Do I Really Need a Water Softener or Is an Inline Filter Sufficient?

We all need clean water for day-to-day routines like cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene. Many the U.S. homeowners consider the question of which is better—a water filter or a water softener? Explore the important differences between inline water filters and whole-house water softeners, the benefits they provide and how to decide which one is best for your needs.

What Is an Inline Water Filter?

An inline water filter is a point-of-entry filtration system that filters water as it goes into your home. It’s installed directly on your main water line, removing sediment, chlorine, bacteria and other pollutants from the municipal water supply before flowing to your plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Benefits of Water Filters

If your water comes from a municipal supplier, you may question why you might need an inline water filter. After all, the water has already been cleaned at a water treatment plant. However, many local water supplies barely meet EPA standards, and water may pick up harmful particles between the treatment plant and your residence. Here’s how using a water filter can improve the water in your home:

  • Healthier water: Water filters take away harmful microorganisms, carcinogenic materials and other potentially harmful particles for safer, better-tasting drinking water.
  • Reduced sediment: Water filters minimize sediment collection in your pipes, appliances and fixtures, protecting them from harm.
  • No plastic waste: Inline water filters cut back on the need for bottled water, adding to a greener environment.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Access to clean, safe tap water saves you from spending extra money on bottled water and decreases the pressure on your plumbing system.

How to Tell if You Need a Whole-House Water Filter

About one-third of American households rely on home treatment systems for safe and healthy drinking water. Here are some signals that you should use a whole-house water filter:

  • Discoloration, strange taste or unpleasant smell: If your tap water is anything but totally clear, clean-tasting and odor-free, it may be contaminated. Give consideration to adding a filter for your protection.
  • Constant plumbing concerns: A whole-house water filter helps alleviate blocked pipes, low water pressure and other issues.
  • Skin discomfort: If you have redness, rashes or other skin issues connected to poor water quality, a whole-house water filter may be helpful.
  • Past history: Does your local water supply have a record of contamination? Using a whole-house water filter offers peace of mind against long-term problems.

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener removes calcium and magnesium from your water supply. A process called ion exchange acts similar to a chemical magnet, replacing these “hard” minerals with sodium ions to “soften” the water.

Benefits of Water Softeners

If you have hard water, here’s what you’ll notice once you put in a water softener:

  • Longer plumbing life span: Soft water reduces scale buildup on faucets, showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines, prolonging their life span and enhancing their appearance.
  • Clog-free plumbing: Soft water doesn’t cause a hard mineral coating to adhere to your plumbing system, which helps keep your pipes and faucets flowing effortlessly.
  • Better soap lathering: Soft water helps cleaning products lather more effectively, resulting in cleaner dishes, brighter laundry, and softer skin and hair, even if you use a smaller amount of soap and detergent.
  • Energy savings: A water softener helps your plumbing appliances operate effectively for lower electricity expenses.

How to Tell if You Need a Water Softener

Most water supplies in North America are categorized as moderately hard, hard or very hard. Learn more by reading your local municipality’s water quality report. In the meantime, here are some signs that you could see a real difference in the quality of water in your home by installing a water softener:

  • Scale buildup: A white, chalky residue on your fixtures and appliances is evidence of hard water, as are the white spots on your dishes, glass shower door and coffee maker. A water softener can help.
  • Low water pressure: Showerheads and faucet aerators commonly become significantly blocked by mineral deposits within 18 months of use. Watch for this because it is a sign of hard water.
  • Dry skin and hair: Hard water hinders soap from rinsing properly, resulting in irritated skin and brittle hair.
  • Continual appliance repairs: If your dishwasher or water heater malfunctions often due to scale buildup, a water softener may be a worthwhile purchase.

Do You Need Both a Water Filter and a Water Softener?

Inline water filters and water softeners are two tools that supply valuable benefits, but they perform different operations. An inline water filter takes away contaminants and boosts overall water quality, while a water softener specifically targets hard minerals. In some instances, having a water filter and a water softener is appropriate. Assess your specific needs and water quality to determine the best solution for your household.

Schedule Water Filter and Water Softener Installation in the U.S.

Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is a trusted provider of water treatment products and solutions in the U.S., such as water filters and water softeners from Excalibur. Our team can help you decide if one or both solutions are necessary to help you enjoy the best water quality in your the U.S. home.

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