The 10 Best Whole House Water Softeners
This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in April of 2020. Hard water is a term that refers to the amount of mineral deposits, usually calcium and magnesium, water contains. These microscopic elements cause limescale buildup on hard surfaces, and are responsible for many skin irritations. A good-quality softener will remove these particles and protect your appliances. Some models include a filtration process, which also makes the water safe to drink. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 16, 2020:
Municipal water supplies, in general, contain a large number of minerals that render it 'hard'. Although these elements themselves are not harmful to humans, in fact, quite the opposite in some cases, they do cause problems for our plumbing systems, due to limescale build-up on faucets and shower doors, and within pipes and appliances. Thankfully there are several types of systems that can solve this problem, each with their own individual benefits and drawbacks.
The most popular are salt-based, often called Ion Exchange softeners. The ones ranked here are the Ecopure EPHS007, the Fleck 5600SXT, the US Water Systems Flexx Pro, and the Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series. These use a tank that contains a resin, made up of a large number of tiny ionic beads. As the water flows through, it acts as a magnetic sponge, causing calcium, magnesium, and other contaminants to be pulled away. Periodical cleaning, called backwashing, must be carried out using saltwater. Most kits come with the necessary equipment for this, and have automated systems to ensure it is done in a timely manner. These are better suited to large properties with many occupants, however, they do take up a lot of space and are quite complex to install and set up.
Non-salt water options, such as the Watts Premier OneFlow, the Hardless NG Lotus, and the Nuvo H2O, don't actually remove anything from the supply; rather they modify the minerals in such a way as to prevent them from bonding with each other or to surfaces. This has the added benefit of keeping beneficial mineral content in the water. These do require regular cartridge changes, but they are much easier to install and take up less space.
By far the cheapest and most simple solution is a magnetic descaler, such as the Yarna Capacitive Electronic, or the iSpring ED2000. These electronic devices are best installed when there is little or no room for another option. They can be installed in minutes and no pipes will need to be cut, however, they do require a permanent power supply, also they are less effective than salt-based softeners and more suited to smaller households.