Shopping for a whole-house water filter and softener system?
Don’t let the enormous variety intimidate you.
If you want to truly improve the quality of your water supply, a whole-house water filter and softener combo is your best bet.
It consists of multiple water filtration elements that capture unwanted contaminants, including the hardness particles that make the water unusable, making the water pure, clean and safe for consumption.
Such a system can purify the water of your entire home and even reduce the hard mineral build-up.
And it is because of the great benefits they offer that these combination systems are becoming so increasingly popular.
Who should buy a whole-house water filter plus softener combo unit?
A whole-house water filter and softener combo ensures that your pipes and appliances are clean and that you have a steady supply of safe drinking water at all times. Here’s who can benefit from getting such a unit:
People who use tap water for drinking
Bottled water is certainly healthy for drinking, but plastic bottles are not suitable for the environment in the long run.
If the dubious quality of tap water prevents you from making the switch, you should get an efficient whole-house water filter and softener combo.
The device will ensure you get safe and great-tasting water that is free from any hardness.
It is not just environmentally friendly and healthy, but also saves you lots of money that you would otherwise have to spend on buying water.
Homes supplied with hard water
Hard water is a major issue for many households. It leaves behind ugly stains, clogs the pipelines, lowers the efficiency damages and lowers the efficiency of home appliances like washing machines, ice makers, dishwashers, etc.
Limescale is also a common problem in homes that get hard water. It is the white residue left behind when the water dries, making the surfaces appear dirty and patchy.
It can also build up inside pipework, clogging showerheads and reducing the water flow of taps.
A whole-house water filter and softener combo is the best way to rid your home of all these problems.
It will supply you with safe water, free of any harmfulminerals, that is better for drinking as well as for household chores.
People who want healthy hair and skin
Water quality has a direct impact on the condition of your hair and skin. Water with high TDS will make your hair dry and frizzy and cause the skin to lose its moisture.
A good whole-house water filter and softener combo will ensure that you get clean and high-quality water so that your hair and skin remain glowing and healthy.
What’s In This Buying Guide
Table of Contents
This buying guide explains everything about whole-house water filter and softener combos, plus our top recommendations. We compare and review our top picks in detail.
We also explain what a whole-house water filter and softener combination unit is, its types, and its functioning.
We also include a comprehensive shopping guide to help you make the right choice and answer some common questions regarding these combo units to clear your doubts.
If you need further options, make sure you check out our review of APEC water systems.
Best Whole House Water Filters + Softeners
Filtersmart Whole-House Filter & Salt-Free Water
Best Budget Pick
52 x 12 x 12 inches
5 years or 1,000,000 gallons
1 – 3 bath
Tier1 Eco Series Whole-House Water Filter & Salt-Free
48 x 36 x 12 inches
1 – 3 bath
Best for Municipal Water
9 x 46 x 54 inches
1,000,000 Gallons or 10 years
1 – 3 bath
10 years limited warranty
If you want to enjoy great-tasting, bottled-quality water straight out of your tap, then Filtersmart Whole-House Water Filter System and Salt-Free Water Softener combo is a good option.
It has an impressive 1,000,000-gallon capacity with a high flow rate of 7 gallons per minute.
It uses NSF-certified granulated coconut shell carbon filters to remove harmful contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, VOCs, industrial solvents, and SOCs, amongst many others.
The accompanying water softener employs salt-free technology to provide you with softer water without leaving behind a slippery, slimy feeling on your skin. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty on the tanks and valve heads.
While this Filtersmart combo unit is more expensive than a regular whole-house water filter, it is undoubtedly more affordable than many other competitive units currently available on the market.
It is a 2-stage water purification system and involves a filter and a water conditioner.
For filtration, it uses the world’s best carbon from Jacobi. The granulated coconut shell carbon filters are NSF-certified to be completely natural. They can effectively clean and purify water.
TheFiltersmart system acts as a conditioner for water softening, capturing the calcium and magnesium in water and converting them into microscopic nanocrystals that remain suspended in the water. This way, they cannot accumulate in pipes and fittings to create scale.
The system treats 1,000,000 gallons of water in its lifespan. It is versatile enough to work with a wide variety of water sources, including both city and well water.
Like reverse osmosis systems, the Filtersmart combo effectively purifies water but requires comparatively less maintenance, which is a must for an RO system.
Issues & Limitations
Although there is very little to complain about in this water filtration system, the long priming time is a bit of a problem.
After the original installation, you will have to let it sit for about 2-3 days for the charcoal to fully activate.
In addition, the system is advertised to be easy to install. Sure, the provided instructions are quite clear and easy to understand, but you still have to have some plumbing knowledge to get it right.
This premium whole-house filter and salt-free softener combo from Filtersmart uses an NSF-certified carbon filter for water purification, while a saltless softener conditions the water to lessen its hardness.
It is a low-maintenance device with a long filter lifespan and lifetime warranty coverage for both the tanks and the valve heads.
Tier1 Eco Series Whole-House Water Filter & Salt-Free Softener is a low-maintenance combo unit.
It is a 3-stage system that removes up to 97% chlorine and other harmful contaminants like herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, and sediment from water.
Its low-maintenance design makes it a good choice for most buyers. There is no backwashing or salt refilling involved.
Instead, it comes with a sediment pre-filter kit, a tank full of salt-free media, and a tank pre-filled with KDF and Carbon media.
Combined, all of these minimize chlorine levels, microbial germs, scale, and heavy metals present in your water supply.
This Tier1 system provides clean, great-tasting water that is free from sediment and 97% of chlorine.
It consists of 3 stages. The first is the 20-inch sediment pre-filter kit. It effectively traps sand, silt, sediment, and all other larger impurities before passing the water to the carbon and KDA filter.
In the second stage, the filtration media captures chlorine, rust, corrosion, and all other odor- and taste-causing particles.
The last stage is the salt-free softener. Water from salt-based water softeners leaves a slick feeling on your skin because of its high sodium content.
Unlike them, Tier1 employs salt-less water softening media that interacts with the calcium and magnesium to alter their chemical structure so that they cannot build up on faucets and fittings.
The Tier1 combo unit delivers efficient performance and low maintenance. It does not require any backflushing or drainage.
The salt free-treatment means there is no water wastage, separate brine tank, or expensive replacement salts.
Instead, you have a long-lasting water filtration system with an up-flow design that really makes its maintenance an effortless task.
Issues & Limitations
One problem with the Tier1 combo unit is the short lifespan of the sediment pre-filter kit. It lasts for about 3 months, after which, you will need to replace its media for effective performance.
And, while whole-house reverse osmosis systems are efficient at reducing TDS (Total Dissolved Solids), this whole house water filter and softener combo won’t offer you that.
The Tier1 Eco Series Whole-House Filter & Salt-Free Softener system is one of the most reliable saltless water softener combos.
It uses advanced water filtration and conditioning techniques to provide higher quality and great-tasting water.
It is efficient at trapping impurities and changing the chemical behavior of hardness minerals to reduce the chances of scale formation.
Aquasana EQ-1000-AST-AMZN is a complete system for poorly treated municipal water and removes up to 97% chlorine and other chemical contaminants like lead, VOCs, mercury, pesticides.
It is also effective at preventing physical impurities like sand and silt from making their way to your faucets.
It is a 4-stage water purification system consisting of a pre-filter, a carbon & KDF filtration tank, a salt-free water conditioner, and a post filter.
Its filtration capacity is quite high at 1 million gallons or up to 10 years of service. The system is pretty easy to install and comes with all the necessary hardware for installation.
The Aquasana EQ-1000-AST-AMZN is a complete water treatment product that removes large amounts of chlorine, fluoride, and lead from your water supply.
It is a high-capacity system and delivers 1,000,000 million gallons of clean water in its entire lifetime.
The entire setup consists of 4 separate tanks. The 2 smaller ones are pre-and post-filters designed to remove physical impurities and leftover contaminants. The other 2 tanks are water filtration and softening tanks.
Its filtration media is a combination of carbon and KDA that effectively filters the water without removing the healthy minerals.
The water softening tank contains a salt-free conditioner that reduces the hardness of water to make it softer on your skin.
One noteworthy thing about this system is its unique flow sequence. It uses an efficient up-flow technology that slows down the water as it passes through different stages.
This way, it has more time to thoroughly treat the water, ensuring that none of the toxins sneak their way to your faucets.
Issues & Limitations
While the Aquasana filter comes with a long and comprehensive 10-year warranty, the manufacturers are very particular about its terms.
For example, if you opt for a DIY installation, it will void the warranty. The coverage is good as long as you hire a licensed plumber to install it for you.
Another issue with this device is that while the combo itself lasts for up to 10 years, the pre and post-filters are not as long-lasting.
In fact, depending upon the quality of your water supply, you will need to change both of these filters every 3 months.
This whole-house water filter and softener combo from Aquasana is an effective water filtration system that can process 1,000,000 gallons of water.
The system comes with a pro-grade install kit, complete with all the supports and shut-off valves that you will need for installation.
It is low-maintenance and eco-friendly because it works without any backflush waste and draining.
Best Whole House Water Filter Buying Guide
What Is a Whole House Water Filter – and how does it work?
A whole-house water filter installs over the main water supply line entering your house and treats and purifies all the water coming into your house.
Usually, it is installed even before the water heating system so that the hot water making its way to your faucets is also clean and safe.
A whole-house water filter and softener combo provides the benefits of two systems in one unit.
It first rids the water entering your house of all harmful toxins and contaminants and then treats the water to reduce its hardness.
Hence, whether it is supplied to your bathroom, kitchen, or any household appliance, the water that leaves the system is free from scale and other stubborn contaminants that cause aesthetic damage to your home.
Such a system can help reduce contaminants such as chlorine, iron, sulfur, and more while bringing in purified water to every tap in your home.
Hence, you have easy access to filtered water whether you want or use it for drinking, washing dishes, making coffee, taking a shower, doing laundry, and brushing your teeth.
Pros and cons of Whole House Water Filters vs. Point-of-Use Filters
A whole-house water filtration system is great for those who like to enjoy a glass of filtered water directly from a faucet without wasting money on plastic bottles or cooking with filtered water right from the tap.
But you can also accomplish the same with a good point-of-use water filter.
So, which one is better?
The following pros and cons of whole-house water filters can help you make a more informed decision.
Types Of Whole House Water Filters
There are two main types of whole-house water filtration systems: whole-house water filters for city water and whole-house water filters for well water.
Choosing the right type primarily depends upon what contaminates your water and its concentration.
Whole-House Water Filters for City Water
Since city water is usually treated at water treatment plants prior to distribution, the concentration of contaminants is not that high. That’s why these water filters typically consist of carbon filters.
They might also contain additional KDF media to decrease heavy metals and keep microorganisms in control.
They are efficient at removing sediments, chlorine, chloramine, disinfection by-products, and various chemicals that give water an unpleasant taste and smell.
Whole-House Water Filters for Well Water
Well, water usually comes directly from the actual source, so it needs more care and purification.
Filters for well water treatment generally eliminate sulfur, iron, and manganese. They are usually designed to reduce or completely eradicate limescale.
Certain whole-house filters also feature carbon filters to treat agricultural run-off like pesticides, fertilizer, and herbicides.
A whole-house filter and softener combo is available for both of these types. Since well water comes from the ground, it is usually loaded with hardness minerals.
City water is usually not that hard but may contain high levels of lead and fluoride. Using a good whole-house water filter and softener combo can eliminate these contaminants.
Why buy a Best Whole House Water Filter over other kinds?
The advantages of a whole-house water filter and water softener combo unit over other kinds are manifold.
Here’s why you should consider investing in one:
All-in-One water purification solution
A good whole-house water filter and softener combo provides you with clean and scale-free water. It rids the water of all harmful contaminants and supplies filtered water to all your water outlets.
With a sound system installed in your home, you can even forgo bottled water and start drinking tap water without any worries.
The most significant advantage that whole-house water filters have over other kinds is their minimal maintenance.
All the systems we review above have a long lifespan, so you won’t need to worry about replacing them soon.
Now, this is something other water filters cannot promise, as most of them require annual maintenance or at least a check-up every 6 months or so.
Great for hair, skin, and household appliances
A whole-house water filter and softener combo is great not only for your pipes and fixtures but also for household appliances and your skin and hair.
Hard water leaves behind ugly scale and deposits, damages your appliances and makes your skin and hair dry and itchy.
With a good combination water filtration device, you can eliminate all these problems and enjoy a safe and pure water supply.
What to look for in a Whole House Water Filter
The best way to find the right whole-house water filtration system is to test your water for different contaminants.
This way, you will have a rough idea of the water contaminants and hardness level and will be able to choose the right system for your home.
Other factors to keep in mind include:
Water Flow Rate
The biggest concern about installing a whole-house filter is that it might slow down the water flow rate throughout the house.
To avoid this problem, check the water flow rates of different systems before settling on a particular unit.
Typically, water filter and softener combos are rated on the number of bathrooms in your home.
The higher the number of bathrooms, the higher the water flow rate. Using this parameter, you can easily choose the right system for yourself.
Filter longevity refers to the amount of water a certain system can treat before needing a replacement.
Most whole-house water filter and softener combos boast a high filtration capacity of 1 million gallons or more, so you can rest easy that they’ll last for many years.
Although some low-capacity models are also available in the market, choosing a high-capacity one for maintenance purposes is better.
Since you will be using filtered water all over your house, it is important to find a system that can keep up with your water consumption rate.
The best way to figure it out is to learn about your consumption rate at peak time and choose a system that can deliver comparable gallons of water per minute.
This way, you will never have to faceany pressure drop or water inadequacy. We recommend choosing a filter with a flow rate of 7 gallons per minute or higher for most households.
Micron rating refers to the smallest particle that the filter can capture. Most whole-house filters are rated from 5 to 1 micron according to their pore size. Finding the right micron filter depends on your region and water supply.
For instance, if the dirt in your region is super fine, you should choose a 1-micron water filter. But if it is more granular, a 5-micron filter will work just fine.
Although it is very obvious, you should never underestimate the size of a whole-house water filter.
These filters are usually multistage systems that consist of two or more tanks. When settling for a certain system, be sure to check that you have enough space near your main water supply line for easy installation and maintenance.
Installation of Whole House Water Filters
Most whole-house water filters are built with consumers in mind and are quite installation-friendly.
Even the instruction manuals that come with most devices offer comprehensive guidelines for a DIY installation.
All you have to do is cut the pipe coming from your main supply line and install the system over it before any other water treatment devices you have.
This way, all the water flowing inside your home gets purified before it reaches your taps and appliances.
However, note that not all manufacturers recommend you install their system yourself.
Due to the tricky assembly, some brands go as far as annulling the warranty if you attempt a DIY installation.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The cleaning and maintenance of a whole-house water filter and softener combo is pretty manageable.
Annual cleaning of brine tanks and timely filter replacements are essential for salt-based softeners.
As for saltless systems, they are actually maintenance-free as long as you don’t ignore filter replacements and replace them timely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a water softener if I have a whole house filter?
If your water supply is free of hard minerals, you can do without a water softener. But if your home faces limescale problems, you should definitely get one in combination with the whole-house filtration system.
Should a whole house water filter be installed before or after a water softener?
You should always install a whole-house filter before installing a water softener.
Doing so ensures that all the sediment, chlorine, and other toxins are filtered out before the water reaches the softener. It helps protect the resin layer of the water softening system and extends its life.
Is it costly to install a whole house water filtration system?
Yes, it is a bit costly to install a whole-house filtration system.
Some whole-house filters are quite affordable but entail recurring maintenance costs. Others have higher upfront costs but are quite low maintenance – not to forget the labor and material costs that go into installing one.