Are you having doubts about the performance of your water softener? Do you think that it is not working as it should? Perhaps you are experiencing dry and itchy skin moments after taking a shower, or maybe you have noticed lathering is not as easy and quick as before.
Learning how to tell if your water softener is working is crucial in ensuring there is soft water running through your household taps.
Besides, hard water reduces the efficiency of your heating equipment and is a known health hazard with a high correlation to cardiovascular diseases and Eczema. But how would I tell if the water softener is working?
How to tell if Water Softener is working
Well, there are simple tell-tale signs and tests you can carry out to substantiate your doubts.
1. Hard water spots
Have you noticed some white spots on your faucets, sinks, or shower walls? If yes, then your water softener isn’t working as it should. You see, hard water is generally water with high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts.
When hard water droplets land on surfaces such as sinks and faucets, the water eventually evaporates, leaving behind white spots or scales (The dissolved salts).
2. Decreased Water Pressure
When discussing hard water spots, we mentioned water evaporating and leaving behind calcium and magnesium salts.
Now imagine this on a large scale but happening inside your household taps. Some would call it sediment build-up, others lime scale; they all mean the same thing.
Gradual sediment build-up will slow down water flow and will even totally clog the pipes obstructing the flow if no action is taken.
3. The Soap Test
It is one fun way to determine if your water softener is working simply by checking if the water lathers easily with soap. The most convenient is pure liquid soap or even the one you use in the shower.
Hard water will take longer to lather or might not lather at all, but soft water will easily and create bubbles.
Water hardness test kits are readily available strips designed to determine the level of hardness in your water. Usually, they give a reading detailing the conditions of your water.
For instance, soft water will show anywhere between 0-17.1 mg of dissolved minerals per liter of water, while anything beyond that is characterized as hard water.
Check out these water hardness test strips on Amazon.
How to know if Water Softener is Regenerating
Are you still getting soft water in your house? Are there any white spots on faucets and sinks? What of the test kit? Did it turn out negative? If there is no sign of hard water in your house, your water softener equipment is regenerating.
This is what happens;
You see, when hard water passes through the water softener, it traps positive ions of calcium and magnesium and replaces them with sodium ions. The positive ions usually build up in the resin, which needs to be cleansed periodically.
The cleansing process is what we call regeneration. During regeneration, a high salt solution called brine is flushed through the system for about 15 minutes until the system is free of any positive ions of calcium and magnesium.
However, there are two ways regeneration works; one is called time-initiated regeneration, where the process happens at specific interludes of about seven days. The other method is demand-initiated regeneration which happens depending on how you use your water.
So if you are getting soft water in your house, the water softener is regenerated as it should, whether in intervals or demand.
How to Measure if Water Softener is working
You have invested quite an amount in your water softener system, so you want to make sure that it works as perfectly as possible. But how do you know if it’s serving its purpose?
Well, the simplest way is to test if the water is still hard.
This involves measuring the quantity of dissolved salt in the end product. A simple hard water test kit will do the work, but if you have pure liquid soap, test and see how it lathers with the water.
When choosing a water hardness test kit, ensure it can give you a general overview of the water quality and not the presence of particular elements alone, such as radon.
Readings from 0-17.1 mg of dissolved minerals per liter of water indicate soft water, and anything greater than that is a clear sign of hard water.
Check out these water hardness test strips
How to tell if your Water Softener is bad
There is no better way of telling if your water softener is bad than having hard water as the end product. Even better, there are clear signs that will indicate the water softener isn’t working as it should.
Method 1: Watch out for Cloudy dishes
Once you wash your dishes, you expect them to be crystal clear. However, hard water leaves salt residue on the surface of the dishes, which appear as white spots, so this is one quick way to determine if your water softener is bad.
Method 2: Infrequent regeneration
When regenerating, a bag of high concentrated salts is usually used for flushing out the trapped positive ions from the resin.
If you notice that you haven’t been replacing the salt as frequently as you should have, it could mean that the water softener isn’t functioning correctly. It may take a while before you notice this since regeneration doesn’t happen frequently.
Method 3: Call a professional
Sometimes, you have all the signs that your water softener isn’t working properly but still aren’t sure if that is the case. In such a scenario, you should probably call a professional to help you out.
But before you do that, ensure that the equipment is plugged in and that you have initiated the regeneration process.
Bonus tip: Also, ensure that you replace brine frequently for the regeneration process when the resin becomes saturated.
How to tell if Water Softener is working: Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for the water softener to regenerate?
It will take approximately two hours for the water softener to regenerate. Usually, it happens between 2am-4am when homeowners are asleep.
Can I use water while the water softener is regenerating?
During regeneration, the water output is usually hard water. The process takes about two hours, and it is only then that you are recommended to use the water.
Besides, hard water can cause lime scale build-up in water heater tanks and pipes.
How I know if my water softener is bad?
The easiest way to tell if your water softener is bad is by checking for signs of hot water in your house. Often hard water will leave grayscale on utensils and spots on faucets and bathroom walls.
Also, you may notice that your water doesn’t lather easily or doesn’t lather at all.
Learning how to tell if your water softener is working is the first step to ensuring you have an unlimited supply of soft water in your house. If you notice things like white spots on faucets, cloudy dishes, or irregular regeneration processes, your water softener isn’t working efficiently.
However, while it is important to soften your water for household use, drinking too much soft water can cause blood pressure problems because of too much sodium intake.