In many households where water is softened by local water treatment plants, soft water gets taken for granted. But if you’ve experienced hard water first-hand, you know there’s a difference. Hard water can leave a film on dishes and other surfaces, and it can lead to mineral buildup in pipes and on faucet heads. It can also have a harsh effect on your skin, making it feel dry and brittle, and can carry some health risks when you consume hard water on a regular basis.
A water softener is an in-home treatment solution that eliminates minerals in water, making it safer to consume and gentler on both your body and your pipes. If your home is supplied by a hard water source, you will likely want to install a water softener in your home. When homeowners go shopping for water softeners, the first question out of their mouths is usually, “(What size water softener do I need)?” Fortunately, the process of figuring out your home’s sizing needs is relatively straightforward.
Here’s a guide to choosing the right water softener for your home, and setting it up properly to treat your home’s water.
What Water Softener Do I Need?
Before you answer the question of, “How large of a water softener do I need)?” you first need to figure out what type of water softener you’re looking for. Several different types of water softeners are available for residential use, based on your preferences and your size constraints in the space where you plan to install your water softener.
For example, homeowners can choose between a salt-based or potassium-based water softening system. While sodium is the most common method used to soften water at home, the addition of sodium into the water can also present a health concern for individuals worried about their sodium intake. Potassium can be preferable in these cases, and it is also considered more environmentally friendly. But it is also more expensive, which could deter many homeowners from this option.
You might also choose between a single-tank or multi-tank water softener. This is when the question of “(How big should my water softener be)? can have big implications on your interior space. When considering the size of water softener, you need to consider not only its water softening capacity, but also your home’s ability to fit a water softener into the available space. In some setups, a multi-tank system may be too large to fit into the existing space—especially if you’re fitting a new water softener into a location where a previous softener was housed.
How Big of a Water Softener Do I Need?
The size of your water softener is determined by the average water usage of your home, as well as the number of grains of hardness in your water. Water softeners are sized according to the amount of grains they’re capable of removing each day.
A sizing chart can show you (how to properly size a home water softener). Your water softener supplier can provide you with this chart, or they can help you select a water softener size based on your water usage and the size of your household. For a four-person household with mild water hardness, for example, a 32,000-grain water softener is often enough to adequately treat your water. For large families and/or more significant water hardness, a more powerful water softener may be required.
Residential water softeners can accommodate softening needs of up to 110,000 grains. While this level of water treatment is rare, you should conduct a water test to confirm the grain level in your water as you size your water softener.
Guidance on What to Set Water Softener At
Setting your water softener to the appropriate treatment level is easy. On most modern water softeners, you can use the digital interface on the appliance to set the water hardness level. The water softener should always be set to the same hardness level as your water—otherwise your appliance will provide unnecessary softening, which will raise the cost of this appliance and increase its wear and tear over time.
After you’ve set your water softener, pay attention to any changes you notice in your water. The switch from hard to soft water should be noticeable, and you should see a decline or disappearance in mineral scale on dishes and other surfaces in your home. If this scale persists, you may need to increase your water treatment level to meet the treatment demands of your water.
As you shop for a water softener, “(What size do I need)?” will be the most important question you ask—and the answer will help you zero in on the perfect water softener for your home. A home plumbing specialist can help you pick out this water softener, and even install this appliance to make sure your water is properly treated as it enters your home.