Upflow Vs Downflow Water Softener—Difference?

There has always been a never-ending competition between Upflow and Downflow water softeners. If you deal with hard water issues, you might understand what I’m talking about.

Hard water is packed with excessive unwanted minerals such as calcium and magnesium, while soft water is free from these minerals that can damage your body.

Hard water is typically rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium form chemical bonds with other metals easily due to their chemical structure. The crusty residue on your shower head is an example of how these bonds build up over time.

So which water softener should you use to eliminate impurities? Upflow Or Downflow

To find out who wins Upflow Vs Downflow water softeners battle, stay hooked to the article, and you will probably get your answer by the end.

What is a Water Softener And How Does It Work?

water softner

It is a device that uses a technique called ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium minerals from hard water, and Ion exchange occurs within the softener. Several components make up a softener, each fulfilling a particular purpose.

Mineral tanks are pressure vessels usually made of fiberglass at the core of the softener. Inside are large amounts of ion exchange resin that are negatively charged.

In addition to being the brain of the softener, the control valve is also commonly known as the softener head.

Three different ways are used for water regenerating in these water softeners.

  • Automatic regenerating systems are found in the most popular water softeners. The system is flushed and recharged regularly with an electric timer in the most basic type. There is no soft water available during recharging.
  • Another way of controlling water flow is by watching how much is being used. The computer triggers regeneration once the sodium beads are depleted enough in the mineral tank. Some soft water will be available during recharge since these softeners often have reserve resin capacity.
  • The third type of control measures water usage and initiates recharging using a mechanical water meter. There are no electric components needed with this system, and the tank is only recharged when needed.

Upflow Vs Downflow- Which one is better?

Depending upon the working mechanism, there are two kinds of water softeners:

  • Upflow Water Softener
  • Downflow Water Softener

For a quick answer, the brine flow in an up-flow water softener is upwards from bottom to top. On the other hand, a downflow water softener operates from top to bottom.

In general, the upflow design is considered better than the downflow design.

Downflow – Quick Insight

  • The size of the downflow injectors and the dilution we experience during downflow brining cause us to lose 18% of the brine.
  • Downflow regeneration is always plagued by leakage.
  • All the hardness and debris are washed away by allowing the debris to flow over the clean portion of the bed. This process requires the bed to be regenerated.

Upflow – Quick Insight

  • During the rinsing process, the brine passes over the clean parts of the bed.
  • The bed gets regenerated only in the used portion.
  • Lesser water leaks from the bed because the water reaches the best part of it last.

Best 5 Upflow Water Softeners

Here are our top 4 Upflow Water Softener choices concluded after a lot of research for you to choose from, the best rated and reviewed.

1- AFWFilters 5600SXT 48,000

Looking for a one-time investment catering to all your needs? Your search might end here because this top-rated AFW’s water softener can do it all for you.

Key Features:

  • Upflow brining
  • 48000-grain capacity (1.5 cubic feet)
  • Flow rate: 12 Gallons Per Minute
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Weight: 20.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 27 x 17 x 62
  • Size: 48000 grains

Hard water is effectively eliminated with AFW 5600 XT, which is often a cause of scale buildup and decreased soap efficacy.

This whole house water softening unit from AFW uses high-efficiency meter-based regeneration to maximize water savings.

Therefore, you can measure how much water you use, and the system will only rehydrate after some time. If your water consumption increases, the system regenerates more frequently to keep up.

Hard water is removed with this system by using the ion-exchange process. By removing hard water, the pipes and appliances last longer!

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2- Kenmore 520 NSF Water Softener

With the Kenmore Elite 31,000 Grain Hybrid Water Softener/Whole Home Filter, you’ll have soft, filtered water flowing throughout your home.

Key features:

  • Upflow brining
  • 31000 Grain Capacity
  • Flow rate: 3-6 Gallon per minute
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 100 grains per gallon
  • Reduction Quality: Upto 3 parts per million
  • Weight: 92.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 22.5 x 21 x 52 inches

Kenmore is NSF International Certified Hybrid Water Softener Filter that effectively reduces hard water minerals. You can save money on salt, water, and energy bills with the Kenmore 520’s built-in Technology. 

In addition to reducing stains, scale buildup, and chlorine, this system will also help remove clear water iron. Filtered and soft water can make your hair and skin smoother, clean your clothes and dishes, and improve your appliance performance. The water will also taste great whenever you use it.

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3- ABCwaters built Fleck 5600sxt Water Softener

With high grain capacity and good flow rate, ABC waters built Fleck water softener is a good choice and has made it to our list of best upflow water softeners.

Key features:

  • Upflow Brining
  • 48000 Grain Capacity
  • Weight: 95 pounds
  • Dimensions: 54 x 10 x 10
  • Flow rate: 12 Gallons per minute

With an up-flow carbon filtration system, no backwashing is required. By eliminating backwashing, there is no electricity to be used, no drain lines to install, and no wastewater to be generated.

Coconut shells are used as carbon media. It can still remove many contaminants, including herbicides, THM, chloramines, chlorine, organic compounds, and more. You will feel and see the difference immediately.

Using an ABC10 resin, the water softening device uses a 48,000-grain softening system to soften the water effectively. Suitable for households of up to five people, it can also support high-pressure plumbing up to 12 GPM.

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4- DuraWater Fleck 5600SXT UpFlow Metered Softener

If you are confused between choosing an up-flow water softener or a downflow water softener, this is for you. It is worth mentioning that it is a downflow water softener but comes with an up-flow carbon filter and a reverse osmosis system.

Key Features:

  • Reverse Osmosis System
  • 48000 Grain Capacity
  • 75 GPD Membrane
  • 4 Pre and Post Filters
  • 2 Gallon Storage Tank
  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Dimensions : 10 x 10 x 54

Innovative ion-exchange resin ensures seamless and rapid regeneration while ensuring efficient water softening. Metered valve controllers come with backlit LCDs that are easy to operate due to their bright blue backlights.

The product eliminates lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, chlorine, chloramine, and organic chemicals. The DuraWater Fleck whole-house water softener is a good option for those who want to enjoy the perks of both Upflow and Downflow systems.

5- SoftPro Elite Plus High Efficiency 32,000 Grain water softener

SoftPro Elite Plus is a unique combination of up-flow regeneration technology and a KDF55 filtration unit.

Key Features:

  • Upflow Brining
  • 32000 Grain capacity
  • Flow rate: 9 gallons per minute
  • Water Consumption: 24 gallons per flush
  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Dimensions: 26 x 18 x 52 inches

The enhanced water softening efficiency of SoftPro Elite Plus is due to its 10% crosslink resin medium. Regeneration is effortless and quicker with a 10% crosslink resin medium.

Using the product, it is possible to cut back on water consumption by as much as 64% and use 75% less salt when regenerating, which translates to annual savings of hundreds of dollars.

Furthermore, the KDF55 filter makes sure that the water you consume, cook with, or use to wash your clothes and dishes is clean and pure. It is free of heavy metals.

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Best 4 Downflow Water Softeners

Many people prefer up-flow water softeners, some people like getting downflow systems installed.

You don’t need to worry because we did all the research for you, and here are the best downflow water softeners available in the market.

1- Fleck 5600sxt On Demand Water Softener

Key Features:

  • Downflow Brining
  • Digital Meter
  • 40000 Grain Capacity
  • Weight: 88 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 54 inches

It is effective at removing minerals that cause hardness. Digital meters control when regeneration is needed.

Due to its demand-driven nature, the controller counts how much water is consumed. As the salt mixes with the brine on the bottom, the controller counts the amount of water being consumed.

The downflow process will remove the brine solution from the system when it’s time to regenerate.

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2- Aquasure Harmony Series Whole House Water Softener

Key Features:

  • Downflow Brining
  • 64000-grain capacity
  • Weight: 149 pounds
  • Dimensions: 56.5 x 30.25 x 16.5 inches

Aquasure Whole House Water Softener allows 3 types of regeneration which include

  • time clock delayed control
  • meter immediate control
  • meter delayed control

This Aquasare Harmony water softener gives you full lead of the system and optimizes the process to meet your needs.

We reviewed this water softener because it provides spa-quality soft water throughout the house without scale and spots. Iron and magnesium are removed in 2 PPM, and the soft water feels soothing to the skin.

In contrast to traditional timing heads, Aquasure Water Softeners employ a high-efficiency digital control head that calculates how much water is treated and backwashes on its own when necessary or required.

This helps reduce the need for salt replenishment as well as saving water.

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3- Tier1 48,000 Grain Digital Whole House Water Softener

Key Features:

  • Downflow Brining
  • 48000 capacity
  • Automatic Bypass valve
  • Reliable and easy to operate
  • User-friendly LCD
  • Weight: 141 pounds
  • Dimensions: 62 x 10 x 10 inches

Calcium and magnesium are two minerals in hard water that are common problems for many people. They combine with heat to form a scale that is difficult to remove.

Plumbing, water heaters, and other water-using appliances become clogged with scale, expensive to repair.

A combination of minerals in soap produces soap scum, causing dry and itchy skin and hair, malfunctioning washing machines, and fixtures becoming slippery.

Hard water minerals are traded for sodium by the softener as part of a process known as ‘ion exchange.’ Polystyrene beads or resin fill the mineral tank, also known as minerals.

The beads are negatively charged. Hard water consists primarily of minerals that carry positive charges, such as calcium and magnesium.

The minerals adhere to the negatively charged beads while the hard water passes through the mineral tank. Common salt (sodium) is used in the brine tank to create a brine solution.

In addition to having a positive charge, sodium ions also possess a weaker charge than calcium or magnesium.

The salt solution in the tank comes into contact with the calcium and magnesium saturated polystyrene beads when flushed through the system tank.

A three-phase regenerating cycle begins once the beads have been saturated.

  • During the first “backwash” phase, dirt is flushed out of the tank by reversing the flow.
  • In the second phase, sodium-rich, the concentrated salt solution from the brine tank is pumped through the mineral tank to refuel the system. Calcium and magnesium are flushed down the drain, replacing the sodium, which collects on the beads.
  • In the final step, an excess brine is removed from the mineral tank, and the brine tank is refilled.

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4- Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck water softener

Key Features:

  • Downflow Brining
  • 48000 Grain capacity
  • Flow rate: 14 Gallons per minute
  • Water Consumption: 3.5 Gallons per minute
  • Maximum pressure: 125 pounds per square inch (psi)
  • Weight: 130 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 54 inches

Low maintenance is one of the best things about the Pentair WS48-56sxt10 system.

Featuring a digital display, this water softener is relatively easy to handle and provides amazing results in softening hard mineral stuffed water.

It is calcium and magnesium ions responsible for making the water hard. To remove hard water effectively, calcium and magnesium salts must be removed.

Ion exchange removes magnesium and calcium ions from a high-capacity resin. You can effectively forget about managing the water softener once you change the resin since it lasts for so long.

There’s no point in having a separate water softener for washing clothes, bathing, and another for something else altogether.

Pentair’s Fleck 5600sxt will help you with this.

It softens water effectively to the extent that it flows higher than many other devices. This unique system is perfect for the entire household.

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Final Words:

Upflow and downflow water softener options are distinguishable. There are numerous advantages to using an up-flow water softener.

Downflow water softeners require much more water and salt and are less efficient than upflow water softeners.

There are many advantages to upflow water softeners, such as their efficiency and lack of chloride waste.

Additionally, upflow water softeners do not require backwashing. Lastly, filter material does not accumulate due to channeling because the water flows upward.

A downflow water softener may better serve some situations. Generally, the best price and effectiveness can be found with upflow water softeners.

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