If you live in Ambler and experience hard water, a water softener could be the answer. At PlumbPRO Services we often receive questions about the best type of water softener to install in a home. While there are many variables to consider, including personal taste and budget, most homeowners will end up choosing between a salt and salt-free softener system.

Here, we’ll explain how each system works and describe the pros and cons of each, so you can make the right decision for your home.

How Does a Salt-Free Water Softener Work?

Salt-free softener systems condition the water in your home to reduce minerals from scaling in your pipes. What does this mean? The softener reacts with magnesium and calcium particles, causing them to crystalize, reducing their ability to bond with your plumbing.

A salt-free water softener system uses just one tank, consisting of potassium particles. Hard water, filled with minerals is processed through the potassium creating a chemical reaction. When the residual water hits your plumbing system, there are no minerals left to scale.

Cons of Salt-Free Water Softeners

The biggest con of the system is that the water oxidates when it leaves your plumbing. So, while the internal workings of your home’s pipes are scale-free, the tub, shower, your hair, and body are all susceptible to the hard water.

Because of the oxidation, when water drains back into your tub or sink the pipes leading water away from your home are impacted by the calcium and magnesium. This can build up and cause clogs and an early deterioration of your pipes.

Another con of a salt-free system is the cost. Surprisingly, salt-free setups run more than saltwater softeners, costing between $500 to $2500 for initial installation, depending on the size of your home.

Pros of Salt-Free Water Softeners

There are a few pros of this system, including its single tank processing. This saves you money and space to install. The trade-off, of course, is that the hard water could still impact your home in many ways.

How Does Saltwater Softener Work?

The saltwater softener process differs from the salt-free setup because it uses ion exchange, rather than a potassium-mineral chemical reaction to get rid of the magnesium and calcium in your plumbing.

Saltwater softener systems are installed in two tanks, one with resin particles and one with a metered valve and a brine mix.

The descaling process begins in the resin tank, which removes the calcium and magnesium to soften the water. When the resin particles are too full of minerals, they need to be cleaned in the brine tank. The brine tank sends saltwater into the resin tank to clean the beads. Then the process begins again.

Cons of Saltwater Softeners

The biggest issue homeowners have with salt water softening is the double tank, which may take up more space than a single tanked salt-free setup, and the need to consistently replenish the brine mixture.

Pros of Salt Water Softeners

Saltwater softeners keep your water clear long after it leaves the faucet. This means you don’t wind up with minerals on your:

  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Dishes
  • Plumbing
  • Sink
  • Toilet
  • Tub
  • Shower
  • Clothing

You may also notice a difference in your heating bills, and grocery list as hard water is more difficult to scrub off your dishes and bathroom fixtures.

You can purchase a specialized salt water softener system with an N SF/ANSI 44 certification. This means the system has been inspected and can remove cancer causing particles from your water, such as radium-226 and 228.

Another pro of the saltwater softener is the price. Compared to the salt-free setup, you could save up to $1000 going with the salt-based method. Of course, this is just the initial cost and there are ongoing fees to factor.

Which Should You Choose?

Both systems help remove minerals from your pipes, but saltwater softeners ensure your drains remain clear and your skin, dishes, and clothing aren’t impacted by the scale and minerals.

Ultimately, PlumbPRO Services recommends a saltwater softening system over a salt-free setup, but the choice is yours. We understand that every home and family situation is different. If you’re concerned about space or budget, we can help you select a water softening system to fit your lifestyle. Interested in learning more about water softening in Ambler? We invite you to contact PlumbPRO Services by phone or through our website today.