Water Softeners – Nuts & Bolts

In our previous blog post we talked about why having a water softener is important. In this post, we’ll share some key things to know when purchasing or replacing a water softener and share some insider tips and tricks!

Keep in mind, in general, all water softeners essentially do the same things – remove the hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) from the water. It’s a simple chemical process of ion exchange. The ions in the hard minerals move out of the water and onto the salt (or potassium). The tank will then regenerate (clean itself) and backwash (drain out the hard water).

Want to know an insider secret? Essentially all water softeners work the same way…so why pay thousands of dollars more for “brand-name” products and commissioned sales people when most products have the same result – soft water? Yes…there are companies out there that will try to tell you magnets work or “conditioners” work. Beware, unless there is salt (or potassium) involved it will not
remove the hard water. Those companies claim it will “reduce the effects of hard water”, but it does not remove the hardness. You’ll still have spots and build-up…bottom line!

Tank Size – What size is best for my home?
Most water softeners have two main components…the tank and the valve. Knowing the correct tank size is important when purchasing a new unit. Water softeners are sized based on the amount of water used. Simply – the number of people using the water in your house will determine the size of water softener you need. Water softener tanks come in many sizes based on the amount of “media” inside the tank. That media is measured in grains per thousand. Here’s a quick reference chart:

  • 32k grains – serves 1-3 people
  • 50k grains – serves 3-5 people
  • 64k grains – serves 5-8 people

Be sure to check the tank size (i.e. amount of grains) when purchasing a water softener. Many companies will offer a 20,000k grain tank which is completely undersized for most homes…but the price is much less…that is why! They use these low prices to bait you and then will upsell you to a much more expensive unit. We don’t offer undersized 20k grain softeners.

Electronic Valves – What’s their job?
The other key component to know about when purchasing a water softener is the valve…more importantly what it does. Electronic valves control the unit. These “smart valves” actually monitor, and track your water consumption. Based on the consumption rate the valve will automatically “know” when it’s time to regenerate (clean) the tank and backwash (drain) the hard water out. That means you can’t “set it and forget it”. This type of valve is called “on demand” and prevents unnecessary cycles from running reducing water waste. All of our water softeners come equipped with “on-demand” valves.

Other types of valves are referred to as “timed” units. They are programmed to regenerate and backwash at a set time and day…not on demand. There are a couple of concerns with this approach. First, if you use extra water between regeneration cycles you could be using hard water…. defeating the purpose. Another concern, it’s possible you could be regenerating too soon and wasting water with pre-mature cycles.

Warranty – The True Reflection of Quality
It’s important to understand the warranty offered for your unit. It will also offer you a priceless piece of information…the quality of your unit. If the manufacturer only offers a 1 to 5-year warranty…that’s a reflection of their quality. These are typically called “disposable” water softeners. Do you really want to pay thousands of dollars for a “disposable” unit? Many big box softeners (GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore) have
brand name recognition but often come with short lives that barely last longer than the 1 to 5-year warranty. Quality parts and manufacturing do make a difference and it’s reflected in what the warranty offered. Our water softeners come standard with a 25-year warranty on the tank without the inflated name brand pricing.

Hopefully, this post has helped you know more about what to consider when buying a new water softener. We are happy to answer questions and help you select the tank size that is best for your home and family. Keep in mind, all our units include “on-demand” electronic valves and 25-year warranties on
the tank. Click here to contact us or call us now at 480-375-1512. Mention this blog for a special discount!