Water softener systems can effectively combat hard well water at home. But do you actually need a water softener? Is your well water even hard? How to tell that the hard mineral concentration in your well water is high?
Well water isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s more likely to have excess minerals due to being stored in aquifers (underground layers of porous rock). Therefore, it may be a good idea to get a whole-house water softener system to remove calcium and magnesium ions from well water.
If you’re curious to determine whether your well water is rich in minerals and needs softening or you want to select the best water softener system for well water, this article is for you. Keep reading to learn more!
Is Well Water Hard?
So, is well water hard? There’s actually no specific answer to this question and here’s why.
Although well water is more likely to be hard, its hardness depends on where you live. While well water is hard in some areas, the concentration of minerals in well water may be significantly low in others.
Generally speaking, well water usually has a high mineral content, but your location should still be considered to determine how hard the water actually is.
In fact, water can be categorized as soft, slightly hard, moderately hard, hard, and very hard, according to the USGS. If your well water is slightly hard, you may not have any problems with it.
However, moderately to very hard water can lead to a myriad of problems in the household.
That being said, if the aquifer is rich in minerals, then the water that moves through it will most likely be hard. If the mineral content is lower, well water may be only slightly hard.
7 Signs that Your Well Water Needs Softening
But how do you tell if your water is hard? Well, soft and hard water don’t have any visual features that would allow us to distinguish them from one another. However, there are a few common signs that give you a heads-up about the hardness of your well water.
Signs that your well water is hard include soap and shampoo not lathering, your skin becoming dry and itchy, having mineral residue on dishes, limescale buildup in the shower, scaling in your kettle and steam iron, and constant plumbing problems.
Here’s how to detect the hardness of well water.
Sign #1. Washing your hands with soap feels different
One of the fastest ways to find out if your well water is hard is to wash your hands with some soap.
While soap will lather readily in soft water, hard water will prevent it from producing foam as a layer of scum is formed around it.
So, if you find it difficult to wash your hands with soap, then the water may be too hard.
Sign #2. Your shampoo isn’t lathering up
Another sign that indicates the hardness of the water coming from the well is that your shampoo has trouble lathering.
If your hair is completely wet and the shampoo still doesn’t lather, then you probably have hard water at home.
You can try a few different types of shampoos to ensure that the problem is caused by the water, not the shampoo itself.
Sign #3. Your skin has become dry and itchy
When hard water comes in contact with soap, the minerals react with it and form a scum, which can clog the pores and dry your skin.
Scientific studies have reported that showering in hard water can increase the risks of developing dry skin, eczema, and dandruff.
If you’ve noticed that your skin has become too dry or your acne has worsened, there are chances that your well water needs softening.
Sign #4. You’ve noticed mineral residue on your dishes and glassware
Households with hard well water are most likely to encounter mineral residue spots on dishes and glassware.
If your newly washed dishes look stained and tarnished, it may be due to the high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in your well water.
Sign #5. There’s a mineral buildup in the shower
Hard water also leads to mineral stains and buildup in the shower. Once the surfaces are dry, limescale spots become even more noticeable on glass shower doors and tiles.
While you can remove bathroom limescale with proper chemicals, the problem is totally avoidable if you soften your well water in the first place.
Sign #6. You have to remove limescale from your kettle and iron all the time
Scaling in kettles and steam irons is caused by the presence of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, in water.
When the water boils, insoluble salts are formed (limescale), requiring thorough cleaning.
So, you should pay attention to your appliances that use water to determine its hardness and the need for installing a water softener system.
Sign #7. You can’t keep up with all the plumbing problems
Last but not least, minerals dissolved in water often cause a broad range of plumbing problems. These include clogged pipes and drains, limescale on fixtures, corrosion, slower water flow, backflow, and more.
In fact, you should check if your showerheads and faucets are clogged to determine whether your pipes have been affected by hard water.
Just pay attention to the water flow. If it tends to be slower than it had been before, you probably have hard well water.
How to Soften Hard Well Water?
When it comes to softening hard water, there are a few effective options. Choosing between them is quite easy, as long as you consider your needs, preferences, and budget.
You can treat hard well water by boiling it, adding an ion-exchange water filter to your faucet or showerhead, and installing a whole-house water softener system.
Here are quick and easy methods to remove hardness from well water.
Method #1. Boil hard water
If you’re on a budget and need a quick solution to soften your well water, boiling it is the best choice. While this is a temporary solution and only slightly decreases the hardness of water, it’s still worth trying.
When water is boiled, calcium and bicarbonate ions are removed, forming limescale on the bottom of the kettle or pot. However, boiling doesn’t completely remove sodium and magnesium, meaning that some hard ions will still be present in water.
As boiling doesn’t actually get rid of the hardness ions, you should filter boiled water to remove the precipitate.
Method #2. Install a faucet filter or shower head water softener
A more effective method for dealing with hard water is installing an ion-exchange water filter. You can get a filter for your faucet and/or opt for a shower head water softener.
This faucet-mounted water filter by Filterbaby removes chlorine, heavy metals, and impurities from water, making it an ideal option for anyone on a budget.
As an alternative, you can get a shower head water softener to protect your skin, hair, and shower from hard minerals. This filtered shower head for hard water features a 20-stage filtration system, removing hard minerals, chlorine, and other harmful substances from the water.
Method #3. Invest in a whole-house water softener system
If your home gets water from a well, investing in a whole-house water softener system is what you should be aiming for. Although this will cost you quite a lot, you’ll say goodbye to hard water forever.
After well water enters your home, it’ll travel to the water softener. Then, hard water minerals will be replaced with soft ions through the ion-exchange process. Finally, softened water will exit the tank and flow through the plumbing, supplying the entire home.
Basically, setting up a whole-house filtration system means that the water flowing from every faucet and shower head has gone through the water softening process and no longer contains minerals.
If you’ve decided to purchase a whole-house water softener system, here’s a top-rated filtration device to improve the quality of your well water.
Top Water Softeners for Well Water + Pros and Cons
As we’ve explained the basics of well water hardness and ways to deal with the problem, let’s take a look at some of the best water softener systems that are worth the investment.
Below you’ll find advanced whole-house filtration systems that remove hardness from well water. The section also includes faucet-mounted and shower head water softeners, just in case you need something affordable.
This is a high-performance water softener with a 48,000-gallon capacity, ideal for homes with 3-4 bathrooms.
Its smart features calculate the amount of water treated and backwash the tank based on your water usage rather than according to a pre-set schedule (this is how older machines work).
The device comes with a fully programmable digital display, allowing you to customize flush intervals for the regeneration process.
Both mineral and brine tanks are made of heavy-duty materials, making them durable and corrosion-resistant.
All things considered, this water softener system is an ideal option for larger homes or families with high water usage.
If you’re looking for a powerful water softener for a smaller home, this one right here is for you.
It can handle 32,000 gallons of water and is suitable for homes with 1-2 bathrooms.
The water softener uses reverse osmosis and sedimentation techniques to purify water, remove hardness minerals, and reduce chlorine concentration in water.
The device is also available in 48,000 and 64,000-gallon options, meaning that it can be used for homes with up to 6 bedrooms.
If your well water is slightly hard and you’re looking for a salt-free water filtration system, this machine is for you.
With a capacity of 500,000 gallons, the device can remove chlorine, organic chemicals, and other contaminants from well water.
What makes this water filter system so unique is that it uses the UV purification method to reduce contamination while leaving healthy minerals in the water.
This is an affordable water softener system for homes with slightly hard water.
The device has a capacity of 600,000 gallons and can last for around 6 years.
The purification method is based on activated carbon filtration, which involves the absorption of contaminants onto the surface of a filter.
While the filtration system can effectively reduce chlorine, fluorine, and organic chemicals, it may not be able to remove high concentrations of hard minerals from well water.
This is a hybrid water softener device with a capacity of 31,000 gallons.
The water filter has a hardness removal rating of 120 gpg and an iron removal rating of 3 ppm, which is above average when compared to the devices in the same price range.
With a flow rate of 8 gpm, this water softener is a perfect choice for families of 1 to 5.
The best part is that its demand-initiated regeneration technology significantly reduces salt costs and maintenance needs.
If you just want to soften water coming out of the faucet, then you should get a faucet-mounted water filter instead of a whole-house system.
This tiny device can target chlorine, heavy metals, and other impurities that may be present in well water.
It fits the majority of standard faucets and can be installed in a few easy steps (no need to hire a plumber).
This water softener allows you to cleanse your face with filtered water, which, in turn, reduces skin dryness and irritation.
This water softener is the most affordable option on the list.
Still, it’s a top-rated shower head water filter that readily removes chlorine and hard minerals from well water, all thanks to the 15-stage filtration system.
The shower head comes with 6 different spray functions, meaning that it can suit pretty much any homeowner’s needs.
We shouldn’t forget to mention that installing the shower head water softener is an easy DIY project, no plumber needed.
How to Choose the Right Water Softener for Well Water
Choosing the suitable water softener for well water is key to removing hard minerals and ensuring that the water quality meets your needs. The process is quite straightforward, as long as you follow a few quick and easy steps.
To choose the right water softener for well water, test water hardness, determine water usage, set budget, look for certifications, consider installation costs, pay attention to water softener capacity, check maintenance requirements, think of smart features, check customer reviews, and ask for professional guidance if needed.
Here’s what you need to know.
Step #1. Test your water first
First of all, you should check the hardness of your well water to determine whether you actually need a water softener.
You can either use the water hardness test kit or hire a professional to do it for you.
Step #2. Determine your household’s water usage
Knowing how much water you need over a given period of time is key to choosing a water softener that can handle your water demand.
You should just consider the number of bathrooms and people in the household as well as the appliances that rely on water.
Alternatively, you can contact a professional to determine your water usage more precisely.
Step #3. Set your budget
Sticking to your budget will avoid extra costs during and after installing a water softener system.
Don’t forget to ensure that you can keep up with all the repair and maintenance expenses of the selected device.
On some occasions, it may be reasonable to pay more and invest in a high-quality device rather than spend less and then deal with a myriad of issues caused by a lower-quality filtration system.
Step #4. Look for a certified water softener
Water softeners can be quite expensive, so make sure the one you choose comes with a warranty and certifications.
Keep in mind that certifications may vary depending on where you live, but they should be issued by reputable organizations.
Step #5. Consider installation requirements
Installation is an important factor when purchasing a water softener system. You should check if you have enough space available to fit the device properly.
Besides, some can be installed by pretty much any homeowner, whereas others require professional involvement.
Step #6. Choose the water softener capacity and size accordingly
You should select the water softener capacity and size based on your household’s water usage. Just pay attention to the GPG (grains per gallon) value indicated on the device.
Water softener capacity and size tell you the amount and hardness level of water that the device can handle.
Step #7. Check the maintenance requirements
Considering maintenance requirements and costs will help you find a suitable water softener for your budget.
Even if a water softener is relatively cheap, you may end up spending hundreds of dollars to keep it maintained. So, think twice before making a purchase.
Step #8. Think of any additional features you may need
Newer models of water softener systems often include a few smart features that make operation and maintenance a lot easier.
For example, some water softeners monitor water usage to provide effective regeneration. Others have built-in trackers that tell you when and how to maintain the device.
Step #9. Check reviews
When shopping for a water softener, it’s always a good idea to look into the customer reviews and see what homeowners like or dislike about specific devices.
This will give you a better idea of what to expect from a given water softener and whether it’s suitable for your needs.
Step #10. Consult a professional if needed
Last but not least, consult professionals if you ever feel confused. They will tell you exactly how to choose the water softener while offering some options that meet your requirements.
Despite the fact that well water isn’t always hard, it’ll most likely contain low concentrations of hard ions, at least.
While dealing with hard water may sound overwhelming, selecting the right water softener system is all you need to improve the quality of your well water.
We’ve explored ways to soften well water and shared the leading water softener systems available online.
To wrap up the discussion, knowing how water softeners work and what one should consider when choosing the device is absolutely crucial for homeowners to make the right choice.
Check the hardness of well water, assess your needs, and choose wisely. Keep in mind that purchasing a water softener system is an investment.