With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment industry, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Most of us have experienced at one point or another, buying something, say a garment or clothing accessory labeled “one size fits all” only to try it on at home and find it too big or too small. This is usually resolved by a quick return trip to the clothing store to return the item and obtain a refund. Regrettably, when you are buying a new water softener for your home, the concept of one size fitting all can create a great deal of frustration and hassle.

But Aren’t All Water Softeners Pretty Much the Same?

Actually no. Many consumers are under the misconception that all water softener systems are interchangeable. While the principle of ion exchange or removing excess minerals by substituting a calcium ion with a sodium one and making your water soft before it reaches your plumbing, appliances or faucet seems the same, not all water softeners are created equal. Although water softeners offer a great and easy solution to hard water issues, choosing the right one for your requirements and property is not always easy.

Size Matters When Choosing the Size of Softener

The most important aspect of choosing a water softener is understanding that there are a variety of sizes available on the market. A BIG BOX one size fits all approach will not be sufficient to ensure that your softener is compatible with your home and your water usage needs. Choosing a system, which fails to fit properly in your home or does not have the capacity to manage the water softening requirements of your family can severely affect its practicality and true effectiveness. Alternatively, you may find that you pay too much for a system, which is far too big for the modest requirements of a smaller home. 


Another significant consideration in choosing a water softener is the price. Water softeners are available in a wide variety of prices, so it is fairly simple to choose one which not only meets the needs of your family and its size / space requirements, but also your allotted financial resources. You may find that many water treatment providers have a rental option business model  where you can rent a softener should you require one temporarily, don’t want to lay out the capital up front or want to see the benefits for yourself before you commit to a purchase. While price is always a consideration for any major purchase, it is important that you ensure that your chosen system meets all your requirements and is at the right price.


There are other considerations to keep in mind before you choose a water softener. Some systems require greater maintenance requirements. There are providers however (most of them) that offer maintenance programs. This means that there is no need for you to add salt or perform basic maintenance, as a trained technician will typically visit your home on a predetermined schedule to ensure that the system is operating as intended.

While many consider one size fits all to be a great idea, when it comes to a significant investment for your home, you need to be 100% positive that the softener you are buying is indeed perfectly suited to your specific needs. If you are unsure about choosing the right water softener, it’s a wise idea to speak to an experienced and reputable water treatment professional for expert guidance. This will allow you to proceed with confidence and begin to enjoy the great benefits of softened water.