If you have a large family, there's no doubt your appliances suffer wear due to the amount of usage they get, particularly when it comes to your water heater. The problems are compounded if you have hard water. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, 85% of the water in the United States is hard. Hard water contains high levels of magnesium and calcium, which can wreak havoc on your plumbing, water heater, and other appliances that use water.
Fortunately, installing a water softener system can help, but as with nearly everything in life, one size does not fit all. Here's how to determine the hardness of your water and the capacity of a water softener system that will work best for your large family.
Test your water for hardness
The first step in determining how large of a water softener system you need is to figure out how hard your water really is. You need to determine how many grains of minerals per gallon (GPG) are in your water. Soft water has 0 GPG, hard water has 11 GPG, and very hard water has 59 GPG.
You'll need the exact number of GPG to use in the calculation in the next section. It's important to note that some test kits use milligrams per liter (mg/l) instead of grains per gallon. Whichever type of test you can locate is fine for use. If your test kit gave milligrams per liter, convert that number to grains per gallon by multiplying it by 17.1.
You can find test kits at your local home improvement and hardware stores. There are also test kits for water hardness at pet stores that stock fish aquarium supplies. However, if you want a complete analysis of your water, including tests for pH, iron, chlorine, nitrates, and more, contact your local Department of Health. Alternatively, local plumbers who install water softening systems can also test your water.
Determine the capacity your family needs in a water softener system
It's important to understand that most water softener systems need to regenerate, which leaves times when water is not being softened unless you have a dual tank system. A dual tank system provides constant softened water since one tank regenerates at a time. To determine the capacity you'll need, it's helpful to know that the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that each person uses 80-100 gallons of water on a daily basis. Follow this equation to determine how large of a water softener system your family needs:
- Multiply the number of people in your family by 80-100 for the gallons of water each family member uses daily. If you and other family members use more water than average, such as if you take a shower in the morning and after a hard day at work, it's better to err on the side of caution and use a number on the higher end of the average.
- Multiply the result from step 1 by the GPG from your test kit. This will give you the number of grains per day the water softener will need to handle.
- Divide the results from step 2 into the various capacity sizes available to determine how many times the system will need to regenerate.
When choosing a system, compare the regeneration frequencies, regardless of whether or not you are considering a dual tank, as it can help you determine how often you'll need to resupply the softener system with salt. However, don't let the frequency of resupplying the system with salt deter you from making a final decision because there are salt delivery services available in most locations.
To learn more about water softener systems, contact a company like Dupage Water Conditioning.