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Across the Indianapolis area, many homeowners deal with hard water. What this means is that the water supplied to their home is fairly dense with mineral content, including calcium and magnesium. There are a number of consequences to hard water, including potential damage to your appliances, your plumbing fixtures, even your hair and skin. Fortunately, there is a simple way to turn that hard water into soft water: Invest in a good water softener.

But with so many types of water softeners to choose from, how are homeowners to know which one is best-suited for their needs? One of the best things you can do is work with a qualified plumber, who can not only provide expert installation but also advise you on which softener is right for you.

For those who live in the Indianapolis area, consider working with Carter’s My Plumber. The Carter’s team has decades of experience with water softener installation in Indianapolis. They are a trusted, chosen resource for all things related to water softening. In this post, we’ll share some of the Carter team’s insights into how to find the best water softener.

water softener installed
water softener

What is a Water Softener?

To begin with, what exactly is a water softener? Basically, this is a type of filtration system, ensuring that any water taken from your household water supply is stripped of excess mineral content. By filtering out these “hard” minerals, a water softener ensures that only soft water flows through your pipes and fixtures.

What are the Benefits of Having a Water Softener?

“A water softener is an investment that all homeowners should consider for numerous reasons,” comments Lisa Carter, co-owner of Carter’s My Plumber in Indianapolis, IN.  “Simply put, water softeners reduce the ‘hardness’ found in water. A water softener’s benefits include: decreases staining and scaling in the home, improves skin and hair health, softens fabrics, and most importantly extends the life of a homeowner’s appliances and fixtures.”

To elaborate on some of those benefits:

  • Hard water can really take a toll on your pipes, potentially expediting their decline and forcing you to make some pricey plumbing repairs. A water softener can actually be an investment in the lifespan of those pipes.
  • Similarly, hard water can degrade certain appliances, including your dishwasher and laundry machine. Softening the water can help you protect those appliances.
  • Hard water often leaves stains in sink basins and bathtubs. Again, getting soft water is an important way to protect these fixtures, preserving their aesthetic appeal.
  • When you consistently do laundry with hard water, it can damage your clothing. A water softener helps prevent this.
  • There are a number of personal health issues associated with hard water, including dry skin and hair. Getting a water softener can restore you to full health.

These are just a few of the reasons to consider investing in a water softening system, but the question remains: With so many options to choose from, which one should you get?

Water Softener Installed
Water Softener

How to Choose the Best Water Softener

“With so many options available for water softeners, it is important to take a few things into consideration when choosing one that is right for your home,” explains Carter.  “First, residents need their water softener to be user friendly. In order for a water softener to be effective, it must be understood and used correctly. With the right water softener, the homeowner simply has to keep salt in it. The equipment will take care of the rest.”

Carter goes on to note that today’s water softeners are fairly advanced, offering benefits beyond mere water softening. “An efficient water softener also gives the homeowner options for maximum water conservation,” she affirms. “Water softeners now have technology to forecast water consumption based on the equipment’s actual usage. However, if the homeowner prefers to schedule these regenerations, they are able to do that. Not only are they able to schedule the regenerations, but they are also able to choose what time of day the regeneration will take place.” 

Continues Carter, “Homeowners no longer have to question what is going on with their equipment. With digital screens now available on water softeners, homeowners always know what their equipment is doing. They also know that their equipment is reliable, due to the fact that water softeners are motor driven. The best water softeners are no longer driven by solenoids or diaphragms, causing inconsistency and headaches for the homeowner.”

She adds: “The best water softeners also have measures in place for power outages. A water softener’s water usage and timing can now be monitored by a replaceable cell battery without power and all programming is held indefinitely. When power is restored, the water softener will reset automatically. Lastly, the best water softeners now give homeowners flexibility. There are different salt tank sizes available for a homeowner’s space requirements and residents are no longer stuck with a one size fits all mentality.”

That’s a lot to think about, but Carter says there’s a definite payoff. 

“With the above features, a homeowner should expect their water softener to last 10-15 years,” she confirms. “With proper care and maintenance visits, homeowners can expect to reap the benefits of this filtration system for years to come. Homeowners should have their water softeners installed by a trusted professional at a reputable company in order to guarantee the best results and proper home setup.”

What are the Different Types of Water Softeners?

As homeowners consider their water softening options, it is important to be aware that water softeners come in a few broad categories. The four basic types of water softeners include ion exchange, salt free, reverse osmosis, and magnetic.

The best way to determine which type of softener is right for you is to meet with a qualified plumber. (Your plumber can also provide details about the water softener installation cost.) In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of each type of water softener.

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

These softeners work by exchanging the ions in the water with sodium or potassium ions. in doing so, these softeners remove the ions that cause water to be hard. Ion exchange softeners do a great job of protecting your plumbing, and are generally the best option. The only possible drawback is that the heightened sodium content may make the water unfit for drinking, particularly if you have a health condition necessitating a low-sodium diet. For most homeowners, though, this is not an issue.

Salt Free Softeners

Salt free softeners use a filter, as opposed to chemicals. This makes them a popular option among homeowners who have moderately hard water. However, a salt free softener may not be robust enough to soften really hard water.

Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners

These softeners basically use pressure to pass mineral content through a semi-permeable membrane. Reverse osmosis water softeners can be effective at removing about 98 percent of impurities from your water.

Magnetic Water Softeners

These softeners use magnets to alter the water. The only downside is that, about 48 hours after water leaves the magnetic field, it can revert to its previous level of hardness.

What Else Should You Look for in a Water Softener?

Beyond finding the right type of water softening system, there are a few other considerations that should be top-of-mind. Again, with any questions, you’re always better off going straight to a trusted, local installer.

What follows are just a few of the primary shopping considerations to make when shopping for a residential water softener.

Household Size and Water Usage

On average, a person uses about 75 gallons of water per day. So, a family of four probably uses around 300 gallons of water per day. That number can increase if your household does a lot of laundry, or if folks like to take especially long showers. If that’s the case, you may want a high-capacity softener that can treat a higher volume of water.

The metric to look for is grain capacity, which refers to a water softener’s ability to remove mineral content before its next regeneration cycle. The more water your household uses, the higher grain capacity you should look for in your water softening system.

Removal of Additional Contaminants

Most water conditioners will remove things like calcium and magnesium, which are common types of mineral content. Some water softeners will also filter out chlorine and other contaminants, which you may or may not need. These more advanced features are more common among high-capacity water softening systems.

Other Convenience Features

Some water softener systems may have some additional convenience features. For example, some softeners will provide low salt indicators, which help you with resin tank maintenance. High-flow valves and even touchscreen control panels are available, though only on higher-end, higher-capacity water softening systems.

Warranties

Most water softeners will come with some consumer protections built in. Of course, not all warranties are created equal. Make sure you know exactly what a warranty covers, with regard to parts as well as labor. Also make sure you are aware of the maintenance steps you need to take to keep that warranty in place.

These are just a few of the factors to keep in mind as you look for a system to provide soft, clean water for your household.

What’s the Best Water Softener for Your Home?

As you shop around for different brands of water softener, you’ll find that there are lots of options. Not all of these options are created equal, so which one is right for you? Here are three unbiased recommendations from the Carter team:

Best Overall: Kinetico

The best all-around water softener is the one made by Kinetico. These softeners are non-electric, low-maintenance, and fully automatic. There are three different products in the Kinetico line, so you may want to ask your installer for a recommendation. All three models are durable, and will make a notable difference in how your water tastes and feels. While these aren’t the cheapest water softeners in the world, they are competitively priced, they come with great warranties, and they typically last a good long while.

Best Budget: Whirlpool

If you’re looking for something that’s a little more budget-friendly, Whirlpool’s products are well worth considering. These are low-priced but by no means low-quality. In fact, Whirlpool’s softeners can do a great job improving your household water quality, without the need for too much maintenance or fuss. Whirlpool also offers a range of sizes, making it easy to select a softener that meets your precise needs.

Best Salt-Based: Aquasystem

Kinetico is a good bet here, but we’ll also highlight Aquasystem. Aquasystem water softeners provide excellent salt-based softening, which is really the way to go. Anything outside of salt-based water softening is just “fluffing” the water, rather than actually improving the quality. Aquasystem has a good track record for durability, and the pricing is reasonable.

Plumber team with plumber holding a tool
Indianapolis Plumbers

What to Look for in a Water Softener Installation Company

Ultimately, finding the right type of water softener is important, though it isn’t everything. In fact, the most important step in the process may be locating the best water softener installation company. A good installer can help you identify the softening system that’s best-suited for your home, while also installing it for optimal impact. Additionally, a qualified installer will be able to tell you more about how to maintain your system, getting maximum longevity from it. Finally, an experienced installer can furnish insight regarding the best water softener salt, which is a really important consideration.

If you’re looking for a water softener installation company in Indianapolis, we invite you to consider Carter’s My Plumber. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Carter’s has decades of experience serving Indianapolis, and has a strong reputation for integrity and trustworthiness.
  • We can attend to your water softener needs expediently, often providing same-day service.
  • We emphasize up-front and transparent pricing, meaning you shouldn’t be caught off guard by any surprise expenses or fees.
  • We work only with the best water softeners and water softener salts. We’ll create a system that will maintain excellent, long-lasting results.
  • We can also provide maintenance services, helping you extend the performance of your water softener for as long as possible.

If you’re in the Indianapolis area, feel free to contact Carter’s My Plumber at any time for a water softener installation quote.

Frequently Asked Questions About Water Softeners

Still have some unanswered questions about water softener installation? We’d love to hear them. in the meantime, here are a few answers to the most commonplace water softener inquiries.

There are a lot of great brands to choose from, with some of our favorites being GE, Waterboss, and Aquasure. We are always happy to tell you more about the brands that we recommend, though keep in mind that choosing the right installer and the right type of salt is just as important.

Ion exchange water softeners tend to be top-rated, though folks who need low-sodium diets may be better off with a salt free option. As for brands, GE is probably the top-rated brand for water softeners.

It really depends on several factors, and your best bet is always going to be consulting with a professional water heater installation company. For most homeowners, ion exchange water softeners are the way to go.

There are a lot of factors to consider, including grain capacity, grains per gallon, your level of household water hardness and mineral buildup, and beyond. Talk with an experienced installer to ensure the right salt-based softener or salt free softener for your home.

This is a great question, and the short answer is that a good salt-based water softener should last 10 to 15 years. However, this is based on a number of factors. You need to make sure it is properly installed, and that you use the correct kind of salt to avoid salt bridges. Finally, routine maintenance is essential for extending the life of your water softener. Make sure you attend to the resin beads and other important maintenance concerns.

There can certainly be some expense involved with the initial water heater installation. Additionally, maintaining your unit will require some time and expense. And, using a salt-based softener may lead to a higher sodium content in your drinking water, which can bother some people. But overall, the disadvantages of softened water pale in comparison to the risks and downsides associated with untreated water hardness.

You should always talk with a plumber to ensure you get a water softener that can treat enough gallons of water for your household. With that said, a 32,000- or 33,000-grain water softener is usually more than sufficient for a family of four.

Salt free softeners are not necessarily superior to salt-based systems, but they may be a better option for homeowners who are concerned about high sodium intake. Also note that there are sodium-free “salt” alternatives that you can use in your ion exchange system. 

Definitely! Water softeners are designed to remove unwanted minerals and to make water usable in all aspects of your home life, including basic water consumption. 

Without a water softening system, you’ll be left with some fairly time- and labor-intensive options. For example, boiling water can soften it, but this is hardly feasible every time you need a sip of water. Additionally, it doesn’t solve the problem of hard water passing through all your pipes and plumbing.

While some homeowners have a good experience using a magnetic softener, magnetic systems are generally considered to be far less efficient than other types of water conditioners, especially those that use salt to treat the water hardness level. A magnetic water softener is seldom going to be our top recommendation.

As you seek the best water softener company in your area, make sure you find a company with ample experience dealing with hard water issues. For homeowners in the Indianapolis area, the most trusted water softener installation company is Carter’s My Plumber. Contact us any time you have a question about removing mineral content and heavy metals from your drinking water.

That depends on a number of factors. Your installer can brief you on how often to add salt to the water softener of your choosing.

Kelson Carter

Article reviewed by:

Kelson Carter, aka, The Prince of Plumbing

Kelson is a 3rd generation Plumbing Contractor. His family business is located in Greenwood, Indiana, and provides Residential Plumbing Service to the Indianapolis Metro market.

Kelson grew up watching his grandfather and father do plumbing. After graduating high school, Kelson went to Trade School and became a Licensed Master Plumber and Licensed Plumbing Contractor. He is also Certified in Backflow Prevention. He currently owns and operates Carter's My Plumber with his parents.


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