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Frequently Asked Questions- Automatic Water Softeners  
   

 


What is hard water?

How does a water softener work?

What size of Softener do I need? -- Water Softener Capacity Calculation in Details

How hard is my water?

What are the benefits of water softening?

What type of salt should be used with your softeners?

Do water softeners add salt to my water supply?

Why do I have to add salt to my water softener?

Is it harmful to mix different kinds of salt in a water softener?

How often should I add salt to a softener?

Do I have to use sodium salt?

Does a water softener have to be designed specifically to accept potassium?

Will a Reverse Osmosis system remove the salt from the softened water?

What is the difference between a "demand" type water softener and one on a timer?

Where should I install my water softener?

Should I have my water softener professionally installed?

What should I look for in a water softener?

Will the water softeners that you offer, pass my local building codes?

Will installing a softener reduce my water pressure?

When will the water softener resin need to be replaced?

How often should I clean the water softener brine tank?


What is hard water?

Hard water is water that contains an appreciative quantity of dissolved minerals (like calcium and magnesium). As water makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals like chalk, lime and high levels of calcium and magnesium. Hard water is to blame for dingy looking clothes, dishes with spots and residue and bathtubs with lots of film and soap scum. Even hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Hard water can take a toll on household appliances as well, using up more energy. The elements of hard water are to blame for all of these negative factors, as soap is less effective due to its reaction to the magnesium and calcium. The lather is not as rich and bubbly.

  • < 1 grain per gallon (GPG) is soft.
  • 1 to 3.5 GPG is slightly hard (water softener generally not required)
  • 3.5 to 7 GPG is moderately hard (would see improvement with water softener)
  • 7 to 10.5 GPG is hard (big improvement, financial payback with water softener)
  • Over 10.5 GPG is very hard (huge improvement, quick payback with water softener)

(1 GPG = 17.1 PPM or Mg/L).

 

How does a water softener work?

A diagram of Salt Based Water Softener There Are 4 Important Steps To Softening:

1. The body of a water softener is a tank filled with resin beads. These beads are covered with sodium ions. As hard water pass through, the resin beads act like a magnet, attracting the calcium and magnesium ions (hardness) in exchange for the sodium ions.

2. Eventually the resin beads become saturated with mineral ions and have to be "re-charged." This process is called regeneration (normally once every 7 days for a better efficiency), and is conducted by the control valve on the top of the tank. The control valve is the brain of the system.

3. During regeneration, a strong brine solution is flushed through the resin tank, bathing the resin beads in a stream of sodium ions which replace the accumulated calcium and magnesium ions (hardness).

4. The brine solution, carrying the displaced calcium and magnesium ions, is then flushed down the drain by fresh water. The regenerated resin beads can be used again and again.

 

What size of softener do I need? -- Water Softener Capacity Calculation in details

Salt- Based Water Softener Selection Guide

Water Hardness
(In Grains
Per Gallon)
Number Of Household Members
1-2
Members
3-4
Members
5-6
Members
7-8
Members
1-10
11-20
21-30

* Salt Based water softener calculation guide = The average family uses 70-75 gallons of water per person per day. For a household of four, you will need to soften about 300 gallons of water daily. For example, if your water hardness is rated 10 grains per gallon, you will need to remove 3000 grains per day (300 gallons x 10 grains). Based on your water softener that regenerates on average every seven days, your minimum softener capacity would be 21000 grains (3000 grains x 7 days).

For the majority of homes, our 30,000 grain unit (1 cubic foot of resin) is more than enough capacity. Ideally, a water softener should be sized so that it does not regenerate more often than 5-7 days, nor goes longer than 14 days before regenerating.(this can cause compacting of resin, and fouling with sediment or iron). 7 days between regenerations is probably best - especially if iron is present. These conditions would create a need for a larger unit: larger family (6 or more) and/or very hard water (over 15 grains).

Use the following formula to calculate the proper size:

1. Multiply the number of people in your family times 75 (gallons of water used per day, national average). Multiply the answer by your water hardness in grains per gallon (to convert mg/l or ppm to grains, divide by 17.1). If iron is present, add 5 grains for every ppm (mg/l) of iron (iron MUST be dissolved iron - it appears clear from the tap but leaves reddish-brown stains).

2. This is your "grains per day" number. Divide this number into each of the softener capacities until you find the best size.

Calculation example: 4 people in home, 10 grains per gallon hardness.

1. 4 people X 75 gpd = 300 total gpd 300 gpd X 10 grains = 3000 grains per day

2. 3000 gpd X 7 days before regenerating = 21,000 grains per day

Select Water Softener with 30,000 Grains Capacity.

 

How hard is my water?

This map provides the different hardness levels in the united states.

Different Hardness Levels in the United States


The map above provides the estimated hardness level in your area, however if you wanted to be 100% sure of your hardness level, please click here and provide your name and address, we will supply you a Total Hardness Test Strip for free.

 

What are the benefits of water softening?

  • Skin and Hair will be softer and smoother with every shower.
  • Redness and Roughness to your skin that is usually caused by hard water is prevented.
  • Clothes are softer, cleaner, brighter, last longer and use less detergent.
  • Removes hard water scale build-up in water heaters, up to 30% less energy consumption.
  • Eliminates hard water spots on the surfaces of glasses, bathtubs, mirrors, tiles, cars, or any plumbing fixtures-make all your cleaning and scrubbing much easier.
  • Extends the life and reduces maintenance of icemakers, coffee machines, dishwashers, water heaters, and laundry equipments.

 

What type of salt should be used with your softeners?

We recommend using Solar salt, which most grocery stores or local hardware stores carry in bulk. Block salt should be avoided. For water softening, three types of salt are generally sold:

  • Rock salt
  • Solar salt
  • Evaporated salt

Rock salt as a mineral occurs naturally in the ground. It is obtained from underground salt deposits by traditional mining methods. It contains between ninety-eight and ninety-nine percent sodium chloride. It has a water insolubility level of about 0.5-1.5%, being mainly calcium sulphate. Its most important component is calcium sulphate. Solar salt as a natural product is obtained mainly through evaporation of seawater. It contains 85% sodium chloride. It has a water insolubility level of less than 0.03%. It is usually sold in crystal form. Sometimes it is also sold in pellets. Evaporated salt is obtained through mining underground salt deposits of dissolving salt. The moisture is then evaporated, using energy from natural gas or coal. Evaporated salt contains between 99.6 and 99.99% sodium chloride.

Rock salt contains a lot of matter that is not water-soluble. As a result, the softening reservoirs have to be cleaned much more regularly when rock salt is used. Rock salt is cheaper than evaporated salt and solar salt, but reservoir cleaning may take up a lot of your time and energy. Solar salt contains a bit more water-insoluble matter than evaporated salt.

When one makes a decision about which salt to use, consideration should be given to how much salt is used, how often the softener needs cleanout, and the softener design. If salt usage is low, the products could be used alternately. If salt usage is high, insoluble salts will build up faster when using solar salt. Additionally, the reservoir will need more frequent cleaning. In that case evaporated salt is recommended.

 

Do water softeners add salt to my water supply?

Yes. Water softeners removes calcium and magnesium from the water then replaces them with sodium(salts).

 

Why do I have to add salt to my water softener?

Salt is consumed in the water softening process and the water softener brine tank must be refilled with salt for regeneration to take place and for your water softener to function properly.

 

Is it harmful to mix different kinds of salt in a water softener?

Mixing evaporated salt with rock salt is not recommended, as this could clog the softening reservoir. It is recommended that you allow your unit to go empty of one type of salt before adding another to avoid the occurrence of any problems.

 

How often should I add salt to a softener?

This depends on how often your water softener regenerates. When the right size softener is used with a large enough capacity, your softener will regenerate less often, therefore replenishing less salt. A good general rule of thumb is to check your softener once a month. To maintain constant soft water, keep your salt level at least half-full at all times, but do not overfill.

 

Do I have to use sodium 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. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet or suffer from hypertension, using potassium chloride will be a great benefit, as you will be adding potassium to your water instead of sodium. The downside is that potassium chloride costs between 3 and 4 times more than the regular softener salt, but well worth the cost when weighing the benefits.

 

Does a water softener have to be designed specifically to accept potassium?

No. Generally, water softeners may accept either salt type; however you will use more potassium chloride than you would sodium chloride. 

 

Will a Reverse Osmosis system remove the salt from the softened water?

Yes. APEC ULTIMATE Reverse Osmosis Systems will remove 99% of the salt from the water.

 

What is the difference between a "demand" type water softener and one on a timer?

The demand-type water softener will only regenerate based on your water usage. The timed-clock water softener will regenerate on a pre-set schedule whether it needs to, or not. This will result in excess salt consumption, excess brine water pumped into your septic tank or sewer system, and over softened water. APEC only sells the demand-type of water softeners.

 

Where should I install my water softener?

It is recommended to install the water softener on the main water line entering your house, preferably in a basement or garage. The softener must not be exposed to freezing temperatures, direct sunlight, or precipitation.

 

Should I have my water softener professionally installed?

YES. While setting the computer controlled valve head is extremely easy, cutting into your main water line with a torch to place the water softener is not something the typical homeowner should do on their own.

 

What should I look for in a water softener?

All softeners, regardless of price, should soften your water. 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?

 

Will the water softeners that you offer, pass my local building codes?

Our water softeners are top quality premium units, however every state and local agency has their own guidelines, many of which ban water softeners outright regardless of quality. Please consult your local building inspector before placing your order.

 

Will installing a softener reduce my water pressure?

You may experience a slight water pressure drop from the water softener. However our water softeners feature 1" ports for the maximum possible water flow and pressure.

 

When will the water softener resin need to be replaced?

The resin life depends on a few factors, amount of chlorine, quality of resin, and number of regenerations. The average life of resin should be 7-15 years. If the chlorine is removed prior to the water softener with a carbon pre-filter, the resin can last up to 25 years.

 

How often should I clean the water softener brine tank?

It is not necessary to clean out a brine tank, unless the salt product being used is high in water-insoluble matter, or there is a serious malfunction of some sort. If there is a build-up of insoluble matter in the resin, the reservoir should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction.

 

         
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