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

We all need clean water for day-to-day tasks like cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene. Many the U.S. homeowners ask themselves which is right for them—a water filter or a water softener? Examine the key differences between inline water filters and whole-house water softeners, the advantages 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 treats water as it goes into your house. It’s installed on your main water line, removing sediment, chlorine, bacteria and other pollutants from the municipal water supply before it gets to your plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Benefits of Water Filters

If your water comes from a municipal provider, you may wonder why you might need an inline water filter. After all, the water has already been cleaned at a water treatment plant. The problem is, many local water supplies barely meet EPA standards, and water may be contaminated with harmful particles between the treatment plant and your home. Here’s how installing a water filter can benefit you:

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

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

About one-third of American households depend on home treatment systems for top-quality drinking water. Here are some telltale indicators that you might need to get a whole-house water filter:

  • Discoloration, unusual taste or unpleasant smell: If your tap water is anything but totally clear, clean-tasting and odor-free, it may be contaminated. Think about adding a filter for your safety.
  • Constant plumbing issues: A whole-house water filter helps decrease blocked pipes, low water pressure and other problems.
  • Skin discomfort: If you have redness, rashes or other skin issues attributed to poor water quality, a whole-house water filter may be useful.
  • Past history: Does your local water supply have a background of pollution? Getting a whole-house water filter can give you peace of mind against future problems.

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener takes away calcium and magnesium from water. A process called ion exchange acts sort of like 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 observe once you set up a water softener:

  • Longer plumbing life span: Soft water reduces scale buildup on faucets, showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines, prolonging their life span and bettering 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 is a good way to make sure cleaning products lather more effectively, which results 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 run effectively for lower energy charges.

How to Tell if You Need a Water Softener

Most water supplies in North America are considered moderately hard, hard or very hard. You can learn about the quality of your local water by reading your local municipality’s water quality report. In the meantime, here are some signs that you could use a water softener:

  • Scale buildup: A white, chalky film on your fixtures and appliances is an indication of hard water, as are the white spots on your dishes, glass shower door and coffee maker. A water softener can help eliminate this problem.
  • Low water pressure: Showerheads and faucet aerators commonly become significantly clogged 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 completely, contributing to irritated skin and brittle hair.
  • Repeated appliance repairs: If your dishwasher or water heater fails frequently due to scale buildup, a water softener may be a worthwhile purchase.

Should You Buy Both a Water Filter and a Water Softener?

Inline water filters and water softeners both provide valuable benefits, but they perform different operations. An inline water filter eliminates contaminants and boosts overall water quality, while a water softener specifically targets hard minerals. In some instances, using 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 respected provider of water treatment products and solutions in the U.S., including water filters and water softeners from Excalibur. Our team can help you determine if one or both solutions are necessary to help you achieve the best water quality in your the U.S. home.