Sediment Filter Before or After Water Softener? Find Out Here!

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So, you’ve decided that you want your home water both clean and soft. A winning combination that will significantly enhance the water quality.

You may have even bought the proper appliances already.

But just when you’re about to install your sediment filter, you find yourself in a pickle: Is it better to place it before or after your water softener? Does it even make a difference?

Absolutely! And this guide will tell you exactly why!

Key Takeaways

  • Sediment filters should be installed before water softeners – always!
  • If the water softener is placed first, unfiltered and sediment-laden water may clog its resin bed. The result: Impaired softening capacity or worse.

Should I Install My Sediment Filter Before or After the Water Softener?

If you’re dealing with dirty and hard water, you probably already know that there isn’t a one-filter solution to your problem. A single water-treating media cannot soften and clean your water at the same time.

For that purpose, you need two separate devices: a water softener and a sediment filter, each placed at a specific point in your water line.

salt-based water softener

The first line of defense? The sediment filter! A sediment filter should always be installed before a water softener, and for a good reason. Or two, to be exact:

  1. It Supports the Water Softener – Sediment filters trap sand, dirt, silt, and other undissolved particles, so it is wise to have them as a first barrier. That way, instead of allowing sediment matter to freely pass through your water system, the filter will trap it. By doing so, a sediment filter ensures a clean flow of water into the softener.
  2. It Prevents Clogging – If you install the sediment filter after your water softener, the sediment-laden water can eventually end up clogging the softener’s resin tank. In turn, this will prevent the beads from effectively attracting hard minerals, which will disrupt the performance of the softener. And if your water softener doesn’t do its job properly, hard minerals will pass through your faucets and end up choking up your water-using appliances and more.

Is there an exception to this rule? Not really! Your sediment filter should always be the first to come into contact with incoming water. Even if you have another whole house filter in place, it is wise to install a sediment filter before it, as an additional pre-filtering option.

Keeping an Eye on the Flow Rate

There are some precautions, though. When installing your sediment filter before the water softener, you need to make sure that the former allows the required backwashing flow rate, as defined by the softener. This is vital for when it goes into regeneration.

Backwashing is the stage where the water flow is reversed to get rid of all hardness minerals and any residues that have accumulated in the resin tank. To backwash properly, a water softener requires a certain water flow rate especially for the rinsing part.

So, what does this have to do with your sediment filter?

Well, by acting as a barrier, the sediment filter may obstruct the flow of water. Just think of running liquid through a sieve. Although the flow will still be fast, it is not the same as simply pouring it down without something blocking its way.

You need to check that your sediment filter (which has one of the highest flow rates among filters, by the way) doesn’t impair the water-softening part.

Start by determining the backwash flow rate required by your water softener. Then, make sure that your sediment filter allows at least that. But it doesn’t hurt to aim for more. Just in case!

What Is a Sediment Filter?

A sediment filter is a vital part of any water treatment system. It is in charge of removing debris, dirt, sand, and any visible particles from the water through mechanical filtration.

Not only does it improve the aesthetics of your water and keeps it clean, but it also supports other water treatment equipment – like your water softener!

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener is a system that gets rid of hard minerals like calcium and magnesium dissolved in water.

It is filled with negatively-charged resin beads that attract positively-charged minerals, keep them contained, and then, when in regen mode, exchange them for sodium or potassium.

Not only do water softeners make the water softer and prevent depositing limescale, but they also prolong the lifespan of washing machines and other water-based appliances.

When Do You Need a Sediment Filter and When a Water Softener?

If you see something floating in your water – a sediment filter is necessary to get rid of the debris.

If your water is loaded with high minerals and clogs your faucets and appliances – you need a water softener.

whole house water filter cartridges of different sizes

Do You Need Both?

The likelihood of you needing a water softener is pretty high since 85% of the United States is dealing with hard water.

Whether you need a sediment filter or not, though, depends on the quality of the water in your supply.

If there are sediments in your water, then yes – you probably need both, a water softener and a sediment filter. Just remember to install the filter before the water softener, and you’re all set!

If you have any thoughts about the question, sediment filter before or after 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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