Hard water by the numbers

If you’re new to the numbers associated with hard water, investigating the best water softening solutions can be confusing. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to see in your water softener research and helpful references for once you’ve installed a system in your home.

Getting to know hard water

A discussion around hard water can get a bit technical. From mathematical conversions to multiple zeroes, there can be a lot going on. Here’s a look at the numbers you’ll most likely see and what they mean:Hard water numbers

  • One grain per gallon (gpg) is equivalent to 17.14 parts per million (ppm). Water hardness can be measured in gpg or ppm, but gpg is the most commonly used measurement.
  • 20,000–80,000: This range signifies the grain capacity of most water softeners available on the market. Depending on your water hardness number, daily water use and the number of people in the home, you may need a smaller—or larger—grain capacity softener. Find out which capacity you need here.

Testing your water

After successfully testing your water to find out your hardness number, your result will fall somewhere on the hardness scale. Once you test your water and get your number, see where your water falls using the guide below:

  • 0–3: If your hard water test strip indicates that your water is between 0–3 gpg, your water doesn’t require softening.
  • 3–7: Water between 3–7 gpg is moderately hard, causing spotty dishes and dry skin.
  • 7–11: Hard water is packed with minerals at 7–11 gpg, and you likely deal with crusty faucets and pipes and possibly reddish rings on your porcelain from excess iron.
  • 11–15: Considered very hard, water at 11–15 gpg exhibits all the signs of hard water all the time.
  • 15+: Extremely hard water is anything over 15 gpg. Glasses are extra spotty, skin feels super squeaky, and soap scum is at its most stubborn. And if you’re on well water, you may also be seeing other problem water signs such as iron stains.

Water softener–specific numbers

Here are some important numbers to know now that you’ve installed a water softener in your home:

  • 5–10 Days: On average, you can expect your water softener to regenerate every 5–10 days. This depends on whether you have a time- or demand-initiated water softener, your home’s water use and the grain capacity of the softener.
  • 6–8 Bags: Demand-initiated water softeners, which only regenerate when needed, are extremely efficient, so you’ll probably only need to add one 40-pound bag of salt to your softener every 6–8 weeks.
  • $4 per Year: The approximate cost to power a high-efficiency water softener over the course of one year.

From the big-picture numbers to the figures associated with a softener once it’s in the home, it seems like there’s a lot learn. With this easy reference, you’ll be a hard water numbers pro in no time.