AO Smith water softener reviews

Last updated on: June 1, 2024.

The American company AO Smith produces water heaters and water treatment items. The company, founded in Wisconsin in 1874, has 24 locations and numerous manufacturing facilities worldwide.

The AO Smith product line includes two water softener types: Salt based Water Softeners & Salt Free Water Conditioners.

Is there anything specific to AO Smith water softeners that makes them better?

Is there anything specific to AO Smith water softeners that makes them better?

Several aspects make AO Smith water softeners some of the best in the market. For instance, they guarantee a higher level of limescale removal because of quality resin beads and the regeneration process with advanced technology.

They are user-friendly and come with automation capabilities making them cost-effective solutions to hard water.

The efficiency of AO Smith water softeners

The efficiency of AO Smith water softeners

AO Smith devices have an electronic timer that lets you program the regeneration cycle. You can choose a low-demand period for soft water, such as nighttime.

Salt sensors are another feature of AO Smith water softeners. These sensors track how much water has been treated and adjust the amount of salt used so that it only uses what your softener needs.

Aside from the backup batteries that protect your unit in the event of a power outage and the audible and Wi-Fi salt alerts that let you know when it’s time to refill the salt, these products can soften the hardest water in the region.

The durability of AO Smith water softeners

AO Smith water softeners are made of fiber-reinforced, corrosion-resistant plastic, requiring low maintenance. Their durability is one of the reasons for their increasing popularity in American homes, as they are some of the most long-lasting water softeners.

Long-lasting AO Smith water softeners

Long-lasting AO Smith water softeners

A well-maintained AO Smith water softener can last up to 20 – 30 years. You only need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure its upkeep. Moreover, they come with limited warranties of at least five years. 

 Cost-effective AO Smith water softeners

Cost-effective AO Smith water softeners

The popularity of AO Smith water softeners is largely due to their affordability. They come in five sizes – 30,000-grain, 35,000-grain, 40,000-grain, 45,000-grain, and 50,000-grain capacity. The price range varies according to size while remaining in the range of $700 – $900.

NSF-certified AO Smith water softeners 

NSF-certified AO Smith water softeners 

Tested and certified by NSF International, AO Smith devices ensure the safety of the users. You won’t find any harmful chemicals leaching into the water system during their operation. 

The best Hard Water treatment models by AO Smith are reviewed here.

The best Hard Water treatment models by AO Smith are reviewed here.

Salt-based AO Smith water softener

AO Smith 35000 Grain Water Softener

The A.O. Smith AO-WH-SOFT-350, a 35,000-grain water softener, is a tested and NSF-certified unit that protects you from the effects of hard water. Its capacity is suitable for a home with 2 – 4 people and can reduce limescale build-up and eliminate spots and stains in kitchenware, sinks, and bathrooms.

It also ensures softened water to protect your skin and hair and extends the lifespan of household appliances. Its salt-sensing technology ensures that your salt usage is monitored and prevents waste of water and salt.

The A.O. Smith AO-WH-SOFT-350, a 35,000-grain water softener, is energy-efficient and built to last. It has a bypass valve and doesn’t require filter changes because it comes with a self-cleaning pre-filter. The device is quiet even during regeneration with a backup battery to prevent disruption due to power outages.

Salt-free AO Smith water softener alternative

AO Smith Descaler

AO Smith Whole House Water Softener Alternative is a descaler system and works well with city and well water. It reduces scale build-up in your home’s plumbing system and pipes, appliances, and fixtures. It is salt-free and chemical-free, so it doesn’t require cleaning, backwashing, salt, or electricity.

You can use this device to soften or condition the water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. It is ideal for a family of 4 or more members. The descaler works with water from the city and well. It is cost-efficient and long-lasting as it can reduce scale buildup for a minimum of six years without losing efficiency.

Here’s how you can clean your AO Smith water softener

Here's how you can clean your AO Smith water softener

The purpose of a water softener is to soften hard water by swapping sodium ions with calcium and magnesium ions when the water flows through the resin bed. The resin bed traps the minerals and, over time, can become saturated, needing regeneration to start the softening process again. Like any other appliance, AO Smith water softeners require regular cleaning and maintenance for peak performance. 

Ion-exchange water softeners have four settings – regeneration cycle time, frequency, length, and salt dose. All four of them vary depending on the water hardness levels and water usage in a home.

However, the cleaning process is fairly simple if you follow the steps given below. Here’s how you can clean the brine tank and the resin tank.


  1. Create a space to drain the brine solution so it doesn’t leach into the soil. You can dig a shallow hole and line it with landscape cloth, sand, and gravel to ensure the brine can be contained within the limited area. 
  2. Turn the water softener off by opening the bypass valve so there is no electricity flow during the cleaning.
  3. Remove the salt tank to the yard and drain the remaining water into the shallow hole.
  4. You can remove the parts of the brine tank using a cleaning solution and a bristle brush, scrub the tank thoroughly and rinse it with water. 
  5. Let the tank become completely dry before putting the parts together. 
  6. Reassemble the brine tank and reconnect it to the power. Then, refill it with fresh salt. 
  7. Run the system through a regeneration cycle after cleaning the brine tank for it to recalibrate.


There are two ways you can clean the resin tank. You can remove the tank and clean it manually or use an iron-removing cleaning solution that will rinse the collection of minerals by running a regeneration cycle.

Manual cleaning: Unplug the water softener and remove the resin tank. You must unscrew the bolts and disconnect the valve before removing the tank. You can use a bleach and water mixture to clean the tank. A regeneration cycle will take care of flushing out the leftover bleach from the tank.

Using an iron-removing solution: You can get a cleaning solution in a store that is specially made for cleaning out a resin tank. Pour some of the solution into the tank according to the instructions given in the product. Give it some time to work on the inside of the tank and begin a regeneration cycle to remove wastewater.

Regularly scheduled cleaning of the brine and resin tanks will ensure that the water softener is long-lasting and gives you optimal performance.

How often does an AO Smith water softener regenerate?

An AO Smith water softening device typically regenerates every 10 to 14 days. The frequency of the regeneration cycle will depend on the tank size grain capacity and the hardness levels of the water in your home. It also depends on the selected settings in the water softener to schedule the regeneration.

How to program an AO smith water softener?

How to program an AO smith water softener?

The AO Smith water softener offers different settings to get it working in your home. Here’s how you program the device:

Setting the clock

As a first step, this is essential as it allows the water softener to recharge at a time when other appliances are not in use. You will also be setting it so that the regeneration occurs when you are likely to use the least water. Generally, 2.00 a.m. is the preferred slot as everyone will be in bed.

Set the regeneration program

You will need to program the water softener for regeneration as it flushes the collected minerals and recharges to repeat the softening cycle. There are typically two control systems – timer-based and digital metered. If you have a timer-based unit, you can program the device by setting the day and time, allowing the water softener to start regenerating regardless of how much water has been used during that period. The metered option monitors the amount of water used and only regenerates when it is necessary. 

Salt dose setting

You will program the water softener based on the water hardness levels and the amount of salt needed to wash away the minerals trapped in the resin bed. It will also depend on how much is used by the family. The instruction manual will give you the salt dosage settings for a particular softener, as it will calculate the unit’s required salt dose.

Hardness setting

You can adjust the hardness setting by first knowing the hardness level in your water supply. You can program the setting in parts per million (PPM) to grain capacity. For example, the formula of PPM/ 17.1 will give you the grains per gallon (GPG). 

Once you program the settings of the AO Smith water softener according to the manufacturer’s instructions, your device will be ready to serve you with a steady supply of soft water.

Rheem vs. AO smith water softener

Rheem water softeners are some of the most advanced available today. They use a unique filtration process to remove hard minerals from your water, leaving it softer and cleaner. Rheem water softeners also offer an automatic regeneration and digital display.

Rheem’s water softener series helps remove hardness-causing minerals giving you softer water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and improving your quality of life. They are eco-friendly as Rheem uses a special type of salt that is not harmful to the environment as it is biodegradable even when brine solution is drained into the ground. 

Rheem’s water softeners are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. 

AO Smith water softeners are compact devices and offer a fast and quiet regeneration cycle. They are designed for convenience, NSF-certified, and help reduce scale build-up. Salt sensors and their low-salt alerts ensure the system doesn’t run out of salt. They are durable as they are made of fiber-reinforced, corrosion-resistant plastic and are long-lasting. Their Standard water softeners and the Premier series are designed for low maintenance and high efficiency. 

How to drain AO smith water softener?

You can drain the AO Smith water softener by scooping the water into a bucket and flushing it down the drain or using a wet-dry vacuum to suck the water out of the system. You can remove the brine well, pour the water out, or start a manual regeneration cycle. As you can see, there are different approaches to draining your AO Smith water softener, and you can use any of them at your convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does AO Smith water softener have a filter?

Water softeners do not filter water. They soften water by removing hard minerals like calcium and magnesium, replacing them with sodium ions. If you’re looking for water filtration, you may need to add a water filter along with your water softener system to get purified and clean water. 

2. How long do AO Smith water softeners last?

AO Smith water softeners will last up to 20 years as long as you maintain the unit as required. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that the water softener is not misused and you will have a unit that performs optimally for a long time. 

3. How to claim AO smith water softener warranty?

Like any other appliance, you can claim a warranty if your water softener is still under the warranty period. AO Smith gives you different options, including tech support and a number to contact through WhatsApp, email, or phone. You can use any of the options to reach out and claim the warranty if your unit or its parts are not performing as they should.

4. Where do you get ao smith water softener parts?

You can get AO Smith water softener parts by searching their website or by contacting any of the retailers of AO Smith products. 

5. How many 40lb bags salt to fill ao smith water softener?

The general rule is to ensure that the water level is slightly lower than the salt level. It is because the water needs contact with the salt to absorb it and have the right brine concentration. A family of four will use approximately one 40-lb bag of salt per month. The amount of salt you use will depend on the number of family members, water usage, and hardness levels. 


Buying an AO Smith water softener seems like the safest choice for softening water, especially if you have been experiencing high concentrations of hard minerals in your region. While there are several water softeners on the market, you may want one that is super-efficient and easy on a budget.

We aim to give you an accurate reading of AO Smith water softeners to help you choose your investment wisely. Hopefully, this review will make your choice more straightforward and get you the kind of softened water you deserve to enjoy.

About The Author

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Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.