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

Users who are viewing this thread

swandog

New Member
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Minnesota
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
 

DonL

Jack of all trades Master of one
Messages
5,205
Reaction score
69
Points
48
Location
Houston, TX
It may take some time for the soft water to feel good.

Give it a chance then you can measure it.
 

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
6,042
Reaction score
439
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
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.
 

Rjh2o

Member
Messages
80
Reaction score
1
Points
8
Location
Michigan
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
 

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
6,042
Reaction score
439
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
Many softeners that are programmed for 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/CustomizedControls/Products/Resources/rid_62.pdf This is a common resin used by many manufacturers for standard water softening.

Just found this so I edited the post.

leakage1.jpg
 
Last edited:

swandog

New Member
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Minnesota
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
 

Gary Slusser

That's all folks!
Messages
6,921
Reaction score
21
Points
38
Location
Wherever I park the motorhome.
Website
www.qualitywaterassociates.com
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.
 

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
6,042
Reaction score
439
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
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.
 

Gary Slusser

That's all folks!
Messages
6,921
Reaction score
21
Points
38
Location
Wherever I park the motorhome.
Website
www.qualitywaterassociates.com
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.
 

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
6,042
Reaction score
439
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
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.
 

Mokojojo

New Member
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Arizona
Since the OP has not responded I was wondering if I can piggy back off of this topic. We just bought a new house with water softener. I bought the kit as suggested by some of the member here, ran the test and it was 14-15 GPG, I made the adjustment on my water softener and waited for about a week of normal usage (shower, laundry, etc...). I ran the test a week later and I'm still getting the same 14-15 GPG. Might I be doing something wrong? Should I clear out the brine tank with iron out? The house is roughly 20 years old, the previous owner have had the water softener (but I don't know for how long, the water softener looked rather old though).

My next step is to use iron out to clean the brine tank. Any recommendation should be appreciated!

Just to add a bit more info I forgot to mention. Before I made the change to 14 GPG, I think it was at 25 GPG for quite a few days (that was the test that also produced 14 GPG). Thanks.
 
Last edited:

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
36,605
Reaction score
3,892
Points
113
Location
IL
Well water or city? If city, the chlorine/chloramine may have deteriorated the resin.

A cabinet type softener is usually just replaced rather than changing out the resin, but you could change the resin.

On the other hand, if it is a well, and you have rust stains in the toilet tank, the iron out may be quite productive. What were you wondering about? Which Iron Out product to use, what technique to use, or what?

Tell us more.
 

Mokojojo

New Member
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Arizona
Well water or city? If city, the chlorine/chloramine may have deteriorated the resin.

A cabinet type softener is usually just replaced rather than changing out the resin, but you could change the resin.

On the other hand, if it is a well, and you have rust stains in the toilet tank, the iron out may be quite productive. What were you wondering about? Which Iron Out product to use, what technique to use, or what?

Tell us more.

Thanks for getting back. It’s city water for sure. I guess I’m just trying to get it down to < 1 GPG. Based on the test I don’t think my water softener is working as expected. I watched some Yoruba video on cleaning out resin with iron out. So I guess I’m just looking for a new recommendation on what to do to make the system work or even determine if it’s simply too old and I might just need to reply it?
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
36,605
Reaction score
3,892
Points
113
Location
IL
Thanks for getting back. It’s city water for sure. I guess I’m just trying to get it down to < 1 GPG. Based on the test I don’t think my water softener is working as expected. I watched some Yoruba video on cleaning out resin with iron out. So I guess I’m just looking for a new recommendation on what to do to make the system work or even determine if it’s simply too old and I might just need to reply it?
With city water, you don't have much iron. So Iron Out is unlikely to be the solution for you.
 

Mokojojo

New Member
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Arizona
With city water, you don't have much iron. So Iron Out is unlikely to be the solution for you.

Got it. Is there something else I could try to get the water softener to work? Or tell if it’s just bad? Thanks.
 

Mokojojo

New Member
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Arizona
What is it? A cabinet type softener, or what?

It appears to be one of those all in one? The tank is inside the unit. It’s an older Kenmoore model. I’ll try to locate the manual left by the previous owner. Thanks.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
36,605
Reaction score
3,892
Points
113
Location
IL
It appears to be one of those all in one? The tank is inside the unit. It’s an older Kenmoore model. I’ll try to locate the manual left by the previous owner. Thanks.
Usually it would be a good idea to replace that. If you have the room, a softener with a separate brine tank is preferable. If not, you can get a new cabinet unit. I am not a pro.
 

Old

Member
Messages
113
Reaction score
18
Points
18
Location
NE
Do you have a salt bridge? Very common on cabinet units. Shove a broom handle down in the salt, make sure there is not a big cavity under the top layer of salt. Are you using pellet salt? Pellet salt can turn into rock hard sludge at the bottom of the tank. When the sludge builds up water does not readily dissolve the salt, this can make the softener not get enough salt to fully regenerate the resin.

Its probably due for replacement at this point but I would check the resin level. Turn off the lights in the room and shine a bright flashlight in the mineral tank (the tan cylinder inside the salt tank). You should be able to see the resin level inside the tank. The normal resin level on those is pretty high, usually just a few inches from the top of the tank. If you can't see any resin or the level is low in the mineral tank then the resin has gone bad, broken up, and been flushed out. If you do see normal resin level the next thing I would do is remove the lid from the brine well (the small vertical tube in the salt tank) and look at the water level. With that system there should only be a very small amount of water at the bottom of the tank (1-2”). If the water level is higher (likely up to the safety float bobber) that indicates the system is not drawing brine. If it does not draw brine it will not soften the water. There are a few things that would cause this problem, report back if the tank is full of water and I can help further with a solution.
If you only see a small amount of water at the bottom of the tank then the next thing I would do is perform a manual regeneration. The first thing that unit will do is fill the brine tank with water. Remove the lid from the brine well and look down to the bottom. You should see/hear water filling in the bottom of the tube. If it is not filling the tank with water the unit can't make brine and the water won't be soft. If there is not water filling the tank the brine line flow control is probably clogged. Another common problem with your softener. If this is the case report back and I can tell you how to fix.

If there is no salt bridge, no hardened pellet sludge, good resin level, not too much water in the brine tank, and it fills the tank with water during the first regen cycle then let it complete it's full regen cycle (3ish hours on those I think). After the regen cycle is done run some cold water for a few minutes then test the water. It should test soft. If it still tests hard it probably blew the valve to distributor o-ring out. Usually this happens when the resin goes bad. If this is the case just replace the unit
 

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
6,042
Reaction score
439
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
Older Kenmore system, likely best to consider budgeting to replace it. Most of these units were simply considered disposable.
 
Top
Hey, wait a minute.

This is awkward, but...

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. We get it, but (1) terrylove.com can't live without ads, and (2) ad blockers can cause issues with videos and comments. If you'd like to support the site, please allow ads.

If any particular ad is your REASON for blocking ads, please let us know. We might be able to do something about it. Thanks.
I've Disabled AdBlock    No Thanks