If you have hard water in your home, you understand how frustrating this can be. You might have a hard time cleaning your bathroom, your laundry doesn’t feel (or smell) quite right, and you constantly see soap spots on your dishes when you take them out of the dishwasher.
Hard water makes it harder to maintain your house, but many of the contaminants in hard drinking water can also harm your overall health. You will probably see traditional water softeners and water descalers suggested as ways to solve these problems, but which one is right for your needs? In general, a water softener will remove hard minerals from your water, and a water descaler only prevents them from forming deposits.
Take a look at a few important points below, and find the right water filtration system to meet your needs.
What Does Hard Water Mean?
Before diving into water treatment, it is important to define what hard water is. Hard water has excess minerals that can have an impact on your plumbing system and health. Generally, it carries higher levels of calcium and magnesium minerals.
There are different levels of water hardness, and you can use a water hardness kit to gather more information about your specific hardness level. The level is usually measured in “grains per gallon (GPG)” and the categories are as follows:
GPG: Grains per Gallon
- Less Than 1: Soft
- 1 and 3.5: Slightly Hard
- 3.5 and 7: Moderately Hard
- 7 and 10.5 Hard
- Over 10.5: Very Hard
You need to know your hardness level when choosing between a water descaler and a water softener system.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
A water softener can reduce your water hardness to zero, and it uses two tanks to do so. The first is a resin tank, and the second is a brine tank. Your water softener will use an ion exchange process to strip excess minerals from your water supply.
First, water coming into your plumbing system will enter the resin tank, which has sodium ions. As water passes through the resin itself, the resin will swap the magnesium and calcium in your water supply with sodium.
Once your resin has been totally filled with minerals, the brine tank will clean out the resin itself. If you take a look at your brine tank, you will probably see it needs bags of salt. While it will not add a significant amount of salt to your water, you may want to avoid sodium if you have been told that you need a low-sodium diet. You can use potassium instead of sodium and achieve the same result.
Signs You Need a Water Softener
There are a few signs that could indicate that you need a water softener. They include:
- You notice that your laundry is fading because of all the mineral deposits.
- You feel like the taste of your tap water is a bit off.
- You have ugly stains around your bathtubs, toilets, and sinks.
- You have scale forming around your faucets.
If your water hardness test shows that your water hardness is over 10.5 GPG, you have water that is very hard, and the water quality could have a negative impact on your health in addition to damaging your appliances and pipes.
A water softener could help you address this issue and many others.
How Does a Water Descaler Work?
While some people call a water descaler a salt free water softener, this is a bit deceiving, as it does not completely eliminate minerals that contribute to water hardness. The main goal of a water descaler is to prevent the excess minerals in your water supply from creating scale deposits.
There are different ways that a water descaler can prevent minerals from building up in your plumbing supply. Some of them use crystals, known as tempted crystallization, to prevent scaling throughout your appliances. Others use a low-voltage current or magnets in your pipes to protect them.
While it does not use a chemical process that strips calcium and magnesium from your pipes and appliances, it can still prevent scale from building up in them, reducing the amount of maintenance you have to do and contributing to a clean house. On the other hand, it does not reduce your overall water hardness level, so it is not as comprehensive as a water softener.
The Signs You Need a Water Descaler
There are a few signs that could indicate that you need a water descaler. They include:
- You want to avoid using a lot of sodium to filter your water.
- You don’t want to do a lot of routine maintenance taking care of a water softener.
- You want to conserve the amount of water that you use, as a water softener uses significantly more water.
- You only want to prevent scale deposits from building up on your appliances and in your pipes.
If any of the statements above describe your thought process, you could benefit from a water descaler. At the same time, it is important to take a closer look at the biggest differences between a water descaler and a water softener.
Water Softeners Versus Water Descalers: The Main Differences
Now, with an overview of how water softeners and water descalers work, it is time to take a closer look at some of the biggest differences between them. A few of the most important points to keep in mind include:
Water Softeners vs Descalers: The GPG Results
One of the biggest differences between a water softener and a descaler is how it will impact the results of your water hardness test. If want to reduce your GPG level directly, you will need a water softener, as a water descaler does not have any impact on your GPG level.
The chemical process used by a water softener can remove minerals from your water, so it has a direct impact on the results of your water hardness test. On the other hand, a water descaler will not have a direct impact on your water hardness test results, and it cannot reduce your GPG level because it does not actually remove the minerals from your water supply.
If you really want to have a direct impact on your GPG level, you need a water softener.
Salt-Based Water Softeners vs Water Descalers: The Space Required
Next, you need to think about the amount of space you have for your water filtration system. Keep in mind that a water softener has two tanks that are required to keep it running. Therefore, it is larger than a water descaler, and it will require more space.
If you are looking for a slightly smaller device due to space constraints, a water descaler might be the better option for you.
Water Softeners vs Water Descalers: The Maintenance
If you want your filtration system to work properly, you need to perform routine maintenance. A water softener will require regular maintenance because you may have to replace the sodium tanks and clean out the brine tank from time to time. You can ask a professional to do this for you, but it may cost some money.
In contrast, a water descaler will only require a few checks here and there, so it should not require as much time or money in terms of maintenance.
Find the Best Water Filtration System To Meet Your Needs
In the end, these are a few of the most important points to keep in mind when choosing between a water softener and a water descaler. A water softener is more comprehensive because it will use an ion exchange process to strip minerals from your water and reduce your water hardness level.
In contrast, a water descaler can prevent scale deposits from building up, but they will not directly reduce your GPG level. Think about the differences above when trying to decide on the right system for your needs.