Water Softener Hardness Setting – What should I set it at? SEE HERE!

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The correct water softener hardness setting should be your current hardness level of water plus 4 for every part per million of dissolved iron in your water.

But, what should my water softener hardness be set at? Set to the amount of hardness in your current water + 4 for every part per million of dissolved iron in your water.

As for older water softener models, you may need to set your hardness a bit higher as the resin becomes less efficient.

It doesn’t matter if you use whirlpool or GE water softener, this formula should work for it. It’s the
best setting for water hardness.

Here is a quick water softener hardness calculator:

Water Softener Hardness Setting

Under the correct conditions, a brand new water softener will need to be set to the real hardness of your water softener will do the rest. However, not every water is the same and not all situations are the same so there can be times where your water softener hardness setting will need to be set to an amount other than your present water hardness.

Your water softener needs to know the hardness of your water and a few other things!

It doesn’t matter if you use whirlpool or GE water softener, this formula should work for it. It’s the
best setting for water hardness.

What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

Remember, your water softener hardness setting should be set to the hardness of your water. For maximum maintenance of soft water for your home, you should know how much hardness is in your water.

ALSO SEE: How To Remove Water Hardness From Pool

What Does the Hardness Setting on My Water Softener Mean?

The hardness number setting on your water softener helps electric water softeners calculate how often the water softener will have to regenerate, control salt dosage and will help the overall performance of your unit.

Some cheaper water softeners might require you to manually alter the salt dosage depending on your current water situation. This salt dosage is pretty much easy to set for yourself.

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You can use the user manual to check for how to set the salt dosage on your water softener.

On a non-electric water softener, setting the hardness is a bit more difficult.

A non-electric water softener lacks the use of a computer to keep track of when it needs to regenerate, so it will have to rely on a mechanical disc to know when it needs to regenerate.

Having a metering disc helps you to never have to change the setting providing that your water situation never changes.

However, municipal or water can change over a long period of time, and there may be a time where the meter disc in your basic water softener will fail to regenerate your water softener often enough to provide you with soft water, or it may regenerate more often than required, wasting both salt and water.

If your water situation changes, you will need to have a water softener professional change the meter disc, this is not common, but if your water source changes, so can your water hardness.

When Can I set the Hardness on My Water Softener?

If your goal is to install a new water softener yourself, then you should use a water hardness test kit to measure your present level of hardness in your water and program the hardness number into your water softener.

Although plenty of digital water softeners use battery inside of them to keep your programmed settings, eventually the batter loses its efficiency and you may need to re-enter the hardness level of your water again if there is a power outage, you may need to unplug your water softener, or if your water hardness changes.

Setting a water hardness on a digital water softener is typically quite easy but it varies from water softener to water softener.

Quickly check the owner’s manual for detailed instructions on how to set the hardness on your present water softener hardness.

However, You will need to adjust your hardness setting if there is iron in your water.

A water softener does a great job at removing iron and making your water safe for drinking.

In case, you have not used your water hardness. You should test for iron too using an iron test kit is very simple to use and will give you a result very quickly.

Once you now know your Iron level, you can add 4 to your hardness number for every 1 PPM (Part Per Million) of iron in your water.

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So, a

  • 1 PPM of iron would need 4 hardness number
  • For 5 PPM of iron add 6 to your hardness number, and so on.

By compensating the water hardness level, you too can program your water softener by removing dissolved iron from your water providing the best capacity to do it.

But watch out for too much dissolved iron in your water. Too much of it might affect your system.

The hardness on an older water softener may need to be set a little higher than on a new one.

A resin in a water softener helps in the process of hard ions removal from your water. Without properly functioning water softener resin, a water softener is basically just a big tank that your water flow through.

New water softener resin appears like a tiny smooth bread to the naked eye, but using a microscopic level it would look like a ball of yarn boasting of many crevasses around it that capture the hard ions from your water.

As the water softener ages over time, these crevasses get less efficient and becomes less efficient at holding hard ions.

Your water softener will still be able to get rid of water hardness, just not as great as it used to.

A less effective resin means an increase in hardness setting on your water softener to more thoroughly regenerate the resin so it can remove the unsafe minerals in the water as at when it was new.

You should imagine this as an old sponge that doesn’t soak up as much water as it used to need to be rung out more thoroughly to soak up the same amount of water as a new sponge.

When Do I Need to Check If My Water Softener Hardness Is Still Correct?

You should check if your water softener hardness is still correct or not when:

  • You move to a new area
  • A new construction site is set miles away from your home.
  • You use well water
  • Use pool chemicals
  • Power outages
  • Use a new pool generator
  • Your water softener loses its programming.

All good and great but we still recommend testing your water hardness about once per year just to make sure that there has not been any change in your water hardness that would require changing the hardness setting on your water softener.

By using a simple water hardness test kit, you become aware of any change your water hardness has encountered and you can make adjustments to your water softener hardness settings if needed.

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How Do I Know What My Water Hardness Is?

You can test your water hardness by using:

  • A water hardness test kit or
  • Hire a professional water treatment company to do so for you.

Check out this quick video on how to test your water hardness.

Can I test if there is iron in my water?

Yes, you can test iron in your water using:

  • A cheap Iron test kit
  • Taking a sample of your water to a laboratory to see how much Iron is in it.

Either one of these will provide you with accurate reading of your iron level in your water in just a few minutes so you can compensate your hardness setting on your water softener to remove the iron in your water.

What you should set your water softener hardness at based on your water hardness with a few variables.

Here are a few examples of how to calculate what your water softener hardness should be set at.

In a case where you do not have any dissolved iron in your water, you should simply use your water hardness and the hardness buffer of 20% of your water hardness based on your water softener’s age.

Not all water softeners will need to be set higher just because they are more than 10 years old, but water softener resin does lose its efficiency as it gets older so the small buffer adjustment may be necessary.

Remember, we are adding 4 to our hardness setting for every 1 part per million of iron in your water.

To Sum Up!

A new water softener resin is usually in top notch performance. So, you may only need to set the hardness at the exact hardness contained in your water.

As a water softener ages over time, its resin becomes less efficient so you may need to set the hardness setting a bit higher than the actual hardness.

You should add 3 to your hardness setting for every 1 PPM (Part Per Million) of dissolved Iron in your water when your water softener is new or if your hardness is low (I’m talking less than 10 Grains Per Gallon).

You can add 4 to your hardness setting for every 1 PPM (Part Per Million) of dissolved iron in your water if your water is very hard or if your water softener is older than 10 years old.

Author: Howard S. Baldwin

My name is Howard S. Baldwin. I am a work-at-home dad to three lovely girls, Jane + Hannah + Beauty. I have been blogging for the last 3 years. I worked for other Home and Lifetsyle blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to DIY life and homemaking.

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