Best Water Softener Reviews for Your Home
By: Frank Van Zuuk
Table of Contents
- Our Top Water Softener Recommendation for 2014
- Our #1 Pick!
- Fleck 5600SXT
- Does Consumer Reports Recommend a Highest Rated Water Softener Model?
- Best Water Softener Reviews
- Top Rated Water Softener Systems
- What Brands of Water Softeners Get the Best Reviews?
- Water Softener Brands: How Do The Best Compare?
- Which Top Rated Water Softener Should I Buy?
- What is a Water Softener?
- How A Water Softener Works
- Do I Need A Water Softener?
- What is Hard Water?
- How To Check For Hard Water
- Find a Water Treatment System That Meets Your Needs
- Types of Water Softeners
- What Do You Think?
If you are looking for water softener reviews you are probably concerned about the quality of water your family is drinking every day. Considering the fact that about 85% of the United States has hard water you have a pretty good likelihood of this being your problem.
To combat hard water a water softener is a great option.
Reading the reviews available here is one way for consumers to learn which brands, manufacturers, and models get the highest ratings. Many people seek a recommendation from consumer reports or read the Amazon customer reviews to get an idea of what actual buyers recommend.
If you are sure that hard water is your issue check out our #1 pick for the best water softener brand listed below. The analysis that follows will help you decide which water treatment system is best for your family. Read on to discover what hard water is, what it does, and how you can eliminate it from your families water supply by buying a top water softener model for your home.
Our Top Water Softener Recommendation for 2014
Our #1 Pick!
The Fleck 5600 SXT is our #1 Pick for the Best Water Softener for your money! This is a great entry-level water softener. It is a solid choice for the DIY enthusiast.
- It comes in at under $600 on Amazon which is a very reasonable price for a top quality brand.
- This unit gets a 5 star rating from verified purchasers which is great news for those of you who like to get real life feedback before you invest your hard-earned money!
- This price is for a 48k capacity which is very efficient. Read this article to learn more about how to size your water softener.
- It treats up to 12 gallons per minute.
- The Fleck 5600SXT comes with a 5 year warranty on the control head, and a 10 year warranty on the tank.
- This unit will soften water efficiently for a household of 3-6 people with moderate to very hard water depending on your average water usage.
Read on for more info about water softening systems. Learn how they work, what they do, and how to choose the best brand for your needs. You can also read more water softener reviews on the Fleck softeners here.
Does Consumer Reports Recommend a Highest Rated Water Softener Model?
According to the consumer reports website they do not do testing of whole-house water softeners, the closest you will find on consumer reports is water filter reviews and dishwashers that have built-in water softeners. With that in mind we scoured the web to find info on water softeners from actual consumers. The best place to find unbiased reviews of different softener brands is Amazon and home improvement forums.
Consumer Reports recommends a Pelican Water Filter/Salt Free Softener Combo but I have found a few poor reviews about this system. In particular, in water hardness tests this unit does not remove hardness from the water. Check this link for the info.
Keep reading for a sample of customer reviews as well as product reviews for some top rated water softeners.
Calling Waterboss service number gets you a tech person quickly and they walk you through any issue. Great company, great value, great product.
This unit works better than all it replaced and the salt consumption is incredible; not to mention the space I saved with the install.
Great little softener, small footprint, came with most everything needed to hook up, was easy to install.
My water is hard and rusty, the WaterBoss treats it using a minimum of salt. I am pleased with the results.
Best Water Softener Reviews
WaterBoss 200 Water Softener
The WaterBoss 220 is a 5 star rated softener priced under $500. Some of the top benefits of this model are its compact size and built in dirt and sediment filter. Customers seem to love the small footprint which frees up valuable garage space as well as its manual regeneration feature which means you have more control over the salt and water usage of the unit. The 220 is designed to operate quietly which makes it great if it must be installed in a interior utility closet.
- Whole-house model, this unit will soften at a rate of 12 GPM (gallons per minute)
- Softens up to 70 GPG hard minerals, reduces iron up to 10 PPM, filters dust and sediment to 20 microns
- Works great for families up to four people.
- Will regenerate in as little as 18 minutes using only 2.5 lbs. of salt for maximum efficiency.
- The electronics come with a 3 year warranty and the tank comes with a 10 year warranty.
- In-house tech support is available weekdays toll-free. Made in the USA.
WaterBoss 365 Water Softener
The WaterBoss 365 is a 4 star rated softener also priced under $500. In fact, it is almost the same price as the 220. The main differences between these two units is that the 365 is made for larger families or a higher water demand situation. The 365 offers the same benefits as the 220 with the following exceptions.
- Softens up to 90 GPG hard minerals.
- Will regenerate in 38 minutes using 6 lbs. of salt.
- Specifically made for larger families or higher demand.
BEST THING I EVER DID! Salt usage has dropped to 1/3 salt usage. It has a sensor that only regenerates when needed. Great product!
Very easy to install, great softener for the price!
The system has been working great for over a year. I have VERY happy with this water softener.
I love the fact that this system monitors the water usage and only runs when needed.
This cost me about a 1/4 of what Culligan wanted for their unit and it uses a lot less salt in operating!
Top Rated Water Softener Systems
Morton M27 Water Softener Review
Morton's M27 Water Softening System is rated 4 Stars and can be bought for around $450. This unit has a 27K capacity, it has a small footprint, a built-in iron filter, and can store up to 200 lbs. of salt in its tank. The System Saver is Morton's patented technology that is supposed to be highly efficient. The water softener is equipped with "Look Ahead" technology that is able to recognize patterns in your water usage so that it regenerates only when necessary, which will save water and salt. Morton offers free tech support too. The warranty is not as good as others though, only 1 year on the parts, however, they do offer the standard 10 year tank warranty.
Morton M30 Water Softener Review
The Morton M30 water softener can be bought for about $425. This unit is suitable for whole-house softening, comes with patented "Look Ahead" technology that predicts regeneration needs, and is highly efficient using only 50% of the salt of other units. This system has a 30K capacity and an easy installation kit is included.
Morton M34 Water Softener Review
Morton's M34 Water Softener holds a 4 Star rating and is priced about $650. This unit comes with the above mentioned features as well as a capacity of 34K. This unit gets the most reviews of all the Morton's and seems to be a solid performing water softener.
What Brands of Water Softeners Get the Best Reviews?
There are several stand outs when it comes to great reviews. Listed below are the water softener manufacturers that consistently received top ratings from customers.
- Culligan has been around for over 75 years and are a trusted name in the water treatment industry. They will only sell to you if you have one of their reps come in for a home visit though so DIY purchase and installation is not an option.
- Pelican is another company that has been around a while. They offer many different water treatment systems. They also require a home demonstration with a sales rep.
- Kinetico is a talked-about brand when it comes to high quality water systems. They also set you up with an in-home evaluation and you must go through their people to purchase their equipment.
- Kenmore boasts they are in over 100 million homes. These are great stats but they seem to sell more water filters than water softeners. They have a couple on Amazon but no reviews yet. Their high efficiency model (under $700) looks good though, it uses 20% less salt and 32% less water than regular models.
- GE has a few softeners listed on Amazon for $600-$700 with one 5 star review.
- Fleck has some of the best reviews on Amazon and is our top recommended brand of water softener. Read more about Fleck softeners and get reviews here.
- WaterBoss has multiple softeners listed from $300 to $700 and a wide range of reviews. The reviews range from 2.5 to 5 stars depending on the model. Check out our review of the WaterBoss 900.
- Morton also has several units garnering a wide range of reviews. There seems to be a leaning towards the Morton Salt Company 34M Water Conditioner with a solid 4 star rating from buyers.
Water Softener Brands: How Do The Best Compare?
First of all when comparing different manufacturers and models of water softeners you need to ask yourself if you want to do any of the work in order to cut costs. Many of the top manufacturers do not sell their equipment to the general public without them going through an authorized dealer or in-house sales rep. You might be able to find something on an online auction site or in the classifieds but shop carefully if you take this route.
Also, even if you are an expert handyman you will probably want to check the manufacturers requirements before you do the install yourself. Sometimes they will not honor the warranty if the installation is not done by a licensed plumber.
If this happens to be the case you can still save some money by making your purchase online where you can compare prices and find the best deal. You can then hire a pro to do the install.
For the most part all traditional salt water softeners do the same thing, you can read all about it farther down this page. So, when comparing brands you need to focus on actual verified customer reviews and information you can find about the quality of the products the manufacturer produces. Going through reviews can be tedious so I have tried to give you as much info as I can on this site.
Which Top Rated Water Softener Should I Buy?
Besides our top recommended brand and model the Fleck 5600SXT these are some other water softeners that have a good price and great reviews.
4.2 Star Rating
Free Shipping from CAI Technologies
- Programable microprocessor
- 48k capacity, high efficiency
4.5 Star Rating
- High efficiency operation
- High flow output
- Control is programmable
5 Star Rating
3-5 person household
- 40k Capacity for maximum efficiency
- Twin Tanks for maximum storage capacity
What is a Water Softener?
A water softener uses a process called ion exchange to remove hard minerals from your water. The most common hard minerals that are removed are calcium and magnesium. These minerals get in your water when rain water is absorbed into the earth. In water treatment plants these minerals are not removed so they stay in your drinking water.
Some of the disadvantages of having these hard minerals in your water is: they can keep detergents and soaps from lathering well, they can cause a scummy, white build-up on your dishes in your dishwasher, they can also cause a build up of residue in your shower or tub, your clothing and hair can seem dull and lifeless when washed with hard water and most importantly over time the minerals can build up in your pipes, appliances, and fixtures decreasing their lifespan.
A water softener consists of two tanks, water flows into one tank that contains resin beads these resin beads have an opposite electrical charge than calcium and magnesium. Because of this opposite charge the hard minerals are exchanged for soft minerals. The softer minerals are sodium chloride or possibly potassium chloride these are manually added to the water softener on a regular basis.
How A Water Softener Works
This video I found is a good, basic instruction about how a water softener works.
Do I Need A Water Softener?
One of the easiest ways to tell if you need a water softener is to find out if you have hard water. In the next sections you will learn all about what hard water is and how you can test your water to determine if has a high mineral content.
If you do in fact have hard water you will want to determine if you need to purchase a water softener to help soften your water. Hard water can cause many problems in the household. The most expensive problems are issues with your pipes and plumbing and water-using appliances.
As hard water flows through your pipes and is used in your appliances the hard minerals can build up. This build up will eventually line the pipes with a rock-hard substance called limescale. Over years this limescale build up can begin to restrict the flow of water causing a decrease in the water pressure you get out of your pipes.
Also, over time, your fixtures can have this buildup of limescale and they too will lose their water pressure to the point that you might have to have them replaced. Your appliances can also have their lifespan shortened, water heaters are particularly susceptible to wear and tear from hard water deposits.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water comes from the ground, most often from aquifers. Simply put aquifers are underground rock beds that rain water or other ground water can flow through. When water flows through the earth it picks up minerals that are dissolved from the rocks and sand underground.
These minerals are usually calcium, magnesium carbonate, and manganese. While these minerals are not bad for the health they can be bad for the health of your water-using appliances, your clothing, skin and hair. You will most often see the effects of hard water as spots on glassware or white, crusty build up on your faucets and in your dishwasher.
When these minerals are present in water in higher amounts they are called "hard" minerals. The degree of hardness is measured by grains of hardness per gallon of water or GPG. Alternately hardness can be measured by parts per million of the mineral or PPM. In figuring out how hard your water is remember that 1 GPG = 17.1 PPM.
If you want to split hairs, any water containing over 1 GPG is hard water, however when it comes to the negative effects of hard water you probably won't notice any until your water has at least 3.5 GPG in it. If you have more than 10.5 GPG you will probably agree that the effects are very noticeable. Between 3.5 and 10.5 you have moderately hard water like most of the US.
How To Check For Hard Water
If you are not sure what water issues you are dealing with your first step should be a water test kit. These DIY test kits will measure your water for all types of contaminants.
If you know for sure you are dealing with hard water there are specific home test kits that measure hardness. There are a couple of ways to get your water tested for free and you can read about those here or if you are ready to purchase a home water test kit here are some really good ones to choose from.
Each family has its own needs whether that be to eliminate hard water, combating cloudy water, correcting water that smells bad, or dealing with water that tastes terrible. Once you find out for sure what your water issues are you will be in a better place for purchasing a softener or purifier.
Below the interactive chart of water softeners is some basic info on what a water softener is, how it works, and what you need to know before you invest in one.
Find a Water Treatment System That Meets Your Needs
First of all you need to determine if you actually have hard water.
- Call your city water department and ask for a water quality report. These are usually free but not available if you are on well water.
- Call a plumber or contractor to come out and test your water...not free.
- Order a home test kit and do it yourself. Not free but not expensive. These are some good ones to try.
If you do indeed have hard water and are ready to invest in a water softener:
- You can determine what size water softener your family needs by checking out our water softener size calculator here.
- If you have other issues as well, such as a bad taste, a bad smell, or cloudy water you may want to add a reverse osmosis system or a whole house filtration system as well.
- If your main concern is keeping your pipes free from calcium buildup you might just want to go with a water softener alternative, such as an electric or magnetic treatment system, these are much less expensive.
- Read through the reviews below for some ideas on which one to purchase.
Types of Water Softeners
There is basically one "traditional" water softener. A standard water softener uses sodium chloride or potassium chloride to process the hard water. There are pros and cons to using each, read more about whether sodium or potassium is right for your family.
A salt-free water softener is really a conditioner or descaler but is sometimes called a water softener. These units use TAC (template assisted crystallization) to change the composition of the hard minerals so they don't adhere to pipes, clothing, etc.. Read all about salt-free units here.
Other popular types of water treatment devices are sometimes called water softeners but strictly speaking only a sodium-based softener using the ion exchange process can be called a water softener.
Electric water softeners use wires wrapped around the water pipes to disrupt the charges of the hard mineral ions. This is said to allow the hard minerals to pass through the pipes without adhering to the pipes or fixtures but does not remove the hard minerals from the water.
Magnetic water softeners use the same principles as electric softeners yet they do it with strong magnets attached to the water pipes.
Some water treatment devices use chelants to bind the hard water minerals. These are usually different chemical acids. They are also regularly added to soaps, shampoos, and can be added to foods as a preservative. These devices usually call themselves water softeners and you have to dig into the details to find out they use chelation for softening.
As you are shopping for water softeners make sure you understand the type of technology they are using and what you are actually getting for your money.
What Do You Think?
Now that you have seen the options and our top picks for the best water softener reviews on the market, it’s up to you to pick what meets your needs, is in your price range, and what will be the best option for your family.
As you know, new products are being produced every season by new and established manufacturers. For that reason, the comparison chart above will be updated as new products need to be added to the list. Or if you feel like we missed a superior item that needs to be included on the list, contact us! Connect with Frank on Google +
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