I recently purchased a 12 year old home in Central Indiana that came with a water softener (waterboss model). The owners claimed it to be working during the closing. When we moved into the house, we filled the softener with salt and allowed the softener to regenerate. Then we tested the water from several faucets and sinks using a standard water softener test strip and it shows that the water is hard (between 180-250 ppm). However, at the same time the water feels quite slippery, esp. after washing with soap and the dishwasher absolutely leaves no scales.

Also I used the common test suggested in the web : taking a bottle, filling it halfway with water, adding dishwasher liquid and shaking to check for foam. That seems to work pretty well too, the mixture foams up quickly and stays like that.

Should I replace my water softener? Any other tests to check? Just want to ensure that it is not working before buying a new one.

Any pointers will be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    The dish soap test seems dubious to me. My unsoftened water is in the 50 grains range (extremely hard) and dish soap foams up just fine in it.
    – kinar
    Feb 15, 2016 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


Depending how they work, I'd have to wonder if the test strips are being thrown off by the "soft" salt ions replacing the "hard" calcium ones. But I really don't know for certain how those tests work.

You might try your "functional" tests on water that is drawn before the softener to see if the water after the softener behaves "essentially the same" or "significantly differently" in your testing: which would be one indication of "appears to do nothing" or "appears to work."

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