Water softeners are devices for removing small amounts of calcium and magnesium ions from the water. These ions can inhibit the proper functioning of household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc. Thus, to protect these appliances, a water softener is needed to remove these minerals. Sizing a water softener is one of the most important steps of the installation process. The proper size will not only prevent system failures but will also increase the longevity, efficiency, and durability of your water softener.
How to Size a Water Softener
The following is a list of general rules that should be followed when sizing a water softener.
1. First, you should determine where you want to install your water softener. While most units can be installed in basements and crawl spaces and on the main floor, you can install certain types of plumbing and piping only in specific locations.
2. Size the softener according to the existing water usage. This may seem like an obvious rule, but most softener companies often neglect it. A common mistake is to size a slightly larger unit than necessary for a given water flow rate.
3. Measure the existing hardness of the water supply prior to the installation of a new softener. The hardness can be measured by using a test kit from most hardware stores or pool supply stores
4. Next, subtract the source water’s hardness from the total hardness of the end-use water. The result is the hardness increase that a water softener should be able to remove.
5. Determine how often you want your softener regenerated. Because of the different types of materials used in a variety of water systems and variations in regeneration schedules due to climate and usage, it is difficult to provide a single regeneration time that works best for everyone.
6. Determine the softener capacity based on your total hardness increase, regeneration schedule, and actual usage. The amount of calcium or magnesium removed should be sufficient to prevent solid build-up in the softener tank and built-up deposits in water pipes but not cause problems with your appliances.
Factors That Should Be Considered While Buying a Water Softener
1. Water quality is the most critical factor in choosing a water softener. Hard water is more corrosive and can cause severe damage to plumbing. Abnormal hardness (highest hardness reading on the meter) can damage plumbing components such as shutoff valves, plastic piping, and fittings.
2. Water efficiency is the second most critical factor in choosing a water softener. To prevent overuse, water conservation is essential. A good rule of thumb is to use a water softener that removes less than 200 ppm of the total hardness of the water.
3. Finally, if you install a water softener for the first time, it will take up to 60 to 90 days for all of the minerals removed from the water by the softener to be regenerated in your pipes.
On average, you should regenerate your softener once every four months.
Importance of Water Softeners
Water softeners are used primarily to protect and extend the lifetime of household appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, and clothes washers. They are also used to prevent the buildup of scale and corrosion on steel water pipes. Moreover, water softeners are used to soften the water for medical purposes. For example, patients who use dialysis machines require softer water to prevent joint problems and other health conditions.
Water softeners are essential for the proper function of your household appliances and conserving water. A properly sized water softener will not only protect your appliances but also preserve water efficiency and maximize the longevity and reliability of the unit. Also, it will keep your home safe from damaged pipes and a decreased life expectancy. For more information on water softeners or any other plumbing devices, you may need for your home, contact a plumber in your area.