5. Best operating practices: Some tips

Water Softener Salt

How do customary resin-based water softeners work?  The answer to that might help you choose the right settings for yours.

First, salt is needed to create a brine solution.  This solution needs to be run over resin beds from time to time, recharging them.  The resin beds are then able to draw hardness out of the water.  In effect, the resin bed attracts hardness elements.  But as that bed wears down through use, it needs a fresh jolt of brine from time to time.

The control valve on the softener regulates how much brine is created and when.  And that’s where you might be able to save salt.

Begin with the assumption that the average person uses 70 - 75 gallons of water every day, although this could be lower if you have high efficiency fixtures, and manufacturers sometimes use slightly different assumptions.  The hardness level must be determined next.

Let’s take a simple example.

Water Softener Resin

If the device is a 40,000 grain softener, this means it can treat that many grains of hardness between regenerations.  Let’s suppose the water has a hardness level of 20 grains per gallon.  You divide the grain capacity (40,000) by the hardness level (20) and come up with 2,000 gallons of water between regenerations.

Next multiple the number of users by 75, the average number of gallons used daily.  So a household of two people would use about 150 gallons every day.  That is divided into 2,000 to get around 13.  That means the softener should go into regeneration mode about every 13 days.

Based on your own circumstances, you can calculate the right setting for yourself.  You may wish to consult a certified water treatment professional for help determining your hardness level, if you do not know it already.

Remember that settings should be revisited from time to time to achieve not only the ideal level of softness but also efficiency.  Water treatment professionals follow best practices for choosing efficient softener technologies and system settings.  This includes the proper sizing of equipment and proper settings to minimize water consumption and salt usage, avoiding over-treating of water, and by-passing outside sillcocks so that softened water is used only inside the home.

Don’t forget to use vacation settings, when available, to avoid needless regeneration when they aren’t using water.  Especially for temporary residents in the state – those who are likely to leave for several months – shutting off a softener can be a wise decision.