New water softener install question

dveenhuisJanuary 25, 2012

I am installing a water softener in a small home that currently has none. The entire home has 1/2" plastic pipe. Does the water softener need a 3/4" feed to run and regenerate properly? If not, I can use the existing 1/2" line running to the hot water heater up to the softener and then to the water heater. I'm thinking a better idea would be to run 3/4" pex from the well line to the softer, but if it doesn't matter, the existing line would be easier and cheaper.

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If you install the softener on the line running to the WH then only the hot water will be softened and all the cold water will be hard. Since you're going to the trouble of installing a water softener why wouldn't you want soft water?

I would install the softener on the water service line entering the house so all the water in the house is softened.

In order to regenerate properly a softener requires a specific SFR and that required minimum SFR is dependent on the resin volume of the softener.

In order for the softener to do its job it has to be correctly sized and set up for the water conditions and water usage. Installing just any softener in any house you stand a VERY remote chance that it will adequately treat the water.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:34AM
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Justalurker, thanks for the response. I understand I will tap the outlet into the cold water also. I was only describing the inlet situation. The existing line for the hot water heater runs under the floor from the main supply. It would be convenient to cut into it, go up to the softener. Coming out of the softener, I could go back down to that line to take care of the hot water, with a tee that also goes to the cold. The thing is, all the pipe is half inch. It's a cheap Menard's water softener, a Morton MSD34C. I don't have the budget or space for anything more. The recommendation from water testing was I needed a softener that had at least 24000 grain capacity and I have 3.0 ppm of iron. The minimum supply rate required for this softener is 3 gpm. Could I simply measure the output through the half inch pipe and see if it meets the 3 gpm requirement?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:14PM
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First, if you have 3 ppm iron that box store softener will die a quick death and you'll have wasted your money.

What is the water hardness, PH, TDS, any manganese, and the # of people and # of bathrooms? answer those questions and I can give you an idea of what size softener you really need.

Second, are you sure that the water service to the house doesn't branch off before it runs to the WH? I could see a 1/2" line to the WH but a 3/4" line entering the house would be more common.

You'll also need a drain and AC outlet for the softener.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Run a new 3/4" line. 1/2" just won't be enough.

While I absolutely concur with lurker's sentiment, I realize sometimes current finances dictate we do things we know aren't ideal. In your case, purchasing the softener you can afford now will mean compromising softener life and operating cost. Due to the iron in your water, you will have to set up your softener to use more salt (not as salt-efficient, but your softener will be undersized) and you should use iron-out salt - this won't prevent your softener from dying early, but will prolong its life. If you provide your hardness analysis, we can tell you how to set up the softener you can afford.

Even an undersized, poor quality softener will be better than no softener if you absolutely cannot afford better. You may, however, want to look into a Culligan (or other major brand) lease agreement first - these can be quite reasonable if you can't afford a large cash purchase, but can afford a monthly fee.

It sounds like you are planning to install yourself. If that is the case, there are many options available online that can be much more affordable than what you will find locally. However, the trade-off is that you get no service. Frankly, however, I've found local softener service to be highly over-rated as most softener salespeople have little to no actual technical knowledge (just my opinion).

That said, the first step is still water analysis, actual numbers from a lab. If you've had a water treatment pro test your water already, share those numbers. We can make some recommendations, but they will only be as good as the information you provide.

Lastly, if you do end up installing the cheap Morton softener, immediately start a savings account and make a commitment to adding a set amount to it from every paycheck so you can purchase a quality softener later. You'll be glad you did.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 7:58PM
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More than likely the OP will need a larger softener than the 24k Morton. Until the numbers are posted...

Regarding cheap is better than none at all...I've found that an industry standard softener can be bought online (delivered for $435 Econominder 24k) for about the same as the box store disposable softeners. Those who plan on a self-install will spend about the same money and get a softener that will last for a decade plus with minimal maintenance and save money in operating costs every day so why throw money away on a disposable softener?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Ok...our chlorine count is about 3.o. One installer suggests putting the charcoal filter before the softener. He says our softener's resin will not last very long otherwise due to the chlorine. The other installer thinks the filter should go afterwards...his logic in that we need chlorine in the softener to prevent bacteria from growing and if the resin turned to jelly, the filter would catch it anyway. Thought?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 5:17PM
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Instead of asking disjointed questions post the results of a comprehensive water test and we can speak intelligently about treating your well water.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 6:11PM
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