Can a Water Softener Cause a High Water Bill?

March 1, 2019
Water softeners cause high water bills if they recharge too often

Ouch! You just opened your latest water bill, and it’s higher than you expected. There are usually two common culprits for unintentional water waste—and that’s a running toilet or your water softener. Keep reading to learn how to check your water softener to help keep your water bill in check.

How a water softener causes a higher water bill

Water softeners will backwash themselves with fresh water to regenerate on a set schedule and sometimes the backwash valve can get stuck open, forcing water to be continuously wasted into the sewer.

Unfortunately, this wasteful situation goes undetected for a while because there’s no visible evidence. If you checked on your water softener a few times a day, you’d probably notice a slow trickle of water running into the sewer pipe from the softener. And the only way you might discover the issue is when you get that surprise water bill.

And once you get a high water bill, you still have to do the investigative work in your home to find the source.

If you do notice this happening in your home, turn off the water feed to the softener and bypass if possible, and get in touch with a service professional to fix it right away.

How often should your water softener regenerate?

How often your water softener will flush itself out with fresh water depends on a variety of factors:

  • The hardness level of your water before filtering
  • The iron level (if any) before filtering
  • The pH level before filtering
  • How many people in your household
  • Tank capacity

Generally speaking, the harder the water, the more often it will need to regenerate. And the more often it regenerates will correlate to your resulting water bill.

There is no straightforward formula to calculate how often it should regenerate, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer’s guide or a service professional. A pro can also set up your water softener to regenerate at a regular frequency and put it on a timer, so you don’t have to think about it. Most softeners will need fresh water every 2 to 4 days.

How much salt to use in your water softener

An average residential water softener will use 6 to 12 lbs of salt per regeneration at least once a week. If you have very hard water or water that’s high in iron, you could need an extra 2 to 4 lbs of salt.

Make sure you check on the salt level regularly. It should stay above the water level in your softener’s brine tank. So when you notice the water level is lower than 8 - 12 inches below the edge of the brine tank, then it’s time to add some more salt! You’ll add between 40 to 120 lbs of salt.

To keep your water softener chugging along and delivering all the soft water to your appliances (it helps them last longer), and to your shower (you’ll use less soap!) make sure you’re keeping on top of regular maintenance and making sure it’s regenerating on schedule.

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