Water Conditioner vs. Water Softener: What’s the Difference?

Water, like air, is crucial to our existence. We drink it, bathe in it, cook meals with it, and so much more. But, before we can use it, water must be treated. Water treatment plants handle the heavy lifting, but even when it makes it to our home, it doesn’t always pass the smell test (figuratively and literally).

Instead of drinking odd-tasting or foul-smelling water, you’ll want to find a home water treatment system that meets your standards. As you look for the right water treatment system, you’ll often see water conditioners and water softeners as the suggested solutions. Before you make a decision on the right one for you, let’s take a closer look at how each works and the benefits offered by the different systems.

Why Would You Need a Water Conditioner or Water Softener?

Hard water is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but what exactly is it? It’s water with a high level of dissolved minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium.

Hard water leaves mineral deposits behind on surfaces it comes into contact with. If you’ve noticed a white mineral buildup around your bathroom and kitchen fixtures or surfaces, you probably have hard water. This is known as scaling, and it’s very noticeable on shower doors.

Scale buildup doesn’t just happen in the bathroom or kitchen. It can also be found inside the walls of plumbing fixtures. Scale buildup reduces the efficiency of appliances that heat water, including the dishwasher. It also dries out your skin and decreases the natural sheen and volume of hair. 

Water conditioners and softeners are the filtration systems used to fight these unpleasant mineral deposits in homes or businesses that rely on hard water.

What Is a Water Softener, and How Does It Work?

The process water softeners use to filter water is referred to as ion exchange or reverse osmosis. They replace dissolved mineral ions with sodium ions. The system comprises two tanks, a primary and a secondary. 

The primary tank holds sodium ion-coated resin beads, while the secondary team holds a salty brine solution. This solution regenerates the resin contained in the primary tank.

Mineral ions become bonded to water molecules as they travel through the soil. The water softener breaks the bond by serving as a magnet to the mineral ions. Once the water reaches the primary tank, the resin beads attract the mineral ions. The mineral ions then attach themselves to the sodium ions covering the beads, creating a balanced charge. This process reduces hard water, resulting in less mineral buildup in your home and more pleasant-tasting water to drink.

The water softening system must undergo a regular regeneration process to remain effective. Salt needs to be added to the brine tank periodically in order for the system to continue providing soft water.

What Is a Water Conditioner, and How Does It Work?

The majority of water conditioners don’t use salt to remove unwanted substances like chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chloramines, organic gasses, and lead.

Depending on the water conditioner, it may filter the water as it passes through the system. However, other types of water conditioners alter the structure of undesired minerals, much like a water softener. For example, many water conditioners use template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media to provide soft water to the home.

When hard water goes through the TAC media, the minerals react to it and get turned into tiny crystals. Though all of the hard mineral ions won’t be crystallized, a water conditioner will produce enough crystals to eliminate scaling.

How to Choose the Right Water Filtration System

Deciding on the right system depends on what elements you want eliminated from your water and how you want it done. As you make your decision, review what makes each system unique below:

Water Softeners:

While water softeners can be a good choice, keep in mind that some local water districts in California have banned salt-based softeners. If you live in one of these areas, make sure you purchase a water softener that isn’t salt-based or go with a water conditioner instead. 

Water Conditioners

Since water conditioners can include water-softening features and don’t rely on salt, they’re often the better choice for California-based homeowners and businesses.

Choose Peter Levi Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains for Water Conditioner Installation in Novato and Vacaville

If you’re looking for a water conditioner system install near you in Vacaville, Novato, or the surrounding Northern California area, turn to Peter Levi Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains. Our trained plumbers can help you select the perfect water conditioner for your home or business. Once you’ve decided on your system, our team will install it quickly and ensure it’s working correctly before leaving. We also offer multiple coupons to ensure you get a great deal on our plumbing services.

Learn more about our plumbing services today. If you’re ready for a water conditioner system install, please call us at 800-605-5713 or make an appointment via our online form. 

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Novato, CA 94949

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Vacaville, CA 95688

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