A water softener can have many benefits for your home, your appliances, and your personal comfort, but before you just head out and purchase the first water softener you see, it’s important to know about the different types and sizes out there so you can find the one that is best for your home and your budget.
The Role of Water Softeners
All water softeners, regardless of brand, type, or size, are designed to remove minerals that are making your water “hard”, which generally includes calcium, magnesium, and iron. They replace the minerals with sodium so you don’t have to deal with mineral deposits and buildup in your appliances, scratchy clothing, and dry, itchy skin.
Why Size Matters?
A properly sized water softener will last longer, ensure the water is soft all of the time and maintain proper water pressure. A water softener that is to small will have to regenerate more often to try and keep up, will wear out sooner and you will probably not be very satisfied with the quality of water it’s providing. If your water softener is undersized it isn’t able to regenerate often enough to keep your water soft. Also, when you are using a lot of water at one time, say 2 or 3 showers are being used, the water softener may not be able to soften the water fast enough to keep up with your demand and it will reduce your water pressure.
We have people contact us regularly who are frustrated with a water softener they purchased from another company because it just isn’t working properly. The most common complaint is the water softener is using salt but the water isn’t soft. One cause is they didn’t install a properly sized water softener, usually because the wanted to save a few extra dollars instead of doing it right the first time.
3 Important items to Consider When Sizing a Water Softener
It’s really easy to become confused when looking for a water softener. Here are three major criteria that will help in choosing a properly sized water softener.
- Water Quality: It’s really important to have the water tested for hardness. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg), soft water is less than 1gpg, 3.5gpg is hard, 7gpg is very hard anything over 10.5gpg is extremely hard.
- Peak Flow Rate: The number of gallons of water that can be used at any given time is determined by the number of bathrooms, kitchens etc that are in the home. The size of the main water line is also important. If you have a 1” water line and the water softener has 3/4 “ internal plumbing than you may have times when the water softener isn’t able to soften the water as fast as you want to use it and will then notice a reduction in your water flow.
- Gallons of water used per day: For many water softeners this the most important factor in sizing. If you have a large family or use a lot of water, such as regularly using a big garden bathtub, the water softener can’t keep up with your demand and the water becomes hard.
As part of doing your research we recommend inviting any water softening company you are considering to test the hardness of the water and perform a plumbing audit, before making a recommendation and providing you with a quote. The plumbing audit will allow them to not only examine the plumbing size and determine the number of gallons of water per minute (gpm) needed but they can also determine what is necessary to properly install the system, should you choose to work with them.