You may know that the resin beads in your water softener attract hard minerals and remove them from your water, but did you know that your water softener may also have a pre-filter? And if it doesn’t have one now, should it? What does a water softener pre-filter do, anyway? The answer (and that pre-filter) may lead you to even better water quality.
Why Do You Need a Pre-Filter?
We soften our water for many reasons. The first reason that comes to mind for most people is the damage that minerals (like calcium or magnesium) can do to our appliances, laundry, skin, and hair. However, softening doesn’t remove every chemical compound, which is where a pre-filter comes in.
A water softener pre-filter can remove:
- Physical impurities such as sediment, rust or other undissolved particles
- Chemicals that affect taste or odor, such as chlorine and chloramines or hydrogen sulfide
- Discoloring chemicals such as iron and manganese
These substances can build up in your water softener and cause inefficient operation or even damage. Eliminating those impurities protects your water softener’s performance and longevity in addition to improving the aesthetic quality of your water.
Different Types of Water Filters
There are typically two types of pre-filter: sediment and carbon. The best pre-filter for your home depends on what you want to remove from your water.
Sediment pre-filters are typically used on well water. They act like a sieve to remove particles (or sediment) like iron, manganese, rust, etc. If sediment/particulates are prevalent, you could choose a multi-stage system that uses a series of filters that gradually change from coarse to fine.
Carbon pre-filters are typically used on municipal or city water. They remove contaminants or impurities through the use of activated charcoal and chemical adsorption. Carbon pre-filters are particularly efficient at removing or reducing the odor from the presence of chlorine in water.
When Should You Clean the Filter?
Just like the air filter in your HVAC system or the air and fuel filters in your car, your water softener pre-filter will get dirty. Whether you should clean or replace the filter, and how often, depends on the type of pre-filter you have as well as overall household water usage. In general, experts recommend that sediment filters be replaced (or cleaned) every 3-6 months.
Some filters are reusable, so when they get full (or dirty, as we might say), you can remove them for cleaning and then replace them. However, depending on the filter and water it's filtering, some can get very dirty very quickly, so we often recommend using disposable filters, instead.
What should you look for? If you notice a change in water color or taste, it’s probably time to clean the filter. If there's a gradual decrease in water pressure, that’s another good sign that you might need to change your filter... or at least check it. You can also visually check your filter periodically and, over time, determine what cadence is optimal for your household.
Call Us for a Consult
Testing your water is the first step toward determining what type of pre-filter will make the best companion for your water softener, to produce optimal overall results. You can buy a test kit at the store or online. Or just give us a call and one of our Haferman Water Conditioning pros will come out and test your water and make some recommendations for you.