When you start to research a water softener for your home, it can be confusing to understand the terminology and the figures stated on the equipment. Obviously, it’s important to understand these details; a water softener is a significant investment in your water quality, and you want to get it right the first time. In this article, we will breakdown what you should be looking for when investigating a water softener system and some useful information for after the system has been installed in your home.

Understanding Hard Water

Once you start to discuss hard water issues things can get technical in short order. There are mathematical conversions to consider, and it can be a lot to take in at once. Here are the first two basic concepts that you will need to understand.

  1. Grains per Gallon (gpg)

This is an indication of the amount of dissolved water hardening minerals that are present in any given water sample. A grain per gallon or gpg is equivalent to 17.14 parts per million (ppm). The water hardness could be measured in either gpg or ppm, but when you’re looking at water softeners, gpg is the preferred unit of measurement. Any water treatment professional will use gpg when they explain your water softener options.

  1. The Grain Capacity Range

Every water softener will have a grain capacity range; this is usually 20,000-80,000. This is the most commonly used range for the domestic market, but this could vary depending on three factors, they are daily water use, the number of people in the home and the water hardness. In certain cases, you may need a water softener with a larger or a smaller grain capacity. It’s always a great idea to check with a local certified water treatment professional if you’re not sure about your grain capacity range requirements.

Understanding Water Testing

Your water needs to be tested with a strip to find the hardness number, and the result can be interpreted on the hardness scale as follows:

  • 0–3 gpg: The water doesn’t need softening.
  • 3–7 gpg: The water is moderately hard; it can cause dry skin and spots on dishes.
  • 7–11 gpg: This is hard water that’s packed with minerals, you may have scale on your faucets and reddish rings on your sinks, tubs and shower stalls due to excess iron.
  • 11–15 gpg: This is very hard water with all of the consequences.
  • 15+ gpg: This is extremely hard water. Your skin will feel squeaky, washed glasses are very spotty, and soap scum is hard to remove. Well water uses may notice iron stains on plumbing fixtures and water using appliances.

Understanding Water Softeners

Here are some useful numbers that you need to know after you’ve installed your water softener system.

  • $4 Annually: This is the approximate cost to power your a high-efficiency water softener each year.
  • 40lb Bag of Salt: If you use a demand initiated water softener, you only regenerate when needed, this is extremely efficient, and you’ll only need to add a single 40lb bag of salt every 6–8 weeks.
  • Every 5–10 Days: On average, your water softener will regenerate every 5–10 days. This will depend on whether you’re using a demand or time initiated water softener and the other factors mentioned earlier.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea about some of the terminology and hard numbers needed in choosing and using your water softener system. If you’re still unsure, contact your local water treatment professional for expert help and advice.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.