Replacement Water Softener Selection and Installation

OntheWaterFebruary 6, 2014


I have been avidly reading the water softener posts and taking notes. I need to replace an old water softener that finally gave out, the resin tank split after 17 years of use.

Here are the particulars on my water and home and what I am considering for a softener. I would appreciate any suggestions, I don't think I have all the answers I just want to present the information I do have as clearly as possible.

2 people living in the home, 2 full bathrooms, dishwasher and clothes washer, no water hogging appliances. On well water, 4.4 GPM @ 50 psi

Water Quality all values in mg/L

Nitrate Nitrite Chloride 35

Flouride 0.2

Hardness 233

Iron 0.6 (I believe this is clear water iron)

Sulfate 6

Sodium 12

Based on this information and what I have read about selecting a softener I am considering a 24,000 grain capacity softener with 0.75 cu ft of Purolite SST60 Resin and gravel underbed in a Standard tank. To top it off I'm thinking of a Fleck ProFlow SXT control valve with a top basket and noryl bypass, with some extra bypass clips. I would also be sure the brine tank has a salt grid and 2310 Safety Float.

I chose the 5000 ProFlow SXT because it sounds like it offers plenty of customization and could be very adaptable.

Please let me know if this sounds reasonable, I look forward to your suggestions and value your experience.


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Please provide TDS and pH of your water. Those will tell us if we need to go to any extraordinary measures.

Does your water contain any particulates?

While you can certainly use tho ProFloSXT, for your application it really won't offer you benefit over the 5600SXT, but will cost more and reduce the number of vendors you may obtain quotes from. Your call, of course.

Have you had any local water treatment pros out to provide recommendations?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:29AM
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HI Alice in Wonderland,

I did have a rep from the local Kinetico dealer come out and I felt he provided me with some useful and honest information. I imagine their softeners work quite well but if I can get good performance from a Fleck at 1/3 of the price that works for me.

He did a quick water test and said my water had a pH of 7 (he was quite surprised), and 350 in TDS. His numbers for hardness, iron etc matched a water test from 2008 when the house was bought. The values from my first post are from the 2008 lab analysis

I'm not aware of any particulates in the water, nothing I can feel and I don't notice any erosion/clogging.

Since the ProFloSXT will limit my selection with no additional benefits I'll go with the 5600SXT. I have found a few vendors online, and have been pricing out a system on ohio pure Do you know of any other vendors that might be worth a look?

Thanks for your help, the more answers I get the more questions I have :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:00PM
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You have no concerning issues with your water analysis.

0.75 cubic ft softener will do nicely. The SST-60 resin is not strictly necessary, but will more readily release iron and will allow you to use less water during regens. It is a very nice resin at a premium price.

Once you have your softener on site, I will need the DLFC and BLFC sizes to provide proper programming.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:10PM
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Thanks for confirming that I am on the right track. I will post the DLFC and BLFC sizes here once the softener arrives.

I was reading about the SST-60 resin on the Purolite site and they talk about pre-conditioning the resin. Is that something you would expect to be outlined in the installation instructions that come with the softener? Purolite mentioned distilled water, H2SO4, bed volumes...the discussion quickly went way over my head.

I'm looking forward to learning more about the softener once it arrives.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Purolite SST60 ships in the sodium form, which is what you need for softening purposes. If you were using it for demineralization instead, you would need to convert it first to hydrogen form using sulfuric acid. Nothing you need to worry about.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:17AM
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Hi Alice,

The softener is installed, I have run the water from a faucet until it is clear, initiated a regeneration cycle and observed clear water from the drain line during the various stages of the process, put some salt in the brine tank and I'm ready to program the control valve.

The DLFC is 1.5 GPM with 1 injector

The BLFC is 0.5 GPM for 1.5 lbs of salt/min

The water flow through the new softener is 3.9 GPM with the bathtub faucet wide open.

Thanks again for your help, we are certainly looking forward to having soft water again.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:53PM
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Hi Aliceinwonderland,

I have the Fleck 5600 SXT valve programmed according to the directions that came with the unit. I can already see one glaring error and I am sure there are other settings that aren't optimal I would be grateful for your advice on programming the valve properly. I know just enough to detect that some of the values are incorrect but don't have the knowledge to set them for optimum performance.

For reference the DLFC is 1.5 GPM with 1 injector and the BLFC is 0.5 gpm for 1.5 lbs of salt/min.
I have 0.75 cu. ft. of SST60 Resin and the max flow from the tub faucet is 3.9 GPM. The water test results are posted at the beginning of the thread.

Here is the current programming.

VT = dF1b

I would like to operate the new softener as efficiently as possible and I look forward to learning how I can do that.

Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:51PM
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I'm sorry I didn't reply earlier. I missed your post on the 1st of March.

Since you have a little iron in your water, you will need to regenerate with a higher salt dose, but not as high as you have currently programmed. This will make your softener a bit less salt efficient, but it is necessary to remove the iron.

Make the following changes to your programming:

  • C = 25 (the capacity of SST-60 at a salt dose of 8#/cubic ft of resin)

  • H = 17 (you need to compensate for the iron)

  • DO = 5 (You need to regen more frequently because of the iron)

  • RT -- You may wish to change this. The regen will take a couple of hours. Set at 4:20 you may have someone wanting a shower while the softener is still in regen.

  • BW= 8 is fine, but you can go as low as 6 if you want to conserve a few gallons of water

  • BD = 36

  • RR = 6

  • BF = 4

The SST-60 resin you have will resist iron fouling better than a standard resin. However, you will still need to take some steps to ensure long resin life. There are several options.

  1. The easiest option may be to simply use Iron-Remover salt.

  2. Alternatively, you can use Super Iron Out. You may choose to layer this in with your salt. If you choose this option, use 1/4 C per 40 lb bag of salt.

  3. Super Iron Out is a bit more effective if used monthly with the following procedure:

  4. Ensure you have a strong brine in your brine tank - at least 24 hours since the last regen.

  5. Dissolve 1 C Iron Out in cool water and pour it into the brine well inside your brine tank. If you don't have a brine well, for some reason, pour it down the side of the tank rather than through the salt.

  6. Place your softener into manual regen and stay right there.

  7. When backwash is complete, the softener will move to the brine/slow rinse mode. Pay attention to the way it sounds. After 10 minutes or so the sound will change when there is no more brine to draw. At this point, we want the Iron Out to sit in the softener for an hour. To do that, push the button to advance to the next regen step, then the next until your softener is back in service mode. Do this as quickly as you can.

  8. Switch your valves so your softener is bypassed and wait one hour minimum.

  9. Place your valves back in service mode and manually start a softener regen.

  10. Once the regen is complete you're good to go for another month.

  11. A liquid iron removal system such as Res Up can be installed in your brine tank to feed citric acid to the brine to aid with iron removal.

My preferred methods are A or D because they employ citric acid, which is a much safer chemical than those in Super Iron Out (sodium hydrosulfite and sodium metabisulfite). The choice is yours - pick a method and follow it religiously and your softener will give you many years of reliable service.

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 11:27

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Thank you for the programming advice and for taking the time to consider the factors affecting my particular application. I'm glad I didn't stay with the programming instructions provided with the unit, wasting salt and reducing the resin life of a brand new softener by following the seller's instructions!

I have made all of the changes you indicated, but I have a question about the back wash time. I think the resin tank might be slightly undersized because the seller doesn't compensate for the volume of the gravel underbed, which results in a smaller expansion volume for the resin. Is there any benefit to staying with the 8 min BW? Could increasing the time/agitation make up for the smaller expansion volume or am I simply wasting two minutes worth of water (3 gal?)

Does the control valve pause during steps of the regen cycle? Adding the times for the 4 stages yields 53 minutes but you mentioned that the regen cycle takes about 2 hours so I must be missing something. I would prefer to have it regen closer to the morning instead of the middle of the night because the well pump can be loud. If it wakes me up at least it will almost be time to get up anyway.

Does the valve typically draw brine until it is stopped by the air check? Since I am adjusting the BD and BF times I wanted to be sure the water level isn't perpetually high/low due to the old settings.

Thank you for describing the different methods for removing iron. I heard something about Iron Remover Salt generating fumes that can be hard on the softener, is there any truth to that or any other significant drawbacks to using that type of salt? If so I will go with option D, I much prefer citric acid to the other chemicals you mentioned. I haven't researched the ResUp feeder yet but could you recommend a dosage level based on the particulars of my softener.

One last question, should the salt level be maintained so that no water is visible in the brine tank? Before applying the programming changes you recommended, that would be just over 100 lbs of salt or the round 18x33 brine tank 1/3 full of salt.

Thank you so much for the advice you have provided, I just knew the programming could be improved but I didn't have the knowledge and experience to make the necessary changes. I am certainly enjoying learning about the reasons behind the programming, Thank You!

This post was edited by OntheWater on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 19:23

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:12PM
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I'm sorry it's taken a few days to get back to you - I lost track of your post.

Backwash time: Extra time won't help if your tank is truly undersized. What is the diameter and height of your tank?

Regen time: No, there is not a pause between regen steps. You are correct - your total regen time will be less than an hour. I was speaking in more general terms when I mentioned two hours (which is typical with a larger softener with lesser-quality resin) and should have been speaking specifically to your system.

Brine draw: Yes, it draws until stopped by the air check, thus the only control needed for salt dosage is the brine fill time.

Iron removal odors: You would have odors from using options B or C, but should not from the salt with citric acid (Morton Rust Remover Salt, Diamond Crystal Iron Fighter Pellets - for other brands, look for citric acid in the product information)

Salt level: Unless you live in a very high humidity area, feel free to fill your salt tank and add more salt whenever it's convenient. Initially, take a look in your tank weekly, just to make sure nothing strange is happening (like water level is getting higher and higher or salt is being used really quickly), then you can look once a month and add salt as needed. If you do live in a very high humidity area, maintain a lower salt level - just enough to cover the water.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:01PM
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Hi Aliceinwonderland,

The size of the cylindrical section of the tank is 8 X 37, the overall height of the tank is 44 inches. So the cylindrical volume should be 1.08 cu ft, less 0.75 cu ft of resin leaves a max of 0.33 cu ft of volume for expansion. That is a space of 44% of the resin volume for expansion. The gravel underbed covers the bottom distribution basket by 1-1.5 inches, I didn't notice if the gravel occupies any of the cylindrical portion of the tank.

If all of my math is right the available expansion volume is between 36 and is an expansion volume of about 40% acceptable for the SST resin?

I will keep the salt level in the brine tank around 1/2 full for a while to monitor the salt usage/make sure the water level isn't increasing.

I looked into the res-up feeder, does 3/4 to 1 oz of res-up per regen sound about right for the SST-60 resin with 14 gpg hardness and 0.6ppm clear water iron. I might stick with the system saver salt and use res-up or just go with the Morton Rust Remover salt. If I use the rust remover salt should I manually add some res-up periodically?

I think that's about it, I ordered some hardness test strips to make sure all of this work is paying off. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate your time answering my questions and providing detailed explanations.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 9:42PM
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The expansion you need is 50% of the bed height.

You have 25.8" of resin so you need 12.9" freeboard for expansion.

The cylindrical portion of your tank is 39". This leaves you 13.2" of freeboard. No worries.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:29AM
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