I had the exact same problem as you that I put up with for years until I finally gave in and had a professional water softener installed. I looked at every option out there and even tried several inexpensive "Home Depot" filter products but there was too much maintenance and they are just not designed to handle really bad water. The water softener industry is very confusing and the more you try to figure out what media type and system to get, the more confused you will get. The most important thing besides getting several quotes is to get references from people in your area. They will probably know your pain and have already gone through this process. Secondly, make sure the warranty is iron clad and the local rep has been around for a while. I can't tell you how nice it is to have clean odor-free water. I could never go back and if I ever move, I'm taking my softener with me. In case your wondering, I went with a Rainsoft unit after months of research and can honestly say my homework paid off big-time.