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

(10 Posts)
napkin Tue 07-May-13 17:11:42

I am having problems with my washing looking worn and have noticed my children's skin is becoming dry. I need to do something about it but been looking and don't know what would be better out of a filter or softener or if I need both and don't have a lot to spend.

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Wed 08-May-13 11:19:16

I think a water filter generally cleans out chlorine etc for better-tasting drinking water, whereas a softener removes limescale. We have a water softener as we live in a really hard water area (Thames Valley) and I was fed up with appliances, tiles, bath screens etc getting covered in lime scale within days. The softener goes on the mains-in water supply and softens the whole supply for the house, except for a drinking water tap. It's fabulous, never get lime scale and it actually cleans out the old limescale buildup already in the house. They can be expensive but I am a big fan. Ours uses the salt blocks and doesn't need any electrical supply so very low maintenance, I check the salt level once a month and that's it.

It has improved my son's dry skin, and you need less shampoo, soap, fabric liquid etc than with hard water. It also makes your hair much fluffier!

PigletJohn Wed 08-May-13 13:48:42

for soft washing and smooth skin, a water softener is fab. I wouldn't be without mine. It will cost some £hundreds and you will need salt delivered to regenerate it periodically. The salt does not go into the water as some people think. I have six sacks delivered a year (don't collect it in your own car as the slightest spillage will eat rust holes through the boot). Put it somewhere with easy access to fill it.

there will be a water softener company in your town that will sell, install, repair softeners, and deliver salt (when phoning, ask "do you repair softeners?") and they might sell reconditioned ones. I bought my last one, reconditioned, from a man in Essex, it was as cheap as having the old one repaired.

if you just want to buy a cheap one, DIY sheds sell them, but you may have to throw it away if it goes wrong. A good one can last 20 years.

napkin Wed 08-May-13 14:19:16

I want to be able to fit it myself, will this be difficult and would it be cheaper to go to my local plumb centre? My OH works for British Gas and said a water softener can corrode our boiler and rads so I am worried about this.

PigletJohn Wed 08-May-13 14:37:21

it is almost exactly as easy or difficult to fit as a washing machine. The incoming water main pipe needs to be close to it, and you need a drain such as a sink waste (not a rainwater drain unless you are in an old area with combined drainage). If you are fond of DIY plumbing and have the tools it might take an hour or two.

The manufacturers of central heating corrosion inhibitors say they work with softened water, and there was a big test a year or so ago which found no evidence of extra corrosion (for many years older plumbers have thought there would be).

see links on here

napkin Wed 08-May-13 17:05:09

My OH is very good at his job so I think it might be more than a problem than we think with the boilers and corrosion but it does seem strange as as you said before is that what a water softener is made for. Will have to ask him more about it.

napkin Wed 08-May-13 17:07:17

I meant to say as you said before and miss out what!

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Wed 08-May-13 18:05:50

I found one, the same as ours (nearly a thousand pounds worth!) in a skip! Checked with the skipee and took it away, FIL installed it in his house and it's perfect, we checked the hardness levels before and after.

napkin Wed 08-May-13 19:47:13

Funny what some people throw out! Do you all see good results with a water softener? Anyone had any bad experiences with one?

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Sat 11-May-13 15:59:09

No bad experience at all - once the water in the whole system is softened, it will start removing the old limescale, so you may find after a few weeks you have to take the shower head off and tip all the flakes of scale out of it. Otherwise ithe softener just works away in the background and makes cleaning a whole lot easier!

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