Make it a great day by contacting WM Buffington

Your local, trusted service company in Central Pennsylvania since 1952

Everything You Need to Know About Installing a Home Water Softener

A water softener is a whole-home water filtration system that removes calcium, magnesium, and other metal cations from your home’s water supply. The significant benefits of filtering hard water have led thousands of households around the U.S. to switch to this wonderful technology every year. 

However, choosing the right water softener may be more complex than you think, with several key factors you ought to consider before investing in this home upgrade. But first and foremost, let’s cover what water softeners are, how they work, and why you might consider getting one. From the experts at WM Buffington, here’s everything you need to know about installing a home water softener. 

Benefits of a Water Softener

The majority of benefits associated with water softeners are due to the relative harmfulness of hard water that a softener helps to eliminate. In essence, hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals, whereas soft water has little to no mineral content. This leads to several distinct differences. 

Hard water: 

  • Can damage water pipes, appliances, and heating systems
  • Makes cleaning more difficult
  • Causes problems for individuals with skin conditions such as eczema
  • Roughens clothes after being washed
  • Can affect the taste of water

On the other hand, soft water: 

  • Saves money 
  • Reduces the amount of soap, detergent, and shampoo you need to use
  • Helps keep your skin from getting too dry (benefits hair and skin)
  • Reduces the amount of lime scale and other mineral build-up in water

To learn more about the differences between hard water and soft water, consider reading our deep dive article comparing the two

Types of Water Softeners

There are four basic types of water softeners to decide between, each having its advantages and disadvantages. 

Salt-Based Water Softeners

Salt-based water softeners are the most common form of water softener installed throughout the U.S. - they are also referred to as ion exchange water softeners. These softeners work by drawing in minerals found in a water supply (such as magnesium and calcium) and then exchanging them with sodium ions. Sodium is indeed added to the water, but this should not be a cause for concern. The levels of sodium are not noticeable and the U.S. EPA considers sodium in drinking water to be an unlikely cause of adverse health effects.  

These water softeners can be integrated as a whole-home system and come with a variety of different options to choose from (budget, high-end, different sizes). They can even be upgraded with a dual-tank option allowing more effective softening for homes with high water usage or harder than normal water. They also last up to 15 years with good maintenance! On the other hand, they do need regular maintenance, including regular changing of the resin that enables the ion exchange. 

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Instead of using an ion exchange process like the above softener, salt-free water softeners use a template-assisted crystallization (TAC) system. The TAC system helps eliminate minerals by passing the water supply through polymeric beads - the minerals are neutralized and then allowed to pass through the water supply without any buildup or scaling. Minerals are technically still present, but they are unable to build up and cause any damage to pipes or appliances. 

The advantages to salt-free water softeners are mainly that they don’t use any salt and they require less overall maintenance. They are, therefore, a more environmentally friendly option.  The downside, however, is that they tend to be more expensive and do not work as well with water that is very mineral-dense or with homes with high amounts of water use. 

Magnetic Water Softeners

Magnetic water softeners should be viewed as a system that helps prevent scale build-up rather than a true water softener. By removing positive and negative ions from your hard water’s minerals, effectively neutralizing them, the minerals can no longer bind to each other or other objects and thus prevent the build-up or scaling of your pipes and appliances. 

The benefits of a magnetic water softener are that it is small, easy to install, and more affordable than salt-free softeners. The downside is that it doesn’t actually remove minerals from the water, just like the salt-free softeners. 

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis systems are used for water treatment more broadly. They remove all contaminants for the safest possible drinking water, including reducing total dissolved solids and up to 99% of impurities found in water. These systems are not technically water softeners, and they can be an over-the-top solution - while they are incredibly effective, they are also much more expensive and require more space. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Home Water Softeners 

How are water softeners installed? 

Water softener installation is a straightforward process - it is quick and easy when completed by a professional plumber, but the time of installation can vary depending on the type of system being installed. 

The water softener is installed at the main water supply; usually under the kitchen sink, and is plumbed into the pipes there. The process requires the water supply to be switched off, all pipes drained, a designated area made to fit the system, and the discharger, inlet, and outlet hoses to be connected via the softener and the house water system. 

How are water softeners maintained? 

The main things that need to be completed in order to properly maintain your water softener are: 

  • Regularly check salt levels
  • Regenerate the water softener regularly
  • Clean the brine tank
  • Flush the softener regularly 

Which is the best water softener for me? 

The most effective water softeners are salt-based, but if you don’t want salt added to your water supply then your next best options are salt-free and magnetic softeners. However, if you want the most comprehensive water treatment system possible, reverse osmosis systems will ensure the highest quality drinking water. 

Whis water softener system is best for homes with a big family? 

Dual-tank systems are the best water softener for big homes with high water usage. These systems not only allow for effective access to softened water, but they can also more effectively treat water that is harder than normal (high amounts of minerals). 

DIY or Professional Water Softener Installation? 

Water softeners can be installed on a DIY basis, but it requires having the right tools as well as experience in plumbing and with water softeners more specifically. Because the job often means cutting into existing pipes and making significant adjustments to a home’s water system, it’s usually best to let a professional handle the water softener installation so that it is completed efficiently, accurately, and to the highest professional standards. 

Contact WM Buffington For Water Softner Installation in Harrisburg

Are you ready to have the best quality water in your home? Or, do you have a few more questions before getting started? At WM Buffington, we have extensive experience in water softener installation, and have working in the Central Pennsylvania region since 1952. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Areas We Serve

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram