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If you’re setting out this week to buy a water softener, you may have questions that include “Why do I need one in the first place?” or “What should I look for when purchasing a water softener?”

We hope to answer those questions here and give you helpful information that can guide you in your search.

Why Do I Need a Water Softener System?

The primary reason for installing a water softener in your home is to combat the effects of hard water. If you have noticed a scum, or cloudy haze, on your glassware, or have trouble lathering up or running a comb through wet hair, these are indications that you may indeed have hard water. As hard water contains high amounts of dissolved calcium and magnesium, and sometimes iron, it inhibits ions that help soap to lather.

As these minerals pass through your water system, they can leave limescale deposits that build up, creating clogs that inhibit the flow of water and causing damage your pipes, fixtures and hot water-using appliances. What a water softener does is break down the magnesium and calcium elements and replace them with a sodium ion.

Types of Water Softener Systems

There are basically five types of water softening systems: salt-based, salt-free, water ion-exchange, magnetic, and reverse osmosis.

The most common are the salt-based water softeners that are typically used to soften and filter water. In this system, water-softening salt pellets are placed directly into the brine take of the unit. But there have been controversies over whether the salt can have adverse effects on a person’s heath and their overall sodium levels.

Therefore, salt-free or saltless water softeners are rising in popularity. These systems use a filter so that no potassium, salt or chemicals are required. For most hard water applications, this system is perfectly adequate. For very hard water situations, however, it may not be recommended.

Not highly recommended are the alternatives: ion exchange water softeners remove the hardness-causing ions and replace them with potassium or sodium ions. This creates high level of salt and is not recommended for drinking water. Magnetic water softeners rely on magnets attached to the exterior of the water pipes to alter the water. Unless the water remains near the magnets, it will again become hard water within 48 hours. Reverse osmosis water softeners push water through a semi-permeable membrane to filter out impurities.

Things You Should Know Before Buying a Water Softener

One you’ve decided which type is right for your home, it’s time to get down to buying a water softener.

First, determine what size water softener you need. As a rule of thumb, each person uses approximately 80 gallons a water a day. Multiple that number by the number of people in your household to reach your usage number. Then multiply that number by the grains of hardness in your water. This can be determined through a water-testing kit.

Since many water softener systems are sold according to flow rate, you may need to know that as well. Place a one-gallon bucket under an outside spigot and fill it, timing how long it takes. Divide the number 60 (60 seconds) by the number of seconds it took to fill. For example, if your bucket takes 20 seconds to fill, your flow rate is 3 (60 divided by 20 = 3).

Second, determine the type of hard water issue you’d like to solve. Speaking to a professional like Clear Water Well & Pump can help to assess your hard water, determine water softener costs and which system to buy, and know how to use it.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing a Water Softener

  1.       Buying a water softener that is either too big or too small for your needs.
  2.       Buying the wrong type of equipment for your needs.
  3.       Not having enough space or a dedicated space to put a water softener in your home.
  4.       Assuming that city water is soft and doesn’t need a water softener.


One you know the size and type of water softening system to buy, you’ll need to know whether you are required to furnish salt and how often to add it. Otherwise, you’re good to go once it’s installed. With a new water softener, you can enjoy the benefits of softer skin and hair, sparkling dishes, and can even double the life of your hot-water using appliances.

Contact Clear Water Well & Pump for advice on purchasing a water softener for your home. Our team has more than 25 years of professional experience and specializes in water softener installation, replacement, and repair.

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Main Office

ClearWater Well & Pump
Front Royal, VA
(540) 692-6878
8AM - 5PM, after hours by appointment

Warrenton Office

ClearWater Well & Pump
70 Main Street Suite 23
Warrenton, VA 20186
(540) 692-6878
8AM - 5PM, after hours by appointment

Call: (540) 692-6878