Water Softeners Frequently Asked Questions
- What is hard water?
- How is hard water measured?
- Why would someone want to soften their water
- Is sodium added to the water supply from a water softener
- Can salt enter my drinking water?
- How much sodium is added to the water by the softener?
- Does washing with softened water make your skin feel 'slimy'?
- What difference does the size of water softener make?
- Are there a minimum and maximum number of days that should take place between regenerations?
- Why is your water softener better than your competitions?
- What's the difference between naturally soft water and the water from a water softener?
- Will a softener remove iron/red stains?
- Magnetic (magic) Softeners?
- Does the resin tank have to be right next to the brine tank?
- What kind of resin does your softener include?
- Is it ok for the water softener drain hose to drain into my septic system?
- Will brine from my softener hurt my septic system?
- Can I discharge the brine from my softener on my lawn?
- Do I have to use salt?
- Will a Reverse Osmosis system remove the salt from the sodium softened water?
- How much water does it take to dissolve 8 pounds of salt?
- Do I have an exact amount of salt in the brine tank for the softener to regenerate properly?
- What type of salt should I buy for my softener?
- How often should I add salt to my softener?
- What is bridging?
- My salt doesn't dissolve, what should I do?
- I've put salt in my softener, but I still don't have soft water. What's wrong?
- Should I clean out my brine tank?
- My water smells like rotten eggs. Is there a type of salt I can use to remove it?
- How do I know if I need to replace the resin in my softener?
- I have noticed a brown/black sludge/oily substance in my softener's brine tank. Is it from the salt?
- Can soft water hurt my yard by watering with it?
What is hard water?
When water is referred to as hard this means it contains more minerals, greater than 4 GPG (grains per gallon) of dissolved minerals (usually calcium, magnesium carbonate, and/or manganese), the degree of hardness of the water increases with more dissolved minerals. Magnesium and calcium are positively charged ions; due to their presence other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily in hard water than in water that does not contain calcium and magnesium. This is the cause of the fact that soap doesn't really dissolve in hard water.
How is hard water measured?
Hard water is usually measured in either PPM (parts per million) or GPG (grains per gallon). 17.1 PPM or Mg/L = 1 GPG or PPM or Mg/L divided by 17.1 = GPG (grains per gallon)
Why would someone want to soften their water?
Softening your water greatly reduces the scaling of pipes, faucets, pots, glasses, tubs, etc. Less laundry soap, dishwashing soap, hand soap and soaps in general are required because they lather so much better in soft water. The water is more pleasant to wash with and there is less soap scum.
Is sodium added to the water supply from a water softener
Yes. A household water softener removes the hardness minerals from water and replaces them with a minimal amount of sodium.
Can salt enter my drinking water?
No. Salt's sole purpose in your water softener is to regenerate the resin beads that actually take the hardness out of your water. This exchange does not make your water taste salty or significantly increase your sodium intake.
How much sodium is added to the water by the softener?
The answer to this question really depends on how much hardness is in the water to begin with. The softener will add about two times the initial measurement of the water hardness in mg of sodium to the water, therefore the harder the water, the more sodium you'll have added to the final product. GPG hardness x 2 = mg of sodium in an 8 oz glass of water, more or less. In other words, if your water test tells you that you have 18 grains per gallon hardness, installing a water softener will add about 35 milligrams of sodium to each 8 oz. glass of water you drink. To put this in perspective, a tablespoon of Ketchup has 204 mg. of sodium and a slice of whole wheat bread has 211. FYI: Filters don't remove sodium from water, but reverse osmosis units do
Does washing with softened water make your skin feel 'slimy'?
When you wash your skin with hard water, there is a layer of soap and minerals that is left on your skin but with soft water, the soap is completely rinsed away leaving just the natural oils your skin produces.
What difference does the size of water softener make?
The size of the softener (rated in grains) in combination with knowing your hardness level will tell you how often it will regenerate, and consequently how often you will have to add salt. If you have a family of four and you hardness level is 10. Divide the unit grain capacity, FGA-60--30,000 Grain capacity by your hardness (10), giving you 3,000 gallons of treated water. The average person uses about 50 gallons per day so divide the 3,000 by 200 (50 gallons x 4 people). This gives you 15 days between regenerations. Our softener uses about 8lbs of salt per regeneration, so if you start out with a full brine tank (350 lbs) it should last you well over a year before you have to add salt again!
Are there a minimum and maximum number of days that should take place between regenerations?
Do long periods between regenerations have any negative effects on the softener? A water softener should be regenerated when the softener has reached its capacity and is unable to keep exchanging the hard ions for the soft ions. How often a water softener regenerates is dependent on how many grains per gallon of hardness is present in the water and the (size) grain capacity of your water softener. If the capacity of the water softener is 30,000 grain, and you have 10 grains per gallon of hardness, then your softener would regenerate after 3,000 gallons of water had passed through it. How quickly you would use 3,000 gallons of water would really depend on your water usage. Our water softeners are usually set at a few thousand grains less to allow a bit of a buffer and therefore not have a regeneration taking place in the middle of the day while water is being used. The water softeners we install only regenerate when required after the number of gallons have been reached so that there is no unnecessary salt usage, the systems do have a timer that will cause the softener to regenerate automatically after a 14 day span if the set capacity has not been reached (vacation) and regeneration has not taken place. .
Why is your water softener better than your competitions?
All softeners, regardless of price, should soften your water (reduce the hardness to 0 grains). The question is how long will the unit last? How often does it regenerate? How large is the grain capacity? What is the warranty? How long has the company been in business? Does the softener regenerate based on time rather than how much water has been used? How easy is it to change the settings and service the unit? How quickly can you get your questions answered and your problems solved?
What's the difference between naturally soft water and the water from a water softener?
Naturally soft water is generally acidic and contains very few dissolved minerals. This tends to make the water quite corrosive to pipes and plumbing. The water from a water softener is more like the raw water from which it is made. It is usually alkaline (have a higher ph) rather than acidic, and contains moderate amounts of dissolved minerals. Thus softening hard water in the home should not significantly affect corrosion.
Will a softener remove iron/red stains?
In many cases it will! It depends upon the levels of Iron present. We have Iron units for heavy Iron problems. Please contact us for correct Iron-Softener combinations for maximum life. 416-798-7675
Magnetic (magic) Softeners?
They have been around for a few years. Be very wary of electronic salt free units advertised on TV. They have no certification or verification of operation.
Does the resin tank have to be right next to the brine tank?
No, they can be up to 20' apart.
What kind of resin does your softener include?
Our water softeners come installed with CATION quality water softener resin.
Is it ok for the water softener drain hose to drain into my septic system?
Generally most people drain their discharge into their standard drain, which would go into the public drain system or their septic tank. Please follow all local plumbing codes.
Will brine from my softener hurt my septic system?
Studies performed by the Water Quality Association indicate that a properly placed septic tank with an adequate septic field is in no way impaired in operation by brine discharged from a water softener. This is primarily due to dilution factors and septic field drainage.
Can I discharge the brine from my softener on my lawn?
Direct discharge of either sodium or potassium chloride brine should be avoided. The brine alters the osmotic pressure that plants and grasses rely upon to regulate water needs. Imbalance in water supply will result in browning and eventually destruction of the grass. A diluted brine ratio of 20 parts water to 1 part brine may be used.
Do I have to use salt?
Most stores that sell softener salt will also sell a salt substitute (potassium chloride). This is just as effective as the regular salt, but adds potassium instead of sodium. The downside is that potassium chloride costs between 3 and 4 times more than the regular softener salt.
Will a Reverse Osmosis system remove the salt from the sodium softened water?
Yes, a Cedar Stream Filtration Reverse Osmosis drinking water system will remove 99% of the minerals, including sodium, from the water.
How much water does it take to dissolve 8 pounds of salt?
One gallon of water will dissolve 3 pounds of salt. To dissolve 8 pounds of salt, at least 3 gallons of water should be in the brine tank.
Do I have an exact amount of salt in the brine tank for the softener to regenerate properly?
The amount of salt placed into the brine storage tank has nothing to do with the amount of salt used during the regeneration cycle. Water will dissolve and absorb salt only until it becomes saturated. A given amount of brine (salt saturated water) contains a specific amount of salt. Just make sure that there is at least enough salt for a regeneration cycle (9 lbs in the case of our unit).
What type of salt should I buy for my softener?
The type of salt best suited to a particular softener will vary in accord with softener design. Usually, cabinet-style self-contained softeners require salt that is low in water-insoluble matter, while side-by-side units with separate salt holding tanks are easier to clean and therefore allow more flexibility in choosing a salt product. Usually a salt with a high purity is better.
How often should I add salt to my softener?
The more often you regenerate, the more often you'll need to add salt. A good general rule of thumb is to check your softener once a month. To maintain consistently soft water, keep your salt level at least half-full at all times, but do not fill more than 2/3 full.
What is bridging?
Bridging is a condition that sometimes occurs in the brine tank when salt sticks together forming a "bridge" that prohibits it from coming into contact with the water in the tank. You can eliminate bridging by using a 100% water soluble pellet product in your brine tank.
My salt doesn't dissolve, what should I do?
Check the salt at the water level to see if a solid mass has developed (called a "bridge"), or if fine "mushy" salt is lying at the bottom of the tank (called mushing). If a bridge, carefully break up the mass to allow it to drop into the water below. If mushing, remove the good pellets, scoop out the "mushed" salt, and reload the good pellets. If the brine tank was empty at the time of fresh salt addition, check the water level in the tank. If lower than normal, the float may be stuck in the internal side column. Remove the cover and check the mechanism to determine if it is working freely. If not, call the service department and arrange for a service call.
I've put salt in my softener, but I still don't have soft water. What's wrong?
It could be that the salt had too little residence time, i.e. the salt was dumped into the brine tank and the softener regeneration cycle initiated immediately. It could also be the result of a softener malfunction or possibly salt bridging or mushing which reduces or eliminates brine formation. You may want to call the service department and arrange for a service call.
Should I clean out my brine tank?
Unless the salt product being used is high in water-insoluble matter, or there is a serious malfunction of some sort (e.g. bridging), it is usually not necessary to clean out the brine tank. Some individuals choose to allow all of the salt to dissolve in their softener unit once per year so it can be visually inspected to insure no build-up has occurred. If there is a build-up, it should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction. However, an annual inspection is not mandatory.
My water smells like rotten eggs. Is there a type of salt I can use to remove it?
The smell of rotten eggs is generally associated with hydrogen sulfide gas that may be present in the water supply. Salt does not remove this odor or the gas. You must take other steps to remove the gas such as having an iron sulphur filter installed before your softener.
How do I know if I need to replace the resin in my softener?
When seemingly all other avenues such as problems with the salt being used and/or basic mechanical malfunctions of the softener components are exhausted and the water is still not soft enough, it may be time to consider replacing the resin, or the softener.
I have noticed a brown/black sludge/oily substance in my softener's brine tank. Is it from the salt?
Over time, water-insoluble matter from salt or the water supply may accumulate in the salt holding tank. This water-insoluble matter may have the appearance of a brown or black sludge or appear oily. It is usually the result of natural mineral inclusions contained in the salt, and is generally inorganic in nature.
Can soft water hurt my yard by watering with it?
Softened water is not damaging to grass or plants. The reason for the concern is somewhat anecdotal, but not based on any real science. Plants require water to develop and thrive, however, owners of water softeners were concerned that the small amount of added salt, and low levels of magnesium & calcium in the water may inhibit plant growth. In reality, there are only very low levels of salt added to softened water (about 7 mg/l per grain of hardness), and this extremely low level is not a factor in plant development. For a real life comparison, consider plant growth at any residence located near a beach – sea spray is extremely high in sodium concentration, and in this case plants would have a significantly higher exposure to salt – but there is no ill effect. The other consideration is the low level of magnesium and calcium in softened water. Plants requiring these nutrients obtain the majority of what they need from the soil, and not irrigation water. In addition, professional hydroponic growers frequently use water prepared by the process of reverse osmosis – this process removes a much higher level of the contaminants then a water softener would – and plants still thrive. The other option is to by-pass the irrigation system or outside hose bib so that it is not supplied with softened water. However, the main reason for doing this is to conserve salt. Since plants do not care one way or the other whether the water is softened, it is not necessary to waste salt by softening the large volume of water used for lawn and garden watering – better to by-pass. The standard installation performed by Cedar Stream Filtration with the purchase of our equipment will include a bypass to the outside line if the lines are accessible and at the point of installation.