I get asked fairly often about the pros and cons of buying a one-piece water softener. In short, I prefer the alternative. In general, I believe two-piece water softeners are a better option, and here’s why.
First, the cabinet-style (one piece) softeners are, generally, harder to service. Even minor things – such as putting the softener salt in – are a bit finicky, due to the fact that these units have a much smaller lid to access the brine tank. When it comes to repairs, adding complications to service work means adding time – and that means additional costs.
Also bear in mind that if one part fails, such as the tank, you can have a significant issue with weight. Both water and salt are extremely heavy, so removing all of the salt adds up to a lot of time and effort in order to replace the broken item. Here again, if you are paying a Guelph plumber on a time-plus-materials basis, you could add a good amount of time (and money) just to empty the unit.
Those with one-piece softeners should know that these kind of units can be more susceptible to salt bridging. You must be careful not to rupture the tank, so if you’re breaking up the bridging, use something blunt. This is another detriment, as this problem is a non-issue with the two-piece units.
An advantage of the cabinet style water softeners historically was their small footprint, which is no doubt why I do see these water softeners in small homes and condos fairly regularly. These days, the two-piece units are much smaller than they used to be. If space is extremely tight, however, you may ultimately need to go with the cabinet style water softener.