15 Best Water Softener Reviews of 2020 – Comprehensive Guide

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Last Updated: January 3, 2021
By: Charles Cole

Using the best water softener system for your home will simplify your life and provide you with a great deal of benefits. A water softener system will make cleaning easier and make baths and showers gentler on your skin—which will help you feel and look great. Whether you’re still looking for the right faucets, sinks, or fixtures for your home—or if you already have everything all set up and ready to go—it’s never too early to consider investing in one of the best whole house water softener systems.

Since there’s a wide selection of water softener systems to choose from, and a lot of different brands to sift through, it’s important to be aware of the top selections available to choose from as well as what to look for before making your purchase.

Below you’ll find we’ve carefully put together a list of the best water softener systems, all of which come highly rated and recommended by actual users. Our list contains a wide variety of options to choose from, so no matter what your budget is—or how big or small your home is—you’ll find our selections meet the needs of almost everyone.

Once you’ve looked at our water softener reviews, we encourage you also look at our buying guide for additional useful information. You will find the buying guide will help you narrow down your choices as well as give you general information about how to install and care for your water softener system.

Table of Contents

Water Softener Reviews [UPDATED WITH NEW MODELS]


ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt 48,000 Black WATER SOFTENER


  • 48,000 grain high capacity 
  • Eco-Frindly
  • WQA Certified
  • 12 Gallons Per Minute flow rate 
  • Black color

If you want a space saving water softener system for your home, then this one is the way to go. It’s perfect for households of 2-5 people and features a 48,000-grain capacity system—which is one of the many reasons why it is the best whole house water softener on our list. It’s built to be durable thanks to its upgraded 10% crosslink resin media—so, if you take care of this system it will last you for years to come.

While this system is really pricey, you will find the company provides a 5-year Fleck valve warranty—and in the case that you would need to make use of your warranty, your system will still provide a 48,000-grain capacity. This purchase of this system includes an installation kit to ensure you have everything you need to get this house water softener up and running. The instruction packet is also easy to read and follow, so you won’t have to worry about having a professional come and install it for you.

Overall, while this system is expensive, it is able to deliver a flow of up to 12 gallons per minute and is composed of 2 Mineral and Brine tanks (which also come with a separate 2-year warranty). The company’s support system is by far one of the best out there—they even offer Facetime support help!

Fleck WS

AFWFilters WS-96k-91SXT Fleck 9100SXT Dual tank water softener

Fleck WS

  • 96,000 grain
  • Dual alternating tanks
  • High flow, treats high hardness
  • Almond resin tanks
  • Digital metered control

If you are looking for the best home water softener, this Fleck system does not disappoint. This dual-alternating tank system will never—and I mean never—run out of soft water. It’s 96,000 grain capacity can handle a 20 gallons per minute flow rate, so you know that it is both effective and efficient (it’s definitely one of the most efficient options available out there).

This system delivers water that will simplify your life by reducing the amount of time and water needed to wash your clothes, clean your dishes, or take a shower. In the end this system will save you both time and money—without having to worry how reliable it is. This one is reliable because, unlike many other systems, this one does not run out of soft water after prolonged use, thanks to the use of alternating tanks.

The Fleck WS home water softener system is easy to install and comes with detailed instructions so you can easily get it setup in about an hour or two. Although this system is an expensive one, the company overs a 10-year warranty on each of the tanks as well as a 5-year warranty on the control head.

In the end, even though it’s pricey, this whole house water softener will adjust to your specific needs. It does this by regenerating itself based on water use—so you don’t have to wait a specific period of time before it starts delivering soft water again. If you want a water softener system that is extremely efficient, and that will save you both time and money, them this one is the way to go.

Fleck 64k

AFWFilters Fleck 64k water softener

Fleck 64k

  • 64,000 Grains
  • Blue color
  • Uprgarded Paddle Wheel Meter
  • Digital metered control head
  • Made In USA 

Fleck has already appeared in our list of water softener system reviews—which is no surprise given that they produce some of the best rated water softener systems. This one, specifically, is a lot more affordable the Fleck WS, which is also featured on our list. However, just because it’s more affordable doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent option to consider.

This system has a 64,000 grain-capacity which delivers some of the best soft water that will keep your skin feeling soft and shorten your cleaning time since it reduces scale build up—so you have more time to do the important stuff. Overall, the Fleck 64k system will remove Magnesium and Calcium from your water—which typically is what causes hard water. This will not only deliver soft water but also make your plumbing and appliance last longer, so you don’t have to worry about replacing those due to the water they are delivering.

Overall, this system is not as pricey as others—and is just as efficient and effective. It comes with a 5-year valve warranty and a 10-year tank warranty that further shows customers how much they stand behind this product. Upon purchase, an installation will be emailed to you—so you don’t have to worry about installing it incorrectly or the process taking to long.


Tier1 Essential Series 48,000 Grain High Efficiency Digital Water Softener


  • 48,000 Grain 
  • LCD display
  • Flow Rate (GPM): 11.2
  • Manual Bypass Valve
  • Reverse Osmosis Filtration

The Tier1 is another 48,000-capacity water softener system on our list. It is highly efficient and uses a digital meter control valve. This valve comes with an easy to ready LCD display—and the best part, it's easy to use and not difficult to get accustomed to once you install it. This one is a complete home water softener option, so it’s purchase includes the mineral and brine tanks, valve, adapter, and bypass—so you won’t need to worry about buying anything separately.

If you are looking for an efficient system that will not only help you save time and money, but also protect your plumbing and simplify your overall life then this is a great system to consider. It is designed to be space saving—it actually saves you over 4 feet of space, compare this to other larger home systems and you will appreciate this.

While this isn’t the most affordable selections out there, you will find this a cheap water softener alternative when compared to some of the other higher priced systems on our list. Overall, this is a great investment and comes with a 100% no worries guarantee—which testifies top the overall quality and longevity of this whole home water softener option.

Whirlpool WHES30

Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener

Whirlpool WHES30

  • 30,000 Grain
  • NSF Certified
  • 120 grains per gallon removal level
  • Ideal for families of 1-4+
  • Requirements: 110/120 Volts.

Although this Whirlpool system doesn’t have the highest water softener ratings when compared to other selections on our list, it still has some of the highest ratings out there. It comes recommended by many users and the company provides several warranties to back up their product—this one specifically comes with a 10-year limited tank warranty, 3-year limited electronics warranty, and a 1-year parts and labor warranty that can be extended to two years) if that is something you are interested in).

This system is reliable and effective however, it is important to note that it works for households of 1 to 4 people. It has a 30,000-grain capacity, which will help extend the life of household appliances that require water—it will also help protect your plumbing and extended their life as well.

It is NSF certified and uses demand indicated regeneration. More expensive models automatically regenerate, this one doesn’t do that—on the other hand, it actually regenerates based on the levels it measures. This means it is tailored to your water type, this makes it a great option for those of you who want a more affordable system that also saves a little bit of extra money in the long run.

This is water softener system is worth every penny and perfect for those with smaller households who find themselves out of the house. If you aren’t using water in your home throughout the day there is no need for automatic regeneration—so why pay for that features if you don’t need it?

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler - Water Softener Alternative

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

  • Environmentally friendly
  • 12 month money-back guarantee
  • 110 Volts requirements
  • Size; 6.69 x 1.57 x 3.54 in
  • 7.8 ounces weight

If you are on the hunt for the cheapest water softener on our list, then look no further because this is it. Not only is it affordable, but it also comes with a 1 year 100% money back guarantee as well ass a lifetime repair or replace warranty—if the company is willing to replace it for you (regardless of the price) then you know they stand behind the quality, durability, and life of the product.

The Eddy Electronic water descaler is easy to install and is compatible with plastic and metal plumbing pipes—and it will actually help prevent lime build-up as well as get rid of any existing lime your pipes may already have. It is able to do this by dissolving any calcium, magnesium and manganese compounds in your water supply—however, it does not strip your water of the benefits some of these minerals can provide you with. It has a 20+ gallons per minute flow rate, is not salt-based, and works with all pipes except for those made of iron or lead.

It is also important to note that this water system is best for smaller households. If you have a large family this won’t be the right for you. However, if you have a smaller space, and fewer people in it, then you will find that this system may be the right choice for you. Make sure to consider all of this before making your final decision—this is the most affordable and it functions great, it just will not be effective for larger homes or households.

Overall, this product is eco-friendly, effective, and efficient. It is capable of doing what higher end models can do, but at a fraction of the cost. If you have the right pipes and a smaller household this might just be the best water softener solution for your home.


Nuvo H2O Dphb-a Home Water Softener System


  • For homes with 1 – 2 residents
  • Prevents scale build-up
  • Eco-friendly — no salt, no waste water
  • Replace Cartridges every 20,000 Gallons
  • 15 Gallons Per Minute flow rate

If you are looking for a more innovative product that is different from the rest, you will love this water softener system. This is because it uses an innovative method to not only soften your water, but also lower its pH level. The FDA approved process it employs will prevent lime from accumulating, extend the life of your home appliances and plumbing, and (of course) keep you water soft.

It’s perfect for households of 1-2 people and isn’t designed to handle more residents then that. Despite the fact that it is pricey and can’t handle large households, the fact that it is eco-friendly, FDA and NDF approved, and compact makes it worth every penny.

It’s important to note that this selection is not compatible with well water homes and its cartridges need to be replaced after every 20,000 gallons (which makes it perfect for small households).

Overall, this is one of the most innovative, eco-friendly, and innovative systems out there. It will last for up to 20,000 gallons and comes with an installation manual that is easy to read and follow—just don’t over tighten it when you are installing it. If you are looking for a compact water softener, this is as compact as they come.

Iron Pro 2

Iron Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT

Iron Pro 2

  • 64,000 grain
  • Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control
  • Almond resin tank
  • Removes hardness up to 75 gpg
  • 5 year warranty

What is the best water softener? While the answer to this question depends on your specific needs, many current users swear by the Iron Pro 2. That’s because it is both a water softener and an iron filter—so it kills to birds with one stone! This selection is a perfect alternative for your entire house and has a 64,000-grain capacity that can handle a high flow rate.

As far as effectiveness, this water softener uses fine mesh resin and a digital valve to efficiently remove up 6-8ppm of iron deposits from your water, 75 gpg of water hardness, 6 ppm of manganese, and rid you water supply of any rust, sand. or sediment. It also employs a meter-based regeneration system—which means that it only regenerates in an as needed basis, which makes it really efficiency.

Although this is an expensive system, it’s worth every penny given that it comes with a 5-year valve warranty, 10-year tank warranty, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. It’s also really easy to install and comes with clear cut instructions if you have any questions. The company offers excellent tech support, which you can call or email, if you have any questions. This is an excellent investment if you want a great water softener and iron filter for your home.

Morton System Saver

Morton System Saver 30,000 Grain Water Softener M30

Morton System Saver

  • 30,000 Grain
  • Compact design fits in 1.3 sq. ft. floor
  • 80 pounds weight
  • Easy to install
  • White color

The Morton System features a compact design and utilizes a single tank. It can handle flow rates of more than 11 gallons per minute and would work perfectly for your home or small office. It’s 30,000 grain capacity will efficiently and effectively simplify your life and clean your clothes and leave them looking great. This system regenerates on an as need basis which allows it to cut the amount of salt it utilizes in half when compared to other water softener systems out there.

It’s compact design only takes up 1.3 sq. feet of your space—so you can literally use this one anywhere. If you’re installing it yourself then you will also be happy to hear that it comes with an easy to installation kit that will make the process fast and easy for you. It’s compatible with copper plumbing and comes with absolutely everything you need, so you won’t have to worry about buying anything separately before you can install it.

As a whole, this system will get the job down. It takes up minimal space so you won’t have to worry about making room to accommodate it in your home. It’s really versatile and can even be used in small business outside of the home. If you want a regenerating system and don’t want to worry about waiting a specific amount of time before it is up and running again, then the Morton System Saver is one of the best out there. We encourage you take a closer look at it, because it is definitely worth the investment.

Hard Water Bullet Poly Salt Free

Poly Salt Free Water Softener

Hard Water Bullet Poly Salt Free

  • Eco friendly
  • NSF certified
  • BPA free
  • 4 pounds weight
  • Size; 4.5 x 4.5 x 10 in

Salt water softener systems are in high demand because they are really effective and highly efficient—however that doesn’t mean they are always the best option for everyone. The Hard Water Bullet is a salt-free water system that is also eco-friendly, NSF certified, and BPA free. It is compact in size, so it can fit in small spaces, and is easy to install—so you don’t have to waste your time trying to figure it all how to get it all set up and ready to go.

Since this is a Poly salt free softener, it’s safe to say it uses a unique and innovative method to soften your water properly—it actually transforms the calcium carbonate in your water into Aragonite thanks its catalytic core. This softens your water and eliminates any lime build-up you may have.

If you want an efficient water softening system that doesn’t waste salt and is durable and built to last, then the Hard Water Bullet is a great one to consider. It’s on the affordable side of the price spectrum, is easy to install, and is eco-friendly and time-saving—win-wine, right?

Aquious FS

Aquios AQFS220 Full House Salt Free Water Softener and Filter System

Aquious FS

  • 40,000 gallons
  • Compact design
  • AQUIOS Water Treatment System
  • White color
  • 20 year warranty

Here is another system that will soften your water while also filtering it—so, if you are looking for a water filtration system as well, the Aquious FS is a perfect solution. Its commercial strength tech is designed to tackle whole households and is a salt-free system that effectively softens your water using Siliphos technology. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Siliphos technology allows minerals to pass directly through the system, instead of eliminating them like salt water softener systems do. This technology is combined with a carbon block filter that will also filter your water and make it taste great.

Its compact size allows for installation in even the smallest spaces and its affordable price makes it even more attractive. Most hardcore home water systems—that can tackle as much as this one can—come at a much steeper price. The cartridge can handle 40,000 gallons before you need to replace it and the 20-year warranty the company provides makes the cost worthwhile.

In the end, if you want a salt free water softener solution then you will love this one. It is not only affordable but also highly effective at what it does. This one can be compared to other whole house systems that can take it all—so, if you don’t mind chasing the cartridge about every 6 months then this might just the perfect solution for your home.


GE Appliances 30,400 Grain, GXSF30V Water Softener


  • 30,400 Grain
  • Uses up to 20% less water
  • Easy-to-Read Status Light Indicator
  • Salt Capacity of 200 lbs.
  • Fits Plumbing Connections up to 1”

Here is another one of the more affordable selection and is one of the best to choose from—price does not always equal better, which is an important thing for everyone to remember. Its 30,000 grain capacity tank can handle up to 95 grains per gallon and is able to remove iron (up to 7PPM). Like other whole house water systems, this one is will enhance the quality of water in your entire house, simplify your life by saving you time on what otherwise would take you much longer, and help you save money by extending the life of your plumbing, fixtures, and appliance.

It utilizes GE SmartSoft tech to adapt to your family’s needs and anticipate your home’s needs. It will also alert you when it’s almost time to refill your salt tank, so you aren’t scrambling around last minute trying to get it together.  The system is also easy to program and stores all your home’s data permanently—so you can rely on it even when your home loses power. Not only is this GE system easy to install, but it also comes with everything you need to do so. It’s easy to use and easy to get accustomed to.

In the end, even though this system is super cost-effective, you will find it’s just as easy to use and as effective as other whole house salt-based water softener systems. It comes with several warranties, so you won’t have to worry about losing your money and having to buy a whole new system in the long run. As long as you take care of this GE water softener system, it will take care of you for your years to come as well.

Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener and Conditioner

Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative & Conditioner

Pelican Salt-Free

  • 5-micron filter system
  • Designed for 4-6 bathroom homes
  • Size; 19 x 21 x 59.5 in
  • WQA tested

The Pelican water system is by far the most expensive product on our list. It’s capable of handling a home with up to 4-6 bathrooms, is NSF certified, and is the only salt-free water softener system that is endorsed to be 99.6% effective.  Unlike some other systems out there, this one will leave beneficial minerals behind, so your water isn’t completely stripped of everything. This one does not require any maintenance, is incredibly easy to install, and does not need any electricity to do its job.

If you want to extend the life of your plumbing, fixtures, and appliances then this another great way to go. It’s perfect for large households and will make your life much easier since it is one of the most effective and efficient water systems out there. If you have a large home, then this is probably the perfect solution for you.

Since this system can filter sediment as low as 5 microns, then its safe to say that it can tackle anything. It’s designed for large homes (think those with 4-6 bathrooms in then) and it is definitely worth every penny—so if it fits your budget then we highly recommend you take a further look at this system.

WaterBoss 365

WaterBoss 365 36400 Grain Water Softener

WaterBoss 365

  • 36400 Grain
  • Factory installed by-pass valve
  • Whisper quiet operation
  • Beige & Gray color
  • 10 year limited warranty

The WaterBoss 365 is included in our list of the best water softener systems reviews because it is just that, one of the best water softener systems out there. It’s compact in size so even though it can handle a whole lot, it doesn’t take up a ton of space in your home. You will also find that it’s really easy to install in any space and that the company offers access to their technical support for owners in the case they experience any issues with their system.

Since the tank is designed to handle the large families, you will find that it effectively and efficiently can handle 90 grains per gallon and reduces and filters out iron, dirt, and sediment—thanks to the built-in 20-micron filter. It’s capable of regenerating just 38 minutes—faster than other timed models out there.

Even though system is really expensive, it’s worth the investment if you have a large household and need something that can handle a lot. This system will give you peace of mind for years to come since it is designed to last. It will keep extend the life of your plumbing and appliances as well as save you countless hours in the long run. It’s one of the best out there—which is why it is on our list—and it holds will hold its value for years to come.

Kenmore 38620

Kenmore 38620 Water Softener, Gray

Kenmore 38620

  • Dual softening and filtration
  • 102 pounds weight
  • Size; 21 x 15 x 48 in
  • Gray color
  • Size; 21 x 15 x 48 in

Although this hybrid water softener, by Kenmore, is on the higher end of the cost spectrum it is one that will work for almost every household—so it is one of the most versatile systems on our list. With this one you won’t have to worry about any filter changes in the future and it is capable of both water softening and water filtration—so you can be sure that it delivers water that tastes and feels great.

This is a smart system, so all you have to do is download the Kenmore smart app and you are good to go. The app will display everything you need to know—the system actually tracks your flow rate, current use, and sends you an alert when the salt levels are low. It is easy to use and simplifies your life since you can check these numbers directly from your phone or tablet.

If you want a versatile system that will work for almost every household, including smaller and larger ones, and you want a product that will extend the life of your plumbing, fixtures, and appliances, then you should definitely take a look at this Kenmore water softener system.

Water Softener Buying Guide

water softener reviews and guide

Now that you have read our water softener reviews you might have been able to narrow down the best water softener for your home. However, given that there are so many options to choose from when searching for the best water softener system for your home, we know how difficult it is to narrow down your choices. Our whole house water softener reviews above provide information about the selected products and will help you pick and choose what’s right for you—as well as figure out what will be the most compatible for your homes and your needs. While you will find our water softener review list to be really helpful you might find that it isn’t enough information to go off when making your final decision.

This is why we have incorporated a buying guide here to help you find the best system for your home—whether that is a 30,000-grain water softener of a 64,000-grain capacity water softener. Below you will also find additional information that will help you distinguish between brands and types of softener systems as well as teach you how to install or replace your water softener.

While the water softener systems review list above is incredibly helpful, we encourage you take a look below at our buying guide—especially if you have any specific questions or if you are having trouble find the best system for your home.

Do I Need a Water Softener?

After sifting through a water softener system review list, you may find yourself still watering whether or not you actually need a water softener. Well, here we will go over some important things to go over if you are still unsure if you should invest in one or not—because no matter how affordable or expensive the system you decide to go with it, it is only worth the investment if you need it.

Water softener systems are designed to address several issues—from ridding your home of hard water and extending the life of your plumbing, fixtures and appliances to reducing the amount of time you spend cleaning, keeping your clothes feeling soft and looking vibrant, and ensuring your skin and hair looks and feels softs.

So, let’s jump right in!

If you have noticed any lime or scale build up on any of your plumbing then this is a sign of mineral deposit build-up, which can lead to clogged plumbing and premature degradation of your pipes and appliances. Investing in the right water softener system will reduce and prevent this lime build up and increase the life of our appliances and plumbing as well as help your plumbing work more efficiently and even save you money over time.

Another major sign that you need a water softener is surprisingly dry/itch skin and dry or stringy hair, even after short showers and the use of conditioner. This is because there is often excess calcium and magnesium in our water supply and soap doesn’t get rid of these minerals. Water softeners work to remove these minerals from your water system, which in turn leaves you with soft hair and skin that you will never get sick of.

One of the biggest signs, however, is when you notice your laundry is fading much faster and stains on your sinks, tubs, and other appliances or dishes. This can be cumbersome to many of you because we spend a lot of money on sheets, linens, and clothes and the last thing we want is to shorten their lifespan because of the water quality we are washing then with. A water softener system will solve this problem and effectively and efficiently wash your clothes and dishes without leaving unwanted stains or causing premature aging.

If you are experiencing any of these issues, you are probably in dire need of a water softener system. You will be happy to here that they make them for all budgets as well as for small and large households. Regardless of your needs, there is definitely an option out there for you, so you won’t have to worry about something that fits your needs. If you have found you need a water softener system for your home then it is definitely important that you take note of your own needs and specifications before moving forward with tour purchase.

What are The Benefits of a Water Softener?

Seeing as we just discussed why you would need a water softener above, it may be easy to assume what some of the benefits might be. At a macro level a water softener will soften your hard water and take care of the pesky problems that arise as a result.

However, if you have come to this section you probably want to know more about all of the benefits a water softener will provide you with. Water softeners can either be salt-free or salt based and, regardless of which one you go with, using one will help you preserve and extent the life of your plumbing, fixture, water appliances, washers, dishwashers, water heaters, coffee makers, ice machines, and anything that will run your home’s water through it.

They will also help keep your skin and hair soft—ridding you of the pesky stringy hair “symptom” hard water leaves with. If you suffer from clogged pores or blemishes on your face, then you will also notice that your face may clear up and your skin will look brighter.

Water softeners will provide you with an all-around plethora of benefits—from personal improvements to a reduction in your water bill over time (since you will be spending far less time running water to properly clean your dishes).

Problems that May Arise with a Water Softener

Problems that may arise with a Water Softener

Like everything in life, there are cons to water softener systems as well. Water softener problems may arise unexpectedly or may occur over time due to use. Problems may refer to anything from how to hook up a water softener in your home to the water softener not working all sudden. Regardless of the cause, below we will highlight some problems you may encounter with your water softener system and briefly explain how to address them—although it is important to note that you should always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and suggestions first and foremost since every product is different.

One of the of the most common problems a water softener may encounter is clogging. Some will be more susceptible to this issue while others may be better suited to prevent this. However, it is a common issue that can easily occur due to the accumulation of minerals or salt in the inside of your softener. When this happens, clogging occurs—which leads to inadequate water softening. If you notice your water is harder than usual, you may have a clog—which is a relatively easy fix.

Clogging can lead to back flow—which Is when water backflows and mixes with your drinking water. If you want to prevent back flow from occurring, you will have a water softener air gap (which are required for plumbing code by the way). The air gap will prevent you from connecting your softener to the waste system, which will prevent this back flow from occurring. This will prevent any back flow from and prevent your drinking water from getting contaminated.

How Does a Water Softener System Work?

How does a water softener system work

Once you have asked yourself “Do I need a water softener?” you may be curious whether or not the benefits of a water softener system are worth the investment you will have to make. Before you decide to go ahead and buy a water softener, you should take a look below at how water softener works—this will help you figure out which one is best for you and find the one that will best fit your needs.

So, lets start with the most important question: What is a water softener system and how does it work?

As we mentioned above, a water softener system addresses hard water and the issues that come with it. If you buy a water softener it is because you are tired of dealing with all of the issues that come from using hard water and you want to start reaping the benefits of using a water softener.

Water softeners can be salt-based water softeners or salt-free water softeners. Regardless of which one you choose, you will find that all water softener systems filter mineral deposits (specifically Calcium and Magnesium) from your water—which is what hardens your water in the first place. There are some waters softeners that remove iron and filter your water supply as well—which leaves you water tasting great and makes it safer to drink (please make sure to refer to the manufacturer of the one you decide to go with to make sure you can drink the water as well!).

This leads us to the next question that many new buyers ask when trying to figure out how to choose a water softener system for their home: “Water softener vs water filter: which should you choose?”

Well here it is important to note that you can buy just a water softener, just a water filter, or you can buy a water softener that also filters your water. The water softener that are capable of doing this will remove minerals from your water with or without salt (just depends on what method they employ) and filter your water through the use of a carbon filter—or other typical filter used in home water filters.

Overall, water softener systems will either eliminate or filter out the minerals in your water supply that harden it and lead to unwanted issues. It is also important to note that water softeners are not water filters, although some of them are hybrid and can do both. If you are unsure if you should invest in a hybrid water softener, that will also filter your water, a water softener test kit will help you figure out which one you will go with—this is also a great thing to keep in your home to make sure your water softener is consistently doing its job.

Some water softeners regenerate automatically, while others are timed. It’s important to know the water softener cycles (or lack thereof) when making your final water softener comparison. Regenerative water softener will consistently soften your water and you won’t have to wait a specific amount of time. These can use up more energy, but they are great if someone is always home—if you are often gone or if you live alone or have a small household then you may end up saving more money with a water softener that meters your water usage and adjusts accordingly.

While all water softener work to deliver similar results and ultimately remove unwanted minerals by either filtering or eliminating them, it’s important to be aware that they don’t all work the same. Many are designed for specific household sizes while others are only able to handle certain grain capacities. Grain capacity refers to the amount of grains it can effectively filter out—which is something you will find is stated in each review. Some may only have a 30,000-grain capacity while others have a 94,000 capacity. The larger capacity the more they can handle—so, while they all work to achieve the same goal, it isn’t necessarily always achieved the same way.

This section covered some general information about how water softener systems work. Below you will learn more about salt-based water softener systems, salt-free water softener systems, and much more. Continue reading below to learn more!

Does a Water Softener Remove Iron?

Does a Water Softener remove iron

This is a common question that is important to address—especially if you are looking to be able to drink your water straight from your kitchen faucet. And the answer to this question is both yes and no.

A water softener system is not required to remove iron, however, there are some that do. Some of them market themselves as water filters while others simply say that they also remove iron from your water as well. Since iron isn’t specifically responsible for hardening your water supply, or for any limescale build up, water softeners are not required to have the ability to remove lead.

Water softeners deal specifically with calcium and magnesium deposits, so their main concern are those two minerals. You will find that that the ones that remove iron have an additional filter (typically a carbon filter) that will remove the iron from your water supply.

It is important to note, however, that most water softeners will remove ferrous iron that has already been dissolved—but this does not mean that you should expect that they do nor that they will remove any undissolved iron either.

How Do I Choose a Water Softener?

How do I choose a Water Softener

Choosing the best water softener for your home can be a difficult feat to accomplish considering just how many options you have. If you read through our home water softener systems review, then you noticed that they come in all shapes, sizes, prices, and feature capacity. There are expensive ones and really affordable as ones as well as some that filter your water and others that don’t. When choosing the right water softener for your home the question you should be asking isn’t which one is best, but rather which water softener best fits your specific needs.

Before even beginning to narrow down your options take note of how big your home is and how many people live there with you—and if you want to use it in your small business take note of both of these things as well. There are water softeners for large homes and then there are water softeners for small households—or only one person. It’s important that you take this into consideration because choosing the wrong can prove to be ineffective and even make you spend more money in the long run.

Next you will have to consider your water quality and what you hope to achieve. If you already have limescale deposits or if you’ve notices stains in your sinks or tubs, then that is a visual sign that your water is already causing damage to your home. The best thing to do here is to find a water softener that will reduce current build up and prevent it from occurring again in the future. You will probably also need a higher grain capacity softener—especially if you have a large home or family.

Space is another thing you need to take a look at before making your purchase. Some water softeners are more compact than others—and, regardless of how big your home or living space, you need to base this decision on where you will install your water softener. Regardless of whether you go with a smart system that you can check from your app, or one that you have to go and look at directly, you are going to want to make sure that your water softener system is easily accessible. This is especially important if you end up purchasing one that will require filter changes or salt refills—the last thing you want is to have to struggle to it if and when you need to.

This leads me to two more important factors to consider on your search for the right water softener system. The first is tech. There are smart water softeners that can be accessed via an app. There you can see anything from water usage and overall efficiency to alerts of when it is time to maintenance your system—whether it is changing the filter or adding salt (by the way, this is a great feature to consider if you are considering a two in one, water filter and water softener).

There are also other softeners that utilize displays or monitors and others that track more than others. Here it just depends on how involved you want to be with all of this. Some users are looking to track how efficient the softener is while others will trust it until they notice a change in their water quality—so this really just depends on your preference.

The next point I want to bring up here is whether they system regenerates in an “as needed” bases

or on a timed basis.  Regenerative water softeners will track your households use and customize itself to it. Typically, with these you won’t have to worry about running out of soft water or having to wait for allotted amount of time to pass before your soft water is back. On the other hand, there are other systems where once its capabilities deplete you will have to wait some time before it’ back. They typically take less than an hour, but this can be quite frustrating if you have to deal with this on a consistent basis. If you have a larger household, with more people involved, you may want to consider a regenerative system that you don’t have to worry about any time constraints.

In a bit we will be talking about the different types of water softeners. This another important factor to consider. Do you want a salt-based water softener or a salt-free one? Which one is better for you? Do you mind having to change filters or do you want something you will never have to check up on or add any salt to? Are you trying to save energy and money, or do you want something that will just simplify your life and that you don’t have to think about?

Lastly, you will want to consider any warranties that come with the product as well as how responsive the company’s support system is. Warranties further confirm the overall quality and durability of the product and ensure that if something covers you are covered. You will find that most of the selections on our list offer extensive warranties that will cover your system for years to come—because that’s how much the manufacturers stand behind their product! If you find that you are someone who often has questions or needs help with their products, then you want to double check that customer support is readily accessible.

Overall, everything in this section involves taking your specific needs into consideration. From your household size to your budget-the best system for you depends specifically on those factors. The most expensive system doesn’t equate to the “best” system—so keep in mind that there is no one size fits all for everyone. So, make sure to jot down all of your specific needs before making your final decision as well as what you expect from your system as a whole.

What are the Different Types of Water Softeners?

What are the different types of Water Softeners

Earlier we discussed that you needed to consider types of water softener when searching for the right one for you. Here we will discuss the two main types available—Salt-based water softeners and Salt-free water softeners. Keep in mind that tech is consistently changing, and manufacturers are steadily coming up with innovative designs. So, while we may touch on some of these here in this section, that doesn’t mean that they are the only types available. On our list above, you will find that we have included water softener systems that employ unique methods, so make sure to take a look at those as well.

Salt-Based Water Softener Types

Salt-based water softeners are by far the most popular, widely used, and most recommended. This one will work best with all water hardness levels (unlike salt-free softeners, which can’t handle really hard water). Specifically, these systems work to completely remove all of the calcium and magnesium from your water supply with the use of salt—this is why it produces the softest water. They also effectively end efficiently remove any current lime build-up and prevent it from occurring again in the future.

Many people have praised these systems for extending the life of their plumbing, fixtures, and appliances that require water—like their favorite coffee makers or tea kettles. You will also find that these softeners deliver “slicker” water, which is a favorite quality for many people.

It is important to note that since these can handle so much more, they are also more expensive when compared to salt-free water softeners. It will also require more maintenance and careful tracking to make sure it is functioning to the best of its ability. However, you will find that they are also great whole house system that will keep everyone happy. While they are a bigger investment, these are the perfect option if you have really hard water.

Main takeaway: Salt-based water softeners remove minerals completely from your water supply

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt-free water softeners have quickly become a favorite among many users because they don’t require the use of any special chemicals nor do they salt or potassium to effectively soften your water. However, they are still less popular since they can’t handle really hard water and softness is only noticeable on water that is initially not as hard anyway. Using a salt-free water softener will let you enjoy the benefits of the minerals of the water without having to deal with the hard water that typically comes with it. While some require little to no maintenance, there are some that require cartridge or filter changes.

Instead of removing the minerals from your water, salt-free softeners will actually switch out the ions with Potassium or Sodium ions. This will, in turn, increase the life of your plumbing and appliances and ensure you get the most out of everything in the long run. However, it is important to note that if you use one of these softeners the water isn’t deemed drinkable or filtrated. These make your water soft and that’s it—so if you want to drink your water straight from the faucet then you will also have to invest in a water filter to use along with it.

Main takeaway: Salt-free water softeners use Potassium Chloride to prevent minerals from accumulating as lime scale.

Dual-Tank Water Softeners

Above I mentioned that some of you may want to consider a system that doesn’t have a disconnect period where you will have to wait for to charge back up before you water continues to be softened. The is specifically important for larger households and larger homes—since it can be an inconvenience and take away from the many benefits softeners are supposed to provide.

These softeners utilize two resin tanks—so that when one is in use the other one regenerates. This means that you never have to worry about running out of soft water! While these are some of the more expensive options, they are definitely worth it if you don’t want to have to worry about waiting for your system to regenerate. Furthermore, while there are compact options available, these will still take up more space. You will also have to make sure you get an air gap drain, so it doesn’t backwash and cause any damage.

Main takeaway: These are great for larger households and homes since you won’t have to wait for them to regenerate or deal with a disconnect time period.


A water Descaler is another salt-free softener that is much more affordable. This one is designed to be clipped onto your pipes and functions by emitting a magnetic field, which in turn changes the properties of the minerals of your water and forces your pipes to repel them.

These are by far the most affordable option, however they will can not handle more than 1 or 2 people nor can they handle exceptionally hard water. This is a great option for someone on a budget who only needs to minimally change the hardness of their water.

Water Conditioner VS Water Softener

Before moving forward, we want to take a second to note the differences between a water conditioner and a water softener.

The main different between these two is that water softeners actually remove the minerals in your water supply that cause lime build up as well as prevent it from accumulating again. Conditioners, on the other hand, are not capable of doing this. Instead, they prevent additional build up on heating elements. This is also why water softeners are more expensive—because they actually remove these minerals from your water.

Water Softener Brands—What to Know

Water Softener brands—what to know

With all of the water softener companies and the countless water softener brands there are to choose from, it’s no wonder you need a buying guide like this one to figure out which one is the right one for your home and your needs. Here we will discuss each water softener brand below and give you a general overview about each one. Each of these are featured on our list so if you are interested in one of the selections in our review then definitely take the time to look over those brands below.

  • Fleck

Fleck produces some the best water softener systems and you will find some of their models on our list. They employ innovative designs that other brands also adopt—and some of their patented valves are actually used by other companies and brands as well. This company is owned by Pentair Water Treatment and they focus on producing products that don’t harm the environment and that are effective and efficient as well.

  • Whirlpool

This brand is a well-known brand in the appliance world—from dishwashers to water softeners, they have it all. They produce high quality products that come highly recommended and reviewed by many. The water softener system that we feature from this company is one of the best out there and you will find that it has earned its spot on this list

  • Kenmore

Like Whirlpool, Kenmore is another brand you will definitely recognize. This brand produces NSF certified softeners and offer long term warranties that you will find make their products worth the cost. If you want to consider a popular brand that many users have grown to love in all the years this company has been in business, then you will find this is a great option to consider. The Kenmore water softener we feature on this list is a smart system that links to an app, where you can track all the information related to your water softener.

  • GE

If you are considering a GE water softener then you are considering one that is built to last and that will take care of you for years to come. Many of their products come with innovative features, and that does not exclude their softener systems. GE softeners are easy to use and install and their Smart tech makes them worth more then what they actually cost.

  • Morton

While this is a much newer brand, that does not take away from their quality and effectiveness. They offer options for all household sizes and are designed to treat the water of your entire household. Morton water softener systems are available for all budgets and fit the needs of most people. Overall, they have quickly made a name for themselves in the water softening market and are among the best brands to consider.

  • Pelican

Pelican is by far the priciest brand on our list—but it is important to note that they are salt-free and NSF certified. As we mentioned above, salt-free softeners typically aren’t designed for heavy duty work, but Pelican has redefined that. They produce highly effective, salt-free softeners that can take on any home or household. They are definitely worth the investment if they fit your budget and your needs.

  • Nuvo

If you are looking for a salt-free water softener, then Nuvo is another great way to go. They are less pricey than the Pelican water softener brand but are just as eco-friendly—and the best part is that you won’t have to worry about buying salt for your water softener system ever again!

  • Waterboss

Waterboss produces whole house water softeners that are built to last and capable of handling everything that is thrown its way. It is made of high-quality material and they offer excellent customer service if you ever run into any problems or have any questions regarding the system you purchased. They also offer water softeners that also filter your water, so you can drink it straight out of your faucet.

A Guide to Water Softener Sizes

When we discussed how to choose your water softener, we briefly discussed the importance of considering the size of your water softener. Below we will address some questions you should ask yourself when narrowing down what size you need for your home.

What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

This will specifically depend on the space you are working with. There are compact water softeners, so if you are dealing with a small space then make sure to take a look at the many compact options out there—we feature several on our list. As far as capacity, you will need to consider the size of your home as well as how many people live there. There are compact water softeners that can handle larger homes, so no need to fret if that is something you need.

How Do I Size a Water Softener?

Sizing your water softener refers to the process of finding the right one. This means finding one that is designed to deal with the water quality in your home as well as your typical water consumption. Here you will want to narrow down your options to the water softener that will reduce the amount of salt that is used while also maximizing your home’s overall water capacity.

The first thing you will need to do here is figure out what your softener will have to undertake—which is also known as your “daily softening requirement.” This is done by calculating how much magnesium and calcium is in your water supply, also known as your GPG (grains per gallon). This will help you determine what water softener grain capacity you will need.

The next thing you will need to look for while sizing up your water softener is your households water consumption. The easiest way to do is by taking a look at your last few water bills and calculating about how many gallons of water your household uses per day.

Once you have done the above two things you can then put it together to figure out exactly what you need. All you need to Is multiply your GPG by your daily water use and, Voila, you have the softener grain capacity you need.

What Size Water Softener Does a Family of 4 Need? 

This is one of the most common questions, so we figured we would go ahead and address it here. While this answer will vary on the grain capacity your family requires, generally the average person uses 50 gallons of water a day. When you multiply this the number adds up to 5,200—which means a family of 4 will need a softener that can handle a minimum of 5,200 GPG’s a day. So, if you have a family of 4, you should ideally invest in a 40,000 grain capacity water softener, generally speaking.

A Guide to Water Softener Settings

A guide to Water softener settings

Once you get your water softener, you’re going to want to set it all up and get to enjoyi9ng all the benefits that soft water has to offer—but how do you know what softener hardness setting to use?

Well, first let’s talk about why you have to make sure that you set your softener on the right setting.

If you don’t set your water softener settings correctly then you risk wasting the salt in your system (assuming you are using a salt-based system here) if you set it too high—and if you set it too low you will still have hard water and won’t see any of the benefits that come with using soft water.

How to set water softener hardness level correctly will of course depend on your water softener plumbing connection and your daily needs—and before we continue, I want to mention that you should always consult your system’s manual. Here we are speaking in general terms and it is important to remember that there are always special circumstances—and it never hurts to make sure.

In general, you will need to test your normal water hardness levels before doing anything. This can be done by using test strips that are designed for this purpose. Once you have this number—and your system is all set up and ready to go—then you will be able to accurately adjust the setting on the system’s meter, screen, or app.

Keep in mind that some systems now offer tracking that will let you know if any changes occur. Some will also automatically adjust to those changes so you don’t have to go in and do anything manually.

How Much Does a Water Softener Cost?

Water softener prices range from really affordable to really expensive. Descalers are by far the most affordable options, but also less efficient and higher capacity water softener systems. Our list above will give you a great water softener price comparison—our most expensive listing is over a thousand dollars while are most affordable is just over 200 dollars.

As you can see, how much a water softener costs varies greatly so you will definitely need to have a number in mind when it comes to budget. However, it is important to note that the majority of water softener systems cost anywhere from $400 to $800 dollars. This price includes selections for all house hold sizes.

First and foremost, the most important thing is to find the right water softener system for your needs and then to narrow down your choices by the water softener system cost that best fits your budget.

Before moving forward, I want to make a quick note that most water softener systems come with a complete installation kit so (typically) you won’t have to purchase any separate parts. There are exceptions where this applies, however are list above contains water systems that come with most, if not all, of the parts needed for installation.

How to Install and Replace a Water Softener

How to install and replace a Water Softener

In this section we will discuss how to install a water softener system as well as how to replace a water softener. Both of these are typically similar across the board, but we always recommend that you also double check with your system’s manual and specific instructions before moving forward with our tips and tricks.

Water Softener Installation

Installing water softener systems can be a relatively easy process, although some our more difficult to install then others. Typically, the purchase of your system will come with specific instructions that will clearly depict what you need to do to. Keep in mind that whole house water systems will most likely require a professional (unless you are one) and if you are doing it on your own you will need to make sure with your city that you are abiding by required building codes. If you already know that you will need to hire a professional, we will discuss those costs in just a second.

If you have purchased a system you can install on your own, and you’ll notices that there are several on our list that actually with everything you will need to install them with, then you will first need to confirm that it will fit in the designated area.

How to Install a Salt-Based Water Softener 

Once you have confirmed the code requirements for your whole house system you will begin by turning off your home’s main water line and then draining all of the pipes. Make sure to turn your water heater off completely (including its power). Using a pipe cutter, you will then cut the main line where you will be install the water softener—make sure that you catch any water that may drain out once you have cut the pipe.

Once this is done, you will have to connect the elbow fitting so you can get ready to fit the bypass valve once you have appropriately measured your pipes. Once the bypass valve is set up, you can continue to attach your pipes with the compression fittings that your water softener system came with. Clamp your hose and once it has drained completely you can then connect your system’s overflow tube to your brine tank (where your salt is). Make sure to set your valve to its bypass setting and flush the water thoroughly so you get rid of all of the immediate debris, dirt, and sediment that may have settled while you were installing the water softer.

When you’re all done with all that you can plug in your water softener and slowly open up your valve—and then you are all done!

Installing a Salt-Free Water Softener

Since there are a lot of different types of salt-free systems we strongly suggest that you take a look at your owner’s manual—however, below you will get a general idea of how to install a filter water softener.

Once you are all set up and ready to go where you are going to install water softener components, you can begin by turning your home’s main water line and drain it all out of the lowest spout in your home. Once you have let al of the water drain out you can cut into the cold water supply line with a pipe cutter and attach the shut off valve to that pipe—which can be done by either soldering it or directly gluing it to a PVC.

When you’re done with that you can install your system’s pre-carbon filter with the compression fittings that came with your system. Next you can put in the second shut off valve and extend the pipe until it connects with your filter system. Attach it with the compression fitting that came with your water softener and proceed to attach the own flow outlet to your home’s cold water pipe.

When all of this done you can turn off the valves and go and turn on your home’s main water line again. Once you’ve re-opened the valves carefully and checked for any possible leaks in the connection line you are all set and ready to go.

Installing a Descaler

Magnetic systems are by far the easiest to install out of the three. With these you will just have to figure out where you are going to install it—this means finding a pipe where it will be able to clamp on to. Once you have done this you will have to open the box and clamp it. Following that you can fit the box onto the pipe according to the water flow and then close the box up. Secure it with the hardwater that came with your system and you are done!

Replacing Water Softeners

If you need to replace your current water softener system to install a new one, then the following steps should be helpful. However, I want to point out that if you are unsure or have any questions, you should always refer to your system’s instruction manual.

Replacing your water softener is typically a lot simpler than installing a new one since all of the piping and wiring is already setup for you—and should also already be set up to abide by your town’s building codes.

Before starting the replacement process, make sure to thoroughly drain the currently installed system. Once you have done this you will start by unplugging your current system’s water supply and turning of your home’s main water supply. Set your bypass valve and take any salt or Potassium Chloride you may want to save—and dispose of whatever you can’t use. When your all done with you can start separating your softener system from the piles and take out the brine’s well cover. Once the brine well valve has been taken out and the tubing has been disconnected you will be able to empty out your brine valve and remove the current water softener system.

Make sure to drain out your old system. If you are planning on keeping it you will want to be careful when you do this, but if you are tossing it then do this process as you please.

Once everything is thoroughly drained you can move forward with installing your new water softener system. Make sure to place it into place carefully before connecting to the outlet and inlet clips. Make sure you connected it correctly and then fill up your tank with whatever the system requires. When you are all done, you can plug your new water softener system back up to the power supply. Double check that everything is connected properly and securely and then go and plug in the power supply to you water softener system.

Carefully open the main water supply to your home and follow the start up instructions that your water softener system has in place in its instruction manual.

Water Softener Maintenance

Water Softener Maintenance

Some water softener systems require more maintenance and how to maintain a water softener properly will depend on what type of water softener system you have decided to purchase for your home.

Salt-based water softener systems, specifically, will require that you refill then with salt when they start running low, which can add up over time as far as cost. However, if you buy the right system for your home and set its hardening settings appropriately, then you will be able to maximize the use of the salt. Water softener systems also come with meters so you can track everything you need to know regarding your salt levels and water softening needs. Some even connect to smart apps, which you can check directly from your phone or tablet—where you can keep track of everything you need to know regarding your water softener system.

Salt-free water softener systems, on the other hand, typically require less maintenance—depending on which ones you go with. There are some more efficient systems that require virtually no maintenance, unless a special situation comes up. However, many will require a filter or cartridge change every 6 month or after a system-specific amount of water has flowed through the system. If you have the budget for it, you may want to invest in a system that you won’t have to worry about changing filters or cartridges for (like the Pelican water system on our list) since that will and up over time—and you may end up spending just as much, if not more, in the long run.

Maintaining a dual-tank water softener system also costs a lot more but they will require less maintenance when compared to single tank systems. They regenerate more efficiently and will never leave you without soft water. They are a great investment if you have a larger house or household and don’t want to spend extra time or money servicing your system—at least not any more than is necessary.

Magnetic, or descaler, water softening systems are the easiest to maintain if they are compatible for your home. Since they use a magnetic field to help reduce build up on your pipes you won’t have to do much more than making sure it is still doing its job. This is the easiest one to set up and the easiest one to maintain—although it is not capable of high capacity work.

What to Do If I Find My Water Softener Leaking?

Any water leak in your home can be troublesome and frustrating to deal with. It can lead to unwanted damage to either your system or its surroundings and cause additional troubles if you don’t deal with it properly and in a timely manner.

If you notice there is a leak in your water softener system, the most important thing you need to do before moving forward is to turn of the power supply to the system—the last thing you want to do is shock yourself. Rushing a fix is never worth or your life or bodily harm.

Once you have made sure to turn off the power supply to your softener you will then have to shut off its water supply as well. When both of the power and water supply has been turned off, you will then have to activate the bypass valve that was connected to the water softener when it was first installed.

In some instances, a bypass valve is not required (although whole house systems do require them in order for them to be up to code) and if your system doesn’t have a bypass valve then you will need to turn the water supply line that leads to the valve off.

Typically, most leaks are directly related to incorrect installation or steps that were done incorrectly in the process. If your system is new that is most likely the case. On the other hand, if your system has been installed for a while now, and the leak just sprung up, then the leak may be directly related to a pipe connection or something that can be traced to the original installation of the water softener system.

Regardless of the reasoning behind your system leaking, you will have to contact the company or professional before moving further. When dealing with water systems that are run by any type of electrical unit or power supply you will want to contact a professional.

If the leak is in a descaler you may just need to tighten it or adjust its position. However, there may be more to it so we also recommend that you contact your system’s customer service department to figure out what is really going on.

What Happens If My Water Softener Runs Out of Salt?

If you have a salt-basted water softener system you may encounter this at some point. Most systems come with trackers nowadays—and some actually allow you to track your salt levels directly from an app on your phone or tablet. While they do not all send alerts, you will find that a lot of systems will let you know when it is starting to run low on salt.

However, some of the more affordable water softener systems do not offer this luxury and you may have to go directly to the system to check on the supply. Since no one is perfect, there may come a time where you will forget to do this—or you may even forget about the alert that was sent directly to your phone (life gets crazy for all of us).

If your water softener runs out of salt, regardless of why you forgot to refill it in time, do not panic. The only major symptom of allowing this to happen will be the absence of soft water in your home. You won’t have to worry about it ruining your water softener system since it automatically disconnects when it needs to regenerate, or when it runs out of salt.

The only annoying and tedious part of allowing this to happen is that you will have to clean out the brine tank and dissolve water salt is still there. You will then be able to refill it and get your system back up and running. So, in the end, the most frustrating process of running out of salt is having to deal with hard water again.

My Water Softener Salt Tank Has Brown Water, What Do I Do?

Brown is typically not the way we want to describe any water that we see—so if you see brown water in your brine tank you may become concerned and worry about the functionality of your water softener system. There are several reasons why this may be occurring, none of which are alarming or have to do with the quality of your water.

The first reason could simply have to do with the fact that you have to clean out your salt tank. As month and years pass, sediment may accumulate. Many users worry about keeping their salt tank stocked so they don’t have to deal with the system running out of salt—but you should actually let it run low so you can remove it and thoroughly clean out. If you haven’t done this in some time (or if you have never cleaned out your salt tank) then this could be the cause for the brown water in your salt tank. Go ahead and clean it out and set it back up—that should fix up the problem until you need to clean it again.

Another more common reason for this—especially if you are someone that constantly keeps up with cleaning your salt tank—is that the brown water or foam is actually Iron Reducing bacteria. While water softener systems aren’t designed to filter out iron, many can reduce dissolved ferrous iron that is already in your water supply. This oxidizing process will turn that water brown and make you worry. This is why a bypass valve is required—without it you would have backflow into your system that would let this water sneak into your pipes.

If you want to clean this up and it continuous to happen you may have some issues with the resin beads in your water softener, make sure to contact you customer service department before moving forward.

How to Clean My Water Softener

As we mentioned before, your water softener will need to be cleaned every once in a while, to make sure it stays properly maintained and up and running. Before moving forward, it is important to note here that some systems will need to be cleaned more often than others. However, generally speaking, your water softener will need to be cleaned once a year to keep it up and running efficiently and effectively.

Before beginning the cleaning process, you will need to start out by putting you water softener system in its bypass mode. Once you do that you can proceed to disconnect your softener from the lines that connect the softener to its salt tank. Make sure to dump out the water that was in the brine tank properly and throw out any remaining salt that was leftover—it’s best to do the cleaning when the salt tank is already low, so you don’t have to waste your salt.

Fill and rinse the tank out with hot water so you can get rid of any lumps that may have gotten stuck to the inside of your tank. Once you get all of the salt lumps out, you will be able to pull the brine grid out (assuming that your system has one of these). Once you gave completed the above steps you can fill your tank with some dish soap and warm water and scrub your tank out. Do this as many times as you need to in order to get rid your salt tank of everything.

Fill your salt tank up with a mixture of water and bleach (about 2.5 gallons of water and 2 ounces of bleach) and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Scrub it out and rinse it out again with the water and bleach mixture that you have leftover. Once you have used up all of your bleach water rinse it out with water and put the brine tank back where it belongs. Reconnect it properly and turn off the bypass mode you set the softener to earlier.

Fill up your brine tank with 5 gallons of clean water, or whatever your instruction manual specifically suggests, and fill it up with the right amount of salt.

It is important to note that I have described the typical process to cleaning your salt-based softener. Salt-free softeners have a similar process—you will just be dealing with Potassium Chloride instead of salt. We also recommend that you take a look at the specific cleaning instructions of your water system. Not all systems all the same and they may require a different cleaning process than we described above, although this a general guide that most will require when you go to clean it.

What Do I Do If I Find My Water Softener Full of Water?

If you walk in to find that your water softener is full of water, there is most likely something going on with your resin tank or an underlying issue that you will have to contact a professional for. However, if your system has a great customer service department, we recommend that you give them a call first because this could also be an easy fix—you might be able to try out the cleaning process and that may be the fix if you don’t regularly clean it. However, contact the manufacturer first—whenever there is electricity and water involved it is better to play it safe from the very beginning.

When you notice this, immediately disconnect the power supply and turn the bypass valve. Turn off the water supply and go get in touch with your manufacturing company. Make sure to also consult your manual for your system’s safe disconnection process, just in case it is any different then what I just described above.

Overall, the lesson to take home here, is if you ever have any issues with your water softener you should always get in touch with a professional or the system’s customer service department. Take advantage of the warranties and help that these companies provide and fix it correctly—so you don’t lose money in the long run if you do something incorrectly.

Water Softener Comparison Chart

Water SoftenerCapacityColorRatingPrice
ABCwaters48,000 GrainsBlack 9$$$$
AFWFilters WS-96k-91SXT96,000 GrainsAlmond Or Black9$$$$$
AFWFilters Fleck64,000 GrainsBlue 9$$$$
Tier1 Everyday Series48,000 GrainsBlue 9$$$$
Whirlpool WHES3030,000 GrainsGrey9$$$$
Eddy Electronic Water DescalerN/AWhite8$$
Nuvo H2ON/AWhite8$$$$
AFWFilters Iron Pro64,000 GrainsAlmond9$$$$
Morton® System Saver30,000 GrainsWhite5$$$
WaterBoss 36536400 GrainsWhite7$$$


Finding the best water softener for your home can be a tedious process—especially with all of the brands and different types of systems. After looking at the best water softener reviews above you probably have a better idea of the price ranges the best water softener systems are available in—which means there is an option for all budgets.

The most important thing is to find the best water softener system for your home and your needs. This is done by sizing up your water softener system and figuring out the right water grain capacity that you need for your space and household size. This might take some time, but it is the most important part of the entire process.

When your done with that you can then decide whether or not you want a salt-based water softener or a salt-free water softener. Both of these have lots of Pros and Cons that we discussed in our buying guide—so you just have to pick which one fits your preferences, needs, and overall long-term goals. If you want a more affordable, portable, and easy to install options you may want to go with a water Descaler, there is one featured on our list.

Overall, the best water softener systems are designed to simplify your life, save you time and money, and extend the life of your plumbing, appliances, and fixtures. If the water softener system isn’t doing all of those things for you, then it is not doing its job—so make sure to read our buying guide carefully to make sure your purchasing the best water softener system for you and your home.

Charles Cole

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