Water Softeners


Appliances (like water heaters and dishwashers) and pipes can be damaged by hard water. Drinking water may not taste as good if you have hard water too. Install a whole house water softener and your appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines, should last longer and save you money.

Types of water softeners

Ion Exchange, Salt-free, Reverse Osmosis, and Magnetic Water Softeners

Consumer reports give the advantages and disadvantages of the four different types of water softeners. If you are a member, they also provide you with the top five brands of water softeners and actual reviews from consumers.

The four types of water softeners are Ion exchange, salt-free, reverse osmosis and magnetic. Salt-free water softeners are the preferred type by most consumers. The salt-free water softener uses a filter so no chemicals, potassium or salt are required. Consequently, the minerals in the water are not affected. Their disadvantage is that they are not recommended for very hard water. Ion exchange water softeners exchange the ions in the water with sodium or potassium ions. This removes the ions that cause the hardness in water. This type is not as highly recommended for drinking water due to the high sodium levels. Magnetic water softeners use magnets in or around water pipes so that the magnetic field will alter the water. The disadvantage is that water will return to a hard stage within 48 hours after leaving the magnetic field. Reverse osmosis water softeners use pressure to take out impurities through a semipermeable membrane. It does remove up to 98% of impurities but also removes minerals and nutrients simultaneously.

Benefits of a Water Softener

Personal Grooming

Hard water keeps the soap from sudsing. You can really feel the way the soap and hardness minerals combine to form a curd that sticks to the body and leaves an unclean, sticky feeling. More soap and shampoo are needed to get your hair and body clean. Hair gets encrusted with the same curd which causes the hair to be brittle, hard to keep clean, harder to manage, and keeps the natural highlights from showing.

Soft water, like rainwater, suds easily and rinses clean so your hair and skin always look their best.


Ever notice how gray or dingy your clothes look after repeated washes from hard water? To overcome hard water, you have to use more cleaning agents. Hard water shortens the life of your clothing by as much as one third. Softened water will make your clothes cleaner, softer, and brighter while increasing their life and saving you money.

Appliances and Plumbing

Mineral buildup from hard water could be very damaging to water-using appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, automatic ice makers, air conditioners, and water heaters. The buildup reduces the efficiency of plumbing systems and if ignored, your appliances and plumbing may have to be repaired or replaced. Mineral buildup in hot water heaters may result in greater use of energy to heat the water and eventually cause the water heaters to burn out long before their time. The minerals restrict the flow of water in pipes and plumbing systems similar to hardening of the arteries. They can become so completely clogged that they will need to be replaced. A water softener will help alleviate these problems and expense.

Information about Water Softeners

What is hard water?

“Hard” water simply means it has more minerals than ordinary water. Calcium and magnesium are the minerals that commonly cause hardness. When more calcium and magnesium dissolve, the hardness increases. They are positively charged ions so other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily. This is why soap doesn’t really dissolve in hard water.

What is water softening?

Because hard water contains a lot of calcium and magnesium, it is known to clog pipes and complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water. Water softening units remove the ions that cause water to be hard. Water softeners are often connected directly to the water supply.

What is a water softener?

A unit that removes the minerals that cause water to be hard is called a water softener.

Why is water softening applied?

Water softening can prevent minerals from clogging your pipes and damaging your water-using appliances. It reduces limescale deposits which help the efficiency of hot boilers and hot water tanks. Without water softening, the cost of domestic water heating can rise by fifteen to twenty percent.

Water softening increases the life span of your plumbing pipes and of household machines like washing machines and dishwashers. Air conditioners, solar heating systems also benefit from water softening.

What does a water softener do?

Water softeners are specific ion exchangers made to remove ions that are positively charged. Calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) are usually the hardest minerals removed. Even some iron can be removed. The exchanger ions commonly used are sodium and potassium (NaCl and KCl).

How much do they cost?

As with other appliances, the prices vary depending on efficiency and type.

Some operate on timers, some are water meter controlled, some work on electricity, and some are water-powered. Costs depend on the type of water softener, the type of energy used, the amount of hardness that needs softening, and the amount of water usage.

Is softened water safe to drink?

Yes. The minerals used are all-natural minerals we need. The calcium and magnesium are removed and some sodium is added. It is almost always safe to drink. It is recommended that softened water contains only up to 300mg/L of sodium. In areas of very high hardness, the softened water is not recommended for the preparation of baby milk due to the high content of sodium after the softening process.

Call Emory Garland Plumbing for all of your plumbing needs. We are ready to discuss the different types of water softeners with you and find the one perfect for you.