How can I tell if I have hard water?

Water hardness is demonstrated by scale buildup in water heaters or on plumbing fixtures, by soap deposits on dishes and fabrics, and by soap scum in sinks and bathtubs. To learn about the 8 major signs you might have a hard water issue, read our blog post.

What makes my water hard?

As water passes through the atmosphere in the form of rain, snow, sleet, hail, dew, or fog, it picks up impurities and gasses. And, because water is the universal solvent, it picks up even more impurities as it travels through the earth as ground water. Whatever the water comes in contact with, it will dissolve a part of it.

What is water hardness?

Water ‘hardness’ is caused by the minerals calcium and magnesium in ground and surface water. If either or both minerals are present in your drinking water in high concentrations, the water is considered ‘hard.’ These minerals come from sedimentary rock such as limestone that dissolves into our water. The result of hard water is difficulty making lather or suds for washing and a build-up of minerals on taps and on other fixtures. Water containing low concentrations of calcium or magnesium is called ‘soft’ water. To learn about the signs you may have hard water in your home, read our blog post.

Why do my sinks and fixtures turn yellow?

One of the most common water treatment problems found in well water is iron. Iron can be found in 3 different forms.

Ferrous iron (dissolved) — Although not visible, it is the most common type of iron. Later when oxygen is mixed with ferrous iron it stains sinks, toilets and laundry especially when bleach is added. To reduce levels of ferrous iron, softening and or filtration is performed.

Ferric Iron (suspended) — Ferric iron or brown water iron is oxidized and forms particles. Once these particles settle down, they can normally be seen in a glass of water. Sometimes these particles are too small to be seen and are very difficult to remove.

Iron bacteria — Iron bacteria is a general term given to iron that can leave a slimy growth or build up in toilet tanks and sometimes clogs filters, softeners and pipes. These bacteria are not harmful, but are considered a nuisance bacteria because of their difficulty in removing.

Why is my dishwasher stained brown?

Brown or black stains found in the dishwasher are usually from high levels of manganese. Manganese that is dissolved in water can stain when the level is above .05mg/l.. The dishwasher is a perfect mechanism to oxidize it because it heats it, agitates it and mixes the water with air. Manganese can also stain clothes in the washing machine, due to the same reasons. If bleach is added, staining is worse.

Why does my water leave blue-green stains?

This indicates that the water is corrosive and usually acidic. Acidic water can leach metals from pumps, piping and fixtures. If left alone without treatment it can cause leaks in copper pipes and fixtures. Acidity is measured on a scale of 0-14 with 7 being neutral, less than 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic.

Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

Hydrogen sulfide gas is a naturally occurring contaminant, which gives water a disagreeable rotten egg odor or taste. This usually indicates the presence of some form of non-harmful mineral reducing bacteria in the well. Testing is very difficult because it is a gas and it comes out of solution very quickly. There are no known health effects; however hydrogen sulfide can also make the water somewhat corrosive.

Why does my drinking water sometimes look cloudy?

Once in a while you get a glass of water, and it looks cloudy; maybe milky is a better term. After a few seconds it miraculously clears up! The cloudiness is due to tiny air bubbles in the water. Like any bubbles, the air rises to the top of the water and goes into the air, clearing up the water. The water in the pipes coming into your house might be under a bit of pressure, and gases (the air), which are dissolved in the pressurized water, will come out as the water flows into your glass, where it is under normal atmospheric pressure.

What is softened water?

A water softener replaces the ‘hardness’ minerals with sodium or potassium. The amounts of these elements added to the water are relatively insignificant in comparison to what is ingested from your food and should not pose a health problem.

Most often, water softeners are regenerated with salt and water. Regeneration is a process in which the softening materials inside the softener can be used over and over again. Once the regeneration is completed, the salt and water solution is flushed into the drain. To learn about how a water softener works, read our blog post.

Can I use potassium type salts?

Yes, any water softener will work with potassium chloride salts, however some loss of capacity between regenerations can occur. Please consult with your dealer. If your reasoning for using “potassium salt” is for health concerns remember that potassium chloride is also a salt. Consult with your doctor whenever there is a health concern about your water.

Should I be concerned about sodium in water?

If sodium is a concern to you, your water quality improvement professional can explain the amount of sodium in softened water. This varies, depending on the hardness of the water supply. Any person on a sodium-restricted diet should follow the advice of his physician. All municipal water supplies contain some naturally occurring sodium. If the sodium-restricted diet is very strict, discuss the use of RO, or some other water quality improvement system to reduce the sodium to meet your requirements.

We have put together a handy education piece to help you understand the sodium in water and things you consume or you could read our blog post for myths about water softeners.

For the sake of comparison, one slice of white bread contains about 114 mg of sodium, and an eight-ounce glass of milk contains 120 mg of sodium. If your water contains 10 grain per gallon (GPG), and if you consumed a total of one quart of softened water a day, your intake of additional sodium would be 75 mg – less than either a slice of bread or a glass of milk.

What type of salt should I use?

Any type of clean salt can be used. Water-Right recommends the use of either block or solar salts. These two types of salt seem to be the cleanest and will cause the least problems in the brine tank.

Water-Right at no time recommends the use of iron cleaner additives or “iron fitting type salts” with the use of its equipment. These cleaners will be harmful to the Crystal-Right media in the Sanitizer Series of equipment if used. Please consult with your local dealer or contact us for proper salt usage.

Common Contaminants Found in Residential Well Water

Well water can become contaminated without any change in the water’s taste, smell or appearance. The following are common contaminants found in residential wells throughout the United States:

  • ARSENIC. This toxic element is found naturally in soil and bedrock, but occurs in particularly high levels in Northeast Wisconsin. Ingestion can lead to serious health problems.
  • CHLORIDES. Small amounts of salt are natural. Higher levels are unnatural and may indicate a faulty water softener, road salt, septic waste or fertilizer contamination.
  • COLIFORM BACTERIA. A natural part of the microbiology of soils, insects, and warm-blooded animals, coliform bacteria is the primary indicator for the presence of disease-causing organisms in water.
  • FLUORIDE. Found naturally in water. While low levels of fluoride are desirable, excessive amounts may stain teeth.
  • HARDNESS. Interferes with cleaning tasks from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. These deposits also collect in household plumbing lines, water heaters and appliances, causing them to run less efficiently.
  • HYDROGEN SULFIDE. A gas dissolved in water. It is easily detected by its rotten egg odor.
  • IRON. Not considered hazardous to health, but when the level of iron in water exceeds the DNR 0.3 mg/l limit, we experience red, brown, or yellow staining of laundry, glassware, dishes and household. The water may also have a metallic taste and an offensive odor. Water system piping and fixtures can also become restricted or clogged.
  • LEAD. Houses built before 1985 may contain lead pipes or lead-based solder. Lead can cause serious health problems in young children.
  • MANGANESE. A metal found in rock and does not occur naturally in pure form. Manganese will cause black staining and many times is accompanied by iron and hydrogen sulfide. Evidence of manganese staining is most prominently found in the dishwasher.
  • NITRATES. Elevated levels can be an indication of contamination by farm chemicals, lawn fertilizers, or septic saturation. Nitrates can pose a serious health risk to infants.
  • SULFATES. High levels of sulfates can cause odors, leave spots, taste bitter and have a temporary laxative effect.

Your local, authorized Water-Right dealer has the expertise to find the best treatment method for your water. Talk with them today!

Learn more about your home’s water quality. You can find out ways to save money with WET or improve the health of your home. Our company website has many educational pieces about hard water, soft water, RO water, and fun articles so you can achieve the best cup of coffee.

A FREE Water Treatment for Dummies book is available to you from WQA!

What is a nitrate?

Nitrate is a naturally occurring compound that is formed in the soil when nitrogen and oxygen combine. Small amounts of nitrate are normal, but excess amounts can pollute supplies of groundwater.

Where does nitrate come from?

Common sources of nitrogen in the soil are fertilizers, livestock waste, and septic systems. Excess nitrate in the soil is most often found in rural and agricultural areas.

How does nitrate get into my well water?

Nitrate travels easily through the soil, carried by rain or irrigation water into groundwater supplies. Wells that tap groundwater may be affected. Shallow wells, wells in sandy soil, or wells that are improperly constructed or maintained are more likely to have nitrate contamination. Read more about how well water contaminants get into your water.

What are the health effects of consuming nitrate?

For most people, consuming small amounts of nitrate is not harmful. Nitrate can cause health problems for infants, especially those six months of age and younger. Nitrate interferes with their blood’s ability to transport oxygen. This causes an oxygen deficiency, which results in a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia, or “blue-baby syndrome.” The most common symptom of nitrate poisoning is bluish skin coloring, especially around the eyes and mouth. Infants six months of age and younger along with pregnant and nursing women should avoid consumption of water high in nitrate. Cattle, horses, sheep, and baby pigs, are also susceptible to nitrate poisoning. Read about how nitrates get into your water and what you can do to solve your drinking water problem.

What is a part per million (ppm) or a part per billion (ppb)?

Most of the chemical data that is reported for water is expressed as a concentration:
One-Part-Per-Million can be thought of as one inch in 16 miles or one cent in $10,000.
One-Part-Per-Billion can be thought of as one second of time in 32 years.

It is EXTREMELY MISLEADING to interpret these analogies to minimize the magnitude of the risks. Even miniscule amounts of certain contaminants can poison water.

Why do I feel slippery when bathing in soft water?

The “slickness” felt after a soft water shower is just the “real” you! Hard water does not easily rinse off the residue from cleaning products. When bathing in softened water, the use of less soap is desirable. Use sufficient water to rinse the skin thoroughly and your skin will feel softer and much smoother than it did with hard water bathing. Read more about why you might not be getting as clean in the shower as you think with hard water.

How Does Water Get Hard/How Is It Softened
All of the earth’s fresh water originally falls as rain, sleet and snow. Surface water is drawn upwards by the sun, where it forms as clouds. As it falls back to earth it is pure and soft, but as it does it also begins to pick up impurities in the air. Finally, as it seeps through rock and soil it can gather hardness, iron, and acids as well as unpleasant odors and tastes. Water is known as the “universal solvent” because over time it dissolves everything it comes in contact with. High concentrations of dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium, are picked up through limestone and dissolved by rainwater which leads to hardness in water. Years ago, people who wanted soft water would gather rainwater in barrels and cisterns before it was able to pick up impurities from the earth. In today’s world we can produce softened/conditioned water by running water through an ion exchange media which by design has the superior ability of attracting and capturing dissolved hardness impurities found in water. Your WaterCare system is the result of using this technology. Here is basically how your system conditions your water.

The Softening Process (Impression, Impression Plus, Impression RC, Sanitizer Plus, CS Series, CC Series):

  1. The softener/conditioner directs the flow of your household water through a column of media. The media making up this column is comprised of minute pockets and crevices. The media captures and holds the hardness impurities in the water. When they can no longer hold any more, the system must be regenerated, or recharged.
  2. Next, the media is backwashed to remove any sediment that may have accumulated in the tank. Any sediment is flushed to the drain. In the second phase of the recharge, the media is automatically drenched in a salt solution (brine) which removes the hardness impurities.
  3. If the system is installed outside or in a pump house, dirt and debris, such as cobwebs, insects, etc., may create mechanical issues. You should occasionally remove the control valve cover and brush lightly with a very soft, dry brush.

The Filtering Process (Impression Filters):

  1. A filter, like the softener, directs the flow of water through the media. As the water travels through the media, iron, sand and other turbid particles are “caught” by the media.
  2. Next, the media is backwashed to remove any sediment that may have accumulated in the tank. This sediment is flushed to the drain.

All Water-Right conditioners and some filters are designed to use salt. All salt can, regardless of its source, contain insoluble matter which accumulates at the bottom of the brine tank, and as such requires periodic cleaning. If pellet or rock salt is used, you should clean out your brine tank at least once a year. If solar salt is used, the brine tank will require less frequent cleaning but you should check periodically for a condition that can develop called bridging*. For proper operation of a water softener or conditioner, the brine tank should be at least 1/3 full of salt at all times.

For Impression, Impression Plus, Impression RC units:
Water-Right recommends the use of solar salt for best results. Water softeners and conditioners manufactured by Water-Right can support the use of potassium chloride (KCI) as a regenerant in lieu of sodium chloride.

For Sanitizer Plus units:
WARNING: Do not use salt containing mineral bed cleaners. Salts that claim any iron cleaners, rust savers, or additional cleaning agents should not be used as they can harm the media. Only “plain” solar salt, rock salt or block salts should be used. Contact your dealer for more information.

At no time does Water-Right recommend the use of resin or media cleaners in the brine tank without first contacting your authorized Water-Right dealer as some cleaners require not only proper handling but can be detrimental to the tank’s media bed.

*Salt bridging occurs when a gap is formed between the salt and the water preventing the salt from dissolving in the water and making brine. The effects of high humidity as well as the use of some brands of purified salt products may cause bridging to form.

A quick way to check and eliminate this problem is to press your knee against the side of the brine tank and listen for the salt to readjust inside the tank, or you can take a broom handle and make a mark about 30 inches from the end and carefully begin to probe down through the salt with the handle. Should an obstruction be found before the mark on the broom handle reaches the rim of the brine tank, a bridge has probably developed. Continue to probe to break up the bridge.

These simple precautions will help keep your water treatment system looking like new, and help ensure that you experience trouble free service for many years to come.

  1. Use only mild soap and warm water when cleaning the exterior of the system. You should never use abrasive, harsh cleaning compounds or any which contain acid such as vinegar, or an oxidizer such as bleach or similar products.
  2. Do not stack heavy objects on top of the system’s control valve (timer case) or brine tank.
  3. If the system is installed outside or in a pump house, dirt and debris such as cobwebs, insects, etc., may create mechanical issues. You should occasionally remove the control valve cover and brush lightly with a very soft, dry brush.
  4. Should troubleshooting or adjustment information be needed that is not included in this Use and Care guide, please refer to the proper “Installation and Owner’s Manual” for your model. If you do not have this manual, it may be obtained from your local Water-Right dealer or on-line at

Water is always inside your controller, media tank and brine tank, and must be protected to prevent the water from freezing temperatures. If your unit should freeze, do not attempt to disassemble it. Call your authorized Water-Right dealer for service.

A periodic clean out of the brine tank is recommended to keep your system operating at peak efficiency. The following is a step-by-step procedure to properly clean out the brine tank. To lessen the amount of time to complete the task, it is suggested that you perform this clean out when the salt supply is low.

Following is a list of suggested tools to use:

  • Garden hose
  • Scoop
  • Bucket-size container
  • Household scrub brush
  • Philips-head screwdriver
  • Soft rag
  1. Remove the brine tank lid and the plastic cap from the brine well.
  2. Remove the brine well mechanism from the brine tank and carefully set it aside in an upright position. To do this, disconnect the brine overflow tube and brine line from the safety float mechanism and holding the nut on the inside of the brine well, unscrew the elbow. Be careful not to lose the nut.
  3. Should you desire to save any clean, dry salt remaining in the brine tank, remove it and place it in a clean container.
  4. Use a scoop to dig out and discard as much remaining salt, water and insoluble matter as possible.
  5. Carefully lay the brine tank on its side and using the garden hose, wash out the inside of the tank to rinse out all residue and salt cake that has affixed itself to the inside of the tank.
  6. If a salt grid was installed, remove and clean it using a household scrub brush and mild soapy solution.
  7. Stand the brine tank upright. Place the brine well in position and reaffix it to the tank with the elbow and nut. Connect the brine line back to the safety float mechanism.
  8. Reinstall the salt grid and replace brine well cap.
  9. Fill the brine tank with 2 to 3 inches of water.
  10. Fill the tank 2/3 full of salt.
  11. Replace the brine tank cover.

PLEASE NOTE: Allow about 2 to 3 hours for brine solution to be made before the system regenerates.

These systems will display an error code if the unit has a malfunction. If an error is displayed in the window, please write it down and contact your servicing dealer. This display can be cleared by pressing the NEXT and REGEN buttons simultaneously for five seconds. This will remove the error display from the screen temporarily but if the unit malfunctions again, the display will return. Repeated resetting of this display is NOT RECOMMENDED and can damage the unit. Please contact dealer.

Most Sanitizer Plus Series units are equipped with a feature to warn the homeowner that the unit has run low on salt. This “salt alarm” feature will emit a beeping noise every three seconds along with a warning on the display screen. In order to stop the warning tones, simply push any button once on the cover of the unit. To reset the display again, push the NEXT and the REGEN buttons at the same time for five seconds. Please add salt to the unit and the unit will regenerate normally at the next scheduled regeneration time. If salt is in the unit (at least one-third full) and the alarm continues to display, please contact your servicing dealer.

Do not operate unit without salt. This can damage the media inside the unit.

The AC transformer comes with a 15 foot power cord and is designed for use with the control valve. The transformer should only be used in a dry location.

In the event of a power outage that is less than 24 hours, the control valve will remember all settings and time of day. After 24 hours, the only item that needs to be reset is the time of day and will be indicated by the time of day flashing. All other settings are permanently stored in the nonvolatile memory.