PEX and can be used in combination with filtration systems
- Type: Electronic-based water conditioner
- Process: Electromagnetic wave
- Installation: Indoors only
- Flow rate: Does not affect flow rate
- Maximum Hardness: 35 GPG or 598 PPM of calcium hardnes
- Dimensions: 8.78 x 8.62 x 4.25 inches
H2oEliteLabs Electronic Water Conditioner is the perfect budget-friendly solution for apartments suffering from hard water. This state of the art Salt-Free Hard Water Softener will eliminate any traces of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that create build up on appliances like dishwashers, showerheads, and sinks as well as clothing fibers such as towels and linens.
It is designed to handle up to 35 gpg or 598 ppm of calcium hardness, eliminating the limescale buildup that can appear around sinks and on appliances in rental properties.
This water conditioner offers supreme flexibility in installation, with the promise of working on any type of pipe including Copper, PEX, PVC or CPVC.
Its salt-free operation requires no maintenance and doesn’t produce any corrosives or contaminates that are common with regular water conditioners.
- Easy to install and use
- No plumbing required
- Salt-free operation
- Help increase the water pressure
- The main water supply point should be indoors for installation, as the unit is not water-proof. So, you need to check your plumbing setup before buying.
Types of Water Softeners
Here is an overview of the four main types of water softeners available:
Salt-Based Water Softeners
Salt-based water softeners are a popular choice among homeowners who are looking for a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective way to soften their water. While these softeners come with some maintenance requirements, the overall benefits far outweigh these requirements.
The process of salt-based water softening works by passing the hard water through a tank filled with resin beads that attract ions like calcium and magnesium. As the ions pass through the beads, they form clusters that eventually become too big to pass through the beads, thus removing them from your tap water.
The next step is for sodium ions from salt brine to replace unwanted mineral ions on the resin bead surfaces. This recharge cycle helps to restore their ability to catch more minerals as it passes through again.
The main maintenance requirement of salt-based water softeners is the regular addition of salt. Salt is used to regenerate the resin beads so that they can continue to remove hard minerals from the water. How often the salt needs to be added depends on the amount of water you use, the hardness of your water, and the size of the unit. Generally, you should add salt every two to four weeks.
Salt-Free Water Softeners
Salt-free water softeners are an innovative new technology that has been gaining in popularity in recent years. This type of water softener works by removing minerals from hard water without the use of salt, making it a great alternative to traditional salt-based softening systems. Salt-free water softeners are gaining in popularity due to the convenience, cost savings, and environmental benefits they offer.
Instead of relying on sodium chloride, these systems use a combination of media and electromagnetic waves to reduce the hard mineral content. This process is also referred to as “conditioning” because it changes the properties of the water, making it softer and more comfortable to use.
Dual-Tank Water Softeners
A dual-tank water softener is designed to use two tanks in order to effectively soften hard water. The first tank is filled with resin beads, which are charged with sodium ions. As hard water passes through the tank, the resin beads attract the calcium and magnesium ions in the water, allowing them to stick to the resin beads and be flushed away.
The second tank is then used to rinse the resin beads, which allows them to be reused. This two-step process helps to ensure that the resin beads are always charged with sodium ions, making them more effective at softening hard water.
Dual-tank water softeners also offer several advantages over single-tank models. For instance, the two-stage process helps to reduce the amount of salt needed to soften the water, making them more cost-effective than single-tank models.
Additionally, dual-tank systems are much more efficient, as they are able to remove more hard minerals per regeneration cycle, which helps to reduce water waste.
Magnetic Water Softeners
The basic principle behind a magnetic water softener is simple. A magnet is installed onto the water line that contains scaling minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. The magnet attracts the minerals, preventing them from entering the water supply. The result is softer, scale-free water.
The primary benefit of a magnetic water softener is that it can reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium in your water without using salt. Salt-based water softeners can be expensive to install and require frequent maintenance. Magnetic water softeners, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive to install and require little to no maintenance.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Water Softener for an Apartment
Apartment living requires careful planning and research. With limited space and budget constraints, it is important to choose the right water softener to meet your needs.
Before deciding on a specific model, consider the following factors:
Size is an important factor when buying a water softener for an apartment. You need to make sure you have enough space for the unit without sacrificing comfort or convenience. This means taking into account how much room is needed for plumbing connections as well as the overall dimensions of the unit itself.
Grain capacity is the amount of softening a water softener can do, and it is usually measured in grains per gallon (GPG). The higher the grain capacity, the more efficient the softener will be.
For apartment water softeners, the most common grain capacity is 32,000 GPG. This is a good choice for most households, but if you have very hard water, you may need a higher grain capacity.
When it comes to water hardness levels, they can vary widely depending on where you live. For example, water in some regions may be as hard as 10 GPG, while other areas may have water that is as soft as 2 GPG. You can test the hardness of your water using a water hardness test kit. If your water is harder than 10 GPG, you may need a higher grain capacity water softener.
Water Flow Rate
Another key consideration is the water flow rate. Knowing how much water your unit needs to process is important for both safety and performance. For an apartment with one bathroom, you need a unit with a flow rate of at least 5-7 gallons per minute (GPM). For two bathrooms, the recommended flow rate is 10 GPM.
It’s important to note that electric water softeners don’t impact the flow rate of your water. This is because they don’t intercept the pipes and therefore don’t affect the rate of flow.
Regeneration Cycles (Manual or Automatic)
The regeneration cycle in a water softener is an essential process for ensuring the system produces clean, soft water. It works by flushing out hard minerals from the resin bed and recharging it with sodium ions.
Manual water softeners require users to manually regenerate the softener when necessary, while automatic softeners are able to regenerate themselves without any user intervention.
The downside of manual water softeners, however, is that they don’t have any sort of timers or alarms to alert you when it’s time for regeneration. This makes it important to remember to manually regenerate the softener regularly.
Automatic water softeners, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive than manual softeners, but they are more convenient.
It’s important to consider how often you will need to regenerate it. If you need to regenerate your softener more often, an automatic water softener may be the better option.
FAQs About Apartment Water Softeners
Can you Install a water softener in a rented apartment?
Yes, you can install a water softener in a rented apartment, however, the traditional form of installation may not be permissible due to the impermanent nature of tenancy. Portable water softening systems are the best option for tenants looking to reduce hard water buildup in their dwellings, as they are more easily removable and can be taken with them when they leave. This is particularly beneficial for those who are renting short-term or anticipate frequent moves over the course of their tenancy.
Water softener Vs. Water descaler, which one is best for an apartment?
If the water hardness score in your apartment is over 7 GPG (grains per gallon), then a water softener will likely be required in order to provide satisfactory outcomes. However, if hardness is below 7 grains per gallon, a water descaler would be the most appropriate and budget-friendly choice for removing calcium and magnesium ions in hard water.
What is the best way to soften water in an apartment?
The most efficient way to soften the water in an apartment is via a portable water softener or an electric water descaler. Portable softeners are compact and easy to install, making them ideal for apartments. The electric descaler, on the other hand, utilizes limescale reduction technology to reduce calcium and magnesium deposits in water pipes and fixtures. This technology allows for a more sustainable and cost-effective method of softening hard water.
What should be the regeneration time of a water softener?
A period of 80 to 90 minutes would be an appropriate interval for water softener regeneration cycles. This window allows for sufficient regeneration to occur while minimizing idle periods in order to optimize efficiency. The optimal frequency for regeneration depends on several factors such as water hardness, daily demand, type of resin, and physical characteristics of the ion exchange material.
How do portable water-softening devices work?
Portable water softeners operate by reducing the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water, which are responsible for its hardness. This reduction is achieved by a process known as ion exchange, where positively charged sodium ions in a special resin bed replace the calcium and magnesium ions found in the incoming hard water. As this exchange takes place, the sodium ions accumulate on the surface of the resin beads while calcium and magnesium ions are released into the solution.
A water softener can be a great asset for your apartment. Depending on the regulations in your apartment complex, you may be able to install a traditional water softener like the Whirlpool WHES30E. If this is not allowed, then a portable softener such as Mobile-Soft-Water Portable Water Softener or an electric water descaler are great alternatives to achieve the same results. Ultimately, you want to choose the system that will best meet your needs as this investment should be worth it long-term.With careful consideration and research, you can make sure that you find the best solution for your needs.