Water Softener FAQ

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Protect Your Home

Removing minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water will protect the investment you have made in your home:

  • Water softeners prevent scale buildup! They protect your plumbing from damaging minerals and increase the appliance life of your dishwasher, clothes washer and water heater.
  • Protects your faucets and fixtures, as well as your tub, wash basin and toilet finishes, from damaging hard water deposits and stains.
Feel The Difference

Add to your quality of life with softer skin and cleaner hair!

  • Soap and shampoo lather better.
  • Soaps rinse cleaner.
  • Soft water allows your skin’s natural oils to surface making your skin softer and smoother.
  • Shaving is more comfortable, smoother.
Save Money!

Water softeners pay for themselves through savings on energy, water, cleaning products, detergents, and increased clothing fabric life!

  • Increases the heating efficiency of your water heater up to 29%.
  • Use 1/3 less detergent to get your clothes cleaner, softer, brighter and whiter!
  • Use less additives in your laundry.
  • Increases fabric life, helps your clothes last longer.
  • Cleaning products work better, “less is more.”
Spend Less Time On Housework

Housework is easier when there is less scrubbing and your cleaning products work their best!

  • Leaves less soap residue, so your showers, tubs and sinks are easier to clean.
  • Cleaner dishes and less spotting on glassware.
  • Provides softer, cleaner, brighter clothes.
  • Cleaning products work better.
Water Softeners can even improve ice quality!

Which model is right for you? Use the steps below to help guide you in your decision. All North Star water softeners are built with the same quality and efficiency and are designed to save you time and money.

Step 1 – Capacity

Determine the grain capacity of the unit for you. Family size, peak flow rate needs, hardness and iron minerals in water, and desired regeneration frequency, are some of the considerations to use when sizing the proper system. The chart below is a general reference.

Number of People in Household 3-6 Grains of Hardness 5-11 Grains of Hardness 10-21 Grains of Hardness 21+ Grains of Hardness
2 15,000 to 30,000 (Light) 15,000 to 30,000 (Light) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium)
3 15,000 to 30,000 (Light) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium)
4 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium)
5+ 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 25,000 to 30,000 (Medium) 40,000+ (Heavy)
Step 2 – Style

Choose between the space saving cabinet models or the versatile two–tank models. cabinet-pic          2-tank-pic

Step 3 – Electronics
Ultra Demand – UD


  • Backlit LCD Display–Easier to read.
  • Perfect for basement or poorly lit locations.
  • Features patented “Look Ahead” technology for peak performance.
  • Quick Set-up. Set the time and hardness and you are done.
  • Display shows: Time, Hardness, Regeneration Time % Remaining Capacity, Current Flow Total Daily Usage and Average Daily Usage
  • Efficiency Selector–Choose either normal or high efficiency mode.
  • Diagnostics: Electronic Self Diagnosis, Days in Service, Total Number of Regenerations, Turbine Check and Switches Check
  • Gallons/Liters choice
  • 12 or 24 hour choice
  • Selectable Fixed Recharge Frequency
  • Adjustable Backwash Setting
Electronic Demand – ED


  • Standard LCD Display.
  • Features patented “Look Ahead” technology for peak performance.
  • Quick Set-up. Set the time and hardness and you are done.
  • Display shows: Time, Hardness and Regeneration Time
  • Efficiency Selector–Choose either normal or high efficiency mode.
  • Diagnostics: Electronic Self Diagnosis, Days in Service, Total Number of Regenerations, Turbine Check and Switches Check

What do North Star model numbers mean?

ModelBreakdown C – Cabinet Model: Space saving, all-in-one construction. T – Two-Tank Model: Separate resin tank and brine tank for versatile installation options. 30 – Capacity: The capacity is expressed in kilograins of hardness removed between successive regeneration’s and is related to the pound of salt used in regeneration. UD: Ultra Demand ED: Electronic Demand

Parts of the North Star Water Softener


The North Star Water Softener Controller

NSC30_Valve “Look Ahead” Technology The brains of the softener! Our patented programming monitors your water use and determines when a regeneration of the softener is needed. You use up to 60% less salt! The system learns your water use patterns and actually gets more efficient as it learns. “Look Ahead” also calculates the precise amount of salt and water to use to regenerate only the portion of the resin beads that have been used (depleted). This saves you salt and water and is why North Star softeners lead the industry in rated efficiencies. Super Cap® Time Keeper In the event of a loss of power, North Star water softeners maintain accurate time for up to 72 hours – without batteries. For longer power outages, only the current time needs to be re-entered, the system remembers the rest. Environseal™ Circuitry Protection North Star water softeners are securely sealed to protect circuitry from salt corrosion and high humidity so your water softener lasts longer. No-Worry Setting No vacation setting is required. If you’re not using water, it does not regenerate. That saves salt and water. Counter-Current Regeneration North Star pioneered this method where brine water is drawn into the bottom of our resin tanks which enhances the regeneration process. This is the preferred method but practiced by only select manufactures.

A water softener uses a treatment method known as ion exchange to soften water. The exchange material (cation resin) has a negative charge. The hardness ions (calcium, magnesium, etc.) which are dissolved in the water, have a positive charge. As the water flows over and through the resin, the hardness ions are drawn to the resin. At the same time, sodium ions (which have a less positive charge) are knocked off the resin into the water.This exchange process occurs billions of times during the softening process. As the exchange takes place, a hardness band forms in the resin bed. The band expands in the same direction as the service flow. Eventually, hardness blankets the resin to a point where it is not capable of exchanging. The resin is considered “exhausted” and any water passing over the resin remains hard. Regeneration must occur to revive the resin. A brine solution is introduced into the mineral tank. Brine solution can be either sodium or potassium salt dissolved with water. The brine solution is rich in sodium or potassium ions and will exchange off the hardness ions. The hardness ions and unused brine solution is rinsed down the drain. The resin is backwashed and rinsed to complete the regeneration process. NSSoftener

  • Brine Valve Assembly – Consists of Brine Tube, Air Check Float Assembly and Safety Shutoff.
  • Brine Well – Container for the Brine Valve Assembly.
  • Resin Tank – Holds resin media.
  • Resin – Ion exchange media
  • Nozzle/Venturi Assembly – Consists of Screen, Venturi, Gasket and Fill Flow Plug.
  • Main Valve – Consists of the Timer, Motor, Cam and Gear, Microswitch, Rotor and Disc, Metering Assembly (demand units only).
  • Top Distributor – Disperses even water flow during service and regeneration, inhibits resin from escaping to the inlet side of valve during backwash and filters service water.
  • Riser Pipe – Transports water from bottom distributor to valve.
  • Bottom Distributor – Disperses backwash flow and inhibits resin from escaping to the outlet of valve.
  • Salt – Regenerant for resin usually sodium or potassium chloride.
  1. The valve controls the water flow into and out of the water softener. As untreated water flows through the resin tank the resin beads remove the hardness minerals from the water through a process called ion exchange. Softened conditioned water then flows from the softener into your home.
  2. As the resin tank’s capacity is used, regeneration, or cleaning, is required. Regeneration is initiated by the electronic controller.
  3. During regeneration, water is introduced into the salt storage tank to make a brine solution. This solution is then drawn into the resin tank, removing the hardness minerals from the resin. The resin is then backwashed and given a final rinse, restoring the softener to its full capacity.
When the softener is providing soft water, it is called “service”

PrintDuring service, hard water flows from the house main water pipe into the softener. Inside the softener resin tank is a bed made up of thousands of tiny, plastic resin beads. As hard water passes through the bed, each bead attracts and holds the hardness minerals. This is called ion-exchanging. It is much like a magnet attracting and holding metals. Water without the hardness minerals (soft water) flows from the softener and to the house pipes. After a period of time, the resin beads hold all of the hardness minerals they can and cleaning is needed to remove them. This cleaning is called regeneration, or recharge. The demand timer automatically determines when regenerations occur. Regeneration is started at 2:00 a.m. (factory setting) by the softener timer, and consists of five stages or cycles. These are: FILL, BRINING, BRINE RINSE, BACKWASH, and FAST RINSE.

Water flow through a softener: The stages of regeneration

The Fill Cycle Salt, dissolved in water, is called brine. Brine is needed to clean the hardness minerals from the resin beads. To make the brine, water flows into the salt storage area during the fill stage. The Brining Cycle During brining, brine travels from the salt storage area, into the resin tank. Brine is the cleaning agent needed to remove the hardness minerals from the resin beads. The hardness minerals, and brine are discharged to the drain. The nozzle and venturi create a suction to move the brine, maintaining a very slow rate to get the best resin cleaning with the least salt. The Brine Rinse After a pre-measured amount of brine is used, the brine valve closes. Water continues to flow in the same path as during brining, except for the discontinued brine flow. Hardness minerals and brine flush from the resin tank, to the drain.


The Backwash Cycle During backwash, water travels up through the resin tank at a fast flow rate, flushing accumulated iron, dirt, and sediments from the resin bed and to the drain. The Fast Rinse Cycle Backwash is followed by a fast flow of water down through the resin tank. The fast flow flushes brine from the bottom of the tank, and packs the resin bed.


Automatic Hard Water Bypass During Regeneration

For emergency needs, hard water is available to the home during the regeneration cycles. However, you should avoid using HOT water because the water heater will refill with the hard water.