Water Softener Hardness Level be Set at

What should my Water Softener Hardness Level be Set at?

Still trying to answer the question, “what hardness level should you set your water softener at?”

Wonder no more! I have got all the answers in this article. Make sure you stick till the very end to know yours.

Let’s dive in!

Importance of Setting the Right Water Softener Hardness Level 

Water quality is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Especially if your hard water already causes problems in your home, such as scaling of faucets and appliances and soap scum buildup in your showers and bathtubs. 

You will need to use salt depending on the hardness of your water and how often your system will need to regenerate. Despite how advanced your water softener is, it cannot measure how soft the water itself is. Settings like hardness instead dictate the regeneration process.

So, the real question is, what is the right hardness level for your water softener?

This article aims to explain the different hardness levels and how they affect your water softener. Additionally, I will tell you how to optimize your water softener’s performance while finding the ideal hardness setting. Find out what your water softener’s hardness setting should be by reading about it.

What if Water Softener Hardness level set to Low 

You will be unable to get the most efficient performance from your water softener if the settings you enter are inaccurate. If you set the hardness level too low, your water softener will not be able to eliminate minerals as effectively as you would like it to. 

Therefore, it might not give you water as soft as you would like it to be. Also, in this way, hard water will be allowed to find its way into your pipes and appliances. This could result in scaling and damage to your appliances.

When you set the hardness level lower, you’ll have to pay more for shampoo, soap, and maintenance of faucets, pipes, and all types of cleaning supplies. So, make sure the water softener is at an acceptable level, not low.

Water Softener Hardness level set High 

The opposite of setting the hardness level low is setting it high. When you set the hardness to a high level, you will use your softener more frequently to regenerate the water. You will then end up wasting not only water by doing this but also using more salt than you need.

When you set the hardness level of your water softener higher than needed, you will spend more on its maintenance too.

Therefore, you must set your water softener’s hardness level properly. This is so your water softener can remove all the hardness without wasting water or requiring a lot of salt.

At What Hardness Level should I Set my Water Softener?

You may have set your water softener’s hardness setting incorrectly. How do you know what it should be?

The hardness setting of your water softener should be set at the amount of hardness in your water + 4 ppm (parts per million) for dissolved iron. 

Depending on the age of your water softener, you may need to raise the hardness slightly to keep the resin from becoming less efficient.

New water softeners should be set according to the actual hardness level of the water. 

It will take care of the rest on its own. Water softener hardness settings need to be adjusted based on the actual water hardness of the softener because not all waters and situations are alike.

According to the rule of thumb, a healthy hardness level is within 120 to 170 mg/L, which is about seven to ten grains per gallon. You should be able to determine the hardness level in your water based on an accurate water analysis report. 

With a water hardness test kit, you can test your water at home or get the water tested in a lab. If you use city water, you should get a water analysis report.

Measurements of hardness are based on how well soap reacts with water. If the water is hard, you will need more soap to create a lather. Additionally, you would have to use more cleaning solutions at home. Similarly, if the water is soft, you will need less soap to get the same level of lather and bubbles.

Set your water softener to a level that produces the softest water possible to avoid any disadvantages of hard water.

To determine the best setting for your water softener, you must first determine the hardness level of your water supply. Sometimes your local water department can provide this value or your installer might have provided it already.

If these options are unavailable, water hardness can easily be determined using a water hardness strip. (More testing methods discussed further)

Digital testers offer the highest accuracy and precision but are more expensive.

Using the water hardness strips gives you a rough estimate of what setting to start with for your water softener. To test your water hardness, you need first to set an initial value (lower) and then use a new test strip.

Continue increasing the setting until you reach as soft a water level as possible.

To get the most accurate results, it is advisable to wait until after a complete regeneration cycle so your system can adjust to its new settings. All hard water must be flushed out of your plumbing after an entire regeneration cycle.

You can also trigger manual regeneration to speed up this process, but this is a rather wasteful method and will cause you to lose salt and water.

Now that you know how to set the perfect hardness level in your water softener, let’s move to the other questions that cross your mind. 

Testing the Hardness of Water 

As far as testing the hardness of your water is concerned, there are a few ways to do so. Using a home test kit like the Water Hardness Test Strip from LaMotte is one way to test your water hardness. Test strips like this measure the calcium and magnesium levels in the water so you can see how hard your home water is.

Sending a sample to a lab for analysis is another way to test your water’s hardness. In addition to giving you a better idea of the mineral content of your water, this will also let you know how alkaline and acidic the water is.

Lab tests are required to measure water hardness accurately, but they are also the most expensive option. Using a home test kit is a more affordable alternative if you need a general idea of how hard your water is.

You should have received a receipt with your test results if you had your water softener installed by a professional water treatment company.

Water hardness can be easily tested with a simple water hardness test kit, even if you installed your water softener.

To determine the hardness level of water, you can use various methods. A few easy ways are outlined below:

  • The soap test is as follows:

There’s no simpler way to do it than this. Place tap water in a plastic water bottle, and then add liquid dish soap. Shake to mix well, and then close the lid.

Consider the water soft enough if bubbles are visible in it. Alternatively, the water is hard if there is no bubble formation but a milky layer instead.

  • The following kits are available for hardness testing:

A hardness test kit can immediately determine the water hardness level. The hardness can be calculated by dipping it into a water sample and calculating its hardness (GPG). 

Depending on the level of hardness, the strips’ color will change.

  • Laboratory certification:

You can discover your hardness level by using a certified laboratory. You must send a sample of your water to a laboratory for testing. Besides giving you in-depth results regarding hardness, they will also give you a measure of your water’s grist rate per gallon and PPM (parts per million).

What should my Water Softener Hardness Level be Set at
Testing Hardness of Water

Iron Test at Home 

Programing your water softeners to eliminate ferrous iron from the water will take a while. However, if you do it right, they will be able to do it.

Test the iron level in water if you have already determined how much hardness grist is in the water. Iron test kits are available; they are quite easy to use & give immediate results.

After setting your water iron level, you must plus 4 to the number of hardness for each 1 Part per Million of iron in the water. For example, if the iron test tools indicate 1 PPM of iron in water, you should add 4 to the hardness. In addition, you should add 6 to the hardness if the iron level is 1.5 PPM, and so on.

The amount of iron in the water affects the effectiveness of a water softener in removing iron. The hardness level should be raised if your water contains a lot of iron.

Water testing is the most accurate method for determining iron levels.

Tips to Achieve Accurate Results:

I recommend adding an iron removal system as a bonus. Removing iron content from water requires a lot of energy, which may cause water softeners to damage quickly. Your water softener will benefit from this iron removal system.

Confirming with your Water Department 

As I had written above, you can also know how hard your water is with the help of the water department of your area.

For those of you who are on public water, you can get the hardness level of your water by contacting your city or county. In addition to regularly testing the water, they should also be able to give you a range of values that will tell you how hard the water is in your area.

Water Softener Hardness Setting Chart

Water softeners should be tested before you choose one that perfectly suits your home’s needs.

Water hardness is measured based on the total dissolved solids (TDS) in a volume of water, expressed in milligrams per liter. A water test will expose the hardness level in your water, indicating which treatment will be most effective. TDS levels should be provided by the water test you use. Here is a chart to help you choose the right water softener for your home:

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are measured in parts per million (PPM). And the water softener hardness levels are –

Based on the concentration levels listed below, you can find out how hard your water is.

  • The concentration (hardness) levels are mentioned in the table below. 

          They are – 

Hardness levels –Milligrams per liter (mpl)
Soft Water 75
Moderately Hard Water 76-150
Hard Water 151-300
Extremely hard/non-drinkable Water 300+

How often to Change the Settings of the Water Softener? 

Resins need to be regenerated regularly to remain active. Softeners can degenerate as often as every two to three days, although some could also degenerate daily. Several factors are considered in determining the frequency of regeneration:

Regeneration may be required twice a week if the initial hardness level is high. The water will need to be recharged more frequently if it contains iron. The water softener may need to be regenerated in increased household water usage more often.

You can also decide the quantity of salt needed to be based on the resin tank capacity. The salt settings will likely change as the machine ages and wears out.

Last, a demand-activated or time-activated control valve can initiate the regeneration process. In the former, regeneration is flexible and only occurs when necessary; in the latter, the valve is controlled by a clock. Using this method, you would set a time for the regeneration to appear at a specific time after a certain time. 

Here’s my detailed guide on Whirlpool water softener settings and Kenmore water softener settings.

What if you set Water Softener Incorrectly?

Regeneration Cycle

How often you get softened, water depends more on the frequency of regeneration. Regeneration by running the water through salt is usually an option with most water softeners. The numbers 1 to 7 on the dial indicate how often it needs.

The number 1 indicates that softened water is to be replaced once per week. This can be an excellent setting for people who use less salt or are at home less. At least two times per week, most people will need to change their soft water. 

The generation frequency will be indicated by a dial on an analog water softener, just as it is on a salt dose. If you want the water softener to work for more than one day per week, you can change this dial.

Regeneration Cycle Time 

This setting can change the softness of the water you are using. When you run a shower or faucet, your water softener keeps it soft while waiting. However, you can change this if you want truly soft water. 

Your water softener’s regeneration time determines when it should be started. When you are about to shower or wash up, turn on your water softener for about an hour.

An established routine is necessary for this and is seldom changed. 

Many adjust the time to avoid waking up to a loud water softener. This is done by setting it during the day when people are generally awake.

In most cases, the dial can be set up to 24 times per day, according to the number of hours in a day.

Regeneration Cycle Length 

Your water softener’s regeneration cycle will significantly affect how well it works for you. It’s particularly relevant if you only have a single tank system since you should refrain from using water during the regeneration cycle.

It will take approximately 80-90 minutes to complete the regeneration cycle. People often ask, can you use water softener water at the time of regeneration?

And my take on it is little different, you can check whether to use water or not.

Water softeners regenerate in five parts over the course of 80-90 minutes. It consists of filling, brining, brine rinse, backwash, and fast rinse. Below is a description of each step in the process and a rough estimate of how much time each will take.

The filling

It takes between five and twenty minutes for the water to refill the brine tank. This is to dissolve salt with water and create a brine that will flush the resin beads of minerals.

The brining process

Depending on the softener and its age, it can take 30 to 60 minutes to fill the resin tank. This is where the brine created during the filling process fills the resin tank in waves and cycles, and it flushes out all the mineral deposits in the resin beads and processes them. To completely renew the resin beads, this step will take the longest.

An effective brine rinse

At this cycle stage, a small amount of brine is flushed into the resin tank one more time to remove any residual residue and mineral deposits.

The backwash

This procedure involves quickly filling the resin tank with water and flushing it several times to eliminate any minerals or brine that may still be present. This stage will be over in about 10 minutes. Read our guide on where to discharge your water softener backwash.

Clean with a quick rinse

The resin tank should be rinsed and flushed until all brine is removed and the resin bed is reset. This process should take at most 10 minutes.

Depending on the type of valve in your water softener, regeneration will occur more frequently or less frequently. A clock can be used, the water can be metered, or the water can be supplied based on demand.

In addition, you can also adjust how much salt is used during regeneration by changing the water softener setting.

As you already read, water hardness test kits are available in home improvement stores. These kits will ensure your water is within the range you set for your water softener.

It is also possible to check the settings and find the scheduled time when the unit is supposed to regenerate. You can watch to see whether it does so at the scheduled time or if you have to regenerate it manually.

Salt Dosage

The amount of salt you add to your water softener is the most critical setting because the amount of salt used influences how soft your water will be. By looking at its salt dose, you can measure the amount of salt your water softener uses per cycle.

In light of this, you know that adjusting salt doses is a very common practice. You may need to increase the salt dose if your water is too hard. There are two possible reasons for this: either your city or well water is becoming harder, or your water softener needs to be fixed.

You should remember this if you plan to adjust your salt dose. This is because your water service professional will set it based on the hardness of the water and the size and capacity of your tank. 

Before making adjustments, it is recommended that you take a picture of your current settings to refer back to them easily.

It’s not the simplest method since you should typically only adjust the salt dose when you change water softeners, salt or install something brand-new.


Hey! Before you leave… 

Remember to correctly test and set the hardness level of your water softener. This will save you money and water and give you as soft water as possible!

Ta-da! No more doubts or questions about adjusting your water softener, ever, right?

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What is a good hardness level for Water Softener?

When adjusting the hardness, you must consider each household’s unique needs. The right setting depends on the hardness of your water and the size of your family. 

Go out there and have some tests done on your water to find the correct hardness for yourself and your family.

Is 25 ppm hard water?

Water with 25 ppm of hardness minerals means that in every liter of water, there are only 25 mg of hardness-causing minerals in each liter. Generally, soft water is defined as water with a ppm less than 60. 

Due to this, if the water has a 25 ppm level, it is considered soft water.

How can you remove the hardness of water softener? 

You can remove the hardness of water softener by using potassium or sodium to eliminate the hard minerals. 

The potassium or salt will exchange their ions with hard minerals like calcium and magnesium, which will help your water softener generate soft water for you and your family.