Affordable Water Treatments of Manitoba

Where to focus when Sizing a Water Softener

Learning all about water softener theory is great, but you have a mission to complete – to buy a water softener! By combining a couple of key factors you can arrive at the perfect softener size for your home and water conditions:


Buy a water softener that uses a minimal amount

 of salt, to generate a maximum amount of

 capacity, and purchase a softener that can handle the

 flow rate that your home needs.


 Don’t worry as much about how many people live in your home, or how much water you use. And even your water hardness level is of less importance than these two key factors.
You have to ask yourself is it more important to own a softener that will regenerate once per week? Or do you want a water softener that will always provide softened water to your home, and when it does regenerate, will do so by using a minimum amount of salt to achieve maximum softening capacity? The answer seems pretty obvious.

A Word About Iron

The only wildcard in all of this sizing is your water iron content. If you’re on a city water supply it’s not something you need to think about, but if you’re on a rural water supply with substantial iron concentrations, your approach will need to be modified. For iron levels between zero and 1.5 a softener can pretty well remove it as long as it is not ferric iron. For levels higher than that you should look at putting in a dedicated Iron Filter.
 Your softener will take out the iron for a short period of time, but will become saturated with iron, and then the iron will start to come through and most of the time you begin to notice iron staining. The other problem is your softener will not take the calcium/magnesium out of the water as required. When this happens you have to refurbish the water softener to get it back on track. Removing small amounts of iron with a softener can certainly be accomplished, but there are some very important things to keep in mind.

A softener will only remove ‘clear water iron’ (aka ferrous iron). If your water runs orange/brown directly from a running faucet (ferric iron) the softener won’t be able to remove it. 

For every 1 ppm of iron the softener needs to remove, there needs to be 5 grains of hardness added to the hardness setting on the softener valve.

The removal of iron with a softener is dependent on many factors including pH, water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration and others. Softeners will almost always remove 1.5 ppm of iron, but beyond that you might want to do deal with iron differently.

The Myth Of The Once-Per-Week Softener Regeneration

Choosing the size of your softener so that it regenerates once per week, is like buying a car that has a really big gas tank. A gas tank so large that despite your car’s crummy fuel efficiency you still only have to fill the tank once a week. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Wouldn’t focusing on the efficiency of the car, even if it had a much smaller gas tank, be a better way to buy?
So why are water softeners sold using the familiar “once per week regeneration” mantra? It’s made to seem as if the primary goal in choosing the right-sized softener is to go seven days between regenerations. It’s an outdated concept that likely has its origins in the early days of water softener technology:

The first water softeners required the owner to

 manually move a handle to take the softener

 through its regeneration stages. This was time

consuming, and the operator had to remember to

 do it. Once-per-week was likely adopted because

 it was easy to remember, and was an acceptable

 time commitment for the user.

When automation was introduced to softeners, it came in the way of a timer mechanism that would automatically take the softener through a regeneration based on a schedule. The once-per-week regeneration concept was inherited by these softeners from the previous generation. The second and current technology advance was the introduction of softeners that regenerate based on measured water use (aka ‘metered’ or ‘on-demand’ softeners).