Written By: Wendy Oldenbrook
Compact water softeners are much easier to maintain than their large, traditional counterparts. Gone are the days of giant bags of salt and brine tanks that take hours to recharge. Three new types of water softening technology have made using a water softener virtually maintenance free.
Salt-free compact water softeners
Instead of using traditional salt ion exchange chemistry to remove hard water minerals, salt-free compact water softeners use chelation to bind the hard water ions and prevent them from depositing scale in pipes and appliances. These water softeners use a variety of chelating agents. The NuvoH2O systems use CitraCharge to bind with hard water ions while the Aquios water softener systems use a polyphosphate compound.
Compact water softeners that use chelating agents have a replaceable cartridge that typically needs to be changed every six months. However, consumers should check their specific water softener. The Aquios AQFS120 Mini uses a replaceable cartridge that is rated for 15,000 gallons or three months of average use by a family, while the Aquios AQFS220 System uses a cartridge that the manufacturer says will last between four and six months.
Consumers should follow the manufacturers’ guidelines on when to replace the filter. Additionally, watch plumbing fixtures for hard water build up. Consumers with extremely hard water may need to change the filter sooner than typically recommended if they begin to see scale build up.
Electromagnetic compact water softeners
The second group of compact water softeners that are easy to maintain use electricity to prevent scale buildup. These systems are actually tiny appliances that wrap electric wires around a water pipe and then mount on the wall or directly onto the pipe. Electricity flows through the water and changes the crystal form of hard water molecules while they are in solution to make them less likely to deposit scale in pipes and appliances.
These systems must be plugged in to work, but other than that, require no ongoing maintenance.
Magnetic compact water softeners
Magnetic compact water softeners are the third group of water conditioners that are extremely easy to maintain. This technology uses very strong magnets that are installed directly onto water pipes. The magnetic forces change the molecular structure of hard water ions and suspend then in water so that they no longer form scale deposits.
Once these magnets are installed, there is no further maintenance required.
Tips for low maintenance systems
- Because these systems do not remove hard water ions, instead rendering them less likely to form scale, consumers should not expect to see a change in the hard water readings of a repeat water test. The hard water ions remain in the water, however, they do not behave in the same manner.
- Be sure to keep the original sales receipt and warranty information. Many compact water softeners have excellent warranties.
- For systems that require a periodic replacement cartridge, send a reminder through Outlook calendar, or make a note directly on a paper calendar to insure that the replacement happens on time.
Compact water softeners using salt-free chelating agents, electricity and magnets require very little attention once they have been installed. At the most, systems using filters need to have the filter replaced once every three to six months. Technological advancements such as these make fixing hard water issues not only easy, but virtually maintenance free.