How to Choose the Right Water Softener

How to Choose a Water Softener How to Size a Water Softener

A majority of American households have hard water, which includes minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Hard water can cause rashes and dry skin, as well as build-up in pipes, faucets and appliances. Having soft water can make your life a little more comfortable; here are the top reasons why you need one.

Mineral buildup from hard water, though, can be prevented with a water softener that removes those naturally occurring elements. Here’s how to choose the right water softener for your household.

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Decide on a Water Softener Size

Start by figuring out what your family’s needs are. The average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water a day. Your household’s number may be higher or lower, depending on lifestyle. You may be washing extra clothes with infants and toddlers, have teens who take lengthy showers or have enough guests that you use a dishwasher often.

Take your household’s total estimated use of water a day and multiply it by the grains of hardness in your water. The number of grains—the “hardness”—can be found by looking up water reports from your municipal provider or by testing your water source using a purchased hard water test kit.

Most four-person households use a 33,000-grain water softener.

Water Softener Regeneration Considerations

Traditional water softeners have a resin bed that can trap minerals and divert them from your water supply. When the resin beads get coated, they need to be regenerated using water softener salt and your water supply. This process uses about as much water as you’d need to wash a load of laundry and takes about 90 minutes.

Your water softener can be set to regenerate at night when water isn’t in use, or programmed to run as needed, based on your family’s actual use. Look for a model that tells you when more salt is needed, or have a regular reminder on your calendar to monitor salt levels manually.

If you want to always have soft water in reserve while your water softener regenerates, look for a dual-tank water softeners.

What Else to Consider with Water Softeners

You may decide to connect your water softener to just the hot water supply and leave the cold water supply hard. This prevents trace amounts of salt from the softening process from getting into drinking and cooking water.

Some families choose an additional under-the-sink filtration system or reverse osmosis system for water used with cooking and drinking.

The plumbing hookups on a water softener can be confusing, but we’ll show you how the connections should be made. You don’t have to be a plumber to connect a water softener. We make it easy to understand how to plumb a water softener.

If your water softener isn’t working, we’ll show you how to fix a water softener. Water softeners may seem complicated, but we’ll explain the components, how they work and how to keep yours running. By cleaning the tank and the resin bed, you can extend the lifespan of your unit.
Keep your water softener healthy with these easy care tips to avoid expensive breakdowns.
Finally, look for certification from the Water Quality Association or independent testing from NSF International, a non-profit public health and safety organization.

Lisa Meyers McClintick
Lisa Meyers McClintick is an award-winning Minnesota-based freelancer specializing in travel across the Upper Midwest and to national parks across the United States. She has been a longtime contributor to USA Today, Midwest Living magazine, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and also has written for Minnesota Monthly, TravelChannel.com and AAA publications. Her specialties include watching wildlife and birding, harvest travel, hands-on art and history, gardens and wildflowers, quirky small towns and scenic outdoors. She's a member of Society of American Travel Writers and Midwest Travel Journalists Association, which named her the 2019 Travel Writer of the Year. She's also an award-winning photographer and teaches workshops on memoir and creative writing, photography, travel, and creating sketchbooks and journals.