water conditioning systems

Water Conditioning Systems Guide, Part 1: A Brief Overview

November 28 2017

Water Conditioning Systems

In a previous article we gave as brief an overview as possible on the most popular methods of hard water treatment. Now, we’re going to go into more specific detail about water conditioning systems.

Terminology Of Water Conditioning Systems

There are two main types of water conditioning systems. 

  1. physical water conditioners
  2. chemical water conditioners

Physical water conditioners can be split further into

  1. electronic water conditioning systems
  2. electrolytic water conditioning systems

Chemical water conditioners can split further into

  1. packaged softeners
  2. dosing systems

And finally, packaged softeners can be split further as well, into

  1. precipitating
  2. non precipitating

What You’ll Learn Here

As you can see, there are many different types of water conditioning treatments – that’s because there are so many ways that limescale can accumulate where hard water is prevalent in the home and plumbing. This article is only going to cover 2 out of the 4 methods of hard water treatment. See our article on hard water treatment if you are looking for an overview of all of the methods.

Now, there are other articles that explain very well the technical and scientific aspects of how all of these systems work. That’s not what I’m going to be doing now. Here, I’m just going to give you the key information that’s relevant to you, the consumer, including the basics of how they work, and the pros and cons of each water conditioning system.

Physical water conditioners

Physical water conditioners are so named because they physically change the properties of hard water.

In many ways, physical water conditioners might be preferable to chemical water conditioners. The chemical packaged softeners are mainly for laundry purposes. The dosing systems contain phosphates, and many people prefer not to have phosphates in their drinking water.

  1. Electronic Water Conditioning Systems

-aka electronic descalers

-aka limescale inhibitors

When you think of an electronic water conditioner, just picture electronics in a box, because that’s what it is – a small box of electronics, with a coil (or several coils) that wrap around your pipework.


  • prevents build up of limescale in pipes
  • reduces existing limescale in pipes over time, which is why it’s called a descaler


  • cheaper compared to most other methods – no plumbing work is required, making installation easier
  • water remains safe to drink


  • sometimes doesn’t work as well as the other methods

However, this con is slightly mitigated by the fact that most manufacturers offer a money back guarantee if the device doesn’t work the way it should.

In Part 2, we’ll be covering the remaining physical water conditioning systems, as well as the chemical water conditioning systems.

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