More people are being forced to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that instead of using utilities at school or the office for most of the day, you are using them in your home.
The increase in water usage at home may lead to hard water problems if you have a manual control valve on your water softener.
The reason for the hard water is more than likely because your water softener regeneration settings are not set to the new amount of water usage in your home.
A water softener can only provide a steady, sufficient flow of softened water if it has the proper settings.
Water softeners have four basic settings — regeneration cycle frequency, regeneration cycle time, regeneration cycle length and salt dose. Most of the settings revolve around the regeneration process, which is a critical stage in the water softening process.
Once the resin beads exchange ions with hard water, they take on minerals. Before a new wave of hard water can enter the system, these beads must be "regenerated" — they must swap out calcium and magnesium ions for sodium once again, so they can repeat the softening process with the next batch of water.
A second container called the brine tank is responsible for sending a wave of sodium-filled water over the resin beads. In the brine tank, water is mixed with high amounts of salt to create a brine solution. When exposed to the brine, the resin beads swap their mineral ions for sodium ions, making them ready to begin the softening process with a new flood of hard water.
The perfect frequency, timing and duration of the regeneration cycle varies based on every household's schedule and water hardness. However, below we have briefly explained what each setting means, so you can find the best balance for your situation.
1. Regeneration Cycle Frequency
The first major setting on your water softener is the regeneration cycle frequency.
Typically, regeneration cycles are manually set for anywhere from one to seven times per week — as long as your water is not getting hard between cycles, anytime within this frame is generally acceptable. You can determine the best frequency for your softener and water by the amount of water used in your home, the number of contaminants or minerals in your water and the size of your water softener.
However, if you have set your softener's regeneration cycle to once a day and notice that your water is still hard, the problem might not be the frequency of the cycle. Try increasing the levels of salt in the brine tank — your resin beads might not be receiving enough sodium to regenerate fully.
2. Regeneration Cycle Time
Setting the right time of day for your softener to begin a cycle is important. First, it affects the amount of water output — during a regeneration cycle, the water softener will not provide any new softened water. Additionally, a water softener may make loud noises during a regeneration cycle. If you schedule a regeneration cycle during the night, the sounds might keep you or your family awake.
For the best results, try to schedule a regeneration cycle during a time when your household will not use much water and will not be disturbed by the potential noise.
3. Regeneration Cycle Length
Many water softeners allow you to set the length of the regeneration cycle.
However, most default regeneration cycles take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, which is a practical time frame for most households. Only change this setting if absolutely necessary — a too-short regeneration cycle could result in ineffective resin beads, while a too-long cycle will increase the time your home is without soft water.
4. Salt Dose
To determine the optimal salt dose for your water softener, check the manufacturer's specifications. Once you set the salt dose to the recommended setting, run the softener through a manual regeneration cycle. After the cycle is complete, measure the hardness of the water — if the water is still too hard, try increasing the salt dosage.
If your water contains exceptionally high amounts of minerals, it might require a higher-than-normal salt dose to soften the water.
If the setting are not the problem, your water softener may be in need of replacement. It is always best to consult the professionals to find a water softener for your home's water usage.