What size water softener do I need?
Many people will think about the physical size of the water softener, but it is the water softening capacity of the water softener (the amount of soft water created between regenerations) that really determines its suitability for the home.
A small sized water softener in a home that needs high flow rates will not provide the correct contact time for the ion exchange to work effectively and the home will not have properly softened water.
The volume of soft water that can be created is dependent on the volume of resin inside the softener and the hardness of the water in your area. Trustworthy manufacturers will show how much soft water can be created by their water softener, normally based on a UK average of 300 ppm water hardness.
Your water usage (a guide is 160 litres per person per day) plus the size of your home will determine which softener is best for you. A water softener with low softening capacity would be suitable for 2-3 people, but a low softening capacity in a home of 4 or more people will be expensive to run and because it will be working harder increase its wear and tear and longevity.
Water softeners and the flow of water in the home
Another concern of householders is whether their water softener will have a detrimental effect on the home’s water flow. High flow rates are often not required in most homes. Larger properties with direct feed systems, high flow rates become a consideration.
If your plumbing is a gravity-fed system, ie: water is drawn from a tank, a good quality water softener will have no effect on your home’s water flow, as the pressure is related to the height of your stored water tank (head of pressure).
However, mega-flow and combi-boilers are direct feed systems which require higher flow rates, as they depend on the pressure of your incoming mains water. These higher flow rates are normally obtained by larger pipework in your home. If in doubt, ask the water softener manufacturer if the water softener is suitable for a direct-feed system.
Larger homes with plumbing above 22mm will require a softener specifically designed for larger pipework. A standard water softener offered with larger hoses will not create the water flow required in a larger house and the ion exchange process can be compromised because there is not enough contact time with the resin beads.