Important Water Softener Terms You Need to Know

Whether you are in need of water softener repair, or on the market for a brand new unit, it is important to equip yourself with the right knowledge. The perfect place to start is by learning important water softener terminology.Continue reading to get started!

Water Softener Service 317-537-9707
Water Softener Service 317-537-9707

Hard Water

Hard water is natural water that contains high levels of hard minerals, namely iron, calcium, and magnesium. These hard mineral ions accumulate in water as it permeates through the rock and soil underground. For this reason, hard water levels vary among regions. Hard water is any water that has more than 7 grains per gallon (GPG). In contrast, soft water is any water that has less than 1 GPG. Sot water is water that has been treated to remove hardness.

Water Softener Capacity

Water softener capacity refers to the amount of hard mineral content a water softener can remove before it needs to enter its regeneration cycle. Capacity is measured by the amount of hardness it can remove before it regenerates, while the level of hardness in water is measured by “grains per gallon.”  When shopping around for water softeners, you will notice this numeric rating on all the models you look at.

Grains Per Gallon (GPG)

As mentioned above, the level of water hardness is measured in “grans per gallon”, with 1 grain being equivalent to 1/7000th of a pound of dissolved mineral ions. Most water softeners are advertised as being any where from 24,000 to 64,000 grain water softeners. For example, a 24,000grain water softener means it can remove 24,000 grains of hardness before there generation cycle. Furthermore, a 32,000 grain system can remove 32,000.

The water softener you need largely depends on the size of your home and the number of its occupants. To calculate the water softener size, simply multiply the number of occupants in your home with the number of gallons of water they use on a daily basis. For example, if you have 5 people living in your home who use up approximately 80 gallons of water per day (a common average), you will calculate 400 gallons a day. Most often, a five person household will use a 32,000 grain water softener.

Parts Per Million (PPM)

Hard water is generally measured in Grains Per Gallon, but can also be read in Parts Per Million (ppm), or even Milligrams of Calcium (Ca). Parts Per Million (PPM) is rarely used, but you may come across it on some units you look at. For your knowledge, 1 GPG is equal to 17.1 PPM.

Resin Tank

The resin tank is the area of the water softener where incoming hard water passes through to be conditioned. Within this tank are the resin beads, which are negatively-charged. When hard water passes through these beads, they absorb all the hard mineral ions and exchange them with positively-charged sodium or potassium ones. This process is called ion exchange, which renders the water soft.

Brine Tank

The brine tank is where the salt pellets go. You will likely need to fill up your water softener brine tank around 7 or 8 times per year. It should be filled 50% of the way at all times in order to ensure properly softened water.

Brine Solution

Brine solution is produced and used during the regeneration cycle. The water softener system pulls the salt from the brine tank and combines it with water to make a brine solution. This solution serves as a cleanser, essentially “scrubbing” the resin beads clean of the hard mineral ions they collected during the day.


After sometime, water softener resin beads become too saturated to work effectively, so they need to be cleansed. This process is known as the regeneration cycle. Although it differs among all make and models,the basic process involves flushing the polystyrene beads inside the resin tank with a salt brine solution, as mentioned above. The leftover salty wastewater is then flushed out of the home.

Most traditional tank-style water conditioners have automatic regeneration devices. They either use a clock or timer, or they monitor the quantity of water in the tank (these are called demand-initiated regeneration softeners), in order to assess its regeneration needs.

Manual regeneration means that you would adjust the settings yourself in order to prompt a regeneration cycle. Depending on the make and model, this is done using a hand-controlled knob that you rotate, or a dial that requires a screwdriver to turn through each stage of the regeneration process.

Tune in next month for an explanation of terms regarding recommended water softener features and upgrades!

Indianapolis Water Softener Service

Indianapolis Water Softener Repair 317-537-9707

Call 317-537-9707 for professional water softener installation and repair in Indianapolis, Indiana. We are professional plumbing experts that offer a wide range of residential and commercial water softener repair and service at the most competitive prices in town. Call 317-537-9707for Indianapolis water softener repair, today.

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