Your Guide to Choosing the Right Size Water Softener
Choosing the right water softener is not simply a matter of deciding on your preferred brand. The size of your water softener can have a direct impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your new system. If you choose a water softener which is too small, you will pay a smaller cost initially, but it could cost you a great deal in the long term. Too large a device, would mean that your initial costs would be high and you will not experience savings. Therefore, it is worth taking some time to properly assess your needs and determine the right size water softener for you.
Assessing Your Household Routine:
Every household has different water requirements and it is not simply a matter of counting up how many people live in the property. In order to choose the right size of water softener, you will need to assess your household routine for all seasons. For example, the summer months may mean that you are doing more laundry or you could have plenty of houseguests over the holidays, which would drive up your water usage in winter. You will need to purchase a water softener unit which can cope with any increased demands you may place on it. Alternatively, you could choose a device, which allows for an increased number of rinse cycles to remove the dissolved minerals.
Determining Your Water Hardness:
Another factor in choosing the right size water softener is to determine the water hardness levels for your home. Water hardness is measured by the number of grains of dissolved magnesium or calcium per gallon of water. A water treatment specialist can perform a test at your home to check these levels. This will allow you to estimate the number of grains which will typically accumulate over a 24 hour period. In order to calculate this accumulation, you will need to multiply the number of people living in the home by a factor of 70. Since 70 is the average number of gallons of water used by a person according to national statistics, this will allow you to estimate your water usage. You can then multiply this figure by the number of grains of water hardness.
For example, a home with 10 grains of hardness in their water supply and five family members living in the property will accumulate 3500 grains per day. When you multiply this figure by the number of days between regeneration cycles of a unit, this will determine the minimum capacity needed for your water softener.
Sizes of Water Softener:
Generally softeners are rated by resin capacity or how much hardness they can treat. This is different from water hardness itself. Water hardness in according to the WQA – Water Quality Association is classified as follows:
Soft Water: 0-3.5 grains per gallon (gpg),
Moderate Water: 3.5-7.0 gpg,
Hard Water: 7.0-10.5 gpg, and
Very hard Water: over 10.5 gpg
These numbers, in reality, vary dramatically region by region. In this area of Indiana for example Low hardness is generally 12 to13 grains or below (which is higher than the highest average nationally), average hardness in Northwest Indiana is between 21 to 23 grains and extreme
HIGH HARDNESS is 60 grains.
When sizing a water softener, you look at the capacity rating (which is generally based on how many users there are and how big a home is, which = demand between the regeneration cycles).
Generally small water softener units have a capacity of 20,000 grains.
Medium water softener units have a capacity 30,000 grains.
Large water softener units have a capacity 40,000 grains.
This means for our example family, a medium size softener with a seven day regeneration cycle would be optimum, however, a small unit with a three day cycle would also suffice. While a small unit would cost less initially, the more frequent regeneration would equate to higher operating costs in the long-term.
About The Author:
Greg Scott is President of Valparaiso based Miracle/EcoWater Systems, the premier water conditioning company in Northwest Indiana serving the Lake, Porter and LaPorte County areas. A 3rd generation water treatment professional, Greg grew up in the family owned business started by his grandfather in the late fifties. He has made water treatment his life and under his direction and high-standards, the company’s water treatment experience, knowledge, and products are unrivaled in region.