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Frequently Asked Questions 


What is Hard Water?

 Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium - two minerals that cause the soapy scum on glasses and lime residue on bathroom fixtures.

While suitable for drinking and gardening, hard water can cause mineral build-up in water heaters, pipes, dishwashers and showerheads, reducing its flow. Soap and shampoo's ability to lather is reduced, and laundry becomes stiffer and duller in appearance.

 As the table below shows, water hardness is measured with five different classifications and can be expressed in mg/litre or parts per million (ppm) or grains per gallon (gpg).

Table 1 Water hardness classifications:




Slightly Hard

Moderately Hard


Very Hard

Water Hardness

Below 17 mg/litre or ppm (0 - 1 gpg)

17.1 - 60 mg/litre or ppm (1.1 - 3.5 gpg)

61 - 120 mg/litre or ppm (3.6 - 7 gpg)

121 - 180 mg/litre or ppm (7.1 - 10.5 gpg)

Over 180 mg/litre or ppm (over 10.5 gpg)


How to Decide if You Should Buy a Water Softener

 Above 5 gpg, you may want to consider a water softener. Generally speaking, groundwater (well water taken from aquifers in the ground) is hard. Some municipalities in Canada use groundwater to supply water to residents. Residents, in small or rural communities, may not have municipal water service and get water from private or communal wells.

The most crucial step in deciding whether your home should have a water softener is to find out if your water is hard. If you have municipal water, bring us a small sample so that we can conduct a test and classify its hardness. It's free of charge and only takes a couple of minutes

How Does a Water Softener Work?

 A water softener uses a medium that serves to exchange "ions" of calcium and magnesium with sodium and potassium.

This occurs in four steps:

  1. To do the ion replacement, the water in the house runs through a resin bed of small plastic beads or zeolite. The beads are covered with sodium or potassium ions. As the water flows past the ions, they swap places with the calcium and magnesium ions. Eventually, the beads contain nothing but calcium and magnesium, and softening stops. It is then time to regenerate the beads or zeolite.

  2. To regenerate, the beads need to regain their sodium or potassium ions by being flooded with a salty, brine solution that is rich in sodium or potassium.

  3. Once completed, the calcium and magnesium, dirt and sediments are flushed from the beads and into the drain in a process called backwash.

  4. The final phase rinses the mineral tank with fresh water and loads the brine tank so it's ready for the next cycle.

Automatic water softeners are usually programmed to recharge at specific times that will not disrupt the occupants. It is more water-efficient to have a metered model that will regenerate only when required.


What are The Benefits of a Water Softener?

 A water softener reduces water hardness, making it easier to shower and clean fabrics and dishes. With softened water, less soap is needed for bathing and laundry. Skin feels cleaner and clothing softer.

Pipes, fixtures and appliances have less scale build-up. With less build-up, appliances can operate efficiently. Mineral-derived odours may be reduced; and, there are fewer deposit stains on bathroom fixtures.


What are The Different Kinds of Water Softeners?



All functions are performed automatically, including regeneration.


Regenerates on a pre-set schedule.

Both types of softeners come in a single or twin tank style. To learn more about the models best suited for your city click the appropriate link below. 

How To Size a Water Softener

# of people


50 gallons

of water per day


# of gallons to be softened on a daily basis




grains per day that your softener will use




size of the softener

(40 000 / 32 000 / 30 000)


30 000 /

22 000 /

20 000   


grains per day


days between regenerations

10 000 backup reserve






(3-10 days is ideal size)

How Much Does a Water Softener Cost?

 The price of water softeners varies according to the type and sophistication of the system. Automatic softeners are the most cost effective, selling for around $900 and up. In most cases installation fees are extra - averaging about $250 and up per unit. With WaterSmart Systems installation is included in the price in most instances.  There are no hidden costs with a Watersmart softener.

Where do I Install a Water Softener?

 Water softeners are installed where the water line enters the home. A professional installer should carry out the installation. A separate cold line may be installed for drinking and cooking purposes if you prefer to not consume softened water.


What Does a Softener Look Like?

 All of our softeners and conditioners can be seen on our website or at either store locations.


How do I Maintain My Water Softener?

 While most softeners need little care and will last for many years - problems may occasionally occur.

To ensure smooth functioning, the water softener should regenerate at least once a week to assure its longevity. If your softener is not working properly, there are several things to watch for.

  • Check for salt build-up in the brine tank. If a crust has formed, remove it using a vacuum, clean with soap and water, and rinse well.

  • If your water contains iron, check for iron deposits in the resin bed. If it is present, use an iron-removing product to clean the softener.

  • Check the resin tank injector. If it is plugged with "dirty" salt, shut off the softener's bypass plug, run a manual regeneration and then clean the injector and injector screen.

  • If your salt tank is over 1/2 full of salt and no water, pour 5-10 gallons of warm to hot (NOT BOILING) water in the salt tank.

Consider machines that have controls that minimize water use during regeneration. Often, one cycling a week will be sufficient for a family of four.

Concerns About Water Softeners

Are water softeners noisy?

 Water softeners create very little noise. The only sound you will hear is the movement of water through the unit during the backwash.  WaterSmart Systems have a silencer on the valve to cut the noise by approximately 50 percent.


Is softened water corrosive?

 It has been found that ion exchange softening has no effect on the corrosiveness of water. Water pH, dissolved oxygen content, ammonia, chloride and flow velocity cause corrosion. These factors are unaffected by the softening process.


What are the main operating costs?

 The purchase of salt for regeneration will be the main operating cost. Salt is sold in large bags and can be obtained from one of our WaterSmart Stores, a supermarket or local hardware store.  Delivery is also available from Riepert Salt. The other cost will be the water and energy required for operation and regeneration.


Will a water softener harm my septic system?

 While there have been concerns over a water softener's impact on septic systems - such as killing the bacteria in septic tanks with salt, overflowing tanks with too much backwash flow and reducing the drainage field's ability to absorb water - recent scientific studies remain inconclusive.

 Salt has been found to have no harmful effects on bacteria and the soil of the drainage field. However, the volume of backwash flow can range from 25 - 150 gallons per week or the equivalent of one to two standard filled bathtubs.


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