Is it Better to Install a Water Softener for Hot Water Only?

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If you’re considering installing a water softener, you might wonder whether there’s much need to soften both your hot and cold water. After all, hardness minerals aren’t harmful to health, so it doesn’t matter if your cold drinking water is still hard – right?

Not really. In this guide, we’ve answered the question, “Should I install a water softener for hot water only?”

Spoiler: the answer is no.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • It’s NOT better to only soften your home’s hot water supply.
  • Although it will save money, minimize your salt output, and reduce your water waste, only softening your hot water means that your cold water lines will still be damaged by scale buildup.
  • Consider your priorities. If you only want soft hot water and you don’t mind dealing with scale deposits in your cold water pipes and water-using appliances, perhaps you will prefer the benefits of only softening your hot water.

❇️ Benefits Of Softening Your Hot Water Only

There are a few benefits that you might get from installing a water softener for hot water only.

Reduced Salt Output

If you’re only softening your hot tap water supply, you’ll use less salt per day than you would if you needed softened water in your entire home.

The softener will also regenerate less frequently due to the reduced volume of water treated, releasing a smaller amount of salt into your drains. That means you can spend less money per year on salt bags and worry less about your environmental impact.

Putting salt in a water softener

Reduced Water Waste & Lower Water Bill

Softeners treat a lower volume of hard water and regenerate less frequently if they’re used to treat just the hot water in your home. Because of this, they waste less water during the regeneration process per year.

This isn’t only better for the environment – it should also reduce your water bill because you’re not requiring soft, treated water throughout your entire house.

Better-Tasting & Healthier Water

Most people prefer the taste of salt-free drinking water, and those with high blood pressure may follow a low-sodium diet that advises against drinking salt softened water.

So, only softening your hot water, while leaving your cold tap water as normal, might be the best solution.

Plus, hardness minerals have a pleasant alkaline taste and are good for us, so retaining them in your cold drinking water while softening only the hot water in your home may sound appealing.

Drinking water

⛔️ Setbacks Of Softening Your Hot Water Only

On the other end, if you choose to only soften the hot side of your plumbing, there are a few setbacks to be aware of:

Won’t Protect All Pipes & Appliances From Scale

Sodium-based softeners are intended for whole home softening, protecting the water that flows through all your plumbing fixtures, water heaters, pipes, and appliances and preventing mineral deposits in all of these locations.

If you only choose to soften water in your hot pipes, your overall water consumption won’t change, and you’ll still use hard water in various pipes and appliances around your home.

So, you’re not fully protected against magnesium and calcium build-up, which means reduced appliance efficiency, issues with water flow, more frequent repairs, and more.

Not Intended Water Softener Use

Water softeners are designed to be installed at water’s point of entry into your home, upstream of the hot water heater – so you get both hot and cold soft water in your faucets, pipes, and appliances.

Installing your water softener further along your plumbing system on your hot water pipes will be more difficult and will probably require more plumbing work compared to installing at the intended location. You might also accidentally oversize the system because your water pressure and flow rate will be lower than at your home’s POE.

Water softener installed in home's point of entry

📑 Final Word: Should You Install A Water Softener For Hot Soft Water Only?

There’s nothing technically stopping you from installing a water softener for only your hot water supply. And, based on the benefits shared in this guide, you might decide to do just that.

However, if you don’t soften your cold water as well as your hot water, you won’t completely eliminate water hardness minerals from you cold water line and appliances, so you’ll still deal with limescale and the problems associated with it.

A whole house water softening system is, as the name suggests, designed to treat your entire home’s water supply, so we strongly recommend installing the system upstream of your water heater, as recommended by the manufacturer.

If, for some reason, you really don’t want to use salt-based water softeners in your home, consider switching the sodium chloride (salt) to potassium chloride or buy a salt-free scale inhibitor or water conditioner that won’t add this substance to your water.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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