Useful Information about Softeners, Part II

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Useful Information about Softeners, Part II

The regeneration process will happen automatically.  A meter in the outlet side of the water softener counts the gallons that have passed through the softener.  Just before it has used up the tank capacity, the system will regenerate. This way the softener regenerates based on use, instead of every couple of days like the old style softeners.  As a result, the metered softeners are much more efficient in water and salt use than the old ones.

There is also a manual regeneration button.  For normal use, there is not need for the owner to cause a regeneration.  However, there are times when a manual regeneration is useful. If the owner leaves home for a few days and there is no water flow, the water sitting in the water softener will pick up some of the resin color.  This is not dangerous at all, but yellow water can be less pleasing aesthetically, so a manual regeneration is a good way to clear out the water, and avoid discolored water at the fixtures.

Each softener has a bypass valve on the back of the control valve.  This is a set of quarter turn valves which allow the owner to turn off the softener if there is a problem, while still maintaining water pressure to the house.  The bypass could also be used if they temporarily want to have hard water.

The softener will continuously dissolve the salt in the brine tank, so the salt will need to be replaced.  The modern metered softeners will usually dissolve about one 40 lb. bag per month, but the salt usage is really dependent on how much water is used.  While it is true that any salt will work, the pellet salt dissolves much better with less clumping than the more granulated salt, and should be recommended to the owner.  Some of the pellet salts also have an additive that preserves the resin in the softener. Salt can be purchased at most grocery or hardware stores. Morton is a good brand with clean salt.  Some of the cheaper salts are not as clean and may have dirt or debris mixed in.

Water softeners are sized according to how many people are normally in the dwelling.  A softener will always indicate how many grains of resin it contains. Higher number of grains indicates a higher capacity, which can handle more people.  The following table indicates general sizing comparisons:

Resin Grains


30K to 40K

2 to 4

40K to 50K

4 to 6

50K to 100K

6 to 10

Jerry’s Plumbing Repair has access to any size softener, however the most common sold is the Masterflow 50K unit.  Other sizes can be ordered, but generally take several weeks to arrive. Another unit that is readily available is the Aquanex 36K.  This unit is more compact and is a two-in-one, meaning the softener tank has been built into the brine tank. In most cases the Masterflow 50K is to be recommended because of its capacity and because it has longer warranties.


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