How Do You Select the Best Water Softener for Well Water?

Hard water is an all-too-common complaint among well water users. From buildup in pipes and plumbing fixtures to spots on glasses and dishes to dry hair and skin, hard water can lead to a lot of headaches. It can even cause your water-using appliances to operate less efficiently.

Too often, well water users think they just have to deal with these hard water problems. They scrub away stains, add rinse aid to the dishwasher, use extra soaps and detergents, and more. But the fact is, water softeners can address all of these issues and improve the water quality throughout your home.

To figure out the best solution for you, it helps to first understand why so many well water users experience hardness in their water supply, and what you should keep in mind when looking for a softener.

With a variety of water softeners available, how do you choose the best water treatment system if you have well water? There are a few variables you should assess.

How Does Well Water Impact Water Softeners?

Over time, as larger amounts of water are processed, well water can somewhat decrease the lifespan of water softeners. This raises the importance of making sure the water softener you choose is well maintained and built to last.

Water Test Results

Free home water testing can help you determine the hardness of your well water. You’ll likely want to test for contaminants, too. Well water can often contain iron or sulfur, for example, leading to problems like staining or bad-smelling water. If you have these issues as well as hard water, it’s a good idea to purchase a water filtration system in addition to a water softening system, or a combination system.

Determine the Priorities for Your Solution

Not all water softeners are created equal, and many are suited to different purposes. Standard salt-based water softeners are the most common option. To find the system that’s right for your household, consider factors like:

  • Efficiency
  • Life span
  • Maintenance needs
  • “Smart” features

Companies that specialize in water softeners will possess the knowledge and service capabilities needed to make sure that your equipment is installed correctly and that it’s properly maintained for optimum functionality.

Generally, it’s a good idea to look for products that feature smart usage monitoring in the brine tank to ensure reliable regeneration and provide you with sufficient notice before you need to replace the salt. High-quality, noncorrosive valves are also highly recommended, since they are more durable than rotary valve systems.

In addition, while you should monitor for signs that maintenance is required, like low water pressure, automatic service notifications are preferable. These alerts make sure that you’ll get the greatest use possible out of your water softener. Some softeners even integrate with customer apps to track water usage, monitor salt levels and provide other useful information for efficient performance and conservation efforts.

If you live in a brine-restricted area where you can’t discharge water and salt, salt-free conditioners are a good option to explore as well.

More Information About Hard Water

Hard water may be more of a problem for appliances and cleaning than it is for safety and well-being. However, hard drinking water can still carry an unpleasant taste.

What Causes Hard Water?

While it can also occur in municipal water supplies, hard water is a frequent problem for private wells. This issue is caused by a relatively high concentration of hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), when soap reacts with dissolved calcium, soap scum is the result. The film and spots left behind on dishes and glasses come from the residue of hard water. Solid deposits of calcium carbonate can be formed by the heating of hard water, which causes scaling and buildup on pipes, heaters and more.

Water hardness is determined by a standard scale, which is usually expressed in grains per gallon (gpg) (or parts per million, expressed as milligrams per liter).

These are the classifications:

  • Soft: Less than 1.0 gpg or 0-60 mg/L
  • Slightly hard: 1.0-3.5 gpg or 17.1-60 ml/L
  • Moderately hard: 3.5-7.0 gpg or 61-120 mg/L
  • Hard: 7.0-10.5 gpg or 121-180 mg/L
  • Very hard: More than 10.5 gpg or more than 180 mg/L

Why Is Hardness So Common in Well Water?

For people who rely on well water, whether they have hard or soft water depends largely on the quality of the groundwater in their particular region.

The USGS noted that, on its way to private wells, groundwater may travel through soil and rock, dissolving some minerals as it goes. If the soil in an area is particularly high in calcium and magnesium, wells in the area may be supplying hard water.

Among private wells in the United States, hard water was a particularly frequent occurrence in the east-central and western regions of the country, according to a report from the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, which is part of the USGS. The study noted that these findings correlated with the presence of carbonate aquifers and those with a higher prevalence of dissolved solids.

If you’re a well water user who experiences hard water, learn more about which water softeners can help you address the issues you’re facing today.