When shopping for a whole house water softener, customers are often confronted with odd sizing charts listing grain capacities and hardness levels. The average home owner new to water softeners probably doesn't know what these mean, so we've provided a break down to help you size your system to accommodate your home and family best.
A. Simply put, hard water is the composition of calcium and magnesium minerals in your water. Most notably hard water will result in scale and spotting on water fixtures, appliances, and other places that water may hit such as shower doors, windows, house siding, and concrete walkways. Hard water can also cause build up on skin and hair which may feel like soaps and shampoos don't work as well. Having hard water isn't a health hazard, and likewise, having hard water calcium and magnesium minerals in your water doesn't contribute to good health (you should be getting your essential minerals from food, not water!).
Q. What does a water softener grain capacity mean?
A. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). Some places will use parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L) to measure hardness as well. To convert your ppm or mg/L to gpg simply divide by 17.1 (i.e. 400ppm or mg/L is equal to 400 / 17.1 = 23.3gpg). The grain capacity of a system is how many grains of hardness your system can remove before it needs regenerated (cleaning). A 48,000 or 48k water softener will remove 48,000 grains of water hardness. From that you can determine how many gallons of water you can go through between regenerations. If you have a 48k softener and your water hardness is 23gpg, you can go through 48,000/23 = 2,086 gallons of water before your softener is exhausted and needs regenerated.
Q. What size water softener should I use?
A. There are 2 main factors in determining the size you need: water usage and water hardness. Here is a general guideline on sizing your system:
- 32k system - 1-2 people, average water use and low hardness (under 15gpg)
- 48k system - 3-5 people with average water use or moderate hardness (15-45gpg)
- 64k system - 5-7 people with average water use or high hardness (45-65gpg)
Always size a system based on water usage first, a system undersized for your water usage may not always filter effectively and will wear out faster. Note: well water iron and manganese can also impact the grain capacity. For those who are just unsure of how to best size their softener, don't hesitate to contact a RainDance rep who will help walk you through the process and match you with the best water softener for your family. Email: Consultant@RainDanceH2OStore.com