Determining how much salt your softener uses isn’t always clear cut. Your unit’s efficiency level, age, your water’s hardness level, and your household’s water use all play into how much salt your softener needs throughout the year. There are a few things to look for when figuring out whether to add salt to your softener. But in general, just follow this rule:
The salt level needs to be at least half-full. All the time.
Easy enough! But, you’ll need to check your unit on a consistent basis to make sure your salt is at the 50% (or more) level. Checking salt levels once per month usually does the trick, or once every couple months if you have a high-efficiency unit. If your softener salt is below half-full when you check it, that’s the one obvious sign you need to add more salt. Your home won’t be getting consistently soft water if the salt level is lower than that.
When to Add Salt
Another sign for adding more salt is if the salt looks wet. If you check your softener tank and the water level is higher than the salt, you’ll definitely need to add more salt. But don’t overfill it—just get the salt up to that half-full mark, or consult with your local water softener professional if the salt level looks off.
Your softener’s age has a big effect on your salt usage and when to add salt. So if you’re worried that your unit is using too much or too little salt, it might be time for a better model. Softeners that are over 10 years old usually use a lot more salt than newer and more efficient softening systems. Older units often regenerate (the stage when the softener uses salt) on a set schedule. Which means they might be using salt even when your water usage doesn’t need it to. New units, on the other hand, only regenerate as-needed. That’s how they can conserve salt and save you money!
Other salt level issues might relate to the kind of salt you’re using in your system. Most water softener experts recommend using evaporated salt because it dissolves easier in your system. This basically eliminates the need to clean out any salt buildup in your softener.
Water Softener Efficiency
Using the right salt in the right softener system can go a long way for your home’s efficiency savings. A compact, single tank softener system can have crazy good efficiency ratings. They could give you as much as 30% savings on salt usage, and up to 50% on water. A high-efficiency water softener can even save over 50% of operating costs on your home’s water heater.
To give you a real-world scenario, our family is considered to be a “high water use” household. We’re a family of four, plus a dog, and our softener has only used four bags of salt (at 50 pounds each) in the last 10 months. Lower efficiency systems might need an entire bag of salt each and every month. What a chore!
When you have a softener that’s operating at its best, you’ll be surprised at how little salt you need to keep your home’s soft water in order. If you’re still concerned that your unit is using too much salt—or not enough—consult with your local soft water expert. They’ll help you know for certain whether your unit is a-okay, or ready for an upgrade.