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Difference Between a Water Softener and a Water Conditioner

Have you ever wondered why your water supply has a foul smell or bad taste? Have you been facing an increase in your plumbing bills because of clogged pipes? Water is an essential part of our everyday life, but it does not start as clean as we want it to be. Natural water usually goes through a meticulous process before reaching your water supply, but even then, the water is not completely clean.

Natural water, or “hard water,” as it is often called it, usually has various minerals due to the process it undergoes through the natural water cycle. Luckily, we now have filtration systems and conditioners to help us control the contamination of water in our homes.

Difference Between A Water Softener And A Water Conditioner

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is often formed when water is polluted with dissolved minerals such as iron, calcium, and lead during the natural water cycle. As part of the natural water cycle, water transforms into vapor. As that vapor goes through the air in the form of clouds, it can grab hold of pungent and corrosive minerals like sulfur. Eventually, it falls back to the ground in the form of acidic rain. The rain then passes through the soil and will often pick up contaminants from polluted places, including sewage, agricultural run-off, and industrial waste, only to eventually flow into your water supply.

Water softeners and water conditioners can help remove or alter the hard minerals present in your water supply. Before considering buying or installing one, you should know how they work and the difference between them.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

Water softeners eliminate hard water minerals by utilizing an ion exchange that removes any detrimental minerals such as calcium and magnesium from your water supply. Ion exchange is known to be the only proper way to soften water. If your faucets or shower heads have any indication of mineral-like crust build-up, you may need to consider a water softener system to prevent such further build-up. Other hints that would suggest you get a water softener would include soap or scum build-up in your sinks or on your bathroom walls, dull hair, and dry skin after showering, and faded clothing after doing laundry.

Softened water will give numerous benefits to your home, as it will help prevent common problems that you would encounter with hard water. In contrast to hard water, softened water is safer and gentler. It will not cause a build-up of mineral scale in your home appliances, and it will not damage your pipes. With the use of a water softener, your home will be protected from unwanted build-up while also eliminating the probability of limescale. Softened water will also improve your family’s skin and hair. A good-quality water softener may last for more than a few decades, and even if they age, they only require a bit of maintenance and some occasional refilling of salt.

How Does a Water Conditioner Work?

A water conditioner is considered a broad term for many various methods that can alter the way minerals and contaminants behave in water. Ultimately, a water conditioner addresses serious problems like scale build-up and biofouling. A water conditioner is different from a water softener, however. This is mainly because rather than removing minerals, a water conditioner conditions the water. Often, they are also called “no-salt softeners.” A water conditioner can lessen the formation of limescale, decrease the rate of scaling, or alter the makeup of the scale so that it does not hold to the surface at all.

Instead of removing minerals, a water conditioner prevents ions from building up around your nozzles, plumbing fixtures, and pipes. A water conditioner can reduce the contamination found in water and, therefore, prevent any strong odor from coming from your water supply. It can also make your drinking water taste better by improving its quality. Using a water conditioner can also prolong your pipe’s usability, resulting in lower maintenance costs. Like a water softener, a water conditioner also reduces scaling, and it can also give you and your family softer skin and hair.

What Is the Difference Between the Two?

Although both are used for water treatment, they produce different results that you should understand if you decide which one to buy and install in your home. Here are some differences between the two.

Water Softeners:

  • Removes hard minerals from water
  • Softened water has a small amount of sodium
  • The system requires electricity and a drainage line to function
  • Salt must be occasionally added to the unit

Water Conditioners:

  • Alters hard minerals, so they don’t hold to surfaces or cause scaling
  • No trace of sodium added
  • Energy-efficient and does not need a drain line
  • Salt or brine is not required

There are significant differences between the two, but both can work as a good water treatment depending on what you need in your home. However, the main selling point of water conditioners would depend on it being efficient and flexible to use, as it requires no drainage lines.

Some people would prefer a water softener over a water conditioner because a softener system would remove any unwanted hard minerals from your water supply. It is also important to remember that you should not consider using both systems in your home as using one after the other will prove ineffective or useless.

Consider Installing a Water Softener or Water Conditioner

Water softener and water conditioner systems are necessary to have a more convenient and safe water supply. After all, they can be installed anywhere in your home, whether inside or outside of it. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but they offer you the opportunity to have lesser costs and long-lasting appliances. Our expert team here at Absolute Airflow can help you make sure the best system is for you. Please contact us today for more information and to ask about how water softener or water conditioner systems can benefit your plumbing system.

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