What is the difference between water softeners and water conditioners?

Both systems aim to improve your home’s water quality by removing hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. They also tackle other issues such as bacteria and algae buildup, which is known as biofilm.

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Whether you have a lot of hard water in your area or just want softer drinking water, choosing the right system for you can make a big difference to your health and household expenses. The difference between these two systems is fairly substantial, though, and it’s important to understand the differences before making your decision. 

The main difference between these systems is that water softeners remove excess hardness minerals through a process called ion exchange, while water conditioners address other aspects of your water’s chemistry, like the presence of chlorine and other harmful chemicals. 

Ion exchange is an analytical technique that alters water’s ionic charge to prevent the formation of scale. It’s a process that uses either salt or potassium hydroxide, which is also known as sodium bicarbonate, to replace the calcium and magnesium ions. 

While ion exchange can soften your water, it’s important to remember that the process of replacing these ions involves electricity. That means that ion exchange requires power and that the system will need to be constantly running. 

In addition to that, the salt and potassium hydroxide in ion exchange systems need to be periodically replaced. This is an ongoing cost and it can add up to a significant amount of money over time. 

A more affordable solution is to invest in a water conditioner, which costs about $200 per year. This is because these systems are designed to condition the water by removing chlorine, fluorine, sulfur, carcinogenic disinfectant byproducts, pesticides, herbicides, and other contaminants that are often found in tap water. 

These types of systems can also be combined with a water softener for a more comprehensive approach to treating your water. They’re ideal for a home with a high concentration of hard water, as they can be used to reduce your home’s overall water quality and the impact that hard water has on your plumbing. 

The main advantage of a water conditioner is that it does not require electrical energy to run, as water softeners do. It is a more efficient way to treat your water, as it only consumes a few watts of electricity each day. 

Depending on the type of conditioner you choose, you will need to change the filters regularly. This can be as often as every few months, but it’s best to check the manufacturer’s guidelines before you purchase one. 

Another advantage of water conditioners is that they are less expensive to run than water softeners. They’re also more compact and occupy a small space on your countertop or under the sink. 

In addition to that, they require fewer repairs and maintenance than water softeners. In fact, water conditioners can last for a decade or more. This makes them an attractive option for many homeowners.