Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Water Softener “Grains” Mean?

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To understand “grains”, it helps to define “hard water”, and how a water softener works.

Hard Water Meaning and Measurement

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Water is classified as “hard” when it contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Water hardness can be measured in grains per gallon (gpg), milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million (ppm).
Hardness that is measured in grains per gallon is defined as 1 grain (64.8 milligrams) of calcium carbonate dissolved in 1 US gallon of water (3.785412 L).

Water Softening

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A water softener uses a process called “ion exchange” to swap the water’s dissolved hardness minerals for sodium, and wash the minerals away.
Read more about how a water softener works
The word “grains” in a water softener description lists how many grains of hardness (that is, how much dissolved minerals) a softener can remove from the water before the softener resin tank is saturated and unable to continue softening the water.
At this stage, the softener needs to regenerate to flush the minerals away. This is also referred to as the softener’s water treatment capacity.
For example, a 48,000-grain water softener can treat 48,000 grains of hardness before it needs to regenerate.
The time it takes for this regeneration to happen depends on both the hardness of your water and your water usage. A typical softener regenerates about once per week.

How Many Grains do I Need?

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To decide the right size softener for you, choose the best fit based on both the system’s water treatment capacity and your daily water usage.

To calculate the water treatment capacity*:
First, in order for your softener to be able to delay its regeneration until 2 AM, subtract 25% of the total grains to leave a reserve in the tank.
(Multiply grains by .75.)
  • 48,000 grain softener x .75 = 36,000 grains

Next, to calculate the water treatment capacity based on your water hardness, divide the adjusted water treatment capacity by the hardness in gpg.
  • 36,000 divided by 20 = 1,800 gallons.
The 48,000 grain system will treat 1,800 gallons of water with a hardness of 20 gpg before it needs to regenerate.

*Note: In order to program a Tier1 softener, you will need to know the hardness of your water. Calculation of your water treatment capacity may also be necessary depending on the model.

To calculate water usage:

A typical household uses 75 gallons of water per person per day.
  • 4 people x 75 gallons per person = 300 gallons of water per day

The days to regeneration is equal to the water treatment capacity divided by your water usage.
  • 1,800 gallons divided by 300 gallons = 6 days usage before regeneration

For a family of 4, with a water hardness of 20 gpg, the 48,000 grain system will regenerate approximately once every 6 days.
You could also do a quick calculation and comparison between systems by figuring out how much water hardness needs to be treated per day:
  • 300 gallons x 20 gpg = 6,000 grains of hardness treated per day.
  • (48,000 grain system) 36,000 grains divided by 6,000 = 6 days between regenerations
  • (32,000 x .75) 24,000 grains divided by 6,000 = 4 days
  • (64,000 x .75) 48,000 grains divided by 6,000 = 8 days

Can I Use My Filter For Longer Than 6 Months?

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When the life of a water filter is listed as 6 months, this time period is a guideline based on typical usage. Your experience may vary depending on both your water condition and usage.
For households with only one or two people with fairly clean water, your filter may not be exhausted after six months. On the other hand, if you have a large household and/or heavy sediment or other contaminants, you may find you need to change the filter more often.
If the filter life is listed in both gallons and a time frame (e.g. 2500 gallons or 6 months), we recommend changing the filter based on whichever mark is reached first.
Telltale signs your filter may need changing include a drop in your water pressure or a change in the taste of the water.

Why is the Filter Life Listed in Both Months and Gallons?

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The product life of a filter may be listed both as a time frame and a water usage total. The filter will typically last for the listed time frame, except in the case where you have unusually high water usage, and reach the gallons listed before reaching the recommended time.
For example, if a filter is listed with a product life of 6 months or 8,000 gallons, the filter may last 6 months for most users, but for those whose water usage surpasses 8,000 gallons sooner than 6 months, the filter will need to be changed earlier.

What is a Flow Rating? How do I Choose it?

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Water flow rate, typically listed in Gallons-per-Minute (GPM), is a measurement of the maximum flow rate of water through your plumbing. The flow rate may be measured at the point of entry to your home (where water first comes into your home), and also at the point of use (where water is used, for example at a kitchen faucet.)
For use as a "whole home" filter, we typically recommend 10-12 GPM so that you do not see a reduced flow rate. A reduced flow rate typically looks like a drop in water pressure throughout your whole home (so for example, your shower may come out as a trickle, which indicates you need a filter with a higher flow rating).

After Installing a Filter Why Did My Water Pressure Drop?

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If your water pressure noticeably drops after installing a water filter, it’s possible that the filter you chose has either too low of an allowed flow rate, or too small of a micron size for your home’s water pressure and installation location.
You could try installing a different filter with a higher flow rating and/or larger micron size to restore your water flow.
Typically, a water filter installed at the point of entry of water to your home should have a flow rating of 10 gpm in order to not restrict water flow and allow adequate water pressure throughout your home.

My Fridge Filter is Stuck. How do I Get it Out?

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You can try the following to help release a stuck fridge filter:
  • Turn off the water / press the water dispense button to let out the air.
  • If your filter is above an inside shelf, try taking out the shelf that is near the filter to get more space and leverage.
  • If your filter is a "push and turn" filter, be sure to push it in and turn it like you are opening a pill bottle cap.

What's the Difference Between Tier1® Fridge Filters and Tier1® Plus?

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The Tier1® original filter will give you great tasting water by reducing chlorine taste and odor. The Tier1® Plus filter is a step up, and has additional filtering capabilities to give you even better tasting water - these filters are NSF Certified to reduce VOCs, Lead and Mercury. Tier1® Plus' premium activated carbon block provides better absorption, allowing for the reduction of contaminants without the loss of beneficial minerals.

How do I Fix a Fridge Filter Spitting Air After Installation?

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If your filter is releasing air after you install it, remove it, and put it back in to "reseat" the filter.
You can also try flushing the filter again by holding the water dispense button for 2-3 minutes of continuous water flow to help push out any residual trapped air.