Do I Need a Sediment Filter with a Water Softener?

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Do you need a sediment filter with a water softener?

It’s a question commonly asked by people eager to know if sediment filters are a worthy investment and whether they benefit their water softener system.

Let’s shed some light in the dark and find out whether a sediment filter and a water softener make a good combination.

Key Takeaways

  • Sediment can clog/foul your water softener’s resin bed rendering it ineffective.
  • If your water contains sediment and you want to use a water softener, you should have the sediment removed using a pre-filter.
  • You can inspect your water visually or have it tested for sediment at a certified laboratory or county health departments.

What Is a Sediment Filter?

A sediment filter captures and removes sediment from water, like sand, dirt, debris, and rust. As such, sediment filters protect your plumbing system and your water-using appliances from wear and tear.

Sediment can cause blockages in flow controls and strainers, and even the solenoids inside your water-using equipment, damaging them and decreasing their lifespan. The same goes for pipes and fixtures. So it’s vital to filter sediment out of water if present.

Depending on the type, sediment filters can remove everything from coarse dirt like rust chips down to the tiniest particles invisible to the naked eye such as silt.

The main types of sediment filter cartridges are melt-blown/spun, string-wound, and pleated. They can be made of various materials including polyester, polypropylene, cellulose, and cord among others.

What Is a Water Softener?

Water softeners are mostly salt-based and have one main function: to turn hard water into soft water. And they do this very effectively.

Now, a water softener’s primary goal is to reduce the buildup of minerals on the inside of pipes and extend the lifespan of washing machines, coffee makers, water heaters, and the like.

In other words, they increase the longevity of your entire water system. This helps in saving money on repair and maintenance costs.

Water softeners have more benefits, though. For example, they reduce stains in glassware, toilets, sinks, and fixtures. In addition to this, water softeners help dry skin, and reduce or prevent soap films and detergent curds in bathtubs, sinks, and washing machines.

salt-based water softener

Do I Need a Sediment Filter with a Water Softener?

So, do you need a sediment filter with a water softener?

It depends on the quality of your water. If your water contains a lot of sediment, then a sediment filter might be needed. As explained before, it will protect your water softener.

Since sediment filters remove sediment, the softening resin is prevented from fouling and clogging. Essentially, this maintains the softening capacity over time, saving you money from maintenance costs. A fouled resin bed has to be changed because it’s ineffective. A water softener itself isn’t a sediment remover. It’s simply not designed to do that.

To see whether you need to install a sediment filter on your water supply, you have to check it visually. Or, if you’re willing to go the extra mile, go ahead and have your water tested.

Testing Your Water

Your county health department should be able to help you test your water.

If they don’t, you can have it tested by a certified laboratory. This is usually the way to go when wanting to test for sediments.

Reasons for Installing a Sediment Pre-Filter

Aside from protecting your water softener, there can be several reasons for installing a sediment (pre-)filter:

Protection Against Wear and Tear from Sediment and Other Dirt

A sediment filter removes most dirt from water. If these particles are not filtered out, they can cause havoc in your entire home.


When present in water, rust and other sediments can stain clothes. A sediment filter protects your laundry from staining, maintaining its brightness and color.

Protection Against Smell

Silt and rust add color and unpleasant odors to your water, making it unfit for home use. The right sediment filter can provide remedy.

Keeps the Primary Filter from Degrading

A sediment pre-filter keeps the primary filter stage from degrading. This goes for all kinds of whole house water filters: Carbon, iron, ion exchange, KDF – you name it!

A Water Softener Is Not a Water Filter

Wrapping up, contrary to what many might believe, water softeners don’t filter water. Instead, they are intended to only remove magnesium and calcium minerals to address water hardness.

If you want to remove contaminants, so your water is safer for cooking, drinking, showering, and other residential uses, you’ll have to use a water filter. Use a sediment filter to get rid of sediment.

If you have any thoughts about the question, do I need a sediment filter with a water softener, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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