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Thread: What is an expected hardness level if a water softener is working correctly?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member swandog's Avatar
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    Default What is an expected hardness level if a water softener is working correctly?

    Hi,
    I just had a new water softener installed and there was a configuration issue with the amount of water in the brine tank. The serviceman came out and fixed it (I think)...but now the water seems to be getting hard again but without numbers I can't tell. Pre softener the water hardness was between 26 and 30. So now that my softener is supposedly working properly what should I expect those hardness numbers to be?

    thanks
    Doug

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    It may take some time for the soft water to feel good.

    Give it a chance then you can measure it.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I would recommend purchasing the Hach 5B test kit. It is a simple, accurate, and relatively inexpensive test kit for testing your hardness before and after the softener. DonL is absolutely correct. It is not uncommon to not feel the softness for some time after a softener installation. The water heater will have considerable scale that will slowly start to dissolve and will add some small amount of hardness. Even a small amount of hardness will feel like hard water. A test kit is the best way to know for sure.

    Regarding the actual hardness after the softener, that depends on several factors. Hardness leakage is charted by the resin mnufacturers but this does not take into consideration system flow rates, or end of capacity issues. I would expect your softener to produce approximately 1 GPG hardness or less if it is programmed correctly. Systems that are programmed for extreme salt efficiency will usually have slightly higher hardness leakage.

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    DIY Member rjh2o's Avatar
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    Water hardness after a softener should always be 0 gpg no matter the initial hardness. When the tech adjusted the setting for brine tank refill he may have adjusted refill time too low. This will cause short brining during regeneration causing hard water through softener. Many times older homes that have not had water treatment previously will have trace amounts of hardness in the water due to the soft water eroding away hardness buildup in household lines and hot water.
    If this is new construction there should always be soft water on cold side and on hot side after a very short time (couple days of hot water use). An installer should always flush the water heater after installation to assure soft water throughout home. You can flush the water heater also from the boiler drain at the bottom of water heater.
    When water is "soft" it will have a slippery feeling.
    RJ

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Many softeners that are programmed fo absolute maximum efficiency tend to leak hardness, the problem increases as flow and TDS rise. A good quality test kit may read 1 GPG, this is fine. A GPG is actually 17.1 PPM hardness, so anything over 5-6 ppm tends to read as 1 GPG on most test kits. Salting at 6 pounds of salt per cubic foot, or up to 8 pounds of salt will give you a good balance of high quality soft water, salt efficiency, and water efficiency. Lower than 6 tends to sacrafice water efficiency and water quality, above 8 sacrafices salt efficiency. For a technical breakdown of the affects of low salting, high tds, high flow rates, etc on water softening resin, check out the link. http://www.purolite.com/Customized/C...ces/rid_62.pdf This is a common resin used by many manufacturers for standard water softening.

    Just found this so I edited the post.

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    DIY Junior Member swandog's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the info. I should have plugged in a few more details. The house is 8 years old. It did have a water softener before but a bad one (******* waterboss). The new one is a dual tank system. It's been 10 days since the brine tank adjustment and I've manually run the regen several times...there have been numerous loads of laundry and kids bathed since that time. I guess I was hoping the water would be softer than what it feels like now....

    Thanks again for your input.
    Doug

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    IMO you can not go by "feel", you must test the water.

    I say if a water softener can get rid of all but one gpg, which the Water Quality Association says is just fine, it can get rid of all gpg of hardness so I always told my customers to expect 0 gpg or there was something wrong with the softener. I included a test kit with every softener so they could test for hardness if they thought there was a problem.

    I sized and had my customers program for much less than 6lbs/cuft salt efficiency. I question any test that with only 5-6 ppm (less than a 1/3rd of a gpg) of hardness would show/read 1 gpg when the test is for gpg, that is one hell of an error IMO.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The real problem is the variances in water that a standard test kit cant accomodate. I used the Hach HA71A hardness PPM test kit for steam boilers and post RO/Pre EDI treatment. I noticed that the Hach 5B water test would tend to have a tinge of purple, not a solid blue depending on a lot of factors when the hardness was above 5 ppm and below 10 ppm. It is more of an interpretation issue as well. One person will see it as soft, another person will see it as 1 GPG or less.

    To make it simple, for the majority of applications, if you use one drop of reagent to get a solid blue, your water is soft enough at 1 GPG or less.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Alan... just a heads up. IMO, based on over 15,000 posts to homeowners like the OP here, you are going way overboard for a homeowner that I doubt is going to buy a ppm test kit that is used for steam boiler work, to determine if he has soft water coming out of his softener.

    Many homeowners use a big box or hardware store hardness test kit.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Agreed, that is why I recommend the Hach 5B, it is simple and cheap. You commented on the accuracy of 0 gpg vs 1 gpg, for most test kits, they are the same. Many homeowners think that 1 grain is not "soft", when in reality, it is fine. Even commercially, customers who had test kits would test their water, see purple,(1 GPG) and they would call us to come out for $105. Many test kits will show a half grain as some hardness. It is important to eliminate the idea of perfect softness. As shown on the leakage charts, 5-10 ppm is normal, add to that the hardness that gets removed from the existing plumbing and you could quickly reach 1+ GPG. This is still excellent quality water.

    When using a test kit for softness, the softener should achieve 1 GPG or less, the water inside the house should be very close to that as well depending on the age and condition of the plumbing.

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