Water softeners are an essential piece of equipment for households in the United States that use well water. Hard water often contains minerals (including iron) that can damage appliances and plumbing over time, as well as leave behind residue on dishes and clothes. To ensure you have the best possible water quality, it is important to select a water softener system that is compatible with your well system.
In this article, I’ll discuss the different types of water softeners and the features that make them the best option for well water.
Why are Water Softeners Necessary for Well Water?
Well water can quickly become contaminated with minerals, iron, and other substances that can cause taste and odor problems, damage plumbing fixtures, and even cause health issues.
The main function of a water softener is to reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. Calcium and magnesium ions create a buildup of scale, which can clog pipes, reduce the efficiency of appliances, and cause scale buildup on fixtures. In addition, these ions can also contribute to an unpleasant odor and taste in your water.
When selecting a water softener system, it’s also important to consider the type of water system you have. If you have a private well, you may need to install a reverse osmosis (RO) filter as well as a water softener system. The RO filter will help remove any disease-causing microorganisms from the water.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Water Softener for Well Water
Here are some of the important factors to keep in mind when shopping for a water softener for well water.
You should check the hardness of your well water before selecting a water softener. In addition to checking the water hardness level, it is important to make sure that your water is free of contaminants. A water test can help identify any contaminants present in your water. Once you know the exact hardness level, it’ll be easier for you to choose the right water softener for your specific needs.
A water softener alone will not be enough to make your water clean of contaminants. You may also need a well water filtration system in addition to the water softener in order to get the most efficient results. A water filter helps to remove particles such as dirt and silt that can clog the plumbing and also help to remove harmful contaminants that could be in your well water.
Water usage is an important factor to consider when buying a water softener for your home. The amount of water used by a household can vary widely, depending on the number of people living in the home, their water usage habits, and the number of bathrooms in the household.
On average, each person living in a home uses about 70-100 gallons of water per day. That includes anything from showering, washing dishes, and doing laundry. A family of four, for instance, is likely to use around 400 gallons of water per day. This figure can significantly increase if you have more than four people in the household.
A single bathroom in a home can easily use up to 25 gallons of water per day. And if you have three bathrooms, the total water usage can easily cross the 100-gallon mark.
By understanding your water usage, you can make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the best water softener for well water.
When it comes to water softener systems, there are two main types: Salt-Based and Salt-Free. Both systems have their pros and cons and may be suitable for different households. Before you choose a water softener for your well water, it’s important to decide which type is right for you.
Salt-based water softeners use an ion exchange process to remove hard minerals from the water. The process involves passing the water through a resin-filled tank that contains sodium ions, which exchange places with the calcium and magnesium ions in the water. The hard minerals are then trapped in the resin and the water is softened.
Salt-based water softener systems require regular maintenance, as the resin tank needs to be cleaned and recharged with salt every few months. Salt-based systems also require a salt or potassium chloride brine solution to be added to the system on a regular basis. The cost of salt and the need to maintain the system may be a deterrent for some homeowners.
Salt-free water softener systems use a process called template-assisted crystallization (TAC). This process uses a specialized media to capture calcium and magnesium ions, preventing them from forming scale on the inside of your pipes and fixtures.
Unlike salt-based systems, salt-free systems don’t require any salt or brine solution. They are also more environmentally friendly, as they don’t produce any salt by-products or discharge them into the environment.
Which Water Softener System Is Right for You?
The type of water softener system you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including the hardness of your water, the size of your home, and your budget. If you have very hard water and a large household, a salt-based system may be a better option. If you have a smaller household or don’t use a lot of water, a salt-free system may be a better option.
Tips for Selecting the Best Water Softener for Well Water with Iron
Here are some tips you can follow to make sure you select the right water softener for your needs:
Test Your Water Quality: Test your well water to determine the level of hardness and select a softener that can effectively soften your water.
Consider the Size and Capacity of the Softener: Make sure the softener is big enough to handle the amount of water your home consumes.
Compare Different Types of Water Softeners: There are different types of water softeners available, including salt-based and electronic water softeners. Each type has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to compare them to find the one that best meets your needs.
Research Different Brands: Not all water softeners are created equal. Different brands may offer different features and levels of performance, so it’s important to research the available models before making your selection.
Check Maintenance Requirements: Different brands and types of water softeners may require different levels of maintenance. Make sure to check the maintenance requirements for the softener you’re considering to determine if it’s a good fit for your home and lifestyle.
Look for a Warranty: Make sure the water softener is covered by a warranty. A good warranty will cover any defects or problems that arise with the softener, giving you peace of mind.
5 Best Water Softeners for Well Water
#1. Best Overall: PRO+AQUA Elite Whole House Well Water Softener
- 5 STAGE ULTIMATE PROTECTION: Specifically designed to provide unmatched filtration performance for well water. This whole house filtration package will provide safe water for your entire home and remove many contaminants found in well water as well as hardness.
- UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE: From small to medium size households on well water. The specially engineered filters are designed to work together in series in order to produce the best healthy, safe, soft, odor-free water.
- PRO-GRADE MATERIALS: Designed for commercial demand but made for your home - With commercial grade parts, the PRO+AQUA systems will outlast any other leading system on the market, your systems will last for many years.
- EASY LOW MAINTENANCE & AUTO REGENERATION: The PRO-100-E offers easy filter changes, the PRO-WELL-1E and PRO-S-80E Systems regenerate automatically for ease of mind maintenance.
- UNMATCHED QUALITY: Quality 100% guaranteed, no-hassle 30-day returns, 1 and 5-year warranty, and free lifetime tech support.
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 80,000
- Purification Method: Sand (5-stages)
- Dimensions: 9.5″L x 57″W x 9.5″H
This next-level water softener provides superior filtration and improved well water quality. Pro Aqua Elite is specifically designed to tackle the harsh iron and mineral deposits found in well-water reservoirs, leaving it virtually chemical-free, odorless, and tasteless.
By using pro-grade materials, the filters are able to efficiently remove dirt, sand, rust, and sediments while remaining durable and reliable over time. It’ll provide consistently clean and softer water for small to medium size households on well water.
The system delivers convenience with its low-maintenance auto regeneration feature. No more need for constant manual checks and timely intervention – it all happens automatically!
- Specifically designed for well water
- Removes iron and sulfur while also softening water
- Protect your household from chlorine, pesticides, and sediment
- 2-in-1 (five-stage water filter + softener)
#2. Best Salt-Free Option: Aquasana Water Softener Alternative – Water Descaler
- Clean, Great Tasting Water From Every Tap In Your Home - Activated carbon reduces 97% of Chlorine. Plus, this Rhino's newly-improved divider valve enables a fast and reliable flow rate with no noticeable change in water pressure.
- High-Performance Filter System - Salt-free conditioner, carbon & KDF filtration engineered to maximize filtration and reduce scale while leaving healthy minerals in your water. This system will NOT reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- Cost Efficient & Long Lasting - Clean water for less than dollars0.01 a gallon - Save twice as much compared to other brands on purified water for 1 million gallons or 10 years
- Easy Maintenance - No draining or back flushing needed - Easily replace pre and post filters every 2 months for best filtration and flow rate
- Top-Grade Install Kit & Components - System includes filter tank, conditioner tank, 20" pre-filter, post-filter, brass fittings for 1'' or 3/4'' pipes, bend supports, and shut-off valves – Item may ship in more than one box and may arrive separately
- Softener Type: Salt-Free
- Capacity: 600,000 Gallons
- Purification Method: Activated Carbon, Sedimentation
- Dimensions: 46″L x 9″W x 54″H
This water descaler technology is powerful because it works without adding salt, making for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution. With its patented scale modulation system, Aquasana will filter out sediment and 97% of chlorine, drastically improving the taste and smell of your well water.
It is specially designed to avoid removing essential minerals from the water while still allowing a large flow rate of up to 11.8 gallons per minute, providing ample supply for families with bigger households.
This water conditioner is a hassle-free solution for softening your water. The system does not require draining or back flushing. Also, this system will not reduce total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water supply.
- Salt-free operation
- Reduce scale buildup in pipes
- Retain healthy minerals in your water
- Provide water filtration for up to 10 years
- It requires installation by a licensed plumber for warranty claims
#3. Best with RO System: Tier1 Digital Whole House Water Softener
- Digital Meter Head Control Valve: LCD display, electric plug in, improved features, and ease of operation as compared to Fleck 5600SXT.
- Complete Water Softener System: Each system includes a brine tank, pre-filled mineral tank with 1.5 cubic feet of Cation Resin, control valve, 3/4 inch water line connections, brine tubing, drain line, and mechanical components necessary for the standard installation to pre-installed water softener connections. Homes plumbed with PEX or CPVC supply tubing may require the use of compression fittings, such as the Sharkbite brand, purchased separately.
- Scale Reduction: Protects fixtures, pipes, and appliances from harmful scale. Prevents damage from hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium buildup. Enhances the effectiveness of soaps and detergents to keep skin soft, hair shiny, and laundry bright.
- Smart Space Saving Design: Its unique precision turbine meter is incorporated in the system bypass valve saving over 4 feet of floor space. 10 x 54 Inch Mineral Tank & 15 x 34 Inch Brine Tank.
- Whole House Performance: Improves water quality throughout your entire home.
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 48,000
- Purification Method: Reverse Osmosis
- Dimensions: 57″L x 47″W x 20″H
Enjoy the highest drinking well water quality with a Tier 1 Water Softener. Its 48,000-grain capacity provides superior filtration and is the ideal option to pair with an under-sink reverse osmosis system. In combination, these systems provide unparalleled water quality for your entire household.
The system ensures that all of your installation needs are taken care of in one package. The included digital meter head control valve is surrounded by a full selection of accessories, such as fitting components and adapters, for a quick setup.
With filters needing to be changed as infrequently as every 6 months and a membrane every 2-3 years, you can trust that this system will remain dependable for many years.
And, since it doesn’t have extra housing or bulky parts, you can confidently rest assured that it won’t take up too much precious space in your area or home.
- Adjustable cycle times
- Easy installation and Maintenance
- Space-saving design
- The regeneration process is a bit slow (two hours)
#4. Best Budget Pick: AO Smith Salt-Free Descaler for Well Water
- Salt-Free Scale Prevention - The AO-WH-DSCLR naturally reduces scale build up in pipes and plumbing using a salt & chemical-free system. No cleaning, backwashing, salt-bags or electricity required.
- Works For All Your Water Needs - System works effectively on water for use in drinking, cooking, showering & bathing. Perfect for households of 4 or more people. System will not reduce TDS, sulfur, or iron.
- Well Or City Water - Our Whole House Descaler is engineered to work with both well & city water systems.
- Long Lasting & Cost Efficient - Reduces scale build-up for up to 6-Years or 600,000 Gallons. System includes a 6-Year warranty.
- Includes one Whole House Descaler, shut-off valve, hose adapter and nipple - Limited 6-year warranty.
- Softener Type: Salt-Free
- Capacity: 600,000 Gallons
- Dimensions: 30″L x 9.25″W x 9.25″H
- Warranty: 6-Years
This AO Smith descaler is an ideal solution for well water, as it also works with city filters. Not only can you enjoy the budget-friendly benefits of this product, but regardless of what type of water filter system you own, you can always rely on its top-tier performance. With its salt-free design and low price point, this device is sure to help you get maximum results for minimum spending.
With AO Smith’s Salt-Free Descaler, you can enjoy scale-free water without the hassle of time-consuming cleaning or backwashing. It prevents scale buildup, clogged pipes, and rusty water from ruining your equipment.
The unit provides your household with 6 YEARS or up to 600,000 GALLONS of worry-free water quality. And if problems should arise, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the system comes complete with a full 6-YEAR WARRANTY.
- Works with city & well water
- Salt-Free scale prevention
- Long lasting & cost efficient
- 6-Year warranty
- Not easy to install if you don’t have PVC pipes
#5. Best Electronic Descaler: Yarna Capacitive Water Descaler
- HOW IT WORKS: Yarna CWD24 is a Patented alternative water softner for homes that treats water with electric pulses generated within the electronic unit and controlled by a micro-chip! These pulses are transmitted via our Ultra Flat Impulse Bands which breakdown crystals that would otherwise buildup into limescale, which can break appliances.
- WHO BENEFITS FROM YARNA: Our customers report cleaner pipes and faucets, lower costs for descaling and heating, and better overall water quality using our whole house water softener system alternative. Depending on the current condition of your plumbing, it may take up to three months to observe a significant improvement.
- EASY INSTALLATION: All you need is access to a minimum of 10" of free pipe space with a maximum pipe diameter of 1". Yarna whole house water descaler is completely DIY with no need for any tools or specialized help. Our whole house water descaler works with any type of piping up to 1" thick.
- WHY DESCALING IS BETTER THAN SOFTENING: The Yarna CWD24 water softener descaling system won't eliminate beneficial minerals from water. Additionally, unlike traditional whole house water softeners, Yarna does not require the use of salt and does not allow water to be wasted.
- 365 DAYS MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: Should you not be satisfied with the product's performance, you have a whole year to return it for a full refund!
- Softener Type: Electronic Descaler
- Wattage & Power Source: 4 watts (Corded Electric)
- Dimensions: 5.9″L x 1.8″W x 2″H
- Warranty: 1-Year
This revolutionary water descaler system provides the perfect solution for limescale fouling. As an electronic, salt-free alternative to traditional water softeners, Yarna’s Water Descaler System effectively reduces mineral buildup in pipes and saves you from costly repairs and maintenance bills.
Thanks to its electric pulses controlled by a microchip, you can easily DIY install this product on nearly any type of pipe. Plus, there’s no maintenance required – just plug and play! This makes it an effortless end-to-end solution for all your hard water needs.
The unit won’t eliminate beneficial minerals from the water. Plus, it comes complete with a 1-year warranty for your peace of mind!
- Best salt-free water softening alternative
- Easy & hassle-free installation
- Compact design (works on any pipe)
- It requires a power source near the installation point
In the United States, the degree of water hardness can vary significantly depending on where you live. The most accurate method of measuring the hardness of well water is to hire a professional water testing service. They will be able to test for a variety of contaminants, including hardness. However, if you don’t have the budget for this option, there are a few DIY methods you can use to measure the hardness of your well water.
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG). A higher number indicates harder water while a lower number indicates softer water. Generally, water that has a hardness of between 0-3.5 GPG is considered soft, 3.5-7.0 GPG is considered moderately hard, and 7.0-10.5 is considered hard. Anything over 10.5 GPG is considered very hard.
Using a water testing kit you can easily measure the hardness of your well water. These kits typically come with a sample bottle, a test strip, and instructions.
To use the kit, you should first fill the sample bottle with your well water and let it sit for at least an hour. This will allow the minerals to dissolve in the water and give you an accurate reading. Once the sample has sat for at least an hour, fill the test strip to the line indicated on the instructions and compare the color of the strip to the chart on the instructions to determine the hardness of your well water.
The second DIY method you can use is the soap bubble test. This test involves adding a few drops of liquid dish soap to a small container of well water, then stirring the mix. If the water looks cloudy or lacking bubbles, it is most likely hard water.
Having a water softener installed in your home can have many positive benefits, especially if you have well water. Here are some of the main advantages of using a water softener for well water.
Well water contains high amounts of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These dissolved minerals can cause a variety of problems, such as increased soap scum build-up, water spots on dishes and fixtures, and even decreased water pressure. Having a water softener installed will help reduce the amount of dissolved minerals in your water, making it much easier to clean and maintain your home.
Since hard water can cause increased wear and tear on your plumbing, you may find yourself spending more on repairs and replacement over time. With a water softener, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of wear and tear on your plumbing, which can help you save money in the long run.
Water softener leads to softer clothing, brighter colors, and reduced residue left on your fabrics after washing them. The resulting softened water also makes it easier for detergents and soaps to dissolve more efficiently while offering powerful cleaning capabilities.
Well water often contains hard minerals that can make it difficult to properly cleanse and moisturize your skin and hair. Fortunately, installing a water softener for your well water is an effective way to improve skin and hair health.
You should test the water hardness levels of your well water in order to determine if a water softener is necessary. Water hardness is measured by concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions, with higher levels indicating greater hardness. If the levels exceed a certain threshold, generally above 180-200 mg/L, then it is recommended to invest in a water softener to reduce the concentrations of these ions.
The most effective way to soften well water is to use a salt-based water softener. It works through the process of ion exchange. This process involves replacing calcium and magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions by passing the water through a bed of resin beads containing sodium ions. The sodium ions replace the calcium and magnesium ions, thus softening the water. Further treatment of softened well water is recommended to optimize its quality, such as removing other harmful dissolved minerals like iron and manganese.
The number of people living in a home and the amount of water usage are key factors when deciding on which size softener to purchase. Generally, an individual needs about 17-20 gallons of water for showering, 10-15 gallons for handwashing and dishwashing, 10-15 gallons for laundry, and 1-3 gallons for drinking and cooking. Adding up all those numbers will give you an estimate of how much hard water your family uses daily. Based on that estimation, you can then decide what type of capacity would be best suited to meet your family’s needs.
A salt-based water softener is the best option for those with well water. It works by swapping out the hard minerals in the water, such as calcium and magnesium, for sodium ions. Salt-based softeners are highly effective at preventing scale deposits from forming on pipes and other surfaces due to their ability to remove minerals from the water. This is especially beneficial for those who live in areas where hard mineral levels are high since these types of systems can help reduce their impact on plumbing fixtures over time.
How much does a well water filtration system cost?
The cost of a well water filtration system in English can vary depending on the type and quality of the system. On average, the cost ranges from $500 to $5,000. Factors such as system size, installation requirements, and additional features can further influence the overall price.
Salt-based water softeners are the superior option when it comes to removing hard minerals from your water supply. They effectively remove magnesium and calcium which can cause a build-up of limescale. However, their effectiveness means that salt-based systems require regular maintenance in order to continue functioning properly, which adds an extra cost to the system. Salt-free water softeners, on the other hand, are much easier to use and require no additional maintenance costs. They utilize a physical matrix or chemical reaction process that alters the hardness components of the water without introducing sodium into the equation; this makes them ideal for those who have both limited budgets and environmental concerns. The downside is that salt-free systems may not be as effective at reducing hard minerals as their salt-based counterparts; however, they tend to be more affordable overall.
Can I buy a whole home water filtration system that will also soften well water?
Absolutely, you can purchase a whole home water filtration system that also includes a water softener to treat well water. When you are using well water, it is not uncommon to encounter a variety of issues such as hardness, iron, manganese, and sometimes a presence of harmful contaminants such as bacteria. Here are the steps you might take to find a system that suits your needs:
- Water Analysis: Firstly, get a detailed water analysis to understand what contaminants and minerals are present in your well water. The analysis will guide you in choosing the appropriate filtration and softening system.
- System Components: Based on the analysis, choose a system that combines the necessary components, which might include:
- Water Softener: To remove hardness causing minerals like calcium and magnesium.
- Sediment Filter: To remove particulates, sand, and sediment.
- Iron Filter: To remove iron and manganese, if present in high amounts.
- UV Purification: To remove bacteria and other microorganisms, if necessary.
- Activated Carbon Filter: To remove chlorine, chloramines, and organic compounds, improving taste and odor.
- Customization: Many companies offer customizable systems where you can choose different components based on your needs. You may need to consult with a water treatment professional to tailor a system for your specific water conditions.
- Installation: Whole home water filtration systems should be installed by professionals to ensure that they function properly and comply with any local plumbing codes.
- Maintenance: Consider the maintenance requirements of the system. Some components like filters and UV lamps have to be replaced periodically.
- Brands and Retailers: When shopping for a system, look for reputable brands and retailers who specialize in water treatment systems. You might consider brands like Pelican, Culligan, or Aquasana, among others.
- Budget: Keep in mind your budget as these systems can range significantly in price depending on their complexity and the components included.
- Reviews and Ratings: Before purchasing, read reviews and check ratings to get a sense of the performance and reliability of the system you’re considering.
Remember to always consult with a professional to make the best choice for your specific circumstances. Also, here’s a link to an article to help you choose the best water filtration system for home.
Are water softeners and water purification systems the same thing?
No, water softeners and water purification systems are not the same thing, though they can sometimes be components within a larger water treatment system. Let’s discuss both in more detail:
- Function: Their primary function is to remove hardness causing minerals from water, mainly calcium and magnesium.
- Process: They generally use a process called ion exchange to replace hardness minerals with sodium or potassium ions.
- Benefits: The benefits of using a water softener include preventing scale build-up in pipes and appliances, improving the effectiveness of soaps and detergents, and preventing spots on dishes and fixtures.
- Limitations: They do not remove other contaminants like bacteria, viruses, chlorine, or organic chemicals.
Water Purification Systems
- Function: These systems are designed to remove a broader range of contaminants from water, which can include bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and particulates.
- Process: Depending on the type of system, it may use processes such as filtration (through carbon or sediment filters), reverse osmosis, UV purification, or distillation to purify water.
- Benefits: They can provide safer, cleaner, and better-tasting water by removing harmful contaminants and improving the aesthetic qualities of water.
- Components: They may incorporate a variety of components, including sediment filters, activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis membranes, and UV purifiers to treat different types of contaminants.
In many home water treatment setups, you might find a combination of both a water softener and a water purification system to both soften the water and remove other contaminants. This provides comprehensive water treatment that addresses a wide range of water quality issues.
In summary, water softeners are a type of water treatment system focused on addressing water hardness, while water purification systems are more comprehensive solutions aimed at improving the overall safety and quality of water. They can be used separately or together, depending on the specific water quality issues in a given location.