Do you want to make your water-based appliances more durable? A water softener will do just that! It will also provide clean and soft water for your family and improve the overall flow.
It can be frustrating to deal with hard water in your homes. Not only does it affect your skin by making it sensitive, but it also strips down natural oils from your hair. Over time, your skin becomes dry and clogged, leading to even bigger problems like acne and eczema.
Water pipes and water-dependent machines start rusting and get lined with soap residue due to the minerals in hard water. They lose their efficiency and start consuming more energy.
So why not invest in the best water softener? This review of Consumer Reports will help you make an informed decision.
Click to jump straight to each topic
- The 5 Best Water Softeners for 2021 – Reviews by Consumer Reports
- 1. Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series – Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid
- 2. AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener
- 3. Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener (48,000 Grains)
- 4. Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener
- 5. AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener
- How Does a Water Softener Work
- How to Size a Water Softener
- How to Install a Water Softener
The 5 Best Water Softeners for 2021 – Reviews by Consumer Reports
Let’s take a look at the five best water softeners for your house.
1. Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series – Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid
Whirlpool has been a household name in the US since 1911. It is continuously innovating and creating solutions to provide you and your family with the best quality water.
Their water softener technology aligns with their mission statement: Constant pursuit of improving life at home.
Whirlpool uses a one-tank system to remove hard water minerals and harmful contaminants for families having five members. Most of the other systems require two tanks to achieve the same quality, which can be expensive.
The Whirlpool water softener system operates at 31,000-grain capacity. It can remove 120 grains of hardness per gallon. Additionally, the rate of iron removal is three ppm, which prevents reddish-brown stains on drains and appliances.
The system also removes chlorine taste and bad odor from the water by filtering out sediments.
The WHESFC uses demand-based technology. It adjusts the use of salt by accessing the daily requirement of water in your household. This smart innovation aids in an overall decrease in salt costs.
Older models did not use this technology and regenerated water on a set capacity every day, leading to inefficient water and salt use.
Once you install the Whirlpool home filter hybrid, you never need to worry about replacing the filter. This is because it cleans the filter when required.
- No need to replace filters
- Reduces scale from other water-based devices
- 10-year warranty
- Professional assistance required to set up
2. AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener
This AFWFilters water softener is one of the best-selling products by Flecks.
It is a digital metered product that features smart regeneration. In simple terms, it saves salt and water.
The water softener device is easy to set-up and can be done easily without professional help.
It uses an innovative ion exchange process to remove harmful minerals from the water. By removing calcium and magnesium, you get clean, soft water ideal for consumption.
Most water appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and heating devices suffer from scale buildup. This reduces their lifespan and demands constant repairs.
AFWFilters features a unique system that gets rid of issues due to hard water buildup. This ensures an improved performance of other devices.
The Flecks uses highly efficient and long-lasting resin in all of its water softening machines.
It can hold up to 250 lbs of salt in its gigantic square brine tank 14″ x 14″ x 34″. It also features a unique overflow drain that helps reduce water mess in case of an overflow.
Once you purchase your Flex 5600 digital metered softening device, you will not need to worry about water spilling over as it is equipped with a safety valve.
You will not need professional help to install this machine. If you have a basic idea of plumbing, you can complete the installation within two hours.
- Easy to set-up
- Overflow drain prevents spills
- Best after-sales service
- Safety valves
3. Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener (48,000 Grains)
The Aquasure Harmony water softener’s unique design will help you save hundreds of gallons of water.
The installation is as easy as it can be, nothing you cannot do with your partner’s help. All you need is basic plumbing knowledge and a few hours to spare. You will be surprised at the water quality!
Let’s see what features make it ideal for your household and how you will benefit from it. It works by eliminating hard water from your home, thus reducing scale buildup.
Aquasure Harmony series water softener ensures pristine water in every facet of your home.
Softened water will bring about a positive impact on the overall skin health of your family. This is because minerals like magnesium and iron present in untreated water can clog up your pores and irritate sensitive skin.
Aquasure Harmony Series water softener comes with rust-resistant fiberglass lined polyethylene tank and exquisite-grade resin. The Aquasure features Aqua-trol, which will easily adjust to your residential needs.
- Easy to install
- Eco- friendly
- Made of high-grade materials
- Maintenance is costly
- Health risks for patients on a low-sodium diet
4. Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener
The WS48-56sxt10 uses advanced technology to ensure that the system provides 100 percent of its treatment capacity before regenerating.
It ensures a continuous supply of soft water for your entire house without wasting water and salt.
It is easy to set up, and all controls are automatically selected to reduce hassle. All you need to do is set the hardness level, and the valve will do the rest.
Most reviewers have gone as far as to claim that Pentair is the best water softener system available in the market. Customers were happy to see the difference it made on their skin and how it helped prolong the life of washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters.
This best home water softener has a 5600Sxt digital metered control head, and a 1.5 cubic Feet upgraded 10% crosslink resin.
The system weighs 130 pounds and measures 10x10x54 inches.
Undoubtedly, this system will not let you down. Pentair offers a 5-year long warranty for the valve and a 10-year warranty for the durable poly glass tank. Reviews suggest that consumers have safely used this hard water softener for as long as 27 years.
It comes with a USB drive loaded with complete instructions. The box also includes a hardness test strip, a lubricant, and a sanitizer kit.
The smart meter-based regeneration enables you to save precious water as it identifies the amount of usage and regenerates depending on it. All in all, it is one of the best investments you can make.
- 10-year long warranty
- Includes hardness test strip
- Difficult to check the salt level
- Maintenance costs are higher
5. AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener
The is one of the best and most popular water softener systems because of its ability to treat iron through fine mesh resin.
You should buy something that removes hard water as well as iron which causes rust stains on your appliances. The ferrous iron not only leads to unwanted repairs but also decreases the durability of all household appliances.
The AFWFilters feature 2.5 cubic feet and 10 percent resin. It has a grain capacity of 85,000 and can remove up to 6ppm iron.
The system measures 13 x 54 inches and is incorporated with the 5600SXT control valve.
Additionally, it is built up in one system that ensures easy installation and takes less space.
Not only does it remove iron, but the system also takes away manganese, which is a major cause of black stains.
The bypass valve allows easy fixing, which otherwise requires a full shutdown of the water supply.
The safety float in the brine tank prevents accidental overflow of salt, minimizing wastage and reducing the need for clean-ups.
AFWFilters also have courteous, friendly staff eager to help you out if you’re stuck during the installation process.
- Efficient after-sale service
- Easy installation
- Safety float
- Removes iron too
- Suitable for large families
- Uses more salt compared to other water softener systems
How Does a Water Softener Work
A water softener system has three main parts. They work together to remove unwanted minerals, monitor the flow, and clean the unit itself.
Let’s see how these components work to provide your household with fresh water.
The Mineral Tank
This is where the most important task takes place. The mineral tank is filled with thousands of tiny resin beads.
As soon as water enters the mineral chamber through the main pipeline, it seeps through the accumulated resin beads. All of the harmful minerals like calcium and magnesium get stuck to them.
Finally, softened water exits the tank through the outlet pipe and is pumped to your house.
The Control Valve
As the name suggests, the control valve keeps a check on the water amount entering the mineral tank. The valve uses a meter that measures the amount of water used each day.
When hard water passes through the mineral tank, thousands of tiny resin beads interchange the mineral ions with sodium ions. With time, resin beads lose their efficiency and are unable to remove the minerals.
The control valve smartly starts a regeneration process before the beads completely lose their ability to perform the desired function.
It works through a pre-set maximum capacity already fed into the system. This capacity is based on the number of family members, water hardness, and water-based appliances in your house.
Without the control valve’s unique function, water softeners would be unable to perform efficiently.
The Brine Tank
The brine tank is a short narrow chamber attached to the mineral tank. Brine is the term used for water that is saturated with salt or potassium.
You have to fill the brine tank with water softener salt once the tank is half empty. Make sure the salt is lump-free and can move freely.
When purchasing salt for your system, you must analyze the level of water hardness. If the water is too hard, you will end up needing more salt. Get the best water softener salt to increase your systems’ efficiency.
Some users tend to buy potassium chloride for their tanks if they have an issue with the taste of water treated by salt. But potassium chloride costs thrice as much as sodium chloride, so keep the cost factor in your mind.
So how the salt helps the water softening system? When this salt dissolves in the water, it becomes positively charged. This water is then flushed into the mineral tank to replenish the positive charge of the resin beads.
The water system won’t be able to function unless the brine tank remains full of salt.
How to Size a Water Softener
It is important to perfectly size a water softener system for your house to minimize salt use/costs and achieve a maximum turnover of soft water. It depends on two basic factors.
Water Hardness Level
To make the best of your purchase, you must have complete information regarding the level of hardness present in the water. Any estimate guesses made by you will only reduce the system’s efficiency. Just call your city’s water board or get a test kit to get an exact figure.
Water hardness levels can range between 10ppm to 200ppm and above. The higher the figure, the more hard the water is. In simple terms, harder water means you need a large water softener.
Another important factor that will help you size the water softener is your daily water consumption.
The number of family members in your house will determine the amount of water used.
Check your water bill for your consumption volume, or multiply the number of members by 75 gallons.
If you have a family of four, you can easily multiply 4 x 75 gallons. This means your family uses 300 gallons per day or 2100 gallons per week.
Now multiply it by your water hardness level to find out how many grains of hard water your system will need to remove before it regenerates at the end of the week.
Professionals suggest that you should buy a bigger capacity water softener (than you need) if you want to cut down your salt costs over time.
How to Install a Water Softener
You can install a water softener on your own if you have basic plumbing knowledge.
Identify Where to Install
You must first identify where to install the system. If you are replacing an old water softener system, you can install a new one on the same spot. However, if you have never had a water softener, it is time to look around your house and find an ideal place for it.
The general rule of the thumb is to install it as close as possible to the inlet pipe. This will protect all other pipes running in your house from future damage by hard water.
Next, you must see if this pipeline provides water to the outdoor as well. You will need to make adjustments so that all water that is softened is only used indoors.
Turn Off Main Water Supply
Before installing your water softener, close the water supply from the main valve. Additionally, open a few taps around the house to drain out excess water.
Turn Off Water Heater
Next, turn off the electricity supply to your water heater for safety.
Finally, use fittings and adapters provided in your water softener system to make necessary connections. Attach your water softener to your existing pipeline and fix the drainage tube.
Ensure you don’t place the water softener more than 30 feet far from the drain, or it will lead to unnecessary load on your system.
Additionally, plug the power wire into an electrical socket.
Then load up your brine tank with the required amount of salt. You may use crystal or pellets, depending on your choice.
Turn Back Water Supply
Gradually, open the valve of the main water supply. Keep a close eye on any leakages and fix them if the need arises.
You must feed-in your water hardness level and water usage in the system before turning the power. You are good to go now.
Water softener systems are essential if you live in an area with a hard water supply. Softened water improves your appliances’ overall lifespan, makes cleaning easier, and is gentler on skin, body, and hair.
It’s time to go ahead and make the purchase that will make your life easy.