Water Softening vs. Water Conditioning: The Difference

July 8, 2020

The debate between water softeners vs. water conditioners focuses on a common problem: hard water. Being rich in minerals, hard water is tough on pipes and heating elements, which leads to repair issues and reduced productivity in industrial settings. Homeowners, meanwhile, seek water conditioning treatment due to plumbing issues, but also because hard water often tastes odd and causes skin irritation. If you are considering a water treatment system for your home or business, here are the five main differences between water softeners vs. water conditioners in Scottsdale, AZ:

  • How they work: Water softeners remove calcium, magnesium and silica and replace it with salt. There are some quantities of elements available, so water maintains what is called “temporary hardness.” Water conditioners change the minerals so they remain but they do not build up on surfaces or cause other hard water problems. This allows the water to maintain the nutritional advantages of these minerals.
  • Biocontaminants: Water softeners only address the minerals. As mentioned above, they replace the ions of the minerals with salt through a process called ion exchange. They do not have any effects against biological elements like bacteria and algae. Water conditioners can address bacteria and algae, which can result in a biofilm that also causes plumbing damage and contamination. If biofilm is an issue at your home or business, you likely need a water conditioner rather than a softener.
  • Maintenance: If you have a water softener system, you need to keep it stocked up with salt. You purchase bags of salt made specifically for water softeners and add it to the unit. This recharges the beads used to soften water so the ion exchange process continues to work. Conditioner systems do not require salt, and merely involve a mechanical process to reduce the effects of water minerals. While you may need to monitor the system to be sure it continues conditioning the water, you do not have to stay on top of adding salt or other frequent maintenance.
  • Water usage: Water softeners flush out water with the minerals they remove. These systems use more water, and any water that is flushed out can be dangerous to humans and pets. You will need to monitor it to ensure water drains safely and that the storage tank does not leak. Since water conditioning does not remove the minerals, but only neutralizes them, there is no need for a water flushing system.
  • Options: Water softeners really only work in one way: you add salt, and water is softened. If you choose to go with a water conditioner, you can go with electrical induction methods or go with chemical treatment. This allows for customization based on the problem most frequently encountered with your water. There are solutions that focus on magnesium or calcium, or if you face more issues with biocontaminants, there are systems designed mainly for them.

WES Water offers water conditioning treatment in Scottsdale, AZ for homes and businesses. If you are deciding between water softeners vs. water conditioners, we can assess your situation and offer solutions. Contact us today to get started.

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