The latest rage in hard water treatment is salt-free water conditioning. You don’t have to worry about salt refills and wasted backwash water. Salt-based water softeners may be known for their efficiency but their negative environmental impact is at the forefront now. Are salt-free water conditioners the solution?
That’s where I come in! Armed with over 25 years of water treatment experience, I’ve dug deep into the world of salt-free water softeners, conducted thorough research and hands-on testing, and consulted with industry experts.
My aim is simply to serve up an unbiased review that helps you decide if the Futuresoft suits your home better than the alternatives. So, when you wrap up this SpringWell FS1 review, you’ll have a clear picture of your next step.
The SpringWell FS1 Futuresoft water softener alternative effectively neutralizes hard minerals in city water and reduces scale buildup around the house, but it does not soften water — it’s not supposed to.
SpringWell’s advanced Futuresoft hard water treatment comes with the added benefits of minimal upkeep and a lifetime warranty. Overall, it provides good value for money.
Who Is the SpringWell FS1 For?
Finding the perfect hard water solution can be hectic since there are many similar products out there and a never-ending supply of marketing gimmicks from various water filter brands. A few factors can tell you if the SpringWell FS1 water conditioner is the hard water solution for you.
The SpringWell FS1 is for you if…
- You have mildly hard water.
- You live in a place where salt-based water softeners are banned or you’re on a no-sodium diet.
- You don’t like the environmental impact of the ion exchange process.
- Your piping system is clogged with limescale, or your appliances don’t work efficiently.
- You want a maintenance-free system that is also easy to install.
- You want to solve scale buildup but maintain healthy minerals in your water.
The FS1 is not your cup of tea if…
- You’re on well water and prefer not to invest in additional iron and magnesium filters for pre-treating the groundwater.
- You have very hard water.
- You want to completely get rid of your hard water; for that you need the SpringWell Salt Based Water Softener System.
- You have a large property; for that you’ll need the larger FS4 or FS+, the same design, just larger.
SpringWell FutureSoft Features Breakdown
Let’s just get one thing straight: there is no such thing as a “salt-free water softener,” despite what popular marketing campaigns may suggest. These systems don’t actually remove hard minerals or turn hard water into soft water.
Instead, they “condition” hard water by transforming calcium and magnesium minerals into large crystals that can’t stick and cause limescale buildup. This process is called template-assisted crystallization. As a result, the water remains hard, but it doesn’t produce scale that damages your pipes and appliances.
Though not as efficient as salt-based water softeners, which work via a process called ion exchange, they are much more eco-friendly and easier to use.
The salt-free conditioning process is relatively new, and many products from different brands have more or less the same design. Here are the key features you can expect from the SpringWell FS1.
Hard mineral neutralization
The SpringWell FS1 is rated for hardness gpg (grains per gallon) max of 81, which, according to this scale, means it can effectively neutralize moderately hard water. If your water is harder than that, go for the FS4 or the FS+.
While you may not notice a difference immediately, over time you will see a change in the appearance of your fixtures and the functioning of your water-using appliances. This is because salt-free softeners become more effective over time, removing limescale buildup gradually.
The initial clean-out period takes 10–90 days. During this time, you may notice an increase in water spotting and the accumulation of scale on faucets, sinks, and showerheads. However, this initial phase is actually a positive sign. It signifies that the SpringWell FS1 is actively breaking down and removing the limescale deposits within your plumbing.
Once this process is complete, you’ll enjoy the benefits of cleaner plumbing lines and a significant reduction in water spotting. So, although there’s a temporary inconvenience, it ultimately results in better water quality and performance.
The best thing about salt-free water softeners is that they’re environmentally friendly. Here is a brief explanation of why salt-based systems may not be the best choice for eco-conscious consumers:
- The backwash and regeneration cycles waste a great deal of water — approximately 20 to 65 gallons for each regeneration.
- Saline wastewater damages the soil by making it more alkaline.
- Excessive saltwater discharge into rivers and lakes threatens marine life.
The SpringWell Futuresoft salt-free softener prevents all of the above. You get all the benefits of a water softener and a clear conscience — a win-win.
Little to no maintenance
The SpringWell FS1 is virtually maintenance-free. It works automatically, and there is no need for electricity. Salt-free water softeners work efficiently for 8 to 10 years and require a resin change afterward. However, the five-micron pre-filter needs replacement every 6 to 9 months. It’s easy to change and takes only five minutes.
What’s important is that there’s no monthly salt refill. You won’t have to order salt, lift it, or bang out pesky salt bridges in your brine tank because there’s no salt and there’s no brine.
The FS1 comes with a five-micron sediment filter that only needs to be replaced once or twice a year, at $20 a pop. Five microns is pretty good, especially if you’re on city water, but it’s not bad for well water either, which usually has more sediment than municipally treated water.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast, the installation process is straightforward. Unlike salt-based softeners, conditioners don’t need to be connected to a drain. They’re much easier to install. For $150, you can buy SpringWell’s installation kit.
SpringWell also provides helpful, easy-to-follow videos in the installation guide. However, it’s worth noting that the salt-free media tank can be quite heavy and challenging to handle on your own. You should probably install this with a friend.
Don’t take unnecessary risks if you’re not 100% sure about the installation. An innocent mistake on your part can void the warranty. Instead, consider hiring a plumber to be on the safe side.
SpringWell offers a lifetime warranty on the system’s components, such as valves, tanks, and fittings. This warranty is extremely lucrative; almost no other water treatment brands offer a lifetime warranty. Imagine if your car came with a lifetime warranty!
Just keep in mind that damage from untreated well water can void the FS1 warranty.
You will also enjoy a six-month money-back guarantee, which is reassuring since these salt-free water softeners don’t come cheap. If you try it and you don’t like it, just pay to ship it back and you get a full refund, less a potential restocking fee.
What I Like About the SpringWell FS1
I’ve had salt-based water softeners before, and yeah, they absolutely obliterate hard water, but they can be a hassle. Unless you’ve got the hardest water possible, a salt-free conditioner is much more practical, and that’s what I like best about these.
They’re more affordable, both to purchase and maintain, they don’t break as easily, and you don’t have to purchase and load any salt.
Still, I was pleasantly surprised by SpringWell FS1’s ability to remove built-up limescale from my old piping system. The water flow even became much faster as the pipes got cleaner, saving me a lot of effort that would otherwise be spent on pipe maintenance.
What You Might Not Like About the SpringWell FS1
Salt-free water softeners work great on city water, but if you’re considering using one with a private well, there’s a concern to be aware of. Untreated groundwater could potentially contain contaminants like hydrogen sulfide, iron, copper, and manganese, which can damage these systems.
Of course, if you’ve got that stuff running through your well water, you should probably treat it with a whole-house water filter system anyway. Read my review of the best whole-house water filters for well water to find the best one for your circumstances. And of course, have your water tested so you know what kind of filtration you need.
I’m not too thrilled that the “easy installation kit” is $150. I mean, I’ve just invested in your product and if I want to install it easily I need to spend more money? Sus.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for complete eradication of all traces of water hardness, look elsewhere. You need an ion exchange water softener. This conditioner will neutralize some hard water effects, but not all. It won’t do anything to help your hair and skin, and it won’t make your laundry detergent more effective. It’ll just reduce scale buildup and deposits.
Researching and testing any water filter always requires a tedious process for accurate results. You can’t just wing it. So, I devised a methodology that helped me review the SpringWell FS1 thoroughly. Here’s how I did it.
Step 1: A list of SpringWell water filtration systems
SpringWell has numerous water treatment systems in its product catalog. After a quick search, I found three relevant SpringWell water softeners: a tannin removal system, a salt-based water softener, and a salt-free water conditioner, though cheeky SpringWell still calls this last one a “water softener.”
Each of these units comes in three sizes based on differing water requirements. The SpringWell FS1 is the smallest in the FS series, designed for standard-sized homes with one to three bathrooms.
Comparing these models, as well as the salt-based SpringWell water softener, was essential to understanding the merits of the FS1.
Step 2: Product analysis
Now, I needed some benchmarks to analyze the performance of Futuresoft salt-free water softener. So, I asked the following questions to figure out my next steps:
- What is template-assisted crystallization (TAC), and does it really work?
- What other ion exchange alternatives are there besides TAC?
- Can the FS1 Futuresoft tackle extremely hard water with more than 10 gpg?
- Are salt-free conditioners a gimmick or are they worth it?
- How does the FS1 impact the efficiency of appliances, such as hot water heaters, compared to no water treatment system?
- Will the FS1 maintain consistent water pressure and flow rate throughout your home?
- How easy is the installation process for the FS1 Futuresoft?
- What does the warranty offer for peace of mind?
Step 3: Online reviews
Next, I browsed the internet to see how satisfied customers are with SpringWell FS1. I didn’t rely on the reviews on the company’s website since they are often misleading. Instead, I read verified reviews on Amazon, Google, Angi, and Consumer Reports. The majority of the customers were satisfied with its performance.
I looked for repeated criticism or praise that could help me direct the focus of the rest of my research. Really, it came down whether users needed a more robust water softening method than TAC.
Step 4: Interviews with real customers
Online reviews can only take you so far. For better understanding, I planned to interview real-life customers. Thanks to a few posts on Facebook and Reddit, I was able to find people who had salt-free water softeners installed in their homes.
I figured out that SpringWell, US Water Systems, Aquasana, and Crystal Quest water conditioners are the go-to options for many folks, helping me understand the different choices available.
Step 5: Interview with SpringWell
To keep things fair, I contacted the brand and inquired about some recurring complaints by the customers. The company responded timely and explained how most complaints were due to faulty installation and inability to follow the guidelines properly. After a few more questions regarding product certifications and warranty policies, I was satisfied.
Step 6: Test drives
Finally, it was time to test SpringWell FS1 on my own and see what it’s really made of. I have been reviewing water filter systems for quite a while now and I’m used to installing and uninstalling them.
Unfortunately, my main water supply is at the upper end of moderately hard, and it proved to be the perfect test for a water softener. Testing a water conditioner is not like testing a water softener. Water tests will still reveal hard water.
So, I had to leave this unit installed for longer than I normally would before I could see results. But I did! I can’t say this product removed all the problems I had from water hardness, but I’m convinced TAC is an effective solution for mild to moderate hard water.
Step 7: Final Score
After testing the FS1, I gathered all the data in a spreadsheet and scored it based on the following factors:
- Hard mineral neutralization
- Appearance of scale buildup
- Functioning of water-using appliances
- My own testing
- Customer reviews
- Customer support
- Ease of installation
- Maintenance requirement
- Overall cost
While I would not recommend the FS1 for homeowners with very hard water or those with well water and no other filtration, it’s a perfectly suitable solution for mild to moderate hard water for those who either can’t or won’t invest in a salt-based system. Just remember that it’s not going to improve your hair, skin, or laundry.
The SpringWell FS1 Salt Free Water Softener is the best solution for hard water in US states where traditional softeners are banned. Its eco-friendly water conditioning not only protects the environment but also protects your small home’s plumbing and appliances from calcium and magnesium ions.
Its efficient tank design helps maintain optimal water flow and uses considerably less water and energy than traditional water softeners. With no maintenance required, you can simply install it and let it do its job.
Upgrade your home’s water with the SpringWell FS1 Futuresoft and get an eco-friendly, effective hard water treatment.
To see how the Futuresoft water softener compares to other options, read my review of all the best salt-free water conditioners. For now, here are three alternative filtration systems worth exploring.
Greenwave Salt-Free Water Conditioner
US Water Systems’ salt-free water softeners are reliable and efficient salt-free systems. The performance mirrors that of the SpringWell FS1, though it applies what’s called nucleation-assisted crystallization.
I really like the optional radial flow carbon pre-filter, which takes care of foul odors and contaminants in water but does cost extra. It’s a worthy alternative. However, US Water Systems doesn’t offer a lifetime warranty as SpringWell does, and this model does not come with a sediment pre-filter.
Crystal Quest Salt-Free Water Conditioner
The Crystal Quest salt-free water conditioner is a heavy-duty salt-free system that can treat severe hard water without breaking a sweat. I really like the flexibility Crystal Quest offers for tailoring your water softener system, allowing choices in resin quantity, casing, and the inclusion of a leak detector feature.
This model is a bit more comprehensive, with the addition of not only a sediment pre-filter but also a carbon cartridge that removes volatile organic carbon compounds (VOCs), pesticides, and industrial pollutants and an ultrafiltration membrane that removes a plethora of pathogens.
Aquasana Salt-Free Water Conditioner
The Aquasana salt-free water conditioner has an effective design that efficiently treats hard water. The dual-tank system increases the contact time but also increases its footprint, which could be a problem for tight spaces.
Unlike some other salt-free softeners, it has a pre-filter and a post-filter, which really refines and improves the taste of the drinking water. It comes with a lifetime warranty but offers only a three-month money-back guarantee, whereas SpringWell provides a more extended six-month guarantee.
If you’re seeking reviews for water filters apart from the SpringWell FS1 filter, you’re in the right place. Our extensive collection of water filter reviews encompasses a wide array of brands and models currently available in the market. You can trust that our thorough reviews provide valuable insights.
Here are a few water filter brands and models that we have meticulously assessed.