After you have decided that you need an improvement in the quality of the water you get and use at home (for one or more of the usual reasons: poor taste, strange smells, excessive chlorine, excessive buildup of scales, the soap forms scum and curd, etc.) then the next natural question would be: what exactly do I need?
In that same regard, you will find there are two main types of systems to improve the conditions and quality of the water you use at home: water softeners and water filters.
What are the functions of each one?
Both work to improve different aspects of your water supply; while the water conditioners reduce the amount of dissolved salts in the water (they reduce the hardness of the water), the water filters clean the water from any pollutants or unwanted substances it may carry and aims at making the water as pure as possible.
Both issues create different problems: the excessive hardness in water may build up and clog pipes or form scales in washing or dishwashing machines, it will damage your clothes, reduce the efficacy of your soap and detergents and it might even damage your hair.
The excessive amount of unwanted substances and pollutants in the water, on the other hand, creates an even larger array of problems: you may get sick if the water has bacteria, protozoans, viruses, fungi, amoebas or other microbes; the excess of chlorine and chloramines may cause an unpleasant taste and smell in water and dry your skin and hair; excess of rust and sediments may cause stains in your clothing, tub, sink and toilet, and also cause constipation; and the list becomes almost interminable because of the almost infinite amount of possible pollutants and noxious substances. So you’ll need to follow a oxidation process; also called catalytic conversion.
How can I tell which one I need?
Which kind of device you will need, is going to depend on the needs of your water supply, in other words, you will need to test it in order to know what problems it has and choose the appropriate system that will fix it.
Take a look at the following table which is a simple and synthesized reference you can consult to link some of the most common problems you may have with your water supply, to the causative substances and the most recommended system to fix such problem.
|Problem||Effects||Substances related||Benefits of treatment||Recommended system|
|Scale buildup||Hypertension and increased stroke or heart attack risk||Calcium, Magnesium||Much reduced use of soap and detergent, Protected pipes and appliances||•Water Softener
(Salt-based if heavy)
|Smells and tastes (of any kind)||Asthma, Allergies, Dermatitis, Eczema||Hydrogen Sulfide, THM, Pesticides, VOC, etc.||Softer skin, healthier respiratory system||•Water filter
(with Activated Carbon filters)
|Excessive Chlorine||Dry skin, Dry and brittle hair,||Chlorine, Chloramine||Softer skin & hair, stronger & shiny hair||•Water filter
(with Activated Carbon filters)
|Microbes||Infections, Diarrhea, Nausea, Gastrointestinal diseases, Fever||Giardia, E. coli, Amoeba, fungi, viruses, bacteria||Improved health, digestion and quality of life||•Water filter
(with UV Light sterilizer & Ozone injection)
|Rust and red stains||Stains in clothing, bathtubs & skin||Iron, Hydrogen Sulfide||No more red stains in tubs, toilets & sinks||•Water filter|
|Fluoridation of public water supply||Dental fluorosis, increased cancer risk, Brain and nerve damage||Fluoride||Protection from Fluoride ingestion||•Water filter|
|Turbid and Cloudy water||Constipation and gastrointestinal problems||Silt, Sand, Clay, Soil, Dirt, Sediment||Crystal clear water
(with Sediment filter)