Are you wondering about the differences between water softeners vs water descalers? Follow along with Joe the Plumber to get the inside scoop. Soap spots, red-brown stains, and poor water pressure—these are annoying effects of hard water that can occur constantly in your bathroom and kitchen. While not deadly or life-threatening, hard water can make home living much more complicated and frustrating. Thankfully, devices such as water softeners and water descalers can make hard water a thing of the past. But what exactly is the difference between the two devices, and do they give the same results? Here are the differences between water softeners and water descalers.
Simply defined, hard water is essentially water with a high number of magnesium and calcium deposits. Hard water occurs when groundwater passes through limestone and creates mineral buildups (measured as grains per gallon, or GPG) over time. This leads to calcium and magnesium deposits being absorbed in your water and makes it more difficult for soap and detergent to lather and leaves skin feeling dry.
This requires more water to dissolve soap, reducing the vibrancy and softness of our laundry as well as leaving a filmy residue on hands. Hard water can also affect your water pressure, cause clogs, and can even cause dry and frizzy hair. While these aren’t necessarily life-threatening problems, hard water can make life difficult and bothersome. While water softeners and water descalers eliminate these issues and make life easier, it’s important to know what they are before comparing the two.
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A water softener quite literally softens up water—it uses a chemical process to remove the magnesium and calcium in the water and replaces it with sodium chloride. This removes all the GPG in the water, delivering soft water to every part of your home. Water softeners take up more room because they require two tanks, and also need regular maintenance. As the water softener changes your water’s composition, this also changes the taste. The advantages of a water softener speak for themselves — no more soap scum stains, no more film-feeling around the hands, and no duller and faded laundry.
A water descaler uses a different process. Rather than changing and eliminating the mineral buildup, water descalers use a magnet that removes the harsh effects of the minerals. This process is sometimes called water conditioning as the descaler does not remove any mineral deposits or lower GPG—it just eliminates their harsh effects. The minerals still exist in your pipes. Water descalers take up less space than water softeners and do not need regular maintenance. They are also more affordable, easier to install and add no salt to your water.
Nothing is perfect—there are a few downsides to water softeners. For starters, they require professional installation as they are not entirely eco-friendly: although they effectively eliminate GPG, water softeners achieve this by flushing out a lot of water. While this isn’t necessarily a problem for us, it affects the amount of water available to others and is wasteful. Water softeners are also more expensive than descalers, as softeners require more maintenance and purchases of salt bags for the tanks. For those on a low sodium diet, the substitution of magnesium and calcium for sodium chloride can negatively affect your health. Sodium water is also harmful to dogs and cats, so it’s best to give them filtered water.
Water descalers have their cons as well. Since descalers don’t physically remove any mineral deposits, the water that remains in your pipes can still be hard, which can cause problems later on. Mineral spotting will also still occur, although it will be easier to clean up compared to plain hard water, and you may still need to use more water.
Although both water softeners and descalers make soft water possible, it’s important to choose a device that’s right for you and your home. It may be best to call a professional, as both devices work differently and require proper setup to ensure peak efficiency. For over twenty years, Joe The Plumber has lead the greater Houston area in plumbing expertise, customer service, and professionalism. For a free estimate or to schedule an appointment, contact us today. For the latest news, check out our blog.