seeking recommendation for water softener

Charlie_NHFebruary 18, 2014

I am looking to purchase a water softener for a DIY installation. I've read through the many informative posts on this forum, am leaning toward a Fleck 5600SXT, and was hoping to get a specific recommendation for my set-up.

My home is on a neighborhood well system. Water quality report link included below.

A few more details:
Plumbing is 3/4 in.
Four people in the house (2 adults, 2 kids)
2 full baths
1 half bath

Thanks for the assistance.


Here is a link that might be useful: water quality report

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Your water actually looks pretty good. I am a little concerned that no TDS is included in the analysis. This is something you want to know in order to program your softener correctly. A high TDS would require a higher salt dosage during regeneration. It won't affect the size of the softener in your case, but get the analysis. You can probably call the treatment facility and find the information.

Strictly based on hardness, you could get away with a 0.75 cuft softener. However, you house is large enough that I would suggest going with a 1.0 cuft softener to provide adequate flow rate.

You indicated the desire to install the system yourself. I would still get a local water treatment rep out to make a recommendation - there may be some specifics about your water or your area that would make their advice valuable to you. If you do ultimately decide to DIY, then you have total responsibility for your system and ought to purchase a good hardness test kit. The Hach 5B or similar will do nicely.

The following requirements are for an industry standard softener. If you are looking for a non-electronic softener, Kinetico offers the more reliable options at a premium price (and you would need to deal with a local Kinetico rep). Any decent softener vendor should be able to provide the following:

  • High quality American or German made resin. This will provide a tight size distribution for optimal flow within the resin

  • Since you have CHLORINATED WATER: 10% crosslinked resin. The oxidizers that city water treatment plants use, such as chlorine or chloramine, are harmful to softener resins. Higher crosslinking will resist chemical attack longer.

  • Top basket. This serves two purposes. It sets up a proper water distribution during normal operation and prevents resin loss during backwash.

  • Gravel underbed. The gravel underbed is there to set up proper flow patterns, improve backwash, keep the bottom basket in place, prevent basket failure, and prevent channeling. Many softener sales companies like to leave this out or sell softeners with a vortex system instead. Vortex systems weigh less than gravel so they cost less to ship. In addition, they are a more expensive item that adds profit for the softener salesperson, but provides no additional benefit to the homeowner . It simply adds another piece of equipment that can break.

  • Fleck or Clack valves. These set the industry standard. Be aware that you will not be able to purchase Clack valves online. This is not a problem if you purchase locally. You've indicated a preference for the Fleck 5600SXT. This is a fine valve and is a good choice for your application.

  • Noryl bypass. Most softeners are available with either Noryl or stainless bypass valves. Both are good valves, but the noryl tends to be more reliable when not used for long periods of time.

  • Install the softener with a three-valve bypass. This will make it so much easier if you ever need to remove the...

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:06PM
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Many thanks, Alice. I'll do my homework and get back to you.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:14PM
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I got a quick (but unhelpful) response from the water quality laboratory manager:

"Unfortunately we do not routinely analyze for TDS or conductivity. We do check the hardness which is probably the bulk of the TDS.

Back on 11/12/13 the hardness was 136 mg/L as CaCO3."

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Their report is almost useless. Nothing is current and what uis there is vague.

This is what ours looks like,

This post was edited by jcalhoun on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 0:15

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Hi Alice,

I have obtained several quotes from online sources and this seems to be the best one so far:

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

9x48 resin tank w/Top Basket
1.0 cubic feet of Purolite C100x10e - 10% Crosslink Resin
Gravel Support Media
9 gpm service flow rate
2 gpm backwash flow rate

Fleck Valve Connection: 3/4 Inch Noryl Yoke with Noryl Bypass Valve
15x17x36 Rect Brine Tank w/ Salt Grid & 2310 Float Assembly


I have an appointment with a local contractor next week as well.

Thanks for your help.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:00AM
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Hi again, Alice,

Got the estimate from the local guy. He proposed a WaterCare CareSoft Elite RC system (1 cu. ft.) with a Clack valve and charcoal filtration built into the tank for chlorine removal. Price installed was nearly $2K.

The gentleman had a digital tester and determined my water's TDS is 132.

Leaning toward DIY...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:58PM
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The good: Clack valves are fine.

The bad: Price is pretty high.

The ugly: You never, never, never want GAC (granular activated carbon, what he called charcoal) built into your softener tank. The carbon will damage the resin. In addition, the carbon would need to be replaced before the resin would need to be replaced, but since they are mixed together the resin would have to be replaced as well. It's just a bad idea.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:28PM
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Thanks, Alice. Interesting point about the GAC. I believe the unit that's being recommended separates the GAC from the resin (there's a divider with the GAC above and resin below). But I'm not sure that would cure the problem?

Do you have any other suggestions about dealing with the chlorine? I don't notice chlorine as a problem, but if it would be a simple matter to filter it out, I may as well consider it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Even if the two media types are separated, it still doesn't prevent the necessity of changing both media at the same time in 2-5 years when the carbon needs to be replaced, when you should get 15 years out of your resin.

If it isn't bothering you, there's really no reason to filter chlorine out - it will provide some protection from bacteria in your home piping system. If you would prefer not to have chlorine in your drinking water, a point-of-use filter at your sink will do nicely.

If you do decide you want to remove the chlorine from all of your water, then you may do so with either two big blue filters plumbed in parallel and change GAC cartridges every 6 months, or use a media-bed GAC filter . The media filter would look like a softener, but would not need to be regenerated, just backwashed weekly for 10-15 minutes. Cost would be approximately the same as a softener.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Our fridge has a charcoal filter built into the water dispenser, so that'll work for the chlorine!

Another question, if I may. What are your thoughts on discharging the regeneration water onto bare ground under a porch? The drain would be at least six feet away from any vegetation/foundation plantings. The local guy said that's the way to go (I'm reluctant to discharge into the septic system), but I'd appreciate a second opinion on the plant harm issue.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Provided your septic is sized appropriately, a correctly sized and operating softener will not harm your septic. The 50 gallons or so from a regen can travel a ways and get into places you don't want it if you discharge to the surface, not to mention the fact that it is likely contrary to code.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:32PM
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Hi Alice,

I've been (slowly) working on my softener installation and should have things done this weekend. One mistake I've already made is I failed to rinse the gravel before putting it in the tank (resin has already been added, too). Fatal error? Thanks.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:35AM
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The softener is up and running! Here are the programming settings I used based on my reading of your other posts here. Any changes you'd recommend?

BF= 6

The brine tube connection sticker shows: 0.5 GPM and 1.5 lb salt/min

This post was edited by Charlie_NH on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 10:51

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Change capacity to 24 (unless you know what your resin is exactly, then provide that information and we can adjust capacity appropriately)

Change DO to 8. You have such a tiny amount of iron, that I'm not terribly concerned about it. It adds a minute amount to your compensated hardness.

Change BF to 5

To deal with the bit of iron you have, here are your options:

The problem with iron-laden water in a softener is that softener resin has a great affinity for iron and does not release it easily. Iron will slowly foul the softener resin from the inside out. Extra measures need to be taken to remove the iron. For this you have 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 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.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 7:51PM
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Thanks, Alice. The resin I have is Purolite C100x10e - 10% crosslink. Made in the USA.

I like the iron-remover salt option. I started with Morton's solar salt but will use the iron-remover type from here on out.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 11:01PM
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Using Purolite c100, you may change your capacity to 28.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:19AM
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Thanks so much, Alice. Can't tell you how much I appreciate all your help and advice.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:51AM
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