Variable or Seasonal Hardness Levels – How do Softeners Handle Changing Hardness?
It is a mistake to believe the hardness levels in your water don’t change. Hardness levels change all the time. It’s not uncommon for actual hardness to be 1/2 to 2 times the hardness level programmed into your salt softener. Take for instance the city of Brentwood, CA.; according to their 2015 Annual Water Quality Report hardness ranged from 14 to 27 grains per gallon.
Cities change water sources to deal with changing flows in their surface water sources – rivers and lakes. In the summer and fall months when river flows and lake levels are low cities switch to ground water pumped from wells. Ground water usually has higher hardness levels than surface water. Consequently the hardness levels in your water change when water supplies change.
How is changing hardness levels a problem?
Automatic salt softeners are programmed for a specific grains per gallon hardness. They regenerate based on programmed grains per gallon and system capacity and gallons. Salt softeners can’t automatically adapt to changing hardness levels. They simply follow the program set in memory.
Because salt softeners act on set instructions with no automatic adjustment for variable hardness levels they are either over or under treating hardness. As the water’s actual hardness levels drop below the programmed level your softener program stays the same and you are wasting salt, water and money. As the water’s actual hardness levels rise above the programmed level you and your home could be getting untreated hard water. Your salt softener just can’t keep up with hardness changes.
Some manufacturers use a “safety factor” in the salt softener program. Essentially, the safety factor sets aside a portion of the softener’s capacity for changes in water hardness levels and usage. A proper safety factor reduces the risk of untreated hard water. The safety factor also increases wasted salt, water and money no matter the hardness level. The best you can do is measure the hardness and change the salt softener program on a regular basis. Salt based softeners are rarely able to perform perfectly. They are either wasting salt, water and money or passing hard water.
What options do I have for variable water hardness?
Now consider Cascadian PolyHalt® saltless water softeners; They soften water much differently than salt based softeners. PolyHalt® forms a bond with hardness minerals and softens the water by preventing the minerals from causing problems. Also, PolyHalt® water softeners automatically adjust to changing hardness levels, no programming involved. Because PolyHalt® adjusts automatically to hardness levels there is no waste and no untreated water to cause problems. As a result you continuously have perfectly soft water to every tap in your home regardless of changes in water hardness.