How to Choose a Water Softener

Published On: April 8, 20200 Comments on How to Choose a Water SoftenerTags: , Last Updated: February 11, 20245.4 min read

Something we’d all agree on is that ‘water is life.’  You’d have to drink it, cook with it, bathe in it, and even clean with it. The water available in many households is hard, and while that in itself doesn’t pose a health issue, its consistent use can be chaotic. From rashes on the skin to dry skin and hair, bad smelly water, pipe build-ups, stains, low lather in soap, and even a funny taste, hard water can be very discomforting.

How to Choose a Water Softener

One good thing is that the mineral build-up of magnesium and calcium in the water is exactly what makes it hard, and can be eliminated by the use of water softeners. These water softeners work on the lime-scale of water before the water gets to any of the taps in your house.

Making a Buying Decision on Water Softeners

Since we’ve asserted the need for a water softener in your house, what’s next on your mind is buying one. That’s very good, but you need to read about top-rated water softeners to get your hand on the best one. Don’t worry that won’t be hard; we’re here to show you just how to go about it. You’ll need to consider the types of water softeners available around you, and then go for a type, as well as the size that is most suitable for your home. After all, you don’t want to choose a water softener that is not right for the kind of activities that go on in your house.

What Types of Water Softeners are Available?

Water softeners can be categorized by how they soften water and how they operate. Now, take a look at the water softener types according to how they help you soften hard water:

1.    Salt-based Ion Exchange Water Softeners

Here, there’s a cycling of water between two water tanks. While one tank holds special resin beads, the other contains brine, that is, saltwater. That way, there’s an exchange of ions which involves the swapping of calcium and magnesium ions for sodium producing ions that can soften the water. Since there’s quite a measure of sodium in the water, it’s not best for drinking, but works so well for dishwashers and washing machines.

2.    Salt-free Water softeners

Mostly preferred by homeowners, this water softener makes use of filters. It does this by preventing a deposit of minerals in the water. By de-scaling, the water, pipes, and appliances are prevented from damages, and the water is made softer without any use of chemicals or salt. They are most suitable for the not-so-hard water. You’ll notice that we left magnet-based water softeners off this list. Those are scams, plain and simple. Check out this article for more information.

The above water softeners also come with different regeneration methods.

  1. The Non-Electric Water Softener works without electricity, so you have no worries about a higher utility bill. The longer-lasting water softener is powered by incoming water pressure and salt addition.
  2. The Metered Water Softener gets to work when a marked volume of already softened water has been used up. That way, regeneration of water is controlled based on the demand for soft water in your house.
  3. The Time Clock Water Softener operates on a timed basis. It helps avoid the wastage of salt and regeneration water by calculating the hardness of water, the capacity of softener, as well as the demand for water.

Different regeneration types will mean a different experience in terms of using your water softener. Check out this article by AHWA to learn about cleaning your water softener, which is one process that can change depending on.

How to Choose a Water Softener - whole house water softener

What Size of Water Softener Do I Need?

Since you’ve taken a look at the different types of water softeners and can now decide which to go for, you should choose the appropriate size for your house. You are not to jump at the size of your neighbor’s water softener but look at your own house, focusing on specific elements that we’ll be showing you.

Water Hardness

Before you consider any other thing, you should examine your local water hardness. It is the volume of magnesium and calcium in your water and is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) or milligrams per liter. You’d need to know this where your softener uses a digital programmer, or if you get your water from the well.

Flow Rate

You have to check for how many points of use you have in your home. For instance, if you use four bathrooms, four toilets, a washing machine, and a dishwasher simultaneously, the flow rate affects the size of water that each point receives. The flow rate, which is measured in gallons per minute (GPM), is affected by the volume of resin, mineral tank, distribution system, as well as the pressure of the points in use.

Water Consumption

The best way to determine this is by looking at your water bill at the end of the month. That helps you realize your average use per day. Where you do not have the bill, you can make use of this calculation:

Multiply the number of occupants by 75 gallons. That’s a fair estimate of water use since most households use 75-100 gallons of water per day. When you’ve known the total amount of water consumed per day, you have to use that number to determine your daily softening requirement. Here’s how to do that:

Multiply the total number of gallons used per day by your grains per gallon (GPG).

Let’s make it simpler for you: Water Consumption × Water Hardness.

If you are four in a house, and each person uses 75 gallons of water, and the water hardness is 71.12 grains per gallon, it means that:

Water Consumption˭ 75×4 ˭300

Water Softener size ˭300×71.12 GPG˭21, 336

Therefore, you’d have to go for a water softener with a capacity greater than 21,336 GPG.

Water softening is sure good for your system, especially where tap water quality is low. To ensure that your hard water is softened just right and that your water softener lasts, you’d have to acquire the appropriate one for your house. And there’s really no bother disturbing yourself over calculations or how to go about buying a water softener since we are here to help you out.

Share This Tip With Your Friends!

About the Author: Handyman tips team

The Handyman Tips Team is a group of authors that provides tips on the Handyman Tips website. The Handyman Tips team consists of real handymen, contractors, carpenters, woodworkers, and experts in home repairs, appliance repairs, and landscaping. The team is always there for visitors to the Handyman Tips website. If you can't find the answer to your question on the Handyman Tips website, one of them will reply to you almost immediately if you contact them through the Ask the Handyman page!