Even though most people don’t realize it, nearly every home has a hard water problem. If you’re here, that means you’re probably facing the same challenge.
Luckily, you can easily overcome this by installing a water softener. By doing this, you will not only be maximizing your municipal water but also end all those problems of stained dishes and laundry, and ashy skin caused by hard water.
In this article, we are going to be reviewing the best home water softener for the money. But it’s not only the finest products you will get; we’ve also provided a buying guide to help you identify the right unit to meet the needs of your home.
Editor’s Picks: Top 3 Best Whole House Water Softener for Well Water
What to Look for Before Buying a Whole House Water Softener for Well Water
All water softeners are not the same, and since you will be spending a good sum of money to purchase one, it’s important to get it right.
Below are the key things you should consider when shopping for the best home water softener for your home.
Top on the list of important considerations is the softener’s grain capacity. Grain capacity is simply a measure of how much hardness grains the softener can remove before it needs to undergo regeneration.
Choosing a suitable grain capacity largely depends on the model and your family size. Some softeners come with a low grain capacity such as 40,000 or even lesser, while others offer as high as 300,000 or more.
Though a large grain capacity is desirable, it might not be necessary if the softener won’t be processing a lot of hard water. But purchasing such a unit means regeneration will be less frequent, so you don’t have to worry about adding salt every time just to keep the system running.
Water softeners generally fall into two categories – those that use salt and those that use resins.
- Salt Based Softeners
The salt-based models use a salt-water solution for the softening process. This is why users are required to add salt to the unit during regeneration.
- Resin Based Softeners
On the other hand, there are also salt-free systems that don’t require you to add salt from time to time; instead, they employ other solutions to carry out the same function.
Another important thing you need to look out for when purchasing a softener or a filter is the water flow rate, which is often expressed in gallons per minute (GPM).
You should choose a softener with a flow rate that can adequately meet the needs of your household. So before making your final decision, consider how many people you have in the house or the number of showers or faucets you will be using.
A low flow rate will be OK if you’re leaving alone or with someone. But for a large household where you’re most likely to have multiple showers or faucets running simultaneously, a high flow rate is non-negotiable.
Operating Temperature and Pressure
Most softeners have operating temperature and pressure range where they are effective. If you live in a place where the temperature or pressure is outside this range, then the water softener is most likely not going to work.
So make sure the pluming pressure and surrounding temperature in your home match with that of the softener before making a purchase, or else you will end up wasting your money. It is also worth noting that there are techniques available to increase well water pressure yourself so that is something you can consider as well.
Top 5 Best Whole House Water Softener for Well Water Reviews
After a lot of research, we’ve finally come up with a list of the best home water softener in the market.
Without wasting any more time, let’s delve straight in.
1. Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener
Salt-based water softeners are without doubts the most preferred choice for softening water in homes and residents. This is why we are going to commence this list with an MVP in the world of soft-based softeners – the Fleck 5600 SXT Digital On-Demand Water Softener.
Made in the US, the Fleck 5600SXT is a great choice for handling medium to very hard water in households. It has a flow rate of 12GPM, which makes it ideal for homes with no more than six occupants.
Top on the list of the reasons why many people love this unit is its user-friendliness. As the name suggests, it features a digital display, which makes it super easy to operate. Even if it’s your first time using a water softener in your home, you will find it intuitive and easy to use.
It is also noteworthy to mention that regeneration is automatic with this unit, so less maintenance is required. In fact, the only maintenance you will ever need to do is check the salt level. And this can be done once a month.
Furthermore, the system also features a digital display which makes it easy to operate. The grain capacity is 48000, while salt capacity is 250 pounds. So the system should be able to run up to six months before replacement.
Installation is easy, and you can do it provided you have some basic pluming experience.
- Easy installation
- Suitable for large households
- NSF certified
- Reliable customer service
- Some parts are plastic
2. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter is a salt-free water softener you can add to your supply line to start enjoying clear and crisp water in your home.
Like most modern softeners, the system helps to crystalize the grains in hard water so they can flow freely through your pipes without damaging them.
The system employs a highly efficient filter media that utilizes Scale Control media Salt-free technology to reduce contaminants in your water supply without taking out important minerals as many reverse osmosis systems do. It removes chlorine as well as other harmful chemicals such as mercury, VOCs, pesticides, and so on.
In other words, the system acts both as a softener and a filter. Therefore, the whole reverse osmosis vs water softener dilemma is one that you wouldn’t worry about if you purchase this product.
However, it’s important to note that this unit does not take care of total dissolved solids (TDS). As a result, filter change may be frequent (usually every six months) depending on the quality of your water supply. Since it has a huge capacity, it is also able to meet the needs of large homes.
This system provides a flow rate of 7GPM, which makes it suitable for small to medium-sized households (ideally three to four persons). The flow rate is enough to support two showers, one faucet, and one appliance at the same time.
The softener also prides itself on being very cost-effective. You can save twice as much with it compared to other models.
- Clean, Great Tasting Water From Every Tap In Your Home - Removes 97% of chlorine and reduces harmful contaminants like lead, mercury, herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, and more
- High-Performance Filter System - Carbon & KDF filtration media engineered to maximize contaminant reduction while leaving healthy minerals in your water; This system will NOT reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- Easy to maintain
- Added filtration system
3. Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener
Capability to digitally track its metrics goes a long way for any product and water softeners are no different. Though not common, some brands do provide a digital meter controls in their water softeners. One such brand is Pentair that provides such a feature in their WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener.
Similar to most popular water softeners, Pentair’s WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener is equipped with the Fleck 5600sxt valve which makes it quite durable and accurate. Adding to that, it also has a 10% Cross linked resin that further increases its life.
This product is incredible when it comes to efficiency due to its 1.5 ft.³ high capacity resin. For treating hard water, it uses the process of ion exchange. This allows it to almost completely remove calcium and magnesium ions from water.
Alongside the latest 5600sxt digital metered control head, you get the latest SXT controller for rapid performance. In terms of the valve itself, the company provides up to 5 years of warranty though claiming that it can last up to 27 years without fail. Speaking of warranty, you also get a 10 year warranty on the poly-glass tank that comes with this product.
In terms of installation, this water softener is very easy to install as the company also provides a guided flash drive that consists of all the steps the user needs to take to set the product up. Since the product is also light in weight, you can DIY the whole installation process without any problems.
- Fleck 5600Sxt digital metered control head
- 1.5 cu. Ft. Upgraded 10 percent crosslink resin
- Easy to install
- Equipped with the latest technology
- Comes with free water testing kit
- Brand not the most reliable
4. Iron Pro 2 Combination 64,000 Grain Water Softener
Though most households shall suffice with a 30,000-45,000 grain water softener, certain users have larger requirements. If you are someone who falls under the same category, the Iron Pro 2 Combination 64,000 Grain Water Softener is just the product for you.
Going purely by the gigantic figure above, one can safely assume that this water softener takes care of all of your house’s water supply completely. But that’s not all, this product is not only a water softener but also an iron filter. This goes a long way as you get double the filtration benefits as compared to competitive products.
In terms of design, it comes with a fine mesh resign for precise contaminant removal and long life. Adding to that, you also get the popularly used Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve for efficiency and ease of use. Similar to Pentair’s water softener, this product is also equipped with the latest SXT controller.
Being a heavy duty water softener, you can expect this product to completely get rid of a variety of contaminants from your water. Some of these contaminants include manganese, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, etc. It also deals with scale formation and rust on your items by dealing with iron and hard water.
Despite being quite bulky, this product comes with DIY instructions that allow even novice users to install it very easily. With at least 5 years on each equipment, the warranty department is also quite commendable here.
- Tank color may vary depending on stock. Water softener, iron filter, all in one! high flow for whole house use!
- 64,000 grain capacity, fine mesh resin designed for high iron removal & long life
- Takes care of the whole house
- Equipped with the latest technology
- Easy to install
- Iron filtration also available
- A little expensive
5. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener
If you don’t like the idea of a salt-based softener, the Whirlpool WHES30E will make a great alternative.
The Whirlpool WHES30 Softener is specifically designed to cater to the needs of small to medium households, ideally 1 to 5 people or even more depending on your water demand.
It is NSF certified so that you can rely on its quality and safety for home use. By installing the unit, you can expect a significant reduction in hard water symptoms.
While most traditional water softeners utilize a control head and a cylindrical tank, this one has a completely different design. However, it still offers the same basic functionality, which is reducing hardness in water. But in addition, it also removes iron and keeps your appliances running for a longer time.
One of the major perks of this unit is its ability to automatically compute the exact amount of water and salt it needs for regeneration. This prevents wastage and helps you to save a significant amount of salt and water in the long run.
However, we must let you know that this is a pretty large unit. It is far from compact, so that it will require a considerable amount of space for storage.
But overall, this is an impressive water softener that promises to deliver.
- Whirlpool WHES30E is ideal for households of 1-4+ 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
- Great quality
- Easy to install
- Long lasting
- Reduces wastage
- Very bulky
6. ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt 48,000 Black WATER SOFTENER
Here’s another home water softener that relies on a Fleck 5600sxt digital valve. The ABCwaters softener is guaranteed to last longer than most conventional water softening systems out there.
The softener is provided with mineral and brine tanks and offers a grain capacity of 48,000 with a flow rate of 12 GPM. This makes it a good choice for small family households made up of two to five individuals. If you need something higher or you have a larger home, then you might want to check out other models on the list.
Moreover, the Fleck 5600sxt digital valve is not the only attractive thing about this unit. In fact, the system uses a 10 percent cross-linked resin for its softening process instead of the standard 8 percent resin used in many models. This is what is responsible for its long life span.
As expected, this system is eco-friendly. The parts are made from high-grade materials, which ensure lower power consumption. More so, it doesn’t use as much salt as many similar models; this makes it a more viable option for the environment.
In addition, the unit is pretty easy to use. You can program it using the push buttons from the electronic powerhead. Installation is easy, especially if you have some pluming experience.
- Complete package Overview - Complete turn-key Package that combines a whole house water softener & upflow Carbon filtration system. Our Package also includes value-added items such as our installation kit, install guides that are easy to follow and technical support to simplify your experience. We believe this is Package provides the most value when compared to the market
- Water softener Overview - Complete whole house system. Controlled by the popular fleck 5600sxt Digital valve meter. 48, 000 grain high capacity softening system uses an upgraded 10% cross-linked resin (ABC10). Best quality in the Industry. Recommended service flow up to 12 GPM (household sizes of 2-5 people). fleck valve includes 5 year warranty
- Good quality
- Simple to install
- WQA certified
- Reliable customer support
- Very bulky
7. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener
Last on the list of our best home water softeners is another Fleck unit from AFW Filters. Like the previous model, the AFW is made in the US, so you can rest assured you’re getting a quality product.
This unit is one of our favorites because it offers everything you can expect in a modern water softener. It uses the popular Fleck meter, which puts it in the league of highly efficient water softeners.
But don’t just take our word for it; this is actually one of the highest-rated models in the market. A quick search online will convince you.
Like most high-end models, the system uses a highly efficient digital valve to ensure regeneration is less frequent, and you save salt and water.
With this unit, you get 12 GPM flow rate and up to 28 GPM at temperature peak limit, which makes it perfect for softening medium to very hard water in large homes with 4 to 6 people.
The provision of a brine tank also makes it easier to install. A detailed instruction manual is provided with the system to guide you through the installation process. You should be able to install the unit if you have any previous pluming experience. Once installed, just add salt to start enjoying soft water in your home.
- Reliable quality
- Easy to install
- Highly efficient
- Reasonable price
- No instructions on how to program the system
How to Install Your Home Water Softener?
Water softeners are not exactly the easiest systems to install, but they are also not the hardest. If you’re going to successfully set one up, then you need to have some previous pluming experience, or else you might consider hiring a professional to do the job for you.
While the guide below represents the general steps for installing most softeners, we still advise you to look up your manual to draw the parallels.
That being said, here are the necessary steps to take in order to install a water softener:
- Shut off your main water supply
- Next, locate a suitable section of the pipe where you want to install the water softener.
- Then cut the pipe at this point.
- Next, install three valves to the pipe connection – one valve to stop water from flowing into the softener, one valve to stop water from leaving the system, and one valve for bypass control.
- Next, make the following connections – resin tank to drain tank, drain line to the drain elbow, discharge pipe to wastewater drain.
- Tighten all the connections to avoid any leakage.
We still advise you to check your manual for specific instructions on the particular softener.
Criteria For Hard Water
Going by how the word is spreading, hard water seems to be causing collateral damage on people who use it. Well, it’s true to some extent but that’s a discussion for another day. For now, we will tell you about the two things that actually makes hard water hard.
Parts Per Million (PPM)
Commonly mentioned in Chemistry classes, parts per million is defined as having 1 milligrams of contaminant or any exclusive mineral in 1 liter of water sample. When it comes to measuring hardness of water, we use PPM to determine how hard a water sample is.
If a water sample has 0-60 PPM, it is declared to be soft. However, if it exceeds that figure and falls in the range of 61-120, then we can call it moderately hard. A 121-180 PPM sample is when things start to get serious as your water is then considered hard. When a water sample exceeds 180 PPM then it is extremely hard and you are likely to face scale formation quite often.
Grains Per Gallon (GPG)
Just like parts per million (PPM), grains per gallon is another way of testing hardness of water. However, unlike the former, we don’t consider a liter as our sample of water. Instead, we measure the number of grains (about 64.8 mg) in one gallon of water sample. This technique is commonly used in the United States since they don’t follow the metric system.
While testing for GPG, a water sample with 0-3.50 figures is considered to be soft and safe to use. But when it reaches a range of 3.56-7.01, we can start calling it moderately hard. A GPG range of 7.06-10.51 is considered to be a sample of pure hard water. Finally, if a sample of water exceeds 10.57 GPG, it falls under the extremely hard range and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
How To Test If Your Water Is Hard?
Though it is quite likely that your water is hard to some extent, properly testing a sample will help you a lot. This will allow you to buy a filtration system that actually suits the water you receive normally. Additionally, you will also be saving money in the long run this way.
Testing for hard water is very easy to do. In fact, it is so easy, you can perform the test yourself. All you will need is a water testing kit/strip. Now, once you have access to one, you just need to take a sample of water in a small container and dip the strip into it. Depending on the color the strip changes to, you can determine the hardness level of your water using a hardness chart that you need to ask for while purchasing the strip.
If you can’t access a testing strip, you can also get a rough estimate using liquid soap. Here, you need to take water in a small container again but instead of dipping a testing kit, you have to pour liquid soap into the sample of water. The more drops of soap it requires to form soap suds, the harder your water is.
In case you are looking for detailed analysis, you can also purchase a professional testing kit or actually ask for professional to test your water for you.
How Does Home Water Softener Work?
If you know how magnets work, then you won’t have a hard time understanding how water softeners work.
Water softeners basically function in similar way magnets work. We all know magnets have two ends or poles – negative and positive. Now, what happens when you try to bring two magnets together?
Obviously, when you have the same sides close together (e.g. positive and positive), they repel each other. And when you have different sides close together (e.g. positive and negative), they attract each other.
A generic water heater basically applies the same mechanism.
Hard water passes through the filter of the softener. The positively charged minerals (ions) in the water get attached to the negatively charged resin beads in the filter.
As a result, the water that flows out of the unit is soft and free of the minerals causing hardness.
The Benefits of Water Softening Systems in Our Daily Life
Like most household appliances, water softeners offer a good number of benefits. Here are some of the reasons why soft water is better than hard water:
Hard water is often loaded with a lot of mineral ions that can potentially damage your pipes when they build up. Softening helps to remove these minerals, thus helping to prevent costly repairs in the future.
Buildups increase the pressure in pipes and, consequently, the energy used by the softener.
Apart from your plumbing, buildups can also create problems in your appliances, prompting you to replace them with new ones.
One of these problems is leakage. However, when you install a softener, this can be prevented.
Mineral accumulation can also lead to foul smell in your sinks, faucets, and heater. You can prevent all these by installing a reliable water softener.
Prevent Skin Irritations
If you’ve been using hard water for bathing and have not been happy with the way your skin looks, then you should consider making the transition to soft water.
Though not a general problem, hard water can have devastating effects on the skin and hair, leading to dryness and various irritations. However, you might not like the sensation it brings, as it can be somewhat slippery.
Cleaner Laundry and Silverware
Stains and soap scum are some of the common problems that arise when you wash with hard water. You can reduce this by using soft water instead. Apart from removing stains, washing with soft water can also soften your fabric and make your silverware and glassware spotless.
How To Maintain A Water Softener?
Most brands claim that their water softeners can last for decades. Though this is true in some cases, you can’t possibly expect it if you don’t do your part as a good owner. But don’t worry, there’s not much. All you need to do is follow these steps:
Check The Brine Tank Occasionally
Your water softener’s brine tank is by far its most important equipment. It contains all the brine solution that is used in the regeneration of resin beds in water treatment equipment. Without it, you cannot expect your softener to operate properly. Therefore, you must make sure that you are checking the salt levels of your brine tank once a month.
Your brine tank must be half full of salt at all times and at about 3 inch above water level. If at any time you notice that this is not the configuration you are witnessing in your tank, you are probably facing the problem of salt bridges. Here, a collection of salt overshadows the water present in the tank. To fix this, you just have to pour some hot water into the tank and stir it with a stick until the salt evens out.
Clean The Brine Tank
While most water softeners should last for numerous years using the troubleshooting method above, some products may require you to clean the brine tank completely after a year or so. For doing so, you must follow the steps below:
- As you can probably presume, the first step you need to perform for cleaning the brine tank is to remove everything that resides inside it. Now, the proper way to do so is by using the bypass valve to shut down water intake then removing water and salt from the tank altogether.
- Once the tank is empty, wash it use lukewarm water and a generous amount of soap. After applying the soap throughout, rinse it off using a hose.
- Now, you need to pour about a gallon of water and about 50 ml of bleach into the tank and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- After waiting for 15 minutes, you can rinse this solution as well using a hose.
- Finally, you can add the required amount of salt and let it dissolve in water before you use your water softener again.
Use compatible salt only
Every brine solution requires some kind of salt to soften water. However, that does not mean that any kind of salt can be used to make a brine solution work. But don’t worry as each water softener brand provides the exact type of salt that is to be used in its softener’s brine solution in the user manual. So, you can use it to take reference.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Why is a home water softener so expensive?
This can be linked to the value they provide, coupled with the fact that the parts are expensive. Also, you can get a lot of tax credit on such products.
Q. How healthy is a home water softener?
Soft water works for most people. However, if you have high blood pressure or other salt-sensitive conditions, due to the added salt, consider checking with a doctor before consuming it.
Q. How to choose a Water Softener?
In order to determine the right water softener for you, first, check the hardness of your water supply. You can use a test kit for this purpose or call your local utility company. An independent laboratory is another place you can go to have your water analyzed.
Q. Why do I need a Digital Water Softener?
It is much easier to control temperature and pressure in a digital water softener. This increases efficiency and saves you money.
Q. How long does it take for a softener to regenerate?
This depends on the particular model, whether it’s a salt-based system or a salt-free system. In some softeners, regeneration might last for only a few minutes, while in others, it might take a few hours. You can check your product manual for specific information on this.
Q. Is it safe to drink water from a water softener?
Since water softeners use salt to deal with hard water, the outcome is a water sample that contains a high amount of sodium (depending on the initial hardness level of water).
But even at its worst state, you need not worry about the safety of drinking softened water unless of course you are following a low-sodium diet. In that case, you could use potassium chloride instead of salt in your brine solution. But do make sure you contact your softener’s manufacturer before doing so.
Q. What happens if water softener runs out of salt?
Salt is a crucial element for water softeners. It is responsible for the ion exchange process that takes place in hard water to soften it. Without it, there won’t be any brine to regenerate the resin making the water softener to stop operating. But this problem is easy to fix. All you have to do is to just add salt back in again.
Q. How long does it take to get soft water after installing a water softener?
There is no exact time frame for this as each water softener operates differently. However, you should expect hard water to be treated completely in about 2 weeks after installing your softener.
Q. How often should a water softener run?
Again, this is tough to give an exact number to as each water softener is different. Some require daily regeneration while others weekly or even fortnightly. Ideally, you might want to go through the user manual for this or contact your manufacturer.
A Final Word
Installing a reliable water softener is your only chance to get rid of hardness in your water supply effectively. And there’s a lot you stand to gain from doing so – healthy skin, shiny dishes, clean fabric and so on. No longer will you have to do those costly repairs on your pipes or appliances.
But getting all these benefits highly depends on your ability to purchase the right unit. Hopefully, with our best home water softener reviews, your job is so much easier.
On an ending note, we personally recommend you to buy:
High grain capacity, 12 GPM, NSF certified and an advanced Fleck 5600sxt on-demand metered control unit. This water softener has it all. Highly recommended for large households.
We will gladly provide answers to any other questions you may have about choosing the right water softener. Drop something in the comment section!
Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. BambooBottleCo is user-supported. We might receive a commission on any purchase you make through clicking links on this story.