Whole-House Water Softeners, Water Conditioners & Water Filters: What’s The Difference?

November 16, 2019

Water Filters - Save Home HeatWith a wide variety of water treatment and filtration options available for your home, it can be daunting to figure out which product or products will best meet your needs. There are many different devices to choose from, some of them designed to address the entire water supply entering your home, and others built for point-of-use applications. The issues they can address and their levels of effectiveness can also vary widely. But not to worry. As your Denver-Boulder area home plumbing experts, Save Home Heat Company is here to help you make an educated decision that you’ll be satisfied is the right one for you and your home.

Whole-House Water Softeners, Conditioners, and Filters Solve Different Water Quality Issues

Water Quality - Denver Colorado - Save Home HeatOnce you understand the issues that you are dealing with (more on that below), the next step is understanding your product options, and what each has to offer. The focus of this blog is to help you understand the difference between the two primary classes of whole-home water treatment products: water softeners and water filtration systems.

Water softeners focus solely on the removal of minerals from your household water supply that cause limescale (aka. ‘hardness’). Limescale minerals consist mainly of various forms of calcium and magnesium; these are the most common culprits that increase the hardness of your water.

Whole-house water filters, of which there are a wide variety of products and designs, are capable of addressing a much broader spectrum of water quality issues than water softeners, focusing in many cases on specific elements and chemicals.

Water conditioners, on the other hand, can both reduce hardness and also address a variety of chemical, taste, and odor issues.

Whole-home water filtration products and systems, depending on the choice of product, are capable of removing contaminants such as sediment, rust, pesticides and chlorine, among others, from your home’s water supply. They can even help solve issues with taste and odor. If your only water issues are significant levels of limescale, then it makes sense to look closer at a water softening system. In some cases, a water conditioner may be adequate to address hardness issues, while also providing additional filtration and treatment benefits. In other cases, more than one water treatment product may be used in tandem, if analysis indicates that’s the best course of action to achieve the results you’re looking for.

What water treatment system is the best fit for my home?

A Little Background On How They Work

The most common residential water softeners operate based on technology that uses common salt and/or resin products to produce a chemical environment (a ‘chemical magnet’) in the softener which draws those problematic minerals from the home’s water supply into the unit. Water filters may employ a variety of advanced filtering media in their flow-thru designs. Some of the processes that are available in whole-home water filters are micro-filtration of particles, absorption, and oxidation, among other methods. Water conditioners, depending on the units, may employ a variety of different designs, including products that incorporate activated carbon, special catalyst media, or even in somes the use of magnets to create conditions that prevent scaling.

Impact and Cost

Of course, some of the contaminants mentioned above can be pretty scary if present in your water supply in high enough levels, posing potential health and safety issues. Others might be classified as more of an annoyance. Thought by some to be grouped in the latter category, the impact of heightened levels of limescale (best addressed by a water softener) could range from personal issues such as dry skin and dull hair, to soap scum deposits in sinks and tubs, white powder fouling faucet and shower aerators, leaking faucet seals, potential damage (or shortened lifespan) to appliances such as your water heater, boiler, washing machine and dishwasher – even the very water piping inside your home. Potentially more than just an annoyance! (Having to use more soap in order to achieve effective cleaning seems fairly minor, compared to the rest of this list.)

The installed cost for water filters, water conditioners, and water softeners can vary widely, but it’s a given that a quality, effective, whole-home water treatment system may not be a minor investment. It doesn’t make sense to get carried away buying the ‘best’ option available, with all the bells and whistles, rather, the one or ones that best addresses your specific needs.

Whole-Home Water Treatment Systems Can Address:
  • Sediment
  • Scale depositing
  • Iron and Rust
  • Chlorine and Fluoride
  • Sulfur
  • Odor and Taste
  • Plant Pesticides & Plant Hormones
  • And more

Factors to Consider

Save Home Heat - Colorado - Water SoftenerAs mentioned above, before deciding on the best water treatment plan for your home, the first step is getting your arms around the nature of your water quality issues. Our team has in-house capabilities to test for chlorine, total dissolved solids (TDS), hardness, pH, and even iron. For more in-depth water quality analysis, we turn to statewide labs and local manufacturer resources to assist further, as needed.

Once you know the issues that need addressing in your home’s water – chlorine and hardness are among the most common ones in the Colorado Front Range – the next step is getting matched with the product or products that best solve these concerns. That’s where a knowledgeable, experienced plumbing team can be invaluable to you, and in the Denver-Boulder area, that’s Save Home Heat Company.

We understand that it makes sense for you to invest in water filtration and water treatment devices that are built to last and that have a proven track record. We take the time to educate you on routine maintenance requirements and projected future costs (there’s always something), and patiently answer all your questions so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Denver-Boulder Plumbing Experts

Save Home Heat Company has been serving the Denver-Boulder area with high quality, professional home services since 1979. Our advice and recommendations are always offered with your best interests in mind and you can count on our experience, expertise, and our strong commitment to your satisfaction in all the work we do for you. When it comes to your home’s water, you can count on our team to match your home with dependable products that help ensure your safety, safeguard the many plumbing investments in your home, and improve your quality of life. Contact our team today to learn more or to schedule a free, no-obligation installation quote.

Please contact me to schedule a free install quote for a whole-house water softener or water filter!