Water softener hardness number - what does it mean?

I have a Sears Kenmore Genius II Water Softener. The manual does not make it clear what I should do if I want softer water. I know how to set the hardness number - I just don't know if a lower number translates into softer water, or a higher number.
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I would first call Sears and ask. Cause I am in the same boat my water is waaay too soft and I would like to harden it up a bit, mine has a hardness level of 1 or less before the softner system it was at 19 grains of hardness
Searcher
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TLark2020 wrote:

The conditioner does its trick on all the water that flows through it. If you feel your water is too soft, your only choice is to place a valve between the incoming and outgoing flow. Opening the valve a tad would let some of the water bypass the conditioner, thus blending the hard and softened water.
Mark
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In this same vein, another question: Recently, our village began using a new water treatment plant and I no longer need my whole-house rust filter (hurray!) While here, the "water guy" said he would reset the water softener to cycle less often, implying that the water coming in was softer than it used to be, but not quite soft enough.
So (finally), the question: Does setting the softener to cycle less often result in less softening of the water? (Guess I don't really understand what "cycling" of the softener is....)
Jo Ann
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

To answer your question, No. Here's what happens- water enters your softener and the calcium ions are replaced with sodium or potassium ions. These are easier on spotting and let soap work better. Hence, it's called softened water because it acts more like real soft water which comes from rain and distillation. Over time, you run out of those sodium or potassium ions and the softener needs to regenerate. It needs to get rid of the accumulated calcium (and other) ions and replenish its supply of sodium or potassium ions.
To do this, it goes briefly offline, flushes brine from salt or potassium chloride through the resin bed, flushing away the calcium. It then follows with a brief clean water rinse and goes back into action. This is set by either a timer or a gizmo that actually measures how much water has been treated.
When your municipality improved its water quality, there was no need for your softener to recycle so often. The technician either reset the timer to a longer period or reduced the hardness count in the demand regenerator.
To change the hardness of the water at your tap, the only thing you can do is put in a partial bypass of the softener.
Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

A softener works because sodium and potassium bind more tightly to carbonates (calcium carbonate - limestone, marble, travertine, sea shells, snails ) Calcium and Magnesium Carbonates are the chief components in the 'rocks' that fill up hot water heaters. Anyway, as water flows over the resin in the softener, Sodium or Potassium (depends on which salt you use) ions are loosely attached to the resin. When Calcium carbonate or Magnesium floats by, the sodium/potassium replaces the Calcium/Magnesium and we get sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate. Sodium carbonate is used in many Laundry products to reduce the amount of detergent required to clean your clothes.
The softener needs to know the relative hardness of the water it is processing as it knows how much sodium/potassium the resin can hold. When it has processed sufficient water to deplete the sodium/potassium, it goes offline, floods the resin with brine to refresh the sodium/potassium ions on the resin (and wash away the accumulated calcium and other metals it has collected), then flushes away the brine with a fresh water solution, and goes on line.
Softeners come in two basic types, timer and auto regen. A timer is what it says it is, the refresh of the resin happens on a fixed schedule. Auto regen has a flow meter in it and the meter allows it to calculate how much water has flowed thru and to do the brine flush ONLY when it is needed. Auto regen allows for unusual events, like a bunch of neighborhood kids come over to spend the night, or it was cold and rainy and the kids where outside playing all day and came in to change when clothes got wet/muddy 3 or more times in the day.
The number used is grains of hardness, an expression of the weight or concentration of calcium/magnesium carbonate per gallon. 17.11 milligrams per gallon equals one grain. So a relatively soft public water source may have from 6-9 grains of carbonates per gallon Rainwater, especially if the first gallon is discarded will have less than 1 grain of carbonates per gallon.
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Thank you, Mark and Robert! For the first time, I actually understand what the water softener is all about. This home ownership thing is a never-ending adventure, LOL!
Jo Ann
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