05 May Close up of shower head without scaling

7 Water Softener Advantages and Disadvantages

Posted by PlumbWize

There are plenty of clues that can tell you whether or not you have hard water in your home, such as the following: 

  • Hard water spots (that appear as white deposits) on glassware, on the car, and clothes;
  • Skin and scalp irritation (i.e. dandruff, eczema, psoriasis);
  • Mineral deposits on showerheads and faucets; and
  • Decreased water pressure or obstructed pipes because of mineral deposits.

This guide covers water softener advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision about whether or not you need one. Though hard water causes numerous problems, getting a water softener is a big investment. Therefore, considering water softener advantages and disadvantages will help you determine if this system is right for you. 

Let’s begin!

Close-up of scaling on pipes as a reference image for water softener advantages and disadvantages

Hard Water vs. Soft Water 

Before going into water softener advantages and disadvantages, there are a few fundamentals we need to cover about hard water vs soft water—as well as the different types of water softeners. 

First of all, both hard water and soft water occur naturally. For people who live in hard water areas, a water softener is not necessarily required, unless the hardness of the water exceeds 300 PPM. Generally speaking, however, it’s important to look into water softener advantages and disadvantages so you can weigh your options well. 

Compared to natural soft water, it should also be noted that treated soft water has the disadvantage of added sodium, but this would also depend on the type of water softener that you opt for. We’ll discuss this in further detail later on. 

If you would like to learn more about hard water vs. soft water, check out this article: Hard Water vs. Soft Water: Differences, Advantages, Disadvantages.

Water Softener Advantages

1. Less Skin and Scalp Irritation

One of the main minerals present in hard water is calcium. As this mineral builds up on the skin and scalp, it can cause irritation and dryness. This is why hard water can aggravate conditions like dermatitis and rosacea. Therefore, one of the benefits of having a water softener is that it produces water that is gentler and feels better on the skin and scalp. 

2. Longer-Lasting Plumbing and Appliances

Over time, hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up on the surfaces of the home’s pipes or inside appliances that are connected to the water supply. As water-bearing pipes collect more mineral deposits, they get narrower leading to low water pressure. In dire cases, this could cause pipe leaks and bursts. These blocks can also diminish your water heater’s efficiency. 

This is why having a water softener could extend the lifespan of the home’s entire plumbing system, as well as that of appliances connected to the water supply. You will also be able to enjoy more efficient water heating. 

3. Cleaner and Unobstructed Plumbing Fixtures

Have you ever seen white or yellowish deposits blocking the holes of faucets and showerheads? These are deposits from hard water. With a water softener, you will not encounter these stubborn and unsightly blockages anymore. You will also be able to avoid white stains on your plumbing fixtures which appear after hard water evaporates. 

4. More Economical Use of Soap and Detergent

Because of the minerals found in hard water, the efficacy of soap and detergent is lessened. Calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water react with the sodium salts in soap. Moreover, this reaction increases the formation of soap scum which can contribute to blocked drains. 

With a water softener, you’ll be able to get the full power of soap and detergent. Essentially, you’ll need less soap and detergent to get the same cleaning effect. Considering that most water softeners can last for years, you’ll be able to save a lot on both cleaning products and effort.  

5. Cleaner Clothes, Glassware, and Cars

The minerals in hard water can stick to clothes, glassware, and car surfaces. The harder the water is, the worse this can get. With a water softener, this is a problem that you can say goodbye to.

6. Added Value to Your Home or Rental Space

Having a water softener in a hard water area gives your house an added selling point when it’s time to sell it. This is not just because of the water softener itself but also because of its positive effects on your home’s plumbing system. And because softened water has plenty of benefits, rental properties with a water softener can also command higher rental fees.  

7. Great Value For Money

High-quality water softeners can last up to 15 years when properly maintained. This means that you’ll be able to get all of the above benefits for a long period of time. 

Closeup of water softeners

Water Softener Disadvantages 

1. Considerable Upfront Costs and Maintenance Costs

As we mentioned earlier, water softeners are an investment. Though they will help you save in the long run, they usually come with a considerable upfront cost. The price range of water softeners can be between $300 to $6,000. The upfront cost would depend on the type of water softener that you purchase.   

In addition, all types of water softeners require regular inspections and repairs. Inspections are usually performed on a yearly basis, while the frequency of repairs will depend on the brand and type of water softener you get. 

Inspections range from $40 and up and repairs could set you back around $150 or more

2. Some Are Linked to Health Risks

Certain types of water softeners exchange calcium and magnesium in hard water for sodium ions. The end product is water that has sodium added to it. Though most water softeners have trace amounts of sodium that is safe to drink, this depends on the hardness of the water that was treated. The harder the water, the more sodium ions are swapped for calcium and magnesium. 

In addition, softened water is more susceptible to leaching away copper and lead from certain types of plumbing. Short-term exposure to lead and copper can lead to nausea—while long-term consumption can negatively impact the liver and kidneys. Make sure to consult with an expert plumber if your home’s pipes have the potential to leak copper and lead before going over water softener options.  

3. Some People Prefer the Taste and Health Benefits of Hard Water

To some, hard water does not only taste good but also brings an appealing set of health benefits—such as the ability to lower the chances of cardiovascular diseases. Calcium and magnesium, in healthy doses, also offer support to muscle and nerve functions. Water softeners (excluding all descalers) will remove these beneficial minerals. 

4. Some Types of Water Softeners Waste More Water

During regeneration, some models of water softeners waste numerous gallons of water. However, more efficient units are also available. This is another reason why it’s best to consult an expert plumber who can recommend a high-efficiency water softener that best fits your needs. 

Get the Best Type of Water Softener Installed in Your Home 

That wraps up our guide on water softener advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing the type of water softener that suits your needs best. On top of this, it’s important to get a high-quality water softener that will serve you for years to come. The experts at PlumbWize are here to help!

From choosing a water softener to installing the appliance in your system, our experts will assist you every step of the way. Contact us today to discover which water softener system will work best for you!