Help me size a softener

jg_hillFebruary 6, 2013

Hi, everyone. I am in need of advice about sizing a water softener system.

Here is the data:

single story house
2100 sq. ft.
4 people
2 full baths
lots of laundry
city water

free chlorine 4
total chlorine 4
pH 8.2
Alkalinity 345
Copper 0
Iron 0
TDS 600 (without salt)

flow rate unknown

total hardness 50 ppm (pool supply store test)
total hardness 90 ppm (water company)
total hardness 160 ppm (in house drip titrate test)

We've been in the house since it was built 10 years ago. Have been seeing lots of white buildup (scale) on fixtures and glass shower doors.

What capacity softener do I need?

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aliceinwonderland_id

A 1 cuft softener will do nicely, based on the highest hardness.

If you intend to purchase locally, have all of the locals come out and test your water and give you a bid - get them in writing. Ask each of them how they determine softener size. Talk to neighbors and friends to see which companies provide great service. If you intend to purchase online and DIY, call several companies to ensure they are capable of answering your questions satisfactorily.

You want:

1. High quality resin, 10% crosslinked. The chlorine levels in your water will damage resin over time. Higher crosslinking will withstand the chlorine. Low-quality resin is only 6% crosslinked, entirely unacceptable for you.
2. Gravel underbed
3. noryl bypass
4. Fleck valve/controller (unless you are interested in Kinetico, which uses an entirely different system)
5. Plumb the softener with bypass valves such that the softener may be removed entirely without disrupting water flow to your home. This is a good precautionary measure that will prevent many headaches when maintenance is necessary.

Once you have a softener, I can help with programming to ensure it runs as efficiently as possible.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:25AM
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jg_hill

Thank you for the quick response and great information. Your recommendation is right on with the research I've done.

Below is the unit I've chosen based on your recommendations:

Fleck 5600SXT Electronic 3/4 Inch Meter On Demand Control Valve Water Softener 32000 Grain Capacity.

9x48 resin tank
1.0 cubic feet of resin
9 gpm service flow rate
2 gpm backwash flow rate

Selected options:

Fleck Valve Connection: 3/4 Inch Noryl Yoke with Noryl Bypass Valve
Tank Color Option: Almond
Brine Tank Size: 18x33 Round Brine Tank
Res-Up Feeder: No Res-Up Feeder
Softening Resin (1.0 cuft): NSF Approved High Capacity Cation 10% Crosslink Softening Resin (Imported)
CanPro MediaGuard: No CanPro

This does not appear to have a "gravel underbed" - is that critical? Ohio Pure Water includes a "salt grid", however. I'm guessing they don't serve the same purpose, right?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:20AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

The salt grid is installed in the brine tank to help prevent bridging. Bridging occurs when salt gets crushed and then sticks together to form a hard "bridge" that eventually sits above the water level, preventing further salt from dissolving in the water. Then the softener can't regenerate and you have hard water.

The gravel underbed is installed in the resin tank and, yes, it is critical. It causes the water to flow evenly to prevent channeling and provides more effective backwashing. Softener companies tend to downplay the importance of the gravel underbed because gravel is heavy and expensive to ship.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:22PM
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jg_hill

Thank you for the help. I have the softener and installation is Tuesday. Its a Fleck 5600SXT 32k system with 10% crosslinked resin. Do you recommend value programming different than that provided by Ohio Pure Water?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 3:56PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

I wouldn't know, unless you tell me how it is currently programmed. What is the specific resin? If you know, programming can be taylored to the resin.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:22PM
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jg_hill

The valve is brand new and not programmed so I assume it was default values. I have a 10% crosslinked resin. Is that what you need to know?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:32PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

Do you have the name of the resin or the brand?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:52PM
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jg_hill

The box is labled thusly:

CR10-100-BOX
Cation 10%, 1 cf box
13039

The bag inside the box shows:

Nelson CR10

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:03PM
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jg_hill

The box is labled thusly:

CR10-100-BOX
Cation 10%, 1 cf box
13039

The bag inside the box shows:

Nelson CR10

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:04PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

Once the softener is installed, add two gallons cold water to the brine tank. Add salt, just enough to cover the water.

Enter the master programming mode on the valve controller and set as follows:

1. DF - GAL
2. VT - St1b
3. CT - Fd
4. NT - 1
5. TS - U1
6. C - 22.5
7. H - 10
8. RS - FS
9. SF - 20

  1. RC - 0

  2. DO - 7

  3. RT - 2:00 (or other time when you are unlikely to use water for a couple of hours)

BD - 60
BW - 10
RR - 10
BF - Find your BLFC sticker (look at the attached pic - the sticker is inside the red circle) If it is 0.25 GPM then set BF at 8. If 0.5 GPM set at 4, if 1.0 gpm, set at 2.

  1. Ensure all days are ON, unless you have a specific day of the week when you need the softener to NOT regen.
  2. CD doesn't matter unless you set a day to OFF in step 14
  3. FM - t0.7
  4. should not be available

Once the valve is programmed, step out of master programming mode and set the clock to the correct time. Manually place the softener in regen. Allow the backwash to finish, then manually step through the other steps. Leave each one on just long enough to verify it is working. Allow the fast rinse to run for about 5 minutes - you will have added just a bit of brine during the brief time it was in the brine draw step and you will want to flush that out. Step into service mode and enjoy your soft water.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:45PM
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jg_hill

Thank you again for all of your help. My softener installation is tomorrow so I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row. Do you recommend any particular salt type and/or brand? Also, how many pounds of salt should I add?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:09AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

I recommend pellet salt for softener regen. It has a lower amount of insoluble material than solar salt so you won't have to clean your brine tank as often.

Add two gallons of water to your brine tank. Then add just enough salt to barely cover the water. Do not fill the brine tank - doing so will increase the possibility of salt bridge formation. Add another bag every 4 - 7 weeks ( you should use about 24 lb every 4 weeks).

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:11AM
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jg_hill

When I read those instructions in your earlier post I assumed - incorrectly, it seems - that the two gallons was just to get the system started. That's what I get for assuming, right?

My brine tank has a salt grid and based on the diameter of the tank (18x33) I'm concerned that two gallons won't cover the grid. Are my concerns unfounded?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:38AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

The water does not need to cover the grid - there are holes in the grid legs (which will be full of salt). If, for some reason, there are not holes in the grid legs, don't install the grid.

Just add one bag of salt. Add another in about a month

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:17AM
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jg_hill

aliceinwonderland, thank you for your help.

OK, the softener is installed and working. I have a few more questions about programming:

1. RS my value only offers SF and rc values. Your instructions call for a FS value. Is your FS a reversed SF?

2. C unit capacity. My system has a max unit capacity (as I understand it anyway) of 32k and your recommended setting is 22.5. Why the difference?

Thank you again for your kind, expert assistance!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:13AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

1. Yep - typo. SF - Safety Factor

2. When a softener capacity is indicated at sale, it is maximum capacity. It ships with that capacity. However, running capacity is determined by salt dosage during regeneration. In order to maintain a 32k capacity on your softener you would have to regenerate with about 24 # salt per cubic ft of resin. This is extremely salt inefficient. There is a sweet spot between water efficiency (regenerating less often) and salt efficiency (regenerating with a lower salt dosage) that happens at 6 # of salt per cubic ft of resin. As salt dosage decreases, running capacity also decreases. At a 6# salt dosage, your capacity will be 22,500.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:20AM
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jg_hill

Ahh, good answer! :-) I will make sure my unit is set for 22.5.

Thank you again!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:22AM
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jg_hill

Hello again. Thank you very much for your previous assistance. The softener has been working well up to now. However, now the brine tank is too full. Watching duing a manual regen it looks like the tank is getting slowly filled during the BD cycle and never seems to have suction. Oh, and the water is not very soft which I assume means the resin is not getting recharged.

I have checked the injector screen and injectors and they are clean and seem fine. I also doubled checked the programming and they are unchanged. The drain line is not clogged and appears to be working fine.

Any ideas?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:55AM
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justalurker

Check that there is not an air leak in the brine line from the connection at the control valve through the connection at the safety float.

Make sure you assembled the parts at the brine line connection at the safety float correctly and that it is SNUG and that you are using the correct PE (polypropylene) line...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 3:48PM
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jg_hill

Thank for the advice. This softener has been in service for about a year with no issues. Not only is there no evididence of suction I unscrewed the PE line from the safety float several times during the BD cycle and there was always water coming out into the brine tank. Any other suggestions?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 3:59PM
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justalurker

There are three possibilities if there's too much water in the brine tank with a 5600SXT control valve.

Either the water is not being sucked out of the brine tank during brine draw or water is flowing to the brine tank when it shouldn't or the BF setting has changed. Of course the 5600SXT could have lost its mind.

IF you're absolutely sure the drain line and injector &screen is clear and there's no air leak in the brine line, which is a common cause for this problem, then check the brine valve and associated parts.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 4:47PM
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jg_hill

Thank you again for your help. After disassembling the injector and drain line connection it turns out there was a very small piece of plastic loose inside the drain connection. Now the softener seems to be working correctly.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:00PM
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justalurker

Good news...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:39PM
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