I have lived with well water most of my adult life. I am moving into "town" soon. It is on city water. I talked to a reputable dealer about a softner/conditioner. He told me I was used to soft water since I have one now but it was up to me. He said a conditioner would just take out the fluoride and chlorine. Any thoughts?
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@tinaesims I think water softeners/conditioners are a personal preference. I don’t think they get rid of MAC. Radon in water is a concern these days, but “bubble up” systems for that are $5,600. You, most likely, would want a softener/conditioner in a city because of the chlorine. A cheaper fix, however, is a Brita. Our children who live in cities use those and are very satisfied. I guess it depends on how much you want to spend.
Softeners are for "hard" water – with iron content. They don't remove chlorine, or much of anything else. Hard water causes soaps not to suds or to rinse away very well, can turn clothing yellow if exposed to bleach, can leave your skin feeling itchy or prickly, can leave stains in you plumbing fixtures… Not all city water (or well water) is hard – it needs to be tested. Softened water contains more sodium, is not necessarily good for you to drink and is bad for any plants and lawns, so if you have a softener, it should be bypassed for your kitchen and outdoor faucets.
Conditioners are for removing particulates, chlorine, fluoride, and some disease causing "stuff" like cryptosporidium or giardia – DEPENDING on the exact filters you choose. Walter filtration systems currently on the market do not remove MAC (with the possible exception of UV systems, which are not widely in home use yet and require substantial maintenance.) Multi-stage filters, which house two or more different kinds of filter cartridges, are used to treat multiple problems with water – for example, remove particulates, improve taste, and remove giardia cysts. So you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish, then match the filter(s) to your goals.
Water filters are NOT purifiers, so should not be used to treat non-potable water in order to make it drinkable.
If you have bad tasting water, a filter will help with that, but won't reduce hardness; you may need both. Filters have a limited life, and must be changed regularly to be effective, the smaller the filter the shorter its life. Also read the cautions that are in the package, seasonally used filters must be replaced when you turn the system on again due to potential for bacteria to grow. We have had a lot of problems with the Brita-type filters clogging prematurely from poor quality water, and even developing a moldy smell/taste after a short time in use.
@sueinmn I have a question. First, that is very good info. Many years ago half the members of my family contracted giardiasis when we lived in Berlin, New Hampshire. It was not able to be filtered out of the town water supply because of its size. It had apparently gotten into the water when a military group had been up there doing exercises or something we were told. We were also told something about beavers connected to that. Who knows. Anyway, if filters are made to get rid of it, wouldn’t all municipal water systems have such a filter now since giardiasis is a third world country thing? Thank you. (Irene5)
@irene5 Municipal water supplies are filtered. However, not all treatment facilities are equal (think of all the news about Flint, Michigan) And water can become contaminated on the path to your faucet. And some of us are on wells. So, if it is a concern based on testing or health issues a proper filter is indicated.