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Do you have hard water?

Are you sure?

If you are unfortunate enough to cross paths with a shady water softener or water purification system salesperson, you’d certainly be told that not only do you have hard water, but that if it’s left untreated, it will cause health problems, as well as irreparable damage your plumbing, appliances and clothes.

Yes, there are places in the United States where hard water is a problem, and a water softener can be a beneficial addition to a home. However, it’s important to know how to sort the fact from the fiction. Sadly, there are plenty of softener and purification system scams that result in thousands of homeowners each year being duped by less than honest salespeople.

“Free” Water Testing

The most common water softener or purification scam usually begins with a homeowner responding to an ad for “free home water testing.” These individuals are only interested in selling water treatment devices, whether the individual needs one or not. When undergoing testing, the salesperson will add tablets or drops of chemicals to a homeowner’s tap water.

If the water changes colors or particles begin to form, they will proclaim that a water softener, or an even more costly purification system, is urgently needed because the water is polluted and may even cause cancer.

Yet, these tests are deceiving. Even the purest spring mineral water would “fail” the test.

Another common tactic is offering a water softener as a prize. Notification often comes by email or phone. Yet, to qualify for the prize, you have to purchase a more expensive water purifying system which typically costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

How to Protect Yourself

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With plenty of less than scrupulous individuals out there who are focused on selling products of little value, it’s important that homeowners are armed with information on how to protect themselves.

The Federal Trade Commission has provided some clear guidelines when it comes to home water softener and purification systems:

Avoid Free In-Home Water Tests

Free tap water tests are almost always a sales promotion and provide little if any information when it comes to determining whether or not you need a water softener or purification system.

Most water tests check for acidity and alkalinity levels, water hardness, minerals and color. Yet, these components of water are not typically harmful.

Be skeptical of anyone trying to sell you a system who is claiming that your water is polluted, contaminated or dangerous to your health.

Be Leary of Government Warnings

Along with the health warnings, fraudulent salespeople will also state that government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, recommend or even require the use of a purification or softening system.

They will also claim that they are the approved provider of the government agency. These claims are 100 percent false.

Obtain an Independent Evaluation of Your Water

While there are plenty of salespeople who will gladly take your money for a system you don’t need, the key is finding a reputable company that can determine what if any water softening or purification system can be beneficial

The first step is determining the quality of your water. Do this independently. Your local water superintendent can give you the most current results for the public water supply in your area. Compare these with federal standards.

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If you are using well water, your local or state health department can provide you with free water testing. If you are still concerned about possible contaminants, you can have your water tested by a private laboratory. Call the EPA’s Safe Water Drinking Hotline for more information at 1-800-429-4791.

If there is a problem, contact a reputable plumbing company that specializes in water softening and purification systems. They can provide you with the most current information on price, installation specifications, maintenance and warranties.

Despite plenty of publicity and public warnings about water softening and water purification system scams over many years, fraudsters are still successful at selling homeowners unnecessary or poor quality systems.


These con artists know that many homeowners have become accustomed to the idea that tap water is unsafe. They use these fears as a platform for tricking uninformed consumers. Don’t fall victim to this scam.

Rely on a licensed, insured and bonded provider of plumbing repairs and installations. They will focus on providing the products and service that you need. In other words, they’re not in the business of making a quick buck.

They want to build a lasting relationship by becoming a trusted service partner that you can count on.


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