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Do I Really Need a Water Softener or Is an Inline Filter Sufficient?

We all need clean water for day-to-day routines like cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene. Many the U.S. homeowners ask themselves which is best—a water filter or a water softener? Discover the key differences between inline water filters and whole-house water softeners, the benefits they provide and how to determine which one is best for your needs.

What Is an Inline Water Filter?

An inline water filter is a point-of-entry filtration system that treats water as it enters your home. It’s installed directly on your main water line, removing sediment, chlorine, bacteria and other contaminants from the municipal water supply before entering your plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Benefits of Water Filters

If your water comes from a municipal company, you may ask yourself why you might need an inline water filter. After all, the water has already been cleaned at a water treatment plant. Unfortunately, many local water supplies barely meet EPA standards, and water may be contaminated with pollutants between the treatment plant and your residence. Here’s how using a water filter can improve the water in your home:

  • Healthier water: Water filters remove unhealthy microorganisms, carcinogenic materials and other impurities for safer, better-tasting drinking water.
  • Reduced sediment: Water filters reduce sediment collection in your pipes, appliances and fixtures, protecting them from wear and tear.
  • No plastic waste: Inline water filters cut back on the need for bottled water, adding to a greener environment.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Access to clean, safe tap water saves you from spending extra your hard-earned cash on bottled water and reduces the pressure on your plumbing system.

How to Tell if You Need a Whole-House Water Filter

About one-third of American households use home treatment systems for top-quality drinking water. Here are some signs that you should use a whole-house water filter:

  • Discoloration, unusual taste or undesirable smell: If your tap water is anything but crystal clear, clean-tasting and odor-free, it may be contaminated. Think about adding a filter for your safety.
  • Frequent plumbing issues: A whole-house water filter helps decrease plugged pipes, low water pressure and other issues.
  • Skin irritability: If you have redness, rashes or other skin issues linked to poor water quality, a whole-house water filter may be helpful.
  • Past history: Does your local water supply have a background of pollution? Installing a whole-house water filter can give you peace of mind against potential problems.

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener eliminates calcium and magnesium from your water supply. A process called ion exchange acts somewhat like a chemical magnet, replacing these “hard” minerals with sodium ions to “soften” the water.

Benefits of Water Softeners

If you have hard water, here is what you’ll find once you install a water softener:

  • Longer plumbing life span: Soft water minimizes scale buildup on faucets, showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines, prolonging their life span and improving their appearance.
  • Clog-free plumbing: Soft water doesn’t leave a hard mineral coating to adhere to your plumbing system, which keeps the water in your pipes and faucets flowing easily.
  • Better soap lathering: Soft water helps cleaning products lather more effectively, producing cleaner dishes, brighter laundry, and softer skin and hair, even when using less soap and detergent.
  • Energy savings: A water softener helps your plumbing appliances run properly for lower power bills.

How to Determine if You Need a Water Softener

Most water supplies in North America are categorized as moderately hard, hard or very hard. You can learn about the quality of your local water by reading your local municipality’s water quality report. In the meantime, here are some clues that you could use a water softener:

  • Scale buildup: A white, chalky substance on your fixtures and appliances is a sign of hard water, as are the white spots on your dishes, glass shower door and coffee maker. A water softener can help you get rid of this unsightly issue.
  • Low water pressure: Showerheads and faucet aerators frequently become badly clogged by mineral deposits within 18 months of use. Watch for this because it is a sign of hard water.
  • Dry skin and hair: Hard water stops soap from rinsing completely, causing irritated skin and brittle hair.
  • Frequent appliance repairs: If your dishwasher or water heater stops functioning regularly due to scale buildup, a water softener may be a worthwhile investment.

Do You Need Both a Water Filter and a Water Softener?

Inline water filters and water softeners both provide valuable benefits, but they perform different jobs. An inline water filter removes contaminants and boosts overall water quality, while a water softener specifically removes hard minerals. Sometimes, using a water filter and a water softener is necessary. Evaluate your specific needs and water quality to determine the best solution for your household.

Schedule Water Filter and Water Softener Installation in the U.S.

Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is a trusted provider of water treatment solutions in the U.S., including water filters and water softeners from Excalibur. Our team can help you evaluate if one or both solutions are necessary to help you achieve the best water quality in your the U.S. home.

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