Decalcification System: Review & Recommendations

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Welcome to our large decalcification plant Test 2020, where we present all the decalcification plants we have tested in detail. We have put together detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you to find the best decalcification system for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer you interesting test videos. On this page you will also find some important information that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a descaling system.

The most important facts in brief

  • A descaling system is suitable for your household if the water is very calciferous and therefore hard or contains substances that are hazardous to health.
  • Basically you can differentiate between decalcification plants with ion exchange method, electromagnetic method or reverse osmosis method.
  • The most frequently installed devices with ion exchange function soften the water with the help of regenerating salt, while devices with reverse osmosis function filter the water through a membrane.

Descaling system test: Editors’ favourites

  • The best descaling system with pressure reducer
  • The best descaling system for households with up to 5 persons
  • The best descaling system including bypass valve

The best descaling system with pressure reducer

The Grünbeck Boxer R is basically not a decalcifying system, but only a backwash filter to separate coarser components from the water. It has a twelve part date display so that you don’t forget to backwash.

So compounds of lime can be filtered out, but not lime dissolved in water. Nevertheless, many customers are convinced of this product, which can be used for any size of household. Many customers praise the price-performance ratio. It is a cheap alternative to a large decalcification plant.

The Grünbeck Boxer R can be mounted on both horizontal and vertical water pipes because the connecting flange can be rotated. It is supplied including water meter screw connection and filter cartridge and has an integrated pressure reducer.

The best descaling system for households with up to 5 persons

The Amos R2D2-32 decalcification plant is a hard water treatment system that can decalcify up to 3,200 litres of water per regeneration cycle. This is enough for a household with up to 5 persons.

If the preset volume of soft water is reached, the unit does not immediately enter the regeneration phase – but only with a time delay at night at 2 o’clock. Cleaning only takes about 30 minutes.

The best descaling system including bypass valve

The YATO Profi water softener removes 100% of lime scale deposits. It can decalcify up to 500 litres of water per hour and requires a regeneration time of approx. 30 minutes.

The cleaning process is low-noise. A bypass valve is already included in the scope of delivery for easy installation.

Advisor: Questions that you should consider before you buy a descaling system

How does a descaling system work?

A descaling plant is a machine that filters lime from household water. In this way it makes the water “softer”. This means that the water is less hard afterwards. This degree indicates how high the concentration of ions dissolved in the water is.
These ions can form compounds like lime. Hard water, which therefore contains many such ions, has various disadvantages for household use. For example, the calcification of household appliances, which then wear out more quickly.
A decalcification system is installed directly at the water connection of the house and filters the water before it is further distributed in your household and in the water network. In the decision section below, the individual systems and their modes of operation are described in more detail.

Why is a water softener useful?

A descaling system could be interesting for you for health reasons, but also because of your household appliances. Consumer advice centres point out that water treatment or water decalcification is necessary if:

The water is very hard (limit value: 14 °dH).
The water contains toxic substances.
The water does not smell normal or is discoloured.
The water contains many germs.

In these cases, it is a health risk not to use such equipment. This is where you should act. Of course you can also use a decalcifying system if your water is harmless but still contains a little lime. This can be noticeable with electrical appliances in the household.

If there is a lot of lime in the water, the washing machine or kettle will wear out faster and you may taste the lime out of the water. Therefore, a descaling system also makes sense from an economic point of view because you don’t have to replace the appliances so often.

For whom is a descaling system suitable?

Basically, these devices are suitable for every household with a questionable water status. Of course, practically speaking, there must be enough money, space and time available for this. But if a test really indicates bad water, it should be worth the effort.
It is completely harmless if the water contains very little lime. This is quite normal. A softening plant does not then always have to be worthwhile. Especially as these plants also have disadvantages. For example, more germs could get into the water during irregular maintenance.

How do I find out if I should treat my water?

You can test your water in three different ways:

Self test
Water laboratory
Ask the municipality or water supplier

The easiest way is to ask the municipality or your local water supplier. As the water is checked very often, they can give you information about the water hardness.

If you want to test it yourself, there are various products for this purpose, for example liquids that you have to add to the water. Depending on the discoloration, you can read off a scale to see how hard the product is. There are similar tests for other risk factors in water.

You can also order test strips very easily on the Internet. These give you the water hardness when you run it over. As mentioned, a water hardness of 14° dH or more is very alarming.

You can also take a water sample and send it to a water laboratory. They will carry out appropriate tests there. The more you invest, the more tests you can request. You will then receive the results by post.

The State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection responsible for your region will most likely have published a list of the laboratories. Just check there if you are looking for a laboratory.

How do I maintain a descaling system?

Of course it depends on the type of softening system. If you use a unit with the ion exchange method, you must regularly add salt to ensure that the water is properly filtered. A single-family house needs between ten and 15 kilograms per month. The filling in itself is relatively easy.

KitchenWater treatment
Softening plant
07/02/20

However, you should remember to replenish salt regularly. To fill it up, it is best to keep an eye on the operating instructions for your particular appliance.

With the electromagnetic method, no work is required, which is the great advantage here. Systems with reverse osmosis require relatively little maintenance. However, since the membrane quickly becomes contaminated with germs, it is important to clean it more often or to replace it from time to time.

You can also leave the maintenance to companies. The prices for this vary between 100 and 200 euros for an annual inspection.

How do I install a descaling system or who can do that for me?

In order to ensure a safe and standard-compliant installation, it is advisable to commission a sanitary specialist. The prices for this vary greatly. But this way you have the guarantee that the system will work in any case. You can often buy the system and installation as a package.

What are the advantages of descaling systems compared to small filters?

Since you install the system directly on the main line, you fight the lime at the source. Compared to the alternatives, this is very efficient and pipes and household appliances are kept clean.
Small filters have the advantage that they are cheaper in the initial purchase, but you sometimes have to change them more often.

What does a water softener and its maintenance cost?

Depending on which system you want to buy, the price can be between 400 and 5,000 euros. Expensive options are usually better suited for high water volumes. Single-family homes, on the other hand, can easily choose the cheaper options with smaller filters or tanks.

You can often buy the system and installation as a package. So when you decide on the price, pay attention to what you are actually paying for and whether you want it.

Where can I buy a water softener?

You can get a descaling system either directly from your sanitary specialist, in a hardware store or in online shops. Of course, the Internet offers a wider selection and tends to offer the best price. However, it often makes sense to seek advice from a specialist dealer, especially for your first purchase.
On the following pages you will often buy descaling systems:

Amazon.com
Hornbach.com
Ebay.com

Which leading manufacturers of water softeners are there?

You may know BWT from their table water filters. The Austrian company is the pioneer in Europe for the production of water treatment systems. Since 1990 it has been gathering experience to provide its customers with the best water. Besides the systems, the manufacturer also offers maintenance.
Besides BWT, the German manufacturer Grünbeck is very popular with consumers. The company, founded in 1949, is not only a specialist for water treatment, but also for drinking water, industrial water and waste water. Since then it has been working on the technology of how the end customer gets the best possible water.

The manufacturer Eckstein has set itself the task of providing soft and gentle water with its system. Especially in pipelines, valves and aerators the removal of lime can be very expensive. The water softener from Eckstein is designed to prevent these expensive lime damages.

For over 80 years judo has been working on a technology to provide the best water for every application. To keep the quality of the softening plants at the highest level, the water treatment system is produced in Germany according to legal standards.

The goal of the manufacturer Water2Buy is to offer you filtered water at the lowest price. This also applies to their products until the installation of the system. The manufacturer helps you with manuals and videos during installation.

What alternatives to a water softener are there?

There are of course alternatives, but they do not achieve the same degree of hardness as a descaling system.

Softening water by boiling
Chemical agents
Soda, citric acid or vinegar
Small filter with ion exchange method or reverse osmosis
Small filter with activated carbon

The easiest method seems to be to decalcify water by boiling it. But this cannot be achieved by heating alone. After boiling, the water must be cooled down a little and then poured through a coffee filter.

The lumps of lime get stuck in the filter. Lime forms lumps faster after heating and cooling. This is sometimes sufficient, but not a permanent solution when the hardness is high. Tea and coffee drinkers, however, can achieve a slightly better taste of the drink if the water is only slightly calcified.

Did you know that limy water affects the taste of coffee?
Coffee is 99 percent water. If it is too calcareous, limescale deposits form. This prevents the coffee aromas from developing optimally and creates an unappetizing film on the surface of your coffee.

You can also add certain chemicals to the water to cool it down. These then influence the alkaline earth cations contained in the water. Although the cations are not removed, they can no longer form lime. The cations are called “masked” in technical jargon.

This sounds simple, but for the sake of the environment, you should avoid using vast quantities of chemicals. Moreover, the water is then no longer suitable as drinking water.

Adding soda, citric acid or vinegar will not soften the water, but it is very effective for cleaning your household appliances. In case a water softener is not directly worthwhile, you can at least keep your appliances clean.

As a further alternative, small filters can be used for decalcification. In small watering cans or water containers the water is let through a filter. The way it works is basically the same as a large ion exchange system.

A small filter method that is also frequently found is to use activated carbon. The activated carbon absorbs disturbing substances from the water and thus filters it. Note: Large filters using this method are usually only found in industry.

The small filters serve their purpose, but of course you always have to refill water yourself and change the filters often. All in all, the large systems still have clear advantages over the alternatives despite high costs.

What does DVGW-tested mean?

DVGW stands for “Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V.” and acts as an independent testing laboratory.
In the field of gas and water supply, the association is like the TÜV, which has set itself the task of testing all materials and systems. The DVGW certificate is only intended to give you the certainty that your water treatment system complies with all standards and has been tested.
The DVGW certificate also gives you the certainty that the materials in the system are durable.
Products are only awarded the DVGW-tested seal if they meet the following conditions:

High durability and reliability
Neutrally tested electrical safety
Sufficient ease of installation and maintenance
Exchange of spare parts with commercially available tools
Spare parts supply guaranteed for at least ten years
Modern control and user comfort
High corrosion resistance
Drinking water suitability of drinking water pipes and connectors

What does the hardness of the water mean?

The lime content is responsible for the degree of hardness in the water. The more lime it contains, the “harder” the water is. The hardness of the water can influence the taste of the water. It also influences the quality of the water and affects household appliances and fittings.
The water hardness in your drinking water also depends on the composition of the soil in question. In areas where the ground water has come into contact with limestone, you can assume that the water hardness is high. Surface water, on the other hand, is rather soft.
Basically you can divide the water into the following three hardness ranges:

You can find out the hardness of your drinking water from your local water supplier.

What are the dangers of hard water?

If hard water evaporates, then you have lime deposits in your kettles or pots, for example. In your washing machine or dishwasher, the accumulation of lime causes deposits to form.
The hard water causes the loss of energy and the dosage of detergent increases. The appliance must be decalcified more often due to deposits, which increases water consumption.

Saltines: What can go wrong?

The aim of all decalcification systems is to get soft water out of the tap, because in many households hard water comes out of the tap. This is what water with a high lime content is called.
These lime deposits can be very expensive. On the one hand, energy consumption is very high and on the other hand lime can clog your pipes.
The resin grains in the filter of your system filter the water through the ion exchange between lime and magnesium. At a certain point, the lime can no longer bind to the resin, so the resin lump is cleaned with salt water so that lime can be absorbed again.
In contrast to purity and hardness, the form of the salt has little to say about its quality. When you buy regenerating salt, the European standard 973 type A corresponds to the highest possible degree of purity.
In order to prevent lime deposits, you should also only use one type of regenerating salt. Most water softeners recommend or prescribe a certain type of salt.

What happens if I forget to refill the salt?

If you forget to add salt, the ion exchange between lime and magnesium can no longer function. The lime in the water no longer binds with the resin lump and can therefore get into the tap water.
After a certain time your pipes will be blocked by the lime. This can damage the heating element in the system, which increases the energy consumption and your costs. In addition, the lime often makes it necessary to replace the appliances.

Is water containing lime harmful?

Lime consists of magnesium and calcium. Although these two minerals are annoying for our cooking pots and kettles, they are not harmful to the human body.
On the contrary, calcium is important for building your bones and teeth and magnesium for the health of your muscles and bones. In summary, hard water is just as (in)harmful as soft water.
In the following video you will get detailed information about our drinking water:

What is lime?

In nature you know lime as chalk, limestone or marble. In chemistry lime is called calcium carbonate. It is a chemical compound of the elements calcium, oxygen and carbon. This natural product is hardly soluble in water, which is why you often find lime in the bottom of your kettle.
The lime gets into our groundwater in a natural way via rainwater. This is because rainwater absorbs different substances such as lime when seeping through calcareous rock layers. On its way into our groundwater and thus also into our tap water, lime is transported further.

Irrigation
Rain barrel

Decision: What types of decalcification plants are there and which one is right for you?

Let’s say you decide to buy such a water softener. What are the different types? Basically, softening plants can be divided into three types, depending on which method is used:

  • Ion exchange method
  • Electromagnetic method
  • Reverse osmosis

In the following you will find out how these different methods roughly work and which advantages and disadvantages there are.

How does a softening plant with the ion exchange method work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The great advantage of a softening plant with ion exchange method is its high efficiency. It filters out exactly those substances that you do not want to have in the water.

With this method, a tank is installed on the main pipe or water connection of the house. All water flows through this tank before use. A special form of resin in the tank binds all possible forms of ions dissolved in the water.

Among other things, calcium and magnesium are filtered out, leaving trace elements and minerals unaffected. In return, the filter releases sodium. The resin regularly requires regenerating salt for smooth filtration. You refill this as required.

Result: The drinking water is completely desalinated and ions that cause lime are removed. In addition, heavy metals (for example phosphate) and pesticides are also filtered out.

Advantages

Very effective water softening
Natural ingredients remain intact
Lime removal at the source

Disadvantages

Maintenance of the system
One system may not be enough
Not entirely environmentally friendly

A disadvantage of these plants can be that too much magnesium is exchanged for sodium. Sodium overload or too little magnesium in the diet can be unhealthy for humans.

In addition, more germs can develop if the water remains in the tank for too long. The tank should therefore be cleaned more often (or have it cleaned).

Often two tanks are installed to ensure softening at all times. Salt must be refilled regularly. In a detached house you need between ten and 15 kilograms of salt per month. The process is also not entirely harmless to the environment, as a lot of regenerating salt gets into the waste water.

Nevertheless, the process is preferable to the use of small filters directly on household appliances. Small filters work similarly, but have to be replaced more often. With the large filter there is at least less unnecessary waste of material.

How does a softening plant with the electromagnetic method work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A huge relief of a softening plant with electromagnetic method is that it is maintenance free and easy to install.

Here, electromagnetic high-frequency fields are created to prevent lime from forming. The physical water softener is easy to install. No chemicals need to be added and maintenance is rarely necessary.

Advantages

Natural ingredients remain intact
Lime removal at the source
Environmentally friendly, no addition of chemicals
Low maintenance and easy installation

Disadvantages

Effectiveness very controversial

At first sight, the electromagnetic method seems to have only advantages. However, so far no study could prove the effectiveness of this method. Many experts are therefore sceptical.

However, if you are sufficiently informed and cannot cope with the other methods for various reasons, you can always fall back on the electromagnetic method.

How does a reverse osmosis softener work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The biggest advantage of a reverse osmosis softener, according to manufacturers, is that the water is particularly healthy afterwards. There is also the possibility of a central water treatment. Under pressure the water is pressed through a membrane.

Inorganic substances such as nitrate, phosphate, calcium, magnesium and heavy metals are retained by the membrane. Pesticides and the like also find no way through.

Unfortunately, minerals are also filtered out. The disadvantage of the ion exchange method (magnesium is filtered out) is therefore even greater in reverse osmosis.

Advantages

Very effective water softening
Lime removal at the source

Disadvantages

Natural ingredients are filtered out
Membrane can become germy or clogged
Not entirely environmentally friendly
Often only a small amount of water can be filtered

Since many of these systems have to be attached to every tap, the amount of water is often limited to 100 to 200 litres per day. Here too there is a disadvantage from an environmental point of view. For every litre of filtered water, approximately three to 25 litres are used for filtering.

In addition, it requires additional energy in the form of pressure. The membrane germinates relatively easily and can also clog depending on the water composition. So you have to flush the membrane often or even replace it.

Purchase criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate decalcification systems

In the following you will find out which factors you can use to compare and evaluate decalcification plants. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

  • Weight / Dimensions
  • Maximum water temperature
  • Maximum number of users
  • Display function
  • Water consumption per regeneration / electricity consumption
  • Salt consumption per month
  • Water flow
  • Maximum water hardness
  • Installation
  • Accessories

Weight / Dimensions

It does not seem to be a purchasing decision at first, but the weight is important because transport and assembly must be geared to it.

A light machine tends to be better, as this makes transport and assembly much easier. In any case, you should be prepared for the weight and plan accordingly whether you can transport and assemble the machine yourself or have to resort to a delivery service.

Knowing the exact dimensions of the machine makes it easier to transport and assemble. In addition, the machine must of course fit where you want to place it. It’s easy to forget this point, but since the machines can sometimes be very large, make sure you know exactly what you need.

Maximum water temperature

Sometimes a descaling system can limit the temperature of your water. Otherwise the filter results would no longer meet the standard or the system would be damaged.

In many cases, however, this restriction is not a real disadvantage. Most machines can reach at least a water temperature of 25 to 30 °C.

Maximum number of users

The system should be suitable for your household. The manufacturers usually recommend a certain number of users or household size for a particular device.

This depends, for example, on how quickly water is filtered or how much filtered water can be stored. You should therefore pay attention to this information if you want to avoid water shortages.

Display function

Whether the device has a display is interesting because it makes operation much easier. You can choose your water quality and other settings yourself without a specialist. Under certain circumstances, devices with a display are preferable to those without a display.

Water consumption per regeneration / electricity consumption

You should make sure that not too much water is lost during regeneration. Most machines have to regenerate and some of them do this completely automatically. But for this process the water softener often needs a larger amount of water.

Either way, higher water consumption is associated with the use of a decalcification system, so it makes sense to look at the water loss during regeneration and try to keep this additional consumption low.

It goes without saying that for a given filter result you would prefer a system that is as energy-saving as possible. Electricity is a significant cost factor for such systems.

Salt consumption per month

Ion exchange systems consume different amounts of salt. Although this point is not relevant for all types of softening systems, it is an important differentiating point in the ion exchange process.

Water flow

As already mentioned above in the user number recommendation, the water flow rate is an important criterion. At peak times, despite decalcification, enough litres or cubic metres of water should still be able to pass through the pipes and the connection.

If you live in a large household, this is an extremely important point, which is why it is listed here again separately from the number of users.

Maintenance and cleaning

Cleaning is a point that cannot be evaluated completely objectively. In any case, it is better and cheaper if you do the cleaning yourself and do not have to pay an expert.

According to our test results, most softening resins and ion exchangers last 20 to 25 years. If you use salt that is insoluble in water, you should clean the salt tank regularly.

It is also important to check regularly whether the seals need to be replaced. You can easily combine this check with replenishing the salt supply every time. It makes sense to have the right seals in stock.

In the manuals of the decalcifying plants or from the manufacturer you can ask how your plant is cleaned properly.

Maximum water hardness

For most models it is indicated up to which degree of hardness they function perfectly. You should definitely determine the degree of hardness of your drinking water at home (or have it determined) in order to be able to make an exact comparison here.

You will also be able to see better how much effect the filter of a machine has or know faster to which number you have to set the machine. Also, if your water is too hard for the optimum range of a particular machine, you should choose another to avoid damage.

Installation

You can either connect the descaling system to the main water line yourself using YouTube videos or have it installed by the manufacturer. However, you should first think about which is the best place for your system. Here, for example, the cellar or the sink are suitable places.

You should also be aware of the following points:

  • Before connecting the system to the main water supply, make sure that the descaling system also softens the water.
  • In order for the softener to work, your plant needs access to the electricity grid. If you choose a suitable place in your house, there should be a power outlet available in addition to the plant.
  • In addition to electricity, you also need access to sewage. A descaling plant has a hose that must lead to the sewage pipe. This is because regeneration produces polluted water in the plant, which is disposed of through the hose.

Accessories

If you want to carry out the installation on your own, you must make sure that the appropriate hoses are also supplied when you purchase a descaling system. These are essential for connection to the water supply of your system.

In addition to the flexible hoses you need a connection block, if it is not already included in the delivery. With the connection block you have to make sure that you have the correct connection size.

Regenerating salt is the most important accessory so that you can use the decalcifying system in the long term.

As a rule, this is referred to as ordinary table salt. You do not need to worry that your drinking water will taste salty because of this. Because the salt only exchanges ions, which is tasteless.

Washing utensils
regenerating salt

Trivia: Worth knowing facts about decalcification plants

How much water do I use in my household?

How much water you use in your household depends first of all on the number of people living in your household and whether you have a dishwasher and a fridge with water dispenser in addition to your washing machine. But gardening also consumes water.

According to statistics, every German consumes about 121 litres per day privately. The virtual water consumption per person, on the other hand, is 3,900 litres per day.

Virtual water consumption refers to indirect water consumption. This is because the production of food and consumer goods consumes vast amounts of water that are not included in normal water consumption.

Is it harmful to health to use a water softener?

The question of the effect on your health depends on the type of plant. Electromagnetic devices do not seem to pose a risk to health. However, their effect is controversial.

One criticism of the reverse osmosis process is that natural ingredients such as magnesium do not remain in the water. However, the body needs these substances. Under certain circumstances, deficiency symptoms can occur if you only drink water from the tap and do not take in enough minerals from other sources.

In addition, the membrane used for filtering can quickly become contaminated. Frequent cleaning and/or replacement of the membrane is therefore mandatory. The ion exchange method is very similar here. The containers containing the water to be filtered can become contaminated with germs.

So regular maintenance is also required here. What is better with this method than with reverse osmosis: minerals and natural ingredients are not filtered out.

My water tastes funny: Do I need a descaling system?

According to consumer centres, a taste or discolouration of the water that does not comply with the standard is a cause for concern. If you want to be on the safe side, it probably makes sense to have the water tested or inform the city.

If the phenomenon occurs suddenly, find out online or at your office whether it is acute or not.

Health impairments caused by hard water for sensitive skin

British researchers have found that hard water can be a cause of eczema. The high levels of magnesium and calcium in the water may make your skin dry.

If the skin is very dry, cracks can form. This makes it easier for bacteria and germs to penetrate the body. The skin is more sensitive and irritated, which can cause inflammation more easily.

Can I descale pipes that are already calcified?

You can decalcify your pipes with all kinds of chemicals. Zeolites or anions of citric acid are agents that you can use for decalcification. But to prevent calcification directly, you should buy a decalcification system.

But before you resort to unnecessary chemicals, you should know that a thin layer of lime scale is not harmful. To protect water pipes from corrosion, a thin layer of lime is even advantageous.

The history of drinking water

On average, the human body consists of 70 percent water and the body loses fluid through sweat or excretion. Even in the Stone Age, the human body knew how important drinking water was. For this reason, people became inventive and made suction wells.

The water was filtered by sticking a spear into the ground and the hole was plugged with grass. To be able to drink the water, a hollow stalk was stuck in the middle, which served as a straw.

In ancient times, drinking water was obtained from river water. In addition, wells were used to get to the groundwater. In the Middle Ages, the conurbations became larger, which meant that wells were further developed. Bucket wheels came to the rivers, running wells as well as soda and draw wells were developed.

To prevent contamination, drinking water and waste water were separated to prevent disease. When groundwater became scarce, springs were tapped. In the Middle Ages the supply pipes were made of wood and later of lead.

With the early modern era, the consumption of water increased. Therefore the pumping system was invented. Steam engines, wind energy or turbines were used to drive it. In the 17th century, mills used water lifting machines, from which waterworks were created a century later.

KitchenWater treatment
Domestic waterworks
12/02/20

Through this technology, drinking water has historically taken a rapid course. Through filtration and softening plants the water was refined for our everyday life.

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