If you live in an area with hard water, installing a water softener is one of the best investments you can make for your home. Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions that can lead to scale buildup on fixtures and appliances, reducing their lifespan. Hard water also makes it difficult to lather soap and shampoo properly. The solution is to "soften" your water by removing these mineral ions through a process called ion exchange.
But how do you know what size water softener you need? Choosing the right water softener capacity or "grain capacity" for your household is important to ensure optimal performance. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you determine the ideal water softener size for your home.
Calculate Your Daily Water Usage
The first step is to estimate your household's daily water usage, as the softener capacity will need to handle the entire volume of water used daily. Take into account all water uses including:
Showers, faucets, toilets - number of people in the home and average daily usage
Laundry - loads per week
Dishwasher - loads per week
Irrigation system (if applicable) - gallons used for watering lawn/garden
To determine gallons used, review your water bill for average daily usage. Or install a water meter on your main supply line for a week to measure actual usage.
As a general guideline, the average household uses 50-80 gallons of water per person per day.
Determine Your Water's Hardness Level
The hardness level of your water, measured in grains per gallon (gpg), determines how much calcium and magnesium needs to be removed. Hardness levels range from 1 to 50+ gpg.
To find out your water hardness:
Check your last water quality report from your local water company
Use a water hardness test kit
AquaLux Water Softener offers free water testing to assess hardness - click here to schedule
Higher hardness levels require a larger softener size and more frequent salt regenerations. For reference:
0-3 gpg is considered soft water
3-6 gpg is moderately hard
6-9 gpg is hard
Over 9 gpg is very hard
Calculate Softener Capacity Needed
Once you know your household’s daily water use and the hardness level, you can determine the minimum grain capacity required using this formula:
Grains of hardness to be removed daily = Water used daily (gallons) x Water hardness level (gpg)
4 people in the home using 300 gallons per day
Hardness level of 20 gpg
Daily grains to be removed: 300 gallons x 20 gpg = 6,000 grains
Therefore, this household needs a softener with at least a 6,000 grain capacity to adequately treat their entire water supply.
Larger households or those with extremely hard water may need an even higher capacity 80,000 or 100,000 grain system. Our water treatment experts can help determine the ideal softener.
Size the Salt Brine Tank
Along with grain capacity, the size of the brine tank that holds the salt pellets or crystals is another key consideration. The brine tank should be large enough to hold at least 1-2 weeks supply of salt.
As a general guideline for sizing:
10,000 grain capacity softener - 250 lb salt tank
20,000 grain capacity - 350 lb salt tank
30,000+ grain capacity - 500+ lb salt tank
The amount of salt used per regeneration depends on:
Water hardness - the harder the water, the more salt needed
Water usage - higher water use means more frequent regenerations
For moderately hard water (10 gpg), expect to use 10-15 lbs of salt per regeneration for a 20,000 grain softener. At this rate, a 350 lb salt tank provides 1 month supply for average households before needing to refill.
Choose the Right Softener System
Once you've determined the right capacity and tank size, it's time to select the right system. Aqua-Wise offers a full range of water softeners to meet any household's needs:
AquaLux - Highly efficient and fully adjustable metered softeners
AquaSmart - Value line softeners with user-friendly controls
Fleck - Custom softeners built on industry-leading Fleck valves
Our water treatment specialists can help you select the ideal system based on your water quality, household size, and budget. All our systems use high capacity resin media that can remove up to 30,000 grains of hardness per lb of resin for maximum efficiency.
Professional Installation Available
Proper installation is key to ensuring your water softener performs as expected. Aqua-Wise offers full-service installation of water softeners throughout the Tampa Bay area. Our certified technicians will handle all aspects of the installation including:
Bypass valve setup for easy maintenance
Adjusting settings based on your household parameters
Programming the system controller
Ensuring correct brine draw and backwash cycles
Providing a full operational tutorial for homeowners
We also offer expert maintenance, parts, and service for optimal softener performance. Contact us today to learn more about our water softener installation and support services.
Soften Water for Better Living
Installing the right sized water softener provides wide-ranging benefits including:
Smoother, softer skin and hair
Cleaner laundry without detergent buildup
Sparkling dishes without spots
Scale-free fixtures and appliances
Safer water for drinking and cooking
Longer system lifespan for water heaters, pipes, and more
We also offer other water treatment solutions including reverse osmosis drinking water systems, whole house filters, iron & sulfur removal, and commercial treatment. Learn more at www.aqua-wise.com.