I installed a hot water heater in my house about 6 months ago. I recently had to replace a burnt out heating element and thermostat for an unrelated issue. When I replaced the heating element, I looked inside my hot water heater and found a large amount of what appeared to be calcium and other minerals built up at the bottom of the tank. My girlfriend and I have also been noticing that our skin is sometimes itchy after we take a shower because we both have very sensitive skin. I saw that my hot water comes out kind of cloudy so I got a water tester and found that there was 200ppm of minerals in it compared to 70 ppm for regular cold tap water. We have town water and sewer connections.

I was wondering if there was something I could buy to remove the minerals prior to the cold water getting into my hot water heater. I was looking at doing this to possibly cut down on the built up minerals at the bottom of my hot water heater and also potentially help us with the itchy skin.

Would I be better off buying a big filter or should I consider a whole water softening system? I feel pretty confident with plumbing with PEX lines but I was just wondering what would be more cost effective and beneficial for us.

Thank you.

2 Answers 2


Water softener, based on ion exchange resin, replace dissolved in water calcium and magnesium, whith sodium. It prevents calcination. Filters are used for another purpose, remove harmfull elements, like chlorine, etc. You may use the both, but water softener for whole house, except lawn watering and filter for drinking water.

  • Sprinklers were not mentioned nor excluded so I added a note for reference.
    – Gil
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 23:12

If it were me I would place the filter in front of the water softener that then feeds the hot water tank. Do not forget valves to isolate the filter when you change the element.

The filter will not remove everything but it will reduce the amount of particles passing into your softener. This will help keep it from plugging your softener bed(s) with minerals. What the filter can do for you is dependent on what type of filter system you install. I will take a SWAG and say the calcium is from the concrete that is used in the main water lines prior to coming into your home.

You can connect the sprinklers after the filter if you want but always before the softener.

After a few weeks you will have an idea of how much crud is getting into your system and determine if you want to clean or replace the water heater. It is possible the water heater will flush itself out over time. Hint: Place pressure gauges in front and after the filter, then you can determine how plugged it is when water is running.

  • 1
    Formatting saves sanity. What sprinklers are you talking about and where did they come into the question?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 13:20

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