Water softeners are deployed to address the water hardness problem. Water softeners are deemed highly effective in reducing water hardness levels. However, you have to maintain the water hardness levels.
Water hardness refers to the levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium in the water.
Importance of setting the right hardness level for water softeners
It is crucial to set the right hardness levels for your water softener because it ensures the effectiveness and efficient operation of the water softener. It makes the water useable for you and your family.
The optimal setting for your water softener affects the hardness of your water. You should test the water hardness levels before deciding to install a water softener.
Once you have determined the water hardness levels, you can set your water softener accordingly. It is important to set the right hardness levels for your water softener for a number of reasons:
Effective Water Softening
A water softener’s basic purpose is to remove minerals such as magnesium and calcium iron from water. Optimal softener settings ensure that your water softener does its job properly.
Water softener settings affect the effectiveness of your water softener. Optimal settings ensure that your water softener consumes the right amount of salt and water to regenerate.
Longevity of the System
Optimal water softener settings ensure that your water softener does not experience high levels of wear and tear during the ion exchange process.
Quality of Water
Water softener settings affect the quality of water. It means that you will get hard water if you do not properly set the hardness levels of your water softener.
Installing and running a water softener is useless if you cannot set the optimal hardness levels of your water softener. Water quality is moot because water softeners with optimal hardness settings do not produce water with excessive levels of salt.
High sodium levels can be problematic for people suffering from high blood pressure or other related health conditions. They need water with low sodium levels in their diets.
On the other hand, if the water softener is set too low, it may not be too effective in removing all the minerals that cause hard water, leaving you with water that is still too hard.
- Hardness settings depend on the existing water quality.
- Test water quality before setting hardness levels.
- Hardness levels affect the production of soft water.
- Hardness levels affect the regeneration process of a water softener.
- Other factors, such as salt levels, water usage, and water leakage, affect regen cycles.
Factors that determine the ideal hardness level
It is tricky to determine the optimal hardness settings of your water softener. The hardness levels are affected by different factors.
Water hardness settings can also be affected by the salt levels in the brine tank, water usage in the water softener, and water leakage. The ideal hardness settings of your water softener depend on your water quality.
Size of household
The size of your household affects your water usage. The hardness settings of your water softener are affected by your water usage.
Type of plumbing and appliances
Water hardness settings are affected by any water leakage in the system. The type of plumbing and appliances affect your water usage, in turn affecting the hardness settings of the water softener.
Personal preferences and water usage habits
Your personal preferences affect the hardness settings of your water softener. You can adjust the hardness settings of your water softener according to your skin sensitivity, soap lathering, and taste preference.
Local water hardness levels
Your local water hardness levels affect the hardness settings of your water softener. You have to adjust your water softener hardness settings to make sure that your water softener works effectively and efficiently.
Methods of measuring water hardness
You determine water hardness levels by using different methods. You can use the following methods to accurately determine your water hardness levels:
Water test strips can accurately and quickly measure water hardness levels. They can be obtained from your local store or online. You need water samples to conduct a water quality test.
You need a certain amount of water to be used as a water sample. Insert the water test strip into the water sample for a specific amount of time. Follow the instructions on the package of the test strip.
Remove the test strip from the water sample and flush off the excess water. Wait for the test strip to change color. Match the color of the test strip to the color chart provided by the manufacturer.
You can purchase a digital tester from a home improvement store or online. Pour the water sample into a clean bowl and turn on your digital tester. Place the digital tester inside the water sample for a fixed time.
Wait for the digital tester to display the hardness reading of the water sample. Compare the reading to the appropriate range for your water softener (You can find it in your manufacturer’s instruction booklet).
Laboratory testing is perhaps the most detailed and accurate method you can use to determine the hardness settings of your water softener. You need to consult a certified water professional in order to obtain a detailed water analysis.
Certified laboratories need water samples from your faucet, and you need to follow a specified procedure for sterilizing and storing the water sample. Ship the water sample to the laboratory.
The laboratory will analyze the water samples while taking into account your water usage. The laboratory results will help you determine the optimal hardness settings of your water softener.
Recommended hardness levels
The recommended hardness levels of your water can vary depending on the source of your water and your intended water usage. You need to know how to set the hardness levels of your water softener.
How to set the hardness level?[ii]
First, measure the hardness of your local water. Your water hardness level should match the hardness settings of your water softener. However, if you have dissolved iron in your water, you have to add 4 ppm to your water hardness setting.[iii]
You should understand by now that the hardness settings of your water softeners affect the levels of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron in your water. Setting high hardness levels means that you want to remove more minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron from water.
However, you should remember that the resin bed in your water-softening tank runs out according to the hardness settings of your water softener. It also affects the amount of water used by a water softener.
Basically, the hardness settings of a water softener affect the regeneration process in a water softener. You have to keep in mind salt and water usage while setting the hardness levels of your water softener.
Recommended levels based on common water hardness levels
These are the recommended levels based on common water hardness levels:
- Soft water: less than 1 gpg or 17.1 ppm
- Slightly hard water: 1-3.5 gpg or 17.1-60 ppm
- Moderately hard water: 3.5-7.0 gpg or 60-120 ppm
- Hard water: 7.0-10.5 gpg or 120-180 ppm
- Very hard water: greater than 10.5 gpg or 180 ppm
Adjusting the hardness level based on individual needs
Your individual needs affect the required hardness levels. People tend to adjust the hardness levels according to their personal taste, skin dryness, and soap lather. Your personal preference matters more than anything.
Consequences of setting the hardness level too high or too low
You can experience the following problems after setting the hardness level too high or too low:
You notice scale build-up when you set the hardness levels too low. Water softeners fail to produce soft water when you set the hardness levels too low. Hard water causes scale build-up in the sink and water pipes.
Inadequate cleaning of clothes and dishes
Hard water leads to inadequate cleaning of clothes and dishes. Setting water hardness levels too high or too low can lead to inadequate cleaning of clothes and dishes.
Damage to plumbing and appliances
Water softener produces hard water when you set the hardness levels too high or too low. It can damage water pipes and all water-based appliances.
Optimal hardness levels of a water softener ensure that your water softener works efficiently and effectively. Optimal hardness levels prevent the wastage of money and resources.
You save a lot of salt and water due to optimal water softener levels. Too much salt or water usage can place an extra financial burden on homeowners. Optimal hardness levels can prevent scale build-up in your water pipes and protect your water-based appliances.