Water Softeners vs Water Filters

Water Softeners vs Water Filters

Water Softeners vs Water Filters

What is the difference between a water filter and a water softener?

With all the choices on the market today, deciding on the best water system for your home can get confusing.

In this article, we will be talking about whole house water filtration systems, which means that the water treatment equipment will be installed on the main water pipe coming into your home. This is important because you want ALL the fixtures in your home to receive the treated water. Because the water treatment system is the first thing on your main water line, the size of the equipment and flow rates need to be maintained as your plumbing system was designed.

In other words, you should not decrease the size of pipes going into and out of the water treatment system and the tank size and amount of media inside the tanks must be matched to your home’s plumbing system. 

There are many water treatment systems available. Today we are going to discuss 2 of the most common systems we come across; Water softeners and Water filters. 


The short easy to remember version: water softeners remove and dispose of scale nuisances that corrode plumbing fixtures, shower doors and appliances.

This is caused by lime, calcium and magnesium minerals in the water. The effects of these minerals are quite evident after you take a shower by all the white spots left on the handles and glass doors after the water dries. Maybe you noticed the screen on your faucet turning white, spots on your silverware and glasses or the rumbling noise in your water heater tank (sounds like tennis shoes in a dryer) that is a buildup of minerals inside the water heater tank that for a sediment layer which when heated starts to make a rumbling sound. This is especially bad for tankless water heaters because it will burn spots in the copper coil causing them to leak prematurely.

Water softeners will also provide other great benefits like using less soap, detergents, and skin lotions, prolonging the life of fixtures and appliances, soothes skin, and helps with rashes, eczema and other skin irritations. In order for a water softener to work properly and healthy it will require sodium or potassium to be added about every 6 months and sanitized once a year. 


whole house water filtration system

Just like the name implies this is a system that removes “bad things” from our water.

Whole house water filters, like water softeners, are installed on the main water pipe coming into your home before any other filters or fixtures. For our purpose, we will be talking about whole house carbon filters as they are among the best on the market today.

Why carbon water filters?

One pound of carbon contains a surface area of approximately 125 acres and can absorb thousands of different chemicals. A specially treated carbon referred to as catalytic carbon is especially good at removing chlorine which has been linked to causing cancer and chloramines which have been linked to pinhole copper water leaks that are rampant in Orange County, California.

Catalytic carbon filters remove/reduce many volatile organic chemicals (VOC), pesticides, and herbicides, as well as chlorine, benzene, trihalomethane (THM) compounds, radon, solvents, and hundreds of other man-made chemicals found in tap water. Some activated carbon filters are moderately effective at removing some, but not all, heavy metals. Catalytic carbon filters are effective at removing chloramine and hydrogen sulfide.

In addition, catalytic carbon filters can remove particles down to 0.5 micron, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium, turbidity, and particulates. The best units will have an automatic cleaning cycle called a backwash to remove the contaminants and dispose of them down the drain. Carbon water filtration systems will make your water smell and taste great. Bottled quality water at every fixture!

The best system you can install in your home will utilize both a carbon and a softener system in conjunction.

Because both of these systems are installed permanently in your plumbing’s piping system you want to make sure that valves are installed to be able to bypass the water system in case of repairs or replacing the media inside of the tanks. 

Always use a licensed plumbing company to install your water filtration and softener systems. They will use the proper sized piping which in turn assures proper water low rates and pressures.