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Is A Water Softener Worth It? The Hard Facts

If you live in a place like Phoenix, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the concept of water softeners. But is a water softener worth it? Do you truly need one? Today, we’ll answer these questions and more to help you decide.

Is A Water Softener Worth It? The Basics

Water softeners work by reducing mineral concentrations that can lead to things like limescale and dry skin. They are a very common household appliance in regions like the American Midwest and Southwest, both of which have extremely mineral-rich water as a result of their geological composition.

Interestingly enough, however, hardness does not make water undrinkable. It may taste a bit odd and occasionally have some unpleasant-looking particles in it but you can absolutely drink it without any negative health effects arising as a direct result of the mineralization. In light of this, is a water softener worth it? The answer is yes. Let’s explore why.

Why Are Water Softeners Worth It?

While drinking hard water won’t negatively impact your health, its presence in your home can cause substantial damage. Have you ever found it difficult to scrub your skin because the soap just won’t lather? You can probably trace the issue back to hard water. Are your hair and skin brittle despite your regular use of care products? Hard water can cause that too due to the minerals acting as an irritant. You can read more about these and other negative effects of hard water here.

Hard water affects much more than your skin and hair, though. It causes limescale buildup in appliances like your water heater, which can make them run inefficiently and shorten their lifespans. Your dishwasher and laundry machines will also need to work much harder than usual, which will increase your energy bills.

In light of these and the many other negative effects of hard water, it’s not hard to see why softeners are considered so essential in places like Arizona. It’s not uncommon for people to save hundreds of dollars in their first year after installing a softener when you add up all the benefits. Let’s look at the numbers next.

Is A Water Softener Worth The Money?

A good water softener will cost you upwards of $1,000 to install (see our detailed pricing here). While that’s certainly a lot of money, the right unit will pay for itself over the course of a few years and serve you reliably for as many as 20 years. That works out to less than $100 per year for as long as the softener lasts. Remember, the softener might save you hundreds of dollars per year in energy bills and detergent usage.

Even when you factor in the price of salt, which you’ll need a new bag of roughly every three months (check out our guide to choosing wisely here), the answer to “is a water softener worth the money?” is a resounding, unwavering “yes” in cities like Phoenix, Arizona.

Location Matters

A quick look at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) map below will reveal why water softeners are so prevalent in states like Arizona.

A map of water hardness throughout the United States, used to convey the concept of "is a water softener worth it?"

Out west, we have some of the country’s hardest water due to our region’s geological makeup. This makes water softeners an absolute necessity in Arizona, whereas someone in a state like Maine can easily do without one.

Things can vary drastically within some states, however (look at Florida, which has some purple spots indicating low hardness but then some white and red ones indicating higher levels. That’s why it’s a good idea to conduct testing on your water supply before you go out and purchase a softener.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Water Softener

While a water softener is absolutely worth the cost, you’d still be wise to save money where you can. Here are some tips.

Choose The Right Unit The First Time

One of the most common water softener gaffes (particularly when buying and installing one on your own) is miscalculating the size. An undersized unit won’t produce as much soft water as needed while an oversized unit will simply cost more than you really needed to spend. Check out this post for some tips on properly sizing a water softener based on your needs.

You should also choose the best-quality water softener you can afford. Remember, a good unit can last as long as 20 years. An extra $200 can be money well spent if it means your unit lasts that long rather than giving out after a few years.

Take your time with choosing the right water softener. You won’t regret it.

Maintain Your Water Softener

You’ll get the most out of your water softener when you take proper care of it. Get familiar with your unit and learn how to recognize when it’s malfunctioning. Clean your water softener regularly as well to get rid of buildup that might cause it to stop functioning properly.

The good news about water softener maintenance is that you can do most of it on your own. Save for some major repairs, these units (particularly the ones we carry) are quite user-friendly. Check out this post for some detailed tips on making your water softener last as long as possible.

Combine Your Water Softener With A Filter

As great as water softeners are, they’re not designed to be a one-stop-shop solution for all of your home’s filtration needs. The membranes are really intended to filter out sediment and minerals rather than contaminants like dissolved organics.

If you force your softener to remove these contaminants it was never intended to, you’ll end up wearing it down much faster. Consider using something like a reverse osmosis filter alongside your water softener to keep it running optimally.

Is A Water Softener Worth It? Conclusion

We hope this post has done a good job of demonstrating why water softeners are absolutely worth it in parts of America that have particularly hard water. That includes states like Arizona, much of the Midwest, and pockets of most states save for the northeastern ones.

If you’re looking for a water softener in Phoenix, Arizona, we invite you to get in touch with American Home Water & Air. We’ve been installing these units for more than 35 years and we love to be of service!

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