Make an Informed Decision About What’s Right for Your Home
Recently a number of municipalities in Southeast Wisconsin have begun to push homeowners to switch to saltless systems for their water. And while these systems seem intriguing on the surface, it’s important for homeowners to consider a variety of factors before making the switch. What are these systems? How do they truly work? Water Doctors is here to provide you with answers.
What is a Saltless System?
First and foremost, it’s essential to note that a saltless system is not actually a water softener. Instead, it’s better described as a water descaler. This type of equipment, originally developed for the Asian market, was created with the intention of descaling hard water and reducing calcium buildup. However, it does not actually remove hardness from your water — it conditions it.
A saltless system will follow one of two methods to condition calcium in your water: coating or absorption. Most commonly, saltless systems will form a crystalline structure around calcium in your water, allowing this chemical to pass through your plumbing. Saltless systems do not offer the same treatment as soft water systems, so it’s important to note that conditioned water will not act like soft water, feel like soft water, or provide the benefits of soft water that you may be used to.
The Cost of Saltless Systems
Saltless systems are often praised as a greener and cheaper option for soft water in the home. With a low buy-in price, they are very appealing to homeowners, but it’s important to understand the long-term investment of these systems. The equipment was initially meant to target water near oceans with a hardness of up to 3-4 grains per gallon. Current systems can target the hardness of approximately 15 grains, but this is often insufficient when dealing with hard water in Southeast Wisconsin. Even near Lake Michigan, which has an average of 8-9 grains and more moderate hard water properties than surrounding areas, you can expect heavy maintenance on saltless systems as they struggle to keep up with hard water. Some areas in Southeast Wisconsin even surpass 22 grains per gallon, which saltless systems often lack the capacity to handle.
As saltless systems can struggle to keep up with local hard water, you’ll have to rebed the unit or change filters on a frequent basis. A rebed could run you hundreds of dollars each time, so be aware that this can add up quickly. For areas on Lake Michigan water supply, you may need to rebed after a year and a half of average water consumption — and for other areas with increased water hardness, the longevity of your saltless system or cartridge will decrease even further, sometimes needing to be rebedded every few months. As frequency of replacement increases, so will the cost you put into your saltless system.
What System Does Water Doctors Recommend?
Water Doctors recommends that local homeowners continue to use water softeners despite the appeal of saltless systems. Saltless systems condition the water instead of removing the calcium present, but with a water softener, calcium is removed so you can enjoy all those familiar benefits of soft water you love: increased appliance lifespans, softer skin, shinier hair, and more. Water Doctors offers both non-electric twin tank water softeners and traditional electric water softeners from Kinetico.
While a water softener may cost more up front, it can save you money in the long run. On average, electric water softeners have a life expectancy of 15–20 years, with Kinetico systems often lasting beyond this time frame. Plus, with an inexpensive customer care program from Water Doctors, you can enjoy routine maintenance for years of optimal performance!
If you have other questions about saltless systems or water softeners, just ask! We’re happy to address any concerns you may have.
Invest in Cleaner, Safer Water
While the saltless system may be gaining traction, it’s important to remember that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and they are rarely sufficient for Wisconsin water. When comparing saltless systems with traditional water softeners, considering ongoing maintenance costs and the ability to handle your local hard water is essential.
Schedule a free water test to discover the solution that works best for your home.