How to Adjust Your Water Softener Hardness Setting

Install a water softener in your home to help alleviate common water hardness issues that many people in the US deal with. If your water is too hard, your skin, dishes, appliances, and everything else will show it. By softening your water, you can prevent these problems and so much more.

Softening the water requires that your softening system be set correctly, and not all systems are the same. In this guide, I’ll be sharing the factors that affect your water softener’s hardness setting and what you should set your hardness setting to.

What Factors Affect a Water Softener Hardness Setting?

There are three key factors that determine how to set your water softener’s hardness setting: the grains of hardness in your water, the presence of iron in your water, and the age of your water softener.

Water Hardness

It’s important to know your water hardness before programming a water softener. The more grains of hardness your water contains, the harder your water softener will have to work. It’s crucial that your system is designed to handle the hardness your water supply contains.

This will ensure that the resin can remove all of the calcium and magnesium present in your water. If the water that runs through your home is too hard or soft, it may not be able to effectively treat water.

Hardness Grains per Gallon (GPG) Parts per Million (PPM) & mg/L
Soft <1 0 – 17
Slightly Hard 1.5 – 5 17 – 60
Moderately Hard 3.5 – 7 60 – 120
Hard 7 – 10 120 – 180
Very Hard >10 >180

If Iron is Present

Many water softeners are also capable of removing dissolved iron from your water, and most of them will do so without any special programming. But it’s important to know that not all water softeners can handle dissolved iron as well as others.

Iron testing kits are affordable, easy to use, and they provide quick results. They are a good addition to any aquarium and can make sure that the water is clean enough for your fish. If you want to see how much iron your water contains, there are two ways to do it. The first is to use a test kit that will tell you how much iron your water has. The other is to take the water sample to a lab for testing.

You need to add 2 PPM of iron to increase your hardness number. Programming a high hardness number into your water softener means that it should be able to handle dissolved iron. If it has the capacity for it, then it’s likely okay.

Be aware that it’s important to test your water before buying a water filter, so you know exactly how effective it will be. Don’t buy a water filter unless you have tested your water and know it is clean or needs treatment. If you have a big iron problem, I recommend that you purchase an additional iron removal system.

Age of the Softener

Older water softeners may need to be set higher than newer models. You can take advantage of the fact that sodium ions are held on by the resin to lower your tap water’s hardness, which will result in fewer clogs.

This resin absorbs the hardness minerals in the water and then releases the softened water to your tap. It’s a great way to soften the water in your home and help maintain your water’s natural properties. A new water resin is at its peak in terms of its performance, efficiency, and longevity.

The resin can hold onto hardness ions and operate until its maximum capacity. As the resin ages, it loses its ability to hold onto these ions, and this may affect its ability to soften your water. This means that you’ll need to increase the hardness setting of your water softener. The best way to check if the resin has lost its performance is to check whether it will be able to remove all the hard water minerals from your water.

How Can I Find Out My Water Hardness Level?

There are several ways you can figure out how hard your water is. Try the soap test. Mix one cup of hot water with one-half cup of liquid dish soap in a plastic water bottle and see what happens to the soap and water. Close the lid and shake the bottle. If, after shaking, there are bubbles in the water, your water is relatively soft.

Hard water requires minerals such as calcium and magnesium. If you see that there are no bubbles and a milky layer of water forms on the surface, your water is hard. An at-home hardness test can tell you how hard your water is by measuring the number of grains per gallon.

This is the type of test that uses test strips, which you can dip into a water sample. These strips tell you what your skin’s current hardness is, so you know which type of lactic acid cream is best for your skin. An Accurate method for determining the expiration date is through a certified laboratory.

Your water hardness, which is measured in grains per gallon and parts per million (PPM) or milligrams per liter (mg/l), may be the reason your pond isn’t providing your fish with the minerals they need.

What Level Should My Water Softener Hardness Setting Be Set To?

If your water contains no dissolved iron, you just need the hardness rating of the water – plus a hardness buffer, if the water has been through a softening system – to determine the right setting for the softener.

The following chart explains how you might set your water softener based on your water hardness, the iron content of your water, and the age of your water softener.

Water Hardness (GPG) Iron (PPM) Buffer for Iron System Age Buffer for Age Hardness Setting
5 .5 2 < 10 years 0 7
5 1.0 4 > 10 years 1 10
5 1.5 6 < 10 years 0 11
5 2 8 > 10 years 1 14
10 1.0 4 < 10 years 0 14
10 1.5 6 > 10 years 2 18
10 2 8 < 10 years 0 18
10 2.5 10 > 10 years 2 22
20 .5 2 < 10 years 0 22
20 1.5 6 < 10 years 0 26
20 2.0 8 > 10 years 4 32
20 2.5 10 > 10 years 4 34


What Can Happen If My Water Softener Is Not Set Correctly?

Whether your water softener isn’t set up correctly, you may experience one of two issues:

If your water has a high hardness level, then it means your water is not hard enough for your softener to regenerate effectively. The result? The softener regenerates too frequently and can actually damage your water softener.

Salt can make you look older. It’s because of this that you’ll go through salt at a faster rate, and end up spending more money on maintenance than you need to. You can fix this problem by raising your softener’s water hardness level. You’ll end up spending more money than you need to on shampoo and cleaning products.

Can water hardness change?

When it comes to changing the hardness of water, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, it’s usually a gradual change rather than a sudden one, and not necessarily a rise or fall.

Whether your water hardness changes at all, and to what level, depends on where you live. Construction work in your area might cause a change in your water hardness, and if that’s the case, it’s smart to test your water every year or so and adjust your softener based on any changes you find.

Is hardness measured in grains per gallon or parts per million?

In a lot of areas of the country, especially rural areas, the soil is poor because of heavy rainfall. This causes the water to remain in the soil for a long time and creates hard water. 1 PPM is equal to 1 out of 10,000 in terms of hardness of the drinking water, which makes sense since it contains one part of hardness per million parts of water.

If you have ppm or mg/L, both are equal measurements. So, if you have 5 ppm, it’s equal to 5 mg/L.

How do I know if my water softener setting is right?

If you have a water softener, it’s best to test your water hardness to make sure it’s working properly. Use a home water quality kit that measures for hard water. Your water softener should indicate when it’s safe to turn the softener back on after you’ve removed the dirty tank.

However, water softeners are complicated systems, and there are many reasons why you may not be getting softened water from your unit. It’s important to check that your softener is performing as it should be. Check potential problems as they arise.

Is it possible for water softeners to lose their programmed hardness setting?

You’re right. Water softeners are sensitive to a power outage or power surge. You should have your system inspected by a professional before the problem gets worse. Even a brief power interruption can make the unit lose its settings.

As with any other piece of equipment or machinery, I’d recommend making a note of your hardiness settings and checking it from time to time to make sure that it’s still working to your requirements. It’s important to set your alarm clock, especially if you have a big project due, and want to keep yourself from getting lost in sleep.

Your pre-programmed settings may be reset by mistake, or they might be lost entirely. In either case, your system might not soften the water enough to use in your home.

Why is it so important to make sure my water softener is programmed correctly?

Hard water is not hazardous. Nothing bad happens when your water softener’s settings are off. But you’ve invested in this kind of water treatment, so it only makes sense that you should want it to work.

If your water softener isn’t operating correctly, you’ll end up using more salt per regeneration, and you won’t always have access to soft water on a day-to-day basis. Knowing how to program your water softener will make it more effective, and let you know when it’s time to replace it.

What if my water softener is using an excessive amount of salt?

Your water is becoming too hard, so much that your salt is running off the table. There could be other reasons, too, such as the brine tank float not being set correctly. To check that the float is not too far up in the brine tank, so that too much water and salt will be dissolved, simply fill the brine tank half full

A lot of people use too much salt in their water softener because they use too much water in their house. Your food waste is a big part of the problem. You must cut back on using the food you have to throw away.

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