What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

If you are experiencing spotted dishware or your appliances are wearing out more quickly than they should, there’s a chance your water is hard. Hard water can be found in both wells and municipal water supplies.

Due to ecological factors, water in Pennsylvania tends to have a high mineral content, which can lead to mineral buildup in pipes, water heaters, washing machines and other appliances. It can also be harmful to your skin and cause soap scum buildup in sinks and tubs. The good news is you can solve all these issues and enjoy crisper-tasting water, cleaner clothes and more by installing a water softener.

If you’re looking for a water softener, you’ve probably noticed that they come in several sizes. So, how do you know what size water softener you need? This guide can help you learn how to size a water softener for your home.

Key Factors for Water Softener Sizing

Explore the factors that impact how big of a water softener you need for your residence’s unique requirements:

1. Daily Water Consumption

The first step to determining water softener size is to determine how much water you use. The average person uses about 82 gallons of water each day. If your household uses a lot of water by taking longer showers or doing more laundry, you probably use closer to 100 gallons per person each day.

So, to estimate your household’s water usage, you can multiply a rough number of gallons per person by the number of people in your house. For example, a family of four where each person uses approximately 80 gallons of water per day would use about 80 multiplied by four, or 320 gallons per day.

A water treatment specialist can also help you evaluate your water usage with the most precision.

2. Water Hardness

Water hardness is a measure of how much magnesium and calcium are present in your water supply. There are two different measurements used to report this number. The first is milligrams per liter, which is written as mg/L. The industry standard for measuring water hardness is grains per gallon, or GPG. When it comes to water softeners, “grains” simply means the amount of hard minerals in your water.

It is crucial to get an accurate reading of your water’s hardness. A guess may result in the wrong-sized water softener, which will cost you more in salt. If you have city water, you can usually find your water’s hardness from your local water utility’s annual report. If you have a well, you will need a professional water quality test.

Once you’ve found your water’s hardness or had it tested, you can understand a lot about your water supply. If your water’s hardness is between 61 and 120 mg/L, it is moderately hard. Anything between 120 and 180 mg/L is hard, and upwards of 180 is very hard.

If your results are given in mg/L, you may need to convert to GPG. You can convert mg/L to GPG by dividing the number by 17.1. For example, 120 mg/L divided by 17.1 equals 7 GPG. You can also use this unit conversion calculator. If there is iron found in your water, you will need to correct your water hardness value. For every 1 mg/L of iron, you will need to add three grains to your water’s total hardness.

3. Grain Capacity

A water softener’s grain capacity refers to the volume of minerals the system can remove from your water before requiring regeneration.

To calculate proper water softener size, first, multiply your daily household water use by your water hardness. This number is your daily softening requirement.

For example, say your family’s water use is 400 gallons per day and your hardness is 10 grains per gallon. In this case, 10 GPG multiplied by 400 gallons per day is 4,000.

This means the softener will need to eliminate 4,000 grains each day.

4. Regeneration Requirements

Most water softeners are designed to regenerate after a set period of time, which is usually about six or seven days. Regeneration means the water softener floods the machine’s collected resin with brine water, sending the hard minerals in the resin down the drain.

Ideally, the softener should regenerate as needed or once a week. This frequency keeps the resin bed clean and doesn’t put too much wear and tear on the machinery. If our example water softener needs to clear 4,000 grains of hardness each day for seven days, it will need to soften 4,000 GPG multiplied by seven days, or 28,000 grains each week.

Since we are looking to clean 28,000 grains each week, you might assume you would simply need a tank that has at least a 28,000-grain capacity. However, you’ll want to consider the efficiency of the water softener as well.

5. Salt Efficiency

A softener system’s maximum capacity will require much more salt. Most softeners have increased salt efficiency when you lower the capacity of the tank. In other words, when you add less salt to the system, you can remove more grains of hardness per pound of salt.

Another matter that affects efficiency is the design of the water softener. Twin tanks, like many of EcoWater’s softening systems, tend to lower the amount of salt you need to add. Additionally, many EcoWater Water Softeners automatically regenerate, causing your system to only use salt as needed.

Taking your water softening tank’s efficiency into account when you purchase your system, you’ll end up saving money on salt in the long run. You’ll have to refill your tank less frequently, and you’ll drain less salt into the environment.

6. Water Usage Patterns

Another factor to keep in mind is your household’s water usage patterns. Assess the times of day when your family uses the most water, such as the morning when people are showering or in the evening when you are cooking, washing dishes and doing laundry. You’ll need to select a model that can accommodate the periods of peak demand in your home.

Signs of an Improperly Sized Water Softener

Now that you know how to size a water softener, let’s dive into the problem of choosing the wrong size. Utilizing a water softener that is too big or small for your requirements can result in a range of issues. The following are some of the telltale signs of an improperly sized system:

Residual Hardness

If you currently have a water softener but continue dealing with the common issues associated with hard water, this is an indication that your system is not suited for your household and its water needs.

An undersized system may not work effectively enough to mitigate the common issues of having hard water, such as:

  • Mineral buildup around faucets and showerheads.
  • Dry, itchy skin and scalp.
  • Rough clothing.
  • Strange odors.
  • Lathering issues.
  • Soap scum.

Decreased Water Pressure

Poor water pressure is another sign that your water softener may be incorrectly sized. If the system is too small, it can easily become overwhelmed by the demand for softened water. As the softener works overtime to accommodate your household’s water usage or hardness, the pressure may drop in your plumbing system from flow restriction.

An overworked system can also become clogged more easily, which can also contribute to lower water pressure throughout your home.

Frequent Regeneration

An inadequately sized water softener is likely to regenerate very frequently. This is a telltale sign that your system is too small to keep up with your home’s water hardness or usage.

If the regeneration cycle occurs too often, it can negatively impact your system. It may lead to reduced efficiency, inconsistent softening and a shortened resin life span. Plus, it adds unnecessary wear and tear to the softener’s components and can result in increased energy consumption.

Increased Water and Salt Usage

Another key indicator of an improperly sized softener is excessive salt and water usage. With increased regeneration frequency, you will have to refill the salt more often, and the system will require more water to complete the process.

If your system struggles to handle your household’s water-softening needs or is too large for your requirements, you may find yourself paying more on your water and energy bills as well as for salt. The wrong-sized softener is also likely to require more frequent maintenance and repairs.

Choosing the Right Water Softener

In addition to size, design will be an important factor to consider when selecting your water softener system. Your softening requirements will vary according to the common characteristics and challenges of your water source. Explore the key differences below:

Well Water

If your home has a private well, your water is likely to contain more sediment, increased bacteria and higher levels of the following minerals:

  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Sulfur

Your softener system should target these problem areas and accommodate your household’s water consumption. You may need a model with pre-filtration capabilities to tackle the particulate matter.

Public Water Supply

Houses hooked up to the public water supply tend to have more consistent water quality in terms of contaminants like manganese and iron. However, they often feature higher levels of chlorine. Water suppliers use chlorine to disinfect, and you may need a softener that refines to fully eliminate these chemicals from your home’s water.

Your water source will directly impact the type of softener solution that is right for your household.

Different Types of Water Softeners

Understanding the various kinds of water softeners and how they differ can help you determine which model is right for your home. Explore the primary types below:

Refiners and Conditioners

Water refiners and conditioners are both useful systems for softening hard water. However, they serve slightly different purposes.

A water refiner is best suited for households that get their water from the public supply since they effectively remove chlorine. A water conditioner actively removes iron, manganese and sediment, making it a great choice for homes with well water.

One-Tank and Two-Tank Systems

Water softener systems typically have one or two tanks. A one-tank model features a brine tank within the salt tank, giving it a compact design that requires little space. The tanks are separated in a two-tank system, giving homeowners more flexibility and a higher capacity for households with high water usage or especially hard water.

Timed vs. Demand-Control Models

As you explore different types of softeners, you’ll find timed models that operate on a schedule according to the settings on its programmable clock. These are excellent for households that consume a lot of water because they automatically regenerate whether or not the system requires flushing, ensuring there is always soft water in your home.

However, a demand-control model contains sensors that monitor the water and detect when the system softens a specific number of gallons. They are best for households with fluctuating demands and lower water usage.

Wi-Fi-Enabled Models

You can also find Wi-Fi-enabled water softeners that utilize automation and sensors to share important updates and notifications about your system. These models flag different factors, such as excessive water usage, low salt alerts, service reminders or system errors.

Sizing Water Softener Systems With a Professional

You can perform the necessary calculations on your own, use a specialized water softener size calculator, or you can ensure you get a system that is perfectly suited for your home by working with a professional.

Sizing Water Softener Systems With a Professional

When you’re calculating the correct size for your water softener, a professional water test and treatment solution is your best bet. An expert can accurately determine factors like water hardness and grains per gallon and then guide you through the buying process.

Be sure to work with a professional who is well-versed in water softening systems and has experience calculating system sizes. Explore testimonials and reviews from past customers, and only partner with credible, certified businesses that are experts in water softening, like Long’s EcoWater Systems, Inc.

How Long’s EcoWater Systems, Inc. Can Help

Long’s EcoWater Systems, Inc. can properly estimate your home’s water usage and test your water’s hardness and iron levels so you can be confident that your water softener system will work for you. We serve the Greater Lehigh Valley and eastern Pennsylvania area with professional water softener guidance.

As a certified EcoWater Dealer, we can provide you with state-of-the-art EcoWater water softening systems designed to maximize salt efficiency and fitted with Wi-Fi capability for alerts about water usage and salt levels.

Contact Us Today for a Free Water Test

Contact Us Today for a Free Water Test

When you’re experiencing water difficulties, whether they be water hardness, unbalanced pH or something else, Long’s EcoWater Systems, Inc. is your trusted source for water treatment testing. We tailor solutions based on your water’s quality, whether you use well or city water, and we handle everything from installation to regular maintenance.

We’ll ensure you get the right-sized softener system for your household’s unique requirements. By partnering with us, you get access to top-of-the-line products and certified service technicians with the expertise to improve your water quality.

Get a free water test today to discuss your water softener capacity needs.