Saltless water softeners, do they work?

In the past few years, water softeners have gone mainstream. Ask your neighbors, friends, and family. More than half of them probably already have a water softener installed in their home. Their water softener is on guard 24/7, protecting their home’s pipes, appliances, fixtures, faucets, and shower heads from hard water scaling.

However, not all water softeners are the same. In recent years, saltless water softeners, also known as water conditioners, have become increasingly popular. In this article, we’ll review what these systems are, how they differ from traditional water softeners, and why so many homeowners are deciding to go salt-free.

Why do I need a water softener?

Look around your kitchen or bathroom. Have you noticed the buildup of scale—also known as mineralization—on your faucets, fixtures, and showerhead? On physical surfaces in your home, this stuck-on calcium and magnesium is just an eyesore. In your pipes, it’s an entirely different story.

As scale collects in your pipes, it begins to obstruct the free movement of water through them. With enough time and enough scaling, your pipes will eventually be fully obstructed. At that point, you’re looking at thousands of dollars in plumbing work as you’ll need to have an experienced plumber repipe your home.

It’s not just your pipes that are at risk, either. The same chemical process is also playing out in your water heater, your dishwasher, and your washing machine. Scaling can negatively impact the operation of all three and even reduce their overall lifespan. Hard water, as it turns out, is hard on your home and, eventually, your wallet.

This is why water softeners and conditioners exist. These systems have one job: preventing scaling from doing this to your pipes and appliances. As we’ll get into in the sections below, softeners and conditioners accomplish this through different methods. But, the important part is that they can protect your home through effective water filtration.

What are the downsides of water softeners?

Traditional water softeners use salt to “soften” water. By adding salt to the water coming into your home, these systems remove minerals through the ionic exchange. The salty byproduct is then removed from the drinking of tap water before it is sent onward to your home.

These traditional, salt-based water softeners have several problems. First, salt-driven softeners require more maintenance and, most notably, salt, which means they cost more to operate throughout their lifespan. Buying replacement salt is a chore many homeowners would rather do without. Most softener salts are sold in huge, 40lb bags, which may be impractical for many people to transport.

Saltless systems generally last longer, too. On average, salt-free water softeners last nearly twice as long as those that use salt. This ultimately makes up for the slightly higher initial installation cost of many salt-free systems.

That salty byproduct has to eventually go somewhere. It’s often flushed into the municipal sewer. However, this hyper-saline leftover water is bad for the environment. When it leaks into freshwater sources (like rivers and lakes) or groundwater supplies, it significantly increases the salt content of those water supplies. Here in California, our water is already incredibly precious: the mass use of salt water softeners puts even more pressure on our local environment.

How do saltless water softeners work?

Instead of using salt as a binding agent for minerals, saltless systems use a chemical process called descaling. Also known as “conditioning,” this keeps minerals from attaching to pipes, fixtures, and faucets. Ultimately, this protects your pipes and appliances from scaling—the main reason you’d need a water softener in the first place.

One of the main advantages of salt-free water softeners is that they accomplish the same goals without the need to regularly replace the salt supply.

What are water conditioners?

Water softeners and water conditioners accomplish the same thing: protecting your home from hard water. Softeners do so by using salt, as described above. Conditioners use descaling, which is a salt-free approach.

If we’re using the term literally, salt-free water softeners aren’t actually “softening” water at all. They are conditioning and changing it. However, since they have the same result as traditional water softeners and are sold alongside them, most people still refer to them as water softeners.

Is a salt-free system right for your home?

Most homes do well with a saltless water softener. If you’re considering installing a water softener to protect your home’s plumbing, you should strongly consider a salt-free system. You’ll accomplish the same goals without the nuisance of having to buy and replace the salt, and without the damage to our local environment here in Central California.

At Allbritten, we’re proud to install a wide variety of HALO water filtration systems. In the two sections below, we’ll compare the softeners and conditioners available from HALO.

HALO Water Softeners

If you’re looking for the ultimate water softening solution, go with the HALO Highly Filtered Super Soft Combo. This device combines the best of both worlds: a water softener and a water conditioner. By running tap water through both modules, your HALO system is not only able to more effectively soften water, but it uses less salt to do so. It also represents long-term value for your home: this two-in-one system comes with a 10-year warranty.

If you’re on the fence about whether to buy a water softener or a water conditioner, the HALO Highly Filtered Super Soft Combo might be the perfect system for your home. Talk to our team here at Allbritten to get more details about this system and what it’ll take to get it set up and running.

HALO Water Conditioners

Their HALO Ion 2.0 conditions your home’s water without the need for salt, chlorine, or other chemicals. This approach to water softening uses magnetic fields to alter the molecular structure of calcium and magnesium. Doing so, inhibit either mineral from adhering to the inside of your pipes or appliances.

It’s a maintenance-free system that requires no separate drain line or power supply. Best of all, it comes with a 25-year warranty, which means your home will be protected from hard water for many years to come.

Take action to protect your home

There’s no time like the present to start protecting your home’s pipes and appliances from scaling. Taking action now could mean adding years to your pipes. It’s a worthwhile investment. If you’re interested and ready to learn more, talk to us.

At Allbritten, our plumbers have been installing high-efficiency water softeners and conditioners for years. We’d love to talk through your options and help you find the right system for your home.

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