In my day-to-day interaction with customers here at Affordable Water Treatments, the questions and concerns people have when purchasing a new water softener/filter become pretty commonplace in the conversations I have daily. As a service provider in water treatment/purification, I have heard the same questions time and time again so I decided to write an article and try to cover a few things people have continuously asked me over the years.

couple chatting

Not only is it difficult putting your trust in a service provider you do not know, but now couple that with the fact you don’t truly understand the product as most people I talk to. Purchasing a water softener is not as simple as just walking in and pulling one off the shelf, in other words, one size does not fit all. What are the different options? How do I know what’s best for my situation? Am I getting good value? These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this article.


Water Softener Capacity

What is water softener capacity you ask? Hardness, which is measured in grains per gallon, has to be trapped in your softener bed by the softener resin so you can have soft water. The two minerals that your softener removes are calcium & magnesium. Your softener only has so much resin in the media bed, and when it is full it has to regenerate itself to renew the filter for the next cycle. The amount of hardness that can be held in your resin bed is called the “Water Softener Capacity”.

Water softener cutout

Understanding Softener Capacity

As I mentioned previously, water hardness is measured in grains. Instead of saying that a water softener is small or big, they classify a softener in terms of “Grains Capacity”.

What is a grain as defined by the Water Treatment Industry? First of all, a grain is a measurement of weight. When comparing the weight of a grain it would be roughly 65mg, about the same as a grain of barley or wheat. The weight of the calcium & magnesium that the resin bed can remove is known as the “Softener Capacity”.  

In Manitoba, if you go looking for a softener you will find the following sizes, 30,000, 40,000, 45,000, 50,000, and 60,000, that are usually recommended for household use depending on the hardness of your water.

What do these numbers mean? When the resin is sold to the manufacturers it comes in bags that hold 1 cubic foot of resin. In the case of a 30,000 softener, it has I cubic feet of resin or one bag. One cubic foot of resin will take out 30,000 grains of hardness. To know how big of a softener you need, you have to know your hardness, and roughly how much water your family uses in a day. Most softeners are sized to have to regenerate every 3 to 5 days. It is important to have the properly sized softener installed so that your house is properly protected, and your salt usage is kept to a minimum.

Softeners are set to regenerate at 2 am unless the homeowner requests it to be changed. As a result of this, softeners are only set to use 80% of their full capacity that way you have 20% left over should you run out of water before the scheduled time of regeneration. Other factors that can affect a water softener’s Capacity are iron and manganese which may also be in your well water. Check out that article here.    

Water Softener Service Flow Rate

When you think about the SFR (softener flow rate) of a softener, it is important to understand that the water must be in contact with the softener media long enough for it to extract the hardness out of the water. If you run the water too quickly through the softener, it has no chance of softening your water, and it is therefore extremely important to size your softener properly as any other filter you install in your home. The water softener flow rate is defined as the amount of water you can run through a softener per minute and still have softened water at the end of the process. This is why the size of your family, the size of your home, and what appliances you have installed that consume water are all factored in when sizing a water softener.

Softener Flow Rates Are Often Misunderstood

In the water treatment industry manufacturers are always trying to outdo each other in building the biggest and most efficient control valve possible. The control valve is the piece that sits on top of the softener resin tank. When the water treatment service provider is telling a customer about how much water flow that can go through the softener they very often fail to mention that the SFR of a softener is based on the amount of resin that the softener has, not the capacity of the control valve. The control valve may have a maximum flow rate of 12 to 20 gallons, however, the softener may only be able to handle half that amount or less. The people that are sold a water softener based on the maximum flow rate of the control valve, find that their water is not being softened as it should. This is the point of acquiring a softener, to have soft water to protect your home.

Control Valve

Control Valve

How Do We Determined the SFR

Remember back at the beginning of this article I told you that softener resin is measured in cubic feet, and one cubic foot would hold about 30,000 grains of hardness. It is generally understood in our industry that if the water hardness is about 30 or below you can expect an SFR of 5 gallons a minute through a softener of this size. We have made a chart that is posted with this article to give you an idea of how much resin you will need, depending on how many gallons of water per minute (GPM)  your home is using. You can be a little off in your sizing, or your hardness may be more than 30, but as long as your water is below 3 hard (3 parts per million) you are still considered to have soft water. 

SFR Chart

SFR Chart

For a free estimate call Affordable Water at 204 333-9250

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