How To Choose A Water Softener

We often heard home owners asking on how to choose a water softener for their home as the selections are overwhelmed. There are so many types, functionalities and brands of water softener in America. Contradicting information on the same type of softener are often seen online which made selections even harder.


To simplified the selection process, we have summarized the important elements that you need to consider while choosing your first water softener.

Facts That You Need To Know About Softener

Some basic facts that you need to know about how water softener works.

  • It is not water purification system unless stated otherwise. Most whole house water softeners are standalone products and do not remove contamination.
  • Salt-based and salt free softener in the market. Salt-based softener required constant refilling of salt and it required electricity to power up the softener system. Salt-free softener converts the hard water into crystal particles that isn’t sticky to the surface. It doesn’t require electricity and constant salt refilling.

Why Are You Getting A Water Softener?

The most common answer is getting clean and soft water. What is the real problem that you faced that forced you on getting a water softener? That’s the reason that I’m looking for.

Generally, it can be categorized into 3 different water softeners. It is all depending on your use case and the problems that you faced.

Shower Head Softener

This particular softener has been a star in the market because a lot of people are facing various problems when showering hard water. You probably will not notice the cause until you changed all the shampoo and body wash but the problem still persists.

Aquasana AQ4100 shower head

You should be using this if :

  • Dry skin that causes skin irritation such as eczema.
  • Hair scalp problem.
  • Wire-like and tangle hair.

Dry skins are due to the hard water clogged on pores and trap the dirts on your skin. While hair problems are due to the scale that was form in hard water which makes your hair feel greasy when it is wet and dull, tangle when it is dry.

Price: Less than $50.

Installation: Easy. Most of the problem are screw on to the existing shower head.

Maintenance: 6 months to a year depending on product and water usage.

Summary: If you have limited funds, you can start off with a $25 shower head softener to ease the problem that you face while showering and invest in other systems when you have a bigger budget.

Drinking Water Softener

There are actually no specific drinking water softeners in the market. However, most of the drinking water filtration system will reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium to make the water less hard. In other words, you can have purification and softener in just one machine.

Drinking Water Softener

You should be using this if :

  • Bad smell and taste of your drinking water.
  • Chlorine smell is strong.
  • Heavy material contamination such as lead and mercury exists in your community

These type of water softener or purifier will significantly reduce the amount of contamination up to 97% and makes it more drinkable. Water is relatively important in our body as it made up of 65% of it. Drinking clean water can prevent viruses or bacteria entering our body.

Price: In the range of $50-$300. (You can get a pretty good ones around $150.)

Installation: Moderate.

Maintenance: 6 months to a year depending on product and usage of water.

Summary: If you have a couple hundred to spare, you can go for the drinking water systems where provides clean water to your body.

Whole House Water Softener

Undoubtedly, this water softener will be installed at the main inlet of the pipe that supplies water to the house. It normally looks like a blue fire extinguisher sitting at the side of the garage. It is normally the most expensive among all 3 categories as it supplies soft water to the whole house.

Whole House Water Softener

You should be using this if:

  • Laundry problems due to hard water.
  • Low water pressure on showering due to serious clogged pipes.
  • Serious white spots on dishes cleaning.

The water softener will reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water that comes into your house. It will protect your household appliances, laundry and water pipes to avoid early replacement.

Price: In the range of $500 – $1000. (Mostly excluding water purification systems)

Installation: Moderate to Hard. It might required plumbing assistance.

Maintenance: Zero (Salt-Free Softeners), No frequent maintenance is required for salt-free softeners. Probably is just once a year for filter replacement

Summary: If you have some amount of budget to invest in providing a good water condition to your family, go for the whole house water softener. It will save you money in the long run in reducing the cost of repair and replacement of your home appliances.

What’s Your Choice?

I will definitely go for the whole house water softener. Check out our water softener review article to find out which system do we recommend.