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What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

Published By: webdev

Having a water softener in your home can be a great way to improve your water quality. But in order for a water softener to work properly, it’s important to set it to the right hardness level. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what should your water softener hardness should be set at and why it’s important to get it right.

What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

The hardness of water is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). The average hardness of the water in the United States is about 60 GPG, but the range can be from 0 to over 400 GPG. Water is considered “hard” when it has a high concentration of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. 


You can find your water’s hardness level by looking at the concentration levels:

  • Anything less than 75 mg/L is considered soft;
  • Anything between 76 and 150 mg/L indicates that the water is moderately hard; 
  • Anything between 151 and 300 mg/L indicates that the water is hard; 
  • And anything above 300 mg/L indicates that the water is very hard.

A basic rule of thumb is that the hardness level of water should not exceed 120 to 170 mg/L, which equates to around 7-10 grains per gallon of water. Whether you get a lab test or do it yourself at home, the hardness level can be determined by an accurate water analysis report. You can request this information from your city’s water department or purchase one independently.

What Happens If You Incorrectly Set a Water Softener?

A water softener will work more efficiently when properly set. For example, if the water comes from a municipality, it might already be softened. There is no need to apply a water softener in this case. If the hardness level is too high, the softener will waste a lot of water and consume more energy. 

The four parameters for setting up a water softener are frequency, time, length, and salt dose. A fundamental step in setting up a water softener is regeneration (typically where you center settings).

Regeneration cycle

A water softener regenerates cycles at different frequencies. For example, it might regenerate once or seven times per week if the water doesn’t harden after a cycle. A general understanding of how much water your softener can process, the cause of your mineral buildup, and the size of your tank can help you select the right frequency for you.

Regeneration cycle time

Water softening systems are designed to cycle in batches, so setting the regeneration time is essential. Because the system will not produce softened water during the scheduled regeneration period, select a time when water is not being used. Moreover, the process might be noisy and go on for hours. For best results, set a regeneration cycle at a time when demand for water usage during that time is low.

Regeneration cycle length 

You can set the length of your water softener’s regeneration cycle. The default cycles take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete. That time frame is reasonable for most households and leaves you with soft water while also taking up a small amount of your time each day. 

Salt Dose

There are a few steps when finding the correct salt dose for your water softener. First, refer to the specifications from the manufacturer. Then, once you have a recommended setting, run the softener through a manual regeneration cycle. 

Then, measure the hardness of your water. Once you set a new salt dose to reach your desired hardness level, run an additional cycle and measure the hardness once more to make sure it is at your desired levels. Remember that extremely hard water may require extra salt to maintain sufficient softening levels. 

How to Change Your Water Softener Settings

Make sure the “hardness” setting on your water softener is the same number as the hardness measured in your supply of water. For example, if your water hardness reading were 12 GPG, the “hardness” setting would be “12”. Therefore, it’s best to set the hardness setting on your water softener 4 points above the amount of hardness in your water (plus 4 for every ppm of dissolved iron).

The hardness number measures the number of minerals your water contains. The higher this number, the more you have to adjust your water softener’s settings.  For example, if you already have 1 PPM of iron in your water and need to increase the hardness number by 2, set it to 4. Also, an older water softener might require a slightly higher hardness setting as its resin degrades over time. 

Electric water softeners typically work by regenerating the number of times a specific resin needs to regenerate. This resin can automatically or manually set the number on more basic water softeners.

Need a Plumber in Phoenix Today?

If you live in Arizona and are still determining what your water softener’s hardness should be set at, contact Custom Plumbing of Arizona for expert advice and assistance. Our experienced plumbers can help you choose the optimal hardness setting for your water softener to ensure that your water is free of hard minerals and impurities. 

Reach out to us today at 602-866-2665 to learn more and get your water softener set up correctly.