Virginia Environmental Resources

Quality Automatic Water Conditioning Services

We offer complete water testing services and the best professional water tests to identify the most common contaminants and elements that effect your water. We have partnered with a State-Certified laboratory to help diagnose more extensive water problems as well. Our comprehensive in-home water testing experts are eager to help!

Table of Contents

What is a Water Conditioner?

Water conditioners are a type of physical water treatment system. Water softening removes hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium. Water filtration reduces a wide range of other contaminants. Often the term “water conditioning” involves both water softening and filtering. Water Conditioning is a form of water treatment that is frequently considered a salt-free alternative to water softening.  However, water conditioners do not actually soften the water. The two systems operate differently and generate different results. A water conditioner is a system that prevents the buildup of scaling by changing the chemical makeup of the water. The main purpose of water conditioners is to eliminate undesired impurities such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chloramines, chlorine, and even lead. 

How does a water conditioner work?

Most water conditioners remove contaminants like chlorine, and other volatile organic contaminants, but don’t actually remove the calcium and magnesium in your water that’s causing scaling around your home. Essentially, hard water enters the water conditioner and flows over Template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media that contains nucleation sites to attract dissolved mineral ions in hard water. Then the dissolved minerals come together and crystallize within the nucleation sites. These crystals then continue on with the water. Any other dissolved mineral ions remaining in the water preferentially attach to the crystals in the water, rather than to other surfaces the water comes into contact with. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Water Conditioners

Water Conditioners can be a whole-house solution for hard water problems or a point-of-use system

 No, these crystals are very small. You cannot feel or taste them.

Since Water Conditioners do not completely eliminate hard minerals, it depends. While conditioned water still contains minerals, those minerals are in a different form that doesn’t bond to surfaces and fixtures in your home.

Water conditioners begin to function right away. Water conditioners condition water instantly after they are turned on. You won’t have to worry about running out of water if you take two showers or do an additional load of dishes because water conditioners can provide enormous amounts of conditioned water as needed.

Yes, Water Conditioners are very energy efficient! They require little to no power and do not produce wastewater. They are passive systems meaning that as water enters into the system it is simultaneously conditioned. Passive systems are economical and environmentally friendly which reduces their ongoing upkeep costs.

How does a water conditioner differ from a water softener?

The simplest way to distinguish between a water softener and a water conditioner is that a water softener removes hard minerals from water and a water softener replaces them with sodium ions from a brine tank. However, in order to prevent scaling, some varieties of saltless water conditioners change the way the hard minerals in the water are arranged. Even though conditioned water still contains minerals, certain water conditioners change the way those minerals are arranged to prevent scaling in your appliances or throughout your house. When water is softened, the minerals are actually taken out and replaced with sodium ions. The two also differ in terms of water usage, contaminants removed, effectiveness against limescale, and cost. 

Water conditioners don’t generate wastewater, in contrast to water softeners. Water conditioners are not as effective at preventing limescale buildup as water softeners. On the other hand, a water conditioner is a big improvement over having no treatment system at all. While water conditioners only alter the chemistry of these minerals, water softeners physically remove hardening minerals from water. Water conditioners are able to eliminate chlorine, a chemical that is present in city-treated water and contributes to an unpleasant taste and odor, in addition to crystallizing calcium and magnesium. While water softeners are marginally more effective than water conditioners in preventing scaling in plumbing, both offer protection against scaling. Water softeners prevent scaling better in the long term because they remove all hard minerals from the water upon treatment. Because water conditioners do not remove hard minerals from the water calcium and magnesium will return to their original chemical structures after sufficient time has passed. 

A conventional water conditioning system might be the best option if you’re looking for better-tasting and smelling water. You should use a water softener system if lessening the effects of hard water around your house is more important to you.

What is Scaling?

When a significant amount of dissolved mineral ions are present in water, it is referred to as hard water. The minerals that are most frequently found dissolved in hard water are magnesium and calcium. As water percolates through soil that is rich in minerals, these molecules are attracted to the water molecule due to their electrical charge.

The minerals in the water supply precipitate out and adhere to the surface that hard water flows over, such as your shower door, faucet, or even the interior of your plumbing. We refer to these mineral deposits as scaling.

The interior of your plumbing might also develop scale. The water flow through your pipes will eventually be decreased by these scale deposits.

In appliances or devices that heat water, scaling is a particular issue. Scaling will mostly affect your water heater, dishwasher, or coffee maker in a home, shortening their lifespan and efficiency. Scaling in industrial boilers can result in serious issues in a commercial context. Systems become less efficient and equipment lifespans shrink when scale increases in pipes and equipment.

When should I use a water conditioner instead of a water softener?

Depending on your main objective a water conditioner may be a more affordable option for better tasting and smelling water. However, if soft water is your primary objective, water conditioners cannot compete with water softeners. Water conditioners do provide benefits that make them preferable over water softeners in some cases. 

The use of systems producing brine wastewater is banned in Some cities that rely on treated wastewater for irrigation. This is more common in arid regions of the United States. In cities with brine restrictions, water conditioners are a viable salt-free alternative. 

Unlike water softeners, water conditioners do not backwash chlorides into wastewater. In fact, water conditioners do not produce any wastewater making them the more environmentally friendly option. 

If scaling is your only concern, a water conditioner may be the right choice for you. Hard minerals like calcium and magnesium are still present in conditioned water but they are not able to coat plumbing or appliances. 

While all water softeners are point-of-entry systems, meaning they can treat all of the water that enters a home, water conditioners can be either point-of-entry systems or point-of-use systems. A common place for a point-of-use water conditioner system is pre-treatment for a hot water heater. Appliances that deal with hot water are more susceptible to scale buildup. If your water heater struggles with limescale, but you do not notice scaling elsewhere in your home, a point-of-use water conditioner may be right for you. 

How to decide between a water Conditioner and a Water Softener system

If you are still undecided about whether a water conditioner or a water softener is right for you, please contact Virginia Environmental Resources at 540-737-4915 or fill out the contact form below. Our experienced staff is eager to help assess your water treatment needs and assist you in making the best decision for your home.

Virginia Environmental Resources sells and installs premium Hague water conditioners and treatment systems that remove contaminants and improve water quality. We work with residential and commercial water. Contact us today at (540)-737-4915.

Schedule an In-Home Water Test with our Experts now!

We offer complete water testing services and the best professional water tests to identify the most common contaminants and elements that affect your water. We have partnered with a State-Certified laboratory to help diagnose more extensive water problems as well.