Take a look at your sink, washing machine, and teakettle. Do you see stubborn soap scum and mineral deposits that can only be removed with extra scrubbing? Hard water is the culprit.
To achieve crystal-clear water glasses and streakless pots and pans, many people install a water softener.
“Water softeners are a great investment if your water supply is high in mineral content, a condition known as hard water,” says Paul Abrams, a spokesperson for Roto-Rooter Services in Cincinnati.
A whopping 90% of households have hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium.
Water softeners work by replacing those minerals with a softer mineral of sodium or potassium, and can transform your everyday water experience.
But a water softener isn’t cheap. A high-end water softener will cost about $1,800, while installing it can cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000. So is buying a water softener worth it for homeowners? Here are some factors to weigh.
Pro: Efficient pipes and appliances
Since hard water has high traces of calcium and magnesium ions, it can create limescale and damage your home’s internal heating, plumbing systems, and appliances.
Abrams says hard water can damage water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, ice makers, faucets, shower-heads, and all the parts inside your toilet tank. Switching to soft water can put an end to that.
“A water softener will reduce wear and tear on each of these fixtures and appliances and help to extend their useful lives,” says Abrams. “And if you have glass shower doors, they’ll be much easier to clean if you have softer water.”
Con: The cost can be high
The initial price of a water softener, plus installation, can cost homeowners anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
The cost of a water softener depends on how large your household is, the hardness of your water, and the type of system you choose.
Larger homes (in terms of square footage), with more occupants and lots of hard water, will require a more heavy-duty system to remove the minerals.
A high-end 75,000-grain capacity water softener will cost about $1,800, according to Angie’s List.
Installation by a professional can also get super pricey, at up to as high as $4,000.
Some experts, though, believe there are ways to stay within your budget.
“There’s no need to purchase a very high-end water softening system,” Abrams says. “A simple $300-$400 water softener will do a great job for many years—the average life expectancy is 12 years—and will do almost everything that a $2,000 unit will do.”
Ruben Rodriguez, operations manager at the Texas headquarters of the Bosworth Company, which provides HVAC, plumbing, and electrical services, says some companies will even lease softeners, alleviating some of the upfront cost.
Still, adding a large appliance to your home requires forethought and consideration for your budget.
Pro: Nicer laundry, skin, and hair
“After using a water softener, the brightness of…