Updated: April 15, 2021 by Zac Harding
A decade ago, nobody ever worried about the water that came out of their faucets or thought that it might have a detrimental effect on their health and their home.
But then, all of a sudden people started talking about hard water and the impact that it was having on their daily lives. The fact that the water that we drink, bathe, and use to do our laundry and wash our dishes wasn’t quite as pure as we previously thought it became a real concern.
Living in a hard water area, you’ve probably noticed occasional spots appearing on your dishes or laundry, thin, filmy scum floating on your coffee, and your skin probably feels dry and flaky, all of which are a cause for concern.
And over time, hard water can damage your home’s plumbing and ruin washing machines, coffee makers, and dishwashers with the mineral deposits it leaves behind.
Even though there is no conclusive medical proof that it can be harmful to you and your family’s health and wellbeing, some studies have linked hard water to the development of childhood eczema and cardiac problems in middle-aged men.
If you’re a little worried and concerned about the effect that hard water might be having on you, your nearest and dearest, and your home, you should be. But there’s no need to panic as there’s an easy solution to your hard water problem and that solution is a water softener.
Because we, like you, were anxious about the long-term problems that our local water supply might be responsible for, we spent hundreds of hours tracking down the best water softeners that could be easily installed and used to minimize and negate any and all hard water issues.
And we’re going to share the fruits of water softening labors with you so that you can be safe in the knowledge that the water that comes out of your faucets will help to keep your home and family healthy and happy. It’s time to dispense with the hard and embrace the soft…
The iSpring ED2000 is the ultimate water softener you can ever get. It’ll keep your entire home’s plumbing system clear and scale-free through electronic pulses that brake down calcifications even before they form.
Our Best Water Softener Reviews
This Atlanta-based company has a simple ideology, “Water is life, treat it right”, and that’s exactly what their ED2000 is designed to do.
Unlike traditional water softening systems, the ED2000 was designed to eliminate scale build-up in your pipes and appliances without leaching out or destroying any of the beneficial minerals in the water supply.
An incredibly clever and inventive system that works on any pipes, the ED2000 breaks down any existing, and prevents any further, scale build-ups by sending a continuous, electronically controlled pulse throughout the plumbing of your home.
You won’t hear it, you won’t see it, but you can rest assured that iSpring’s descaler and water softener is doing exactly what you want, and need it to do.
Made to be made maintenance-free and easy to install, the iSpring doesn’t even need you to modify your plumbing. And best of all?
It’ll also reduce the amount of energy that your home uses and will exponentially extend the lifespan of all of your water-based appliances. It’s an easy answer to an increasingly troublesome problem.
- No Modifications Necessary – It’s simple to install and use, and you won’t have to modify or alter your plumbing when you use the ED2000. Just set it up, switch it on and wave goodbye to scale build-up in your pipes and appliances.
- Health And The Environment – The ED2000 was engineered to be beneficial to both, as it doesn’t use any environmentally harmful chemicals to break down the harmful material in hard water, was built to be energy-efficient, and ensures that your water supply retains the minerals that are beneficial to your health. If you or a family member follow a salt-restricted diet because it doesn’t use sodium to break down the scale, it’ll help you, and them, to stay healthy. And once you’ve started using it, your skin and hair will start to look, and feel, healthier too.
- The Hardest Of The Hard – iSpring built their system to work in the hardest of hard water areas where the typical grain count is anywhere between ten and nineteen, and if your home is located in one, it’s the ideal solution to your problem.
- iSpring Warranty – The ED2000 comes with a full, one-year money-back warranty and a lifetime of helpful tech support from iSpring, who will be happy to help you to troubleshoot and navigate your way through any problems that you might have with the ED2000.
- Effectiveness – The main issue that’s raised by unhappy customers is that the system doesn’t seem to be as effective as iSpring claims it is and that it takes far longer to break down and eliminate existing scale problems than they assumed, and thought, it would.
- Calcium And Magnesium – If you’re worried about the levels of calcium and magnesium in your water supply, the ED2000 won’t do anything to eliminate those fears as it wasn’t made to expunge them from your water and as such, isn’t the system for you.
Durawater, the brand responsible for creating the Fleck 5600 only does one thing. They make mechanical and digital water filters and softeners to make your life easier and healthier.
They’re water softening specialists with years of experience under their collective belts, and a name that you can trust to combat and eradicate your hard water problem.
Supplied with everything that you’ll need to set it up so that it can govern your incoming water supply, the Fleck 5600 comes with a resin loaded tank that has a forty-eight thousand-grain capacity, that it uses, via its ion exchange system, to nullify the calcium and magnesium that lie at the heart of all hard water problems.
Simple to use thanks to its digital control valve and LED readout that’ll keep you abreast of the remaining capacity, time, and water usage, this regenerates itself according to your water demands.
It learns your water usage patterns and makes sure that whatever time of the day or night you turn a faucet on, you’ll never have to worry about hard water again.
If you need a higher capacity model, check out the Fleck 7000XT.
- Bypassing Your Supply – The Fleck 5600 comes with its own, Noryl one-inch bypass valve, that you simply connect to the incoming water supply, and the Fleck and the system will do the rest.
- Grain Storage – With a forty-eight thousand-grain capacity, you won’t have to worry about harmful minerals ever again. And thanks to its easy-to-read LED screen, you’ll always be aware of how much space is left on the system. But if you do find yourself running low, don’t panic, as when it’s processed forty-eight thousand grains of hardness, the system will enter its regenerative cycle and start all over again.
- On-Demand – The digital control valve that Fleck uses ensures that it’ll always turn hard water into soft whenever you twist a faucet. So all of those things that you were worried about, the scale build-up and health concerns will become a thing of the past thanks to Durawater.
- Installation – Even though Durawater supplies a step-by-step instructional video to guide you through the installation process, it can be a little tricky and does involve some plumbing work. If you’re not confident around pipes, it might be worth calling a professional to install the system for you.
Nuvo H20 doesn’t believe in doing things the conventional way and refuses to be governed by the idea that if something isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it.
They know that the tired, tested, and true method of using a combination of sodium-based chemicals to soften hard water works, but they chose to ignore it and opted instead to use a radical new method to soften water that is based on the scientific principle of chelation.
Their system uses a proprietary chelating agent that binds the calcium and magnesium in hard water and ensures that they both remain soluble and can’t cause any further damage by adding any additional scale deposits.
In fact, Nuvo’s system doesn’t just prevent further build-ups, it also eliminates existing ones, and makes sure that the water that flows out of your faucet is clean, fresh, and scale-free.
Developed from twenty-five years of commercial knowledge and experience, Nuvo H20’s water softening system doesn’t use any electricity or create any waste deposits, so it’s as friendly to the environment as it is to you and your home.
Just because something works, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be made to work better.
- Efficient And Small – Nuvo’s water softening system is compact and efficient and has been designed to fit almost anywhere, so you can install it where you need, and want to instead of desperately trying to find space for it — which makes it perfect for RV’s and tiny homes.
- Technology – Rather than following the established route and choosing to go down the sodium-inspired path, Nuvo developed its own chelating system which ensures that there’s no waste, that your water doesn’t have a salty aftertaste, and that no electricity is needed to trigger the process.
- No More Deposits. Ever. – Nuvo’s water softener won’t just make sure that your pipes and appliances remain scale and deposit-free in the future, it’ll also tackle and do away with any existing mineral build-ups.
- Change Over – It uses a cartridge-based system, and you have to swap out the cartridges every twenty thousand gallons, which might sound like a lot of water, but really isn’t. And swapping those cartridges can become expensive over time.
- It Isn’t Family Friendly – Nuvo’s system was designed to cope with the demands of a one or two-person household, so if you have or are planning on having children, this isn’t the water softening system for you or your home.
Tier1 was built on the premise that every person should have access to clean, affordable water. Since they were founded in Minneapolis in 2013, they have made it their mission to ensure that every American has clean water every single time they turn a faucet on.
And their high-efficiency digital water softener is their answer to the hard water problems that plague so many of their fellow citizens.
It isn’t necessary to live with the perils of hard water and Tier1’s high-efficiency softening system includes an easy to read LCD display that constantly shows you what the system is doing, quick brine and drain line fittings, and a power cord, which ensures that this straightforward and simple to use water softener is easy to install.
The Tier1’s mineral tank is filled with negatively charged polystyrene beads (commonly called resin), which act as a magnet and attract the positively charged calcium and magnesium particles that hard water is filled with.
And as it’s been designed with a forty thousand grain capacity, the mineral tank will hold more than enough of both of the bothersome minerals to make sure that your water remains soft from the moment that the Tier1 system is installed.
- Tradition Matters – The Tier1 system is a traditional salt (sodium) based softening system that uses a mineral tank, a brine tank, and a digital control valve to effectively control and govern the softening process.
- Forty-Eight Thousand And Counting – The system will process forty-eight thousand grains of hardness before it enters its regenerative cycle (during which there will be a two hour supply interruption as it readies itself to start again), and the frequency of regenerative cycles is determined by how much water your family uses. But due to its high capacity, Tier1 has been designed to ensure that the breaks in supply while it regenerates won’t unduly interrupt your family life.
- Energy Efficient – The system has also been engineered to be as energy-efficient as possible and reduce the impact that hard water has on your daily life and your home to zero.
- Installation – It isn’t the easiest system to install if you’re unfamiliar with plumbing and pipes and you might need to seek professional help to fit it.
- Regenerative Cycle – On some systems, according to reviews, the regenerative cycle doesn’t always start automatically, and sometimes, it needs to be triggered manually.
A water softening system from slightly further afield, Eddy was the brainchild of two engineers who were based in London, a city notorious for its hard water problems.
Being familiar with electronic descalers, they knew that they could make a more efficient, cost-effective model. It was a flash of inspiration that led to the birth of the Eddy.
A truly utilitarian descaler that’s designed to be easy to use, all you need to do to transform your water supply is wrap two coils of wire around your incoming water pipe, plug them into the control unit, switch Eddy on and he’ll do the rest.
Eddy will effectively wipe out your scale problem and prevent it from building up and becoming a problem in the future. And it’ll do it without removing any of the beneficial minerals from your water supply.
Engineered to be an easy solution to a common problem, Eddy doesn’t need you to call in the plumber and you won’t need a degree in rocket science to make the system work.
Because the system is energy efficient and doesn’t use any chemical additives, it’s also kinder to the environment than most of its rival softening systems. It is a good pick if you’re looking for an alternative to the sodium-based system.
- Installation – Built to be easy to install and use, Eddy is ready to get work as soon as you unpack him, wrap the wires around your pipe and plug him in. It really is that easy to use.
- Affordable – For an effective water softening system that’s as efficient as the Eddy is, it’s also remarkably affordable and is as friendly to your pocketbook as it is to the environment.
- Warranty – Eddy comes with a twelve-month no quibble, money-back guarantee, so if you’re not happy, or the system doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, you’ll be refunded no questions asked. And if that wasn’t enough, Eddy also has a lifetime replace or repair warranty.
- Reliability – While the majority of Eddy’s customers are remarkably satisfied with the softening job that the system performs, there is a minority who claim that the system doesn’t do what it was made to. Who you believe is entirely up to you, and it might be worth doing a little additional research before you invest in Eddy.
The W2B200 was designed to provide a family of five with all of the lime-scale free, soft water that they’ll need.
Capable of producing four hundred gallons of scale-free water a day, this system was engineered to work in apartments, homes, cities, or the suburbs, so regardless of where you live, the W2B200 can, and will, provide an effective and efficient solution to your hard water problem.
Controlled by a digital flow meter that’ll minimize the amount of salt to water that the system uses, the W2B200 has been made from corrosion-resistant fiberglass and polyurethane, it’s easy to install and small enough to be unobtrusive and not get in the way of you or your family’s daily life while it’s regulating and protecting your water supply.
And because it’s been fashioned to fit in with your family’s demands, its regeneration cycle has been pre-programmed to kick in at 3 AM so that it won’t disturb or disrupt your family life while it cleans itself.
While it needs to be powered up to soften your water, the W2B is so efficient at doing what it does that it only needs a trickle of juice to keep on doing what it does and as long as it’s plugged in, it’ll supply your family with all of the soft water that you’ll need.
It is a paragon of efficiency and water softening in one durable, effective, and surprisingly small package.
- Installation – It’s incredibly easy to install, and W2B also has a free-to-use app that’ll provide you with all of the information that you’ll need to have your softener up and running in next to no time.
- Minimal Disruption – The fact that it’s been programmed to regenerate and recycle at 3 AM is one of those fairly obvious ideas that we wish more brands had thought of and actually incorporated into their water softeners. It’s been made to cause minimal disruption while transforming your hard water into the sort of soft, friendly water that’ll keep your family happy.
- Efficiency And Affordability – It’ll cost you around twenty dollars a year to keep the W2B running, and it’ll cost you far less than you think it will to install it in your home.
- Manufacturing Problems – Some customers have reported that their units were broken when they arrived and that they arrived with the wrong fittings. Both of which appear to have been due to a manufacturing error that has since been corrected.
Anyone who has ever bought a kitchen or laundry appliance is familiar with the name Whirlpool, as they’re one of the world’s leading manufacturers of washing machines and dishwashers.
But they also make incredibly well-designed water softeners too, and their forty thousand grain model is a staggeringly efficient and effective way to transform your water supply.
Made to supply all of the soft water that your family needs, when you need it with its demand initiated regeneration technology that calculates and monitors your water usage and fits in with, and around it, the Whirlpool won’t enter its own regenerative cycle until it’s sailed past the forty thousand grains of hardness mark.
It also uses a salt indicator, so you’ll know when you need to add sodium, instead of trying to endlessly guess how much you need to add, and when you need to add it.
Easy to clean, and install (Whirlpool supplies the installation kit with the softener), this water softener has also been made to remove up to ten parts per million of ferrous iron from your water supply, which further reduces hardness and provides an additional level of safety and security for you and your family.
- Size Doesn’t Matter – No two families are the same. Some are big and some are small, and knowing this Whirlpool engineered their water softener to be able to deal with as much, or as little hard water as your family needs.
- No More Iron – As well as removing calcium and magnesium from your water supply and removing the major sources of hard water, the Whirlpool will also remove up to ten parts per million of ferrous iron from your water supply.
- Warranty – The Whirlpool water softener also comes with a one-year standard warranty, a three-year electrical components warranty, and a ten-year tank warranty.
- Seals – Whirlpool seems to have a problem supplying the wrong seals, which can cause the unit to leak. While they’re happy to send the right seals when you contact them about the issue, it can take up to two weeks for them to arrive, which means that your water softener might end up sitting around for fourteen days doing absolutely nothing after it arrives.
Aquasure has a vision that has driven everything that they do for the last quarter of a century. They want to provide affordable, easy to install, quality water treatment solutions to everyone around the world.
It’s this vision that has enabled them to push onward and become one of the foremost water softener manufacturers in America.
This Harmony series model has been rated at forty-eight thousand grains, and won’t need to enter its regenerative cycle until it reaches that point and as it features time delayed, metered, and manual double backwash, it’ll only enter its cleaning cycle at a time that’s optimal for your family.
Built to tackle your entire home’s water supply, the Aquasure is made from highly durable corrosion-resistant fiberglass and fiberglass, so it’ll last for the lifetime of your home.
And Aquasure is so confident that their water softeners will be able to handle anything that your water supply throws at it that they’re happy to guarantee it for five years.
If some disaster should befall it during that time, or if it fails to live up to expectation, Aquasure will replace or repair it without question.
- Grain Rating – It’ll happily handle, and take care of, forty-eight thousand grains of hardness before it enters its regenerative cleaning cycle at a time to suit you and your family.
- Installation And Usage – Easy to install and simple to use, the Harmony has been built with you in mind and adheres rigidly to Aquasure’s core vision.
- Ideally Sized – It’s been built to handle all the water that a family of five people living in a three or four-bathroom house need, and it’ll soften it all without missing a beat.
- Warranty – Aquasure’s five-year warranty is bombproof, so if your unit does fall victim to the unforeseen perils of water hardness, they’ll step in and either repair or replace it for you.
- Customer Service – Given their vision and the high regard that they hold their customers in, it was rather disappointing for us to discover that their customer service and complaints department wasn’t exactly helpful or friendly and could probably do with some additional training.
If you’re debating whether to get a water softener or a water filter, here’s a system that gives you both.
Aquasana has a credo that they refuse to deviate from – an immediate difference in every drop. All of their filtration and softening systems have been designed to conform to that philosophy, and it was that attention to detail that saw them win favor with Martha Stewart.
And any water softener that gets a thumbs up from America’s domestic goddess is always going to race to the top of our list.
A high-performance filtration system that removes ninety-seven percent of chlorine, and lead, mercury, herbicides, and pesticides from your household water supply, the Aquasana also uses a salt-free, carbon and KDF conditioner to remove and prevent limescale build-up in your pipes and appliances while leaving all of the beneficial minerals in place.
It even comes with an easy install kit and fully comprehensive instructions, and within a matter of hours of it arriving, your home will be reaping the benefits of a completely clean pollutant-free, soft water supply.
And all you need to do to keep on enjoying all of the aforementioned benefits that the Aquasana will provide you and your home with is to replace the pre and post-flow filters that it uses every three months. It’s no wonder Martha adores Aquasana, how could you not?
- Running The Gauntlet – The Aquasana has been engineered to transform your hard water supply into a soft one and remove all sorts of other pollutants and contaminants from your water supply at the same time.
- Simple To Maintain – As long as you change the filters every three months, the Aquasana will keep on delivering soft, pollutant-free water to every faucet in your house.
- Easy To Install – Aquasana also provides the installation kit that you’ll need to fit it in your home along with their filtration system.
- Affordability – It’s far from cheap, and unless you have the gross domestic product of a small country squirreled away in a savings account, the Aquasana might be slightly outside of your budget
Straight out of Kansas, this all in one water softener and iron filtration system has been designed to cope with incredibly high flow rates, so no matter how many people there are under your roof or how much water your family uses, this system will be able to provide all of the softened, filtered water that they’ll need and want.
As well as removing calcium and magnesium from your water supply, it also filters out iron (at up to seven parts per million), manganese (up to six parts per million) sediment, sand, and every other common contaminant.
Supplied with an easy to follow and understand installation kit, the Iron Pro 2 is designed to keep your water supply clean and soft and your family healthy.
The AFW uses a Fleck digital metered valve to make sure that your home gets all of the softened water that you want whenever you turn a faucet on and keeps all things water-centric simple.
Straightforward and easy to use and fit, this AFW system ticks all of the softening and filtration boxes on the checklist of any modern home.
- Installation – Thanks to the easy installation kit and comprehensive and easy-to-follow instructions that it’s supplied with, it doesn’t matter if you have any pipework experience or not, you should be able to fit this system in a matter of hours.
- Water Softening And More – As well as ridding your home of all of the hard water problems that you want it to handle, it’ll also filter sediment, sand, iron, and manganese out of your water supply.
- Warranty – And best of all? The Iron Pro 2 comes with a full five-year warranty, so if it does fall at one of the hard water fences, you’ll be fully covered for any, and every, unfortunate eventuality.
- Customer Service – AFW’s customer service can be a little lacking and could do with an overhaul, but apart from that relatively minor issue, the system and brand get a thumbs up from just about every customer that’s ever installed it and that they’ve ever dealt with.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that has a higher-than-average mineral content which it usually acquires after being passing through deposits of chalk, gypsum, or limestone, which are composed of calcium, magnesium, sulfates, and bicarbonates.
As water passes through these deposits, it is infused with a high mineral content, and becomes “hard”.
What Are The Problems With Hard Water?
There are a number of problematic issues that are commonly associated with hard water.
The biggest of these is that because of its high mineral content, it can damage pipes and appliances by leaving limescale and mineral deposits on both, which can greatly reduce their efficiency and lifespan.
The minerals in hard water can also block skin cells which can cause skin irritation that manifests itself as blotches and acne. Some medical studies have also highlighted the fact that hard water can, in some cases, lead to the development of eczema in young children and teenagers.
Hard water can also stain, or “spot” laundry and dishes when they’re washed in it, as it leaves the same sort of mineral deposits that can clog pipes and ruin appliances on your clothes and kitchenware.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Hard Water?
There are a number of tell-tale, easy to spot signs that you’re living in a hard water area, and these are:
- Unusual stains or dark spots on your laundry after it’s been washed and dried.
- If you have to frequently clean soap like scum deposits off your shower head and faucets, or both suffer from a low flow rate despite the external water pressure being normal.
- If your washing machine, dishwasher, and coffee maker begin to fail on a semi-regular basis, it could be due to limescale build-up and deposits – both of which are associated with hard water.
- If your skin feels dry and itchy, it could be caused by hard water, as the higher calcium content contained within it can block skin pores.
- Cloudy drinking glasses and kitchenware (despite being cleaned) are also a sign that you’ve been caught in a hard water area – the mineral content can leave stains that are incredibly hard to clean and remove.
What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Water Softening System?
There are, as you can probably imagine a number of benefits to installing a water softening system. It’ll help to reduce limescale deposits in your pipes and appliances and significantly increase the lifespan of both by reducing the amount of damage that the water supply inflicts upon them.
If you have been suffering from undue skin irritation, a water softening system will provide almost immediate relief and your skin will be healthier and your hair shinier as it will increase the effectiveness of the soap and shampoo that you use – one of the lesser-known detrimental effects of hard water is that it reduces the effectiveness of soap and shampoo.
Your clothes, because they’re not being washed in calcium and magnesium-rich water anymore, will also feel softer and look cleaner, and the troublesome stains that were almost impossible to remove from your dishes, kitchenware, and glasses will also disappear.
How to Pick the Best Water Softening System
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of water softener types, features, and specs, you’ll need to figure out a couple of things:
Yep. Before embarking on any project — and installing a water softener is a pretty significant one — you need to know if you can afford it, and how much you can spend. Apart from the cost of the system itself, you have to factor in the installation and maintenance costs.
Your Available Space
As water softening systems are usually designed to be fitted as close to the water mains and the inlet pipe as possible, you’ll need to know where your mains is located and how much room is available to install your system.
The more room you have, the bigger the system you can use, and while it generally doesn’t matter, as far as the water softening system that you’re going to fit is concerned, size is everything.
Your Plumbing System
You also need to check if you use copper pipes in your plumbing, as the softened water may have an adverse effect on them.
Water Softener Features to Examine
It’ll need to have a high enough flow rate (the amount of water that it can soften) to cope with the demands that you’ll place on it — the higher the number of people living in your home, the higher the flow rate of the softening system will need to be.
It’s also worth considering and looking at the grain content (the harder the water, the higher its grain content is) that a softening system has been engineered to deal with before it regenerates (cleans itself). The general rule of thumb is, the higher the grain content it can handle, the better a water softening system is.
Softening Technology Used
Lastly, as most water softening systems use sodium to nullify hard water, you’ll probably notice that your water has a slightly salty taste after you’ve installed and started using it.
If the thought of slightly salty water is off-putting, you’ll need to modify your search and look for a salt-free softening system.
There are, generally speaking, three types of water softening systems and while they’re all effective and efficient at what they do, they all have drawbacks that you might want to consider before installing them.
These use a relatively high concentration of sodium in the softening process, which can imbue the water that comes out of your faucets with a slightly salty taste. If salt and sodium are no-nos, you’ll need to look at one of the two alternative systems instead. It is also important to note that some states have banned the use of this type of softener.
Salt-Free Chemical Systems
These types of softeners are a viable, incredibly efficient, and probably better option than salt-based systems (the Aquios FS-220C is a great example). but as they tend to be larger and more expensive than their sodium-based counterparts, they can be a little outside of most family budgets.
The third and final option is an electro-magnet softening system which creates an electromagnetic field or pulse that it uses to break up and prevent limescale and mineral deposits from becoming a problem.
However, even though they break up the mineral deposits, they do leave calcium and magnesium in the water, so if you’re worried about either, or both, being present in your water supply, you’ll need to choose one of the other two softening systems for your home.
Now that you’ve read our water softener reviews and all the other information about the different types of water softening systems that you can install in your home, you’re better equipped to make a decision about installing one in your home.
And we’d just like to reiterate that an electronic water conditioner is your best bet for an eco-friendly salt-free system that won’t adversely affect the taste and sodium content of your water. Also, you can’t really go wrong with our top pick, the iSpring ED2000. With this one you can start looking forward to a limescale-free future.