What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

Last Updated on 2 years by

For most people, the water in their house is too hard. What does this mean? In general, if your hair feels dry and brittle after washing it or you have difficulty rinsing soap from your body, you have hard water. A common misconception about softening water is that all one has to do add salt to the mix when setting up a new softener system.

It is important to make sure that your water softener is set at the appropriate hardness level. What does this mean? What are the effects of setting it too low or too high? What would be a good number to shoot for? This blog post will answer your questions.

What hardness should water softener be set at?

If you have water that has more than 7 grains of hardness or 120 mg/L, If you have hard water that causes your appliances to break or makes the water taste bad then you might need a water softener. It will make the water softer and it will make it taste better too.

Your Water Softener Needs to Know the Hardness of Your Water

Your water softener must set to the hardness of your water. An older water softener might need to be set a little more than your actual water hardness. If you have iron in your water, adjust the hardness setting a little higher.

For your water to stay soft, your water softener needs to know how much hardness is in it.

When the resin in your water softener has removed all of its effectiveness, it will need to be regenerated. This process involves adding more for this particular ingredient and waiting as it does what’s necessary with that extra supply before you can use those same gallons for another regeneration cycle or two.

Electric water softeners use the hardness number set in your unit to calculate how often it should regenerate and control what salt dosage is needed for rejuvenating its resin.

On some water softeners, you need to set the salt dosage. The salt dosage is easy to change, and it’s in your user manual on how to do it.

On a Non-electric Water Softener, Setting the Hardness Is a Bit More Complicated

A water softener that does not use electricity to regenerate is called a non-electric one. These devices have been around for many years, and they still work just as well today! There are two types of mechanical timers in these systems: an electric or gas-based model that relies on turning discs inside the unit at specific intervals to tell when regeneration needs to happen next.

The benefit of having a metering disc is that you never have to change the setting. You do not need to change it if your water situation does not change.

But well water or municipal water can change over time. What does this mean? What are the factors that influence how hard or soft your water is?

Your well can have varying levels of hardness depending on when you last had it tested.

Then there’s what the seasons bring with them, which could alter how much calcium carbonate your water system pulls from underground, in turn changing the overall mineral content of your home’s H20 supply. This means that when fewer rainfalls and more evaporation occurs faster than usual during winter months, fewer amounts of minerals will be pulled up into your good source. A subsequent impact here will be, for instance, if you live somewhere where septic systems work better with specific types of chemicals.

If your water quality changes, you’ll need to have your meter disc changed by a water softener expert. This is not common, but if your source of water changes, so will the hardness of the water.

When do I have to set the hardness on my water softener?

If you plan to install a new water softener yourself, use this guide with instructions on how much hardness your local tap puts out and then program that number into the controller of any future units.

Many digital water softeners have a battery inside. The battery can lose its power, so you may have to re-enter the hardness of the water again if there is a power outage or if your water hardness changes.

Setting the hardness on your water softener varies from water softener to water softener. You will need to see the booklet that came with your water softener for instructions on setting it.

You, Will, Need to Adjust Your Hardness Setting if There Is Iron in Your Water

A water softener is used to make your water feel smoother and softer and to remove iron from the water. You need to test your water first and know how much hardness you have, and then you can use a kit to tell if your water has any iron in it.

Once you find out the iron level in your water, you need to add 4 to your number for every 1 PPM (Part Per Million) of iron. If your iron test kit shows that you have 1 PPM of iron, add 4 to your hardness number, 1.5 PPM of iron adds 6 to your hardness number, and so on.

To remove dissolved iron from your water, you can use a water softener. You can program the hardness number to the desired level that will take out the dissolved iron. Excessive dissolved iron in your water might be too much for a standard water softener. A separate system to remove the iron might be better.

The Hardness on an Older Water Softener May Need to Be Set a Little Higher Than on a New One:

The water softener can remove hard ions from your water because there is resin inside of the tank. If the resin doesn’t work, it’s just a big tank that you can use for your water.

The hard ions from your water are captured by the new water softener resin, which appears to be a tiny smooth bead when seen without a microscope. However, it resembles a ball of yarn with numerous crevasses around it on a microscopic level that captures the hard ions from your water.

As the water softener resin gets older, it becomes less efficient at removing hardness from your water. The crevasses become less defined, and then it is not as effective at holding hard ions. But the water will still be softened by your resin.

When the resin in your water softener gets old, it won’t work as well. You can fix this by increasing the hard water setting on your water softener. This will help it work like new again. This is like an old sponge that doesn’t soak up as much water as a new sponge would need to be wrung out more thoroughly to soak up the same amount of water.

When do I need to check if my water softener hardness setting is still correct?

For the most part, the hardness of your water will not change for many years. But it can change depending on where you live and what is going on in that area that could affect the hardness of your water.

If you buy a new home in a different location, the hardness of the water that enters your house may change. If there is a lot of activity in your area that can influence your water hardness, check your water hardness to see whether you need to adjust the softener’s hardness setting.

Outages and even brief power interruptions can cause your water softener’s programmed hardness to be lost. If your water softener’s programming is lost, it may be regenerating more frequently than necessary or not often enough to give you soft water.

Every year, I recommend testing your water hardness to make sure there has been no change in the hardness of your water softener.

You may easily check the hardness of your water with a simple water hardness test kit and modify your water softener’s hardness setting if necessary, knowing in seconds if the hardness has changed.

How Do I Know What My Water Hardness Is?

If you had your water softener installed by a professional water treatment company, they should have tested your water to know what type and size of water softener will work best for you. The results of the test should be in the receipt.


Because a brand new water softener goes through far less wear and tear, it will function more effectively, requiring you to simply match the hardness of your water. The performance of a water softener degrades with time, so you may need to adjust the hardness setting higher than the actual hardness as it ages.

If you have a water softener, for every 1 PPM of dissolved iron in your water, add 3 to your hardness setting. The hardness of your water depends on how many parts per million of dissolved iron there is. If your water is very hard, add 4 to the hardness setting for every 1 PPM. This means that if you have a lot of dissolved iron in your water, you should add a lot more hardness to the soap.

What if I set my water softener too high?

Soft water is hard to find. If you have soft water from a utility, make sure the softener has the right hardness for your home. Soft water can cause problems like corrosion. When the hardness of water is set too high, it will cost you money. For example, the softener will cost more to run and you’ll wastewater.

What is the normal range for water hardness?

There are different classifications of water. Soft water has less than 60 mg/L of calcium carbonate, moderately hard water is between 61 and 120 mg/L, hard water is 121-180 mg/l, and very hard water is more than 180 mg/L. Limescale builds up inside pipes in different classifications of waters.

How do you adjust the hardness of a water softener?

Press the UP or DOWN buttons to set your water hardness number. If you have iron in your water, add 5 to the hardness number for each 1 ppm or iron. For example, if your water is 20 gpg and it contains 2 ppm of iron, then add 10 to the hardness number.

How to set water softener?

  1. To set the current time, press the buttons labeled “hour” and “minutes” on your water softener.
  2. Determine when your household does not use water.
  3. Set the regeneration dials, which show you the time you want the water softener to operate.

How do you calculate water hardness?

If you want to know how many grains of hardness are in your water, take the amount of hardness out of one part per million. For every 17.1 parts per million, there is one grain of hardness in your water. If you have 250 parts per million, then your water has 14.62 grains in it for every gallon.

Is 25 ppm hard water?

You can take a water sample to the water test lab, and they will tell you how hard it is. You can convert between different types of hardness. 25 ppm equals 25 milligrams of hardness-causing minerals per liter of water.

How hard is too hard for water?

Classification mg/l or ppm grains/gal
Slightly hard 17.1 – 60 1 – 3.5


Moderately hard 60 – 120 3.5 – 7.0


Hard 120 – 180 7.0 – 10.5


Very Hard              180 & over            10.5 & over

What is the average water hardness in my area?


Water Hardness Table of Classifications
grains per gallon (gpg) milligrams per liter (mg/L) parts per million (ppm) Water Quality Association Classification
1 to 3.5 17.1 to 60 slightly hard
3.5 to 7.0 60 – 120 moderately hard
7.0 to 10.5 120 – 180 hard
10.5 + 180 and over very hard

Does water softener salt cause high blood pressure?

In areas with water that is very hard, the water coming from your tap can have a lot of sodium in it. The harder the water, the more sodium that your water softener must add to replace calcium and magnesium.

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