What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

Are you still getting the outcome of hard water even though you have installed a whole home water softener?

Maybe your water softener hardness setting is not appropriate, if you get it right, I am pretty sure, the hardness issue will be settled down.

Yes, there can be many other issues. Maybe your water softener is out of salt, when did you top up your brine tank with salt last time?

Or maybe, your water softener is not functioning right. But the most probable answer to the query is, your hardness setting is not appropriate.

In this post, I am going to help you get your water softener hardness setting right. Plus, will try to answer the questions related to water hardness, and if there is anything else, other than hardness setting, how to get those fixed too.


What does that mean by Water Hardness?

Water hardness confuses a layman. How could you define that in the simplest words?

In simplest words, the amount of dissolved minerals such as magnesium and calcium is called hardness. I

n hard water, the dissolving of these minerals is higher from a certain level to give them limescale, a film of residue on everything where you use hard water.

If you use soap in hard water, it will create soap scum, soap reacts with the calcium. Hard water is not good not only for drinking but for everyday household use.

Keep in mind, bicarbonate, magnesium, and calcium gives water short-term hardness, this hardness can easily be eliminated through boiling.

In the availability of sulfate ions, you can’t remove the hardness through boiling, and if there is the presence of all these minerals, your water turns very hard, and you require a powerful or good-capacity water softener for that.

What is the Ideal Water Hardness?

As per manufacturers and experts’ suggestions, 0-3 grains per gallon is the ideal water hardness. If your water softener is producing this range of water, you do not need to tweak the hardness setting.

One more thing regarding the pipes in your home, if you have metal pipes that can rust with too soft water, they may leak out somewhere in the house and to get things to go smoother you require a higher hardness level than something with PVC piping.

As per suggestions, 80-180 ppm is the right hardness for metal pipes. If you have PVC pipes installed, then it should be softer around 20-80 ppm.

For the garden, the hardness scale should be higher, around 120-200 PPM would not harm either your garden or your hose.

In this way, your plants get more nutrition and would grow better. For those prone to skin allergies, dry skin issues, hair falling issues, they should go with 20-60 ppm water softness.

How do I know if I need to adjust the Hardness Setting?

Water softeners are designed to soften the water, eliminating hardness. But if you are getting too soft or too hard water, the settings are needed to be tweaked. Or when you get too much salt or other contamination in the water.

But I would not say you to change the hardness setting based on these factors, these can be inaccurate, or be due to other factors.

Water either creates a flimsy screen or it does not, as for as the water appliances are concerned, there is nothing as such as too soft water.

In the case of water for washing and bathing, as long as it does not leave a flimsy residue, or produces rashes on your skin, it is good.

If you have been using hard water for a long time in starting you may get issues with soft water, and it takes time to get accustomed to even soft water.

If you think that the water softener is making and consuming more salt than required, you may need to change the hardness setting.

Again, this might be due to another reason, excessive use of salt is directly linked to the brine tank and controller head.

Start with a brine tank, and see if there is more water than necessary in the brine tank, then your water softener will be using more salt.

Here you are not required to change the hardness setting.

But how would you know the right amount of water level in the brine tank?

On average, the water level in the brine tank should not be higher than one inch. Sometimes, the controller starts releasing more water than it should, or there can be a leak in the brine tank.

In Either of the cases, salt consumption can be higher, and it is not linked to softener hardness setting.

One more scenario of water hardness setting changing can be increased in the iron. This can only be when you get well water, you should either taste the water or check if it is the iron that causes hardness.

Because of normal hardness settings, our softeners are not designed to remove the iron. In that case, you will have to change the hardness setting, to remove the iron which is causing hardness.

What happens if your water softener Hardness setting is inappropriate?

The right hardness setting of the water softener makes them more useful, enhances their efficiency.

If you are getting municipal water supply, it is already softened, you would not require to soften it.

In the case of hard water, use the water softener, and set the right settings to get the right benefits.

Keep in mind, setting too hard hardness settings would not bring better results, rather it will waste too much water, and increase the cost to operate.

If the water hardness is not set right, there can be two possible outcomes. Your water softener will be regenerating more water than needed, and the salt consumption will be higher than it should.

In that way, you will be wasting more water as well as salt. And you will be spending more on maintenance, as not only your salt will run short faster, but resin beads will wear out quickly, making them replace.

On the other hand, if the water softener setting is too low, here too you will be spending more than what should.

Such as, if the setting is too loo, you will be spending in buying detergents, pipelines, faucets, soap, shampoos, and much more in the row.

So, it is imperative that you set the water hardness at the right setting and get the desired results.

If the setting is inappropriate, not only you will have extra budget spending, but health problems as well.

Health Effects

The health effects are more dangerous, such as if the hardness setting is too high than required.

Your softener will be dissolving more magnesium and calcium particles and release more salt or sodium ions, the frequency of sodium ions in the water will be increased which can brutally damage hypertension patients’ health.

How to adjust the Hardness setting on a Water Softener?

If you are experiencing water hardness even though you have a whole home water softener you should adjust the settings.

First, check your current water hardness. Maybe the water you are getting is not at the same water hardness.

Check the water hardness and set your softener’s water hardness to the number you measured.

For instance, if the hardness you measured is 30 grains per gallon, then the water hardness setting should 30.

One more thing, the hardness settings ideally should be higher than the hardness you measured. In my view, you should set the hardness in your water plus 4 for every PPM dissolved iron.

The water kit that we used for measuring the water hardness does not tell you about the iron.

Iron also contributes to water hardness, and to be on the protective side, experts recommend adding plus 4 for every ppm dissolved iron.

For instance, if you find out 1 ppm of iron dissolving, add plus 4 in the hardness number. If it is 1.5 ppm of iron, then add 6 numbers to the hardness and so on.

If you have no way to learn the iron dissolving in your water, or even if you think there are no iron particles, you still add plus 4 ppm on hardness settings.

If you have an older water softener, over time it becomes less efficient, by increasing the hardness number, you may get soft water.

There is a certain number of water hardness resin beads that can remove from the water before they require regeneration.

It is the hardness setting that tells the unit the number of gallons of soft water before regeneration.

It is the hardness number you set that tells many types of electric softeners how frequently they should regenerate.

This hardness number also affects salt dosage, water softeners use the set number of salt dosages calculated after water hardness inside the tank.

How Many grains of Hardness are in soft water?

As per the experts’ recommendations, in soft water, 1-3 grains of hardness are acceptable, which is around 20 ppm of minerals.

More than 3-grains though would not be called hard water, it still would be recommended not to take that water for drinking.

It is moderately hard water, and can easily be taken for bathing, laundry, and various other purposes.

Are 7 Grains of hardness being hard water?

Yes, 7 grains of hardness in water are hard water, though it is lower end. You can still consume this hard water for various other household purposes.

If you have sensitive skin or allergic skin, you should not use it for bathing or showering. Do you need to check what makes this water hard?

Is it high sodium saturation that makes the water hard, or because of minerals because for different reasons of hardness you treat water differently?

How To Test If There Is Iron in The Water?

If you don’t like expensive lab testing, you may test the water at home. To check the water iron level you can buy a water kit online, it is an iron testing kit that determines the iron level hardness in your water.

Within a few minutes, you will know the iron level, and you would be able to set the hardness settings accordingly.

How frequently does the water hardness change?

In my experience, water hardness change takes time. It is not sudden, it is a gradual process unless you get water from a municipal supply, and there is something broken in the system which is leading to the hard water supply.

It takes around 6-12 months to change the hardness level. If you feel the water hardness is changed, you should take your water kit out and check its hardness or send a sample to the lab to learn the hardness level. And then change the hardness level accordingly.

What is the average water hardness?

As per experts’ suggestions, 1-4 grains per gallon or 17-60 ppm is slightly hard water.

Water at this hardness would not be that dangerous, consuming even drinking the water would not be harmful to you.

Water hardness from 3.5 to 10.5 GPG, and 60-120 ppm is moderately hard. If you go ahead, 7-10.5 GPG and 120-180 PPM is hard water, and 10 or over 120 ppm is very hard water.

How to Set Digital Water Softener?

If you have a digital water softener, and you feel your water is not enough soft, and you are facing various issues due to that sudden or gradual change of water softness you can change the hardness setting.

In digital softener in section options where you find recharging timing, salt levels, and other settings you will see hardness setting as well.

In most of the hardness, it is mentioned as hardness, but in some, it can be denoted with the ‘H’ letter. Put the hardness level you get after checking your water at home, or from the lab.

Don’t forget to change the grains per gallon, if you are getting iron too in your hardness.


If you have a brand-new softener, it works efficiently, here you just need to put the exact hardness setting you receive from the lab test or by your home test.

Yes, if there is iron mixing in the water, along with other minerals, you may increase the hardness level mentioned above.

By the time your softener resin beads become less efficient, here is what you need to do, change the hardness setting slightly higher than the actual hardness level.

An inaccurate hardness setting can lead to many health and budget problems. Set the hardness setting right, and get the required or desired results.

Emily Davis

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