Water Softener Learning Center

How water softeners work and types of softeners

Softening water is a 4-step process.

  1. The body of a water softener is a tank filled with resin beads. These beads are covered with sodium ions. As hard water
    passes through, the resin beads act like a magnet, attracting the calcium and magnesium ions (hardness) in exchange for the
    sodium ions.
  2. Eventually the resin beads become saturated with mineral ions and have to be “re-charged.” This process is called
    regeneration, and is conducted by the control valve on the top of the tank. The control valve is the brain of the system.
  3. During regeneration, a strong brine solution is flushed through the resin tank, bathing the resin beads in a stream
    of sodium ions which replace the accumulated calcium and magnesium ions (hardness).
  4. The brine solution, carrying the displaced calcium and magnesium ions, is then flushed down the drain by fresh water.
    The regenerated resin beads can be used again and again.


popular brands

  • Some of the most popular brands of water softeners include DuraLine, DuraWater, Fleck, Autotrol, Clack, Kinetico, Culligan and Rainsoft.
  • There are a few main differences between most of the water softener brands.  For instance the DuraWater DuraLine brand of water softeners are known for their reliability, durability and efficiency.
  • Fleck is a well known name and a very good water softener as well.
  • Autotrol was once owned by GE and is now owned by Pentair the same company that owns Fleck.  We think that the Autotrol Logix is a good city water softener.
  • Clack is not allowed to be sold on line and should only be purchased from a local water treatment dealer.
  • Kinetico is a proprietary twin tank non electric water softener.  Like Clack they should only be purchased from a local dealer.  We have found Kinetico to be a good water softener but the price usually causes sticker shock.  You certainly do not need to mortgage your home to buy a great water softener that can work great for decades to come.
  • Culligan and Rainsoft sell salt based ion exchange water softeners as well.

“Why do I need a water softener?”

A water softener is the one appliance that can extends the life of all of your other water based appliances.

Soft water makes a difference you can feel and see, all over the house.

  1. In the Bathroom: Your soap and shampoo will lather better. Your hair and skin will feel noticeably cleaner, softer, and not
    as dry. And there will be no soap scum or mineral deposits to clean off sinks, showers, tubs and toilets.
  2. In the Laundry: Clothes will be softer, cleaner, whiter and brighter. Plus they will last longer. Using soft water and pure
    soap products increases the life of clothing, towels and linens up to 33%. Without hard water service issues, washing
    machines last longer, too.
  3. In the Kitchen: Dishes will clean up more easily, and be spot free, without the gray f lm glasses get when etched by i
    mineral-laden water. Plus hands will feel softer and look better.
  4. Throughout the House: Water-using appliances will last longer and run better. Why? Because hot water heaters, washing
    machines and dishwashers used with hard water can wear out 30% faster.

How Softener Works

Softener Sizing Chart

Hardness Map

Water Softener Sizing Chart


There are two main types.

Timed & Metered.

Timed: A timed water softener back washes automatically on a set number of days no matter what.  For instance every day or every other day or every three days etc..  These timed models are not as efficient on salt or water usage.

Metered: The metered type is the most efficient type of water softener and is also known as on demand.  These water softeners back wash only as needed based on water usage, so there is always soft water.  Some of the most popular metered water softeners are the DuraWater & Fleck 5600 SXT.

Of these two types of water softeners there are a few sub categories.

  1. Mechanical display which can come in either timed or metered.
  2. Timed which only comes in mechanical when purchased from us.
  3. Twin tank water softeners like the fleck 9100 series which ensures 24/7 soft water even while they back washed.
  4. High Flow Water Softeners great for large homes and light commercial applications.

There are also water softeners designed for different types of water.  For instance some water softeners are better at removing iron.

Below are water softeners that are good at removing hardness and iron from the water.  These systems utilize “fine mesh resin” which is better at removing iron from the water then conventional “high capacity resin”.  Some of these systems also utilize a kdf 85 media guard which is great at removing iron and some H2S (rotten egg smell).

Iron Blasters

Well Water Eradicators

You can add KDF 55 media guards to a lot of our water softeners to help with chlorine removal from the water.

City Eradicators remove hardness and chlorine from the water.

There are water softeners that can remove tannin’s and hardness from the water.

Tannin Water Softeners