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.
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
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
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....)
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
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.
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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