Water softener size/type w/ whirlpool tub

julieofminnFebruary 23, 2011

None of the posts or sales reps seem to respond to my Q about sizing a replacement water softener when our family uses an oversized single tub w/ jets several times a week.

HH size reduced from 5 to mostly 2 adults, +1 in college home for breaks and summer.

Large home, 4 bathrooms w/ 3 showers, a 50 gal. tub w/ jets is used several times a week [fully open faucets fill 1 gallon in 5 seconds, so about 12 gal/minute flow... from charts found thru links on this site]

City now has water treatment, hardness level is 13 and iron .01

We have a water efficient washer & D/W.

Kinnetico proposes 2 very small tanks, the Q37 w/ only 9 gpm flow rate at 15 psi and resin volume of .3 ft squared x 2 tanks. I questioned if this would be adequate and his calculations were it would and I could go up to the next size if I wanted but with the 2 tanks, they can be constantly regenerating if we are suddenly using a lot more water. I wonder about the noise level for this regeneration since this occurs below a bedroom.

I did not like to hear the old system, likely a 5600 Fleck, draw water at night to regenerate.

A second option, much cheaper and good quality, is the Hague product, the Hydro Clean 35000 grain unit, HC35, with a resin tank just over 1 cu foot and which uses fine mesh resin and is supposed to take only 20 minutes to regenerate [less night noise is good].

Finally, a local co. we used in a previous home, constructs their own units, not sure of control valve. It meters useage and adjusts reserves based on previous 21 days useage. They propose a Model EM 50, "perfect for 2 person household on city water." Price is the lowest. Warranty is good. Their upgrade model offers some of the things found in the Hague, but has a much longer warranty.

One company emphasizes 1" plumbing will improve waterflow which isn't an issue now w/ our 3/4" set up and 3/4" pipes even when 3 showers were running or an appliance and shower.

All 3 dealers have an A+ BBB rating, plus long term presence in the area.

Q: How is the math for calculating the size impacted by the large tub w/ jets? And, summer increased use w/ more in household?

Q: Oversizing vs undersizing. The old softener was way undersized and we have the calcium deposits and rust stains to prove it. Now I am likely overly concerned about "enough" capacity.

Comment: Less salt is better. I want less salt use b/c I hate the carrying of bags & know we already put too much salt in MN lakes and streams with our winters!

Any advice on sizing, product selection. Probably will go w/ one of the cheaper options. 24/7 thing not a big deal, don't want to listen to constant noise of regeneration.

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A simple question for a complex situation...

Undersizing a softener in either hardness removal capacity or SFR never works well and is done far more often than people realize until they have problems.

Oversizing a softener introduces different problems and bigger is as bad as smaller than required.

It's kinda like the three bears... you want the softener just right.

Normally a softener would be sized based on water usage, water conditions, # of bathrooms, and the peak SFR of the plumbing and fixtures and appliances.

In your circumstances you have a large home occupied by less people than capacity and a high water use appliance.

The trick is to size the softener so that it regenerates at an optimal interval for the resin, doesn't channel the resin, and has sufficient SFR to serve your appliances and the big tub. If the SFR isn't adequate then hardness will leak through the softener at peak demand. Since you're paying for soft water you ought to get it.

So, you have 13 gpg hardness and iron .01 ppm and the big tub needs 12 gpm and figure three people.

I, and the arithmetic, guarantee you that any softener with .3 cu ft of resin or the Hague at 1 cu ft of resin will leak hardness through regularly and you should RUN from those two dealers cause they have no idea what they are doing. Kinetico makes an excellent product but many of their dealers love to undersize softeners and have them regenerate every couple days expounding that they regenerate efficiently but the tiny twins just don't provide decent SFR.

Seems like the EM50 cheap solution is going to be grossly undersized also so that dealer rally doesn't understand what he's doing either.

An A+ BBB rating doesn't mean a company knows what it is doing it only means no one has discovered that they don't and complained like the millions of people with undersized Sears, GE, Whirlpool, and Morton softeners.

Just to get the 12 gpm SFR for your tub you'd need 1.5 cu ft of resin and that wouldn't accommodate your other appliances.

FYI... softener SFR
1.0 cu ft= 9 gpm
1.25 cu ft=10 gpm
1.5 cu ft=12 gpm
2.0 cu ft=13 gpm
2.5 cu ft=18 gpm
3.0 cu ft=20 gpm

You need to decide if you want to do this the right way or the cheap way.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 11:21PM
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Just a note of info on the 35,000 Hauge with "just over 1 cu foot and which uses fine mesh resin and is supposed to take only 20 minutes to regenerate".

The 35,000 capacity they are referring to is only attained with a maximum salt dose of 15 lbs/cu ft of resin which is VERY inefficient regeneration and will cost you more in salt than a correctly set up softener twice the size and you'll be carrying that extra salt to the softener on a regular basis..

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 10:43AM
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Thanks! You've armed me with facts I couldn't find... I used a link you provided to discover the gallon per minute demand of the jetted tub after the K. rep. had left. He thought the 1/2" plumbing told him all he needed about the tub. The material he left showed his small double tank system only offered 9 gpm, yet he said I could fill that tub over and over and have plenty of soft water.

For the test I filled the 1 gallon in 5 seconds and 2 gallons in 10 seconds. The chart you linked said this is 12 gpm flow into that jetted tub. That concerned me but I didn't know what to do with this information.

Our house is also built for entertaining which he would have noticed when he walked through. We host 20 or more for holidays and all bedrooms are in use. No one asked about that...

Now I understand why our showers needed a lot of cleaning until 2 kids were in college...my softener only softened half the water we used. When the D/W wasn't cleaning, I tracked it back to the water softener.

The dealer reps all used the basic formula for 2 people & that showed they were oversizing due to my concerns about enough capacity.

Thanks for explaining the salt useage, I thought from your charts I would be using the small amount based on the 2 x 75 x 13 formula. Peak capacity really increases our demands!

Now I can ask for pricing for the larger resin tanks so the softener would be sized for "peak flow."

Some of us consumers expect more from sales staff than "trust me I've got just what you need!" Often they don't want to listen to what I need, they assume.

Still trying to sort out this difference in resins. The HydroClean3-35 says it uses much less salt than a Fleck 5600 in an online chart, see posted link below, for each regeneration due to the fine resin they use, rather than the coarse. I read on the wholesaler's resin site the explanation of the types so I think the fine would use salt more efficiently and increase efficiency of the resin tank. Am I correct? ~~Julie

Here is a link that might be useful: salt use comparison

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 12:10PM
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If you size the softener for the maximum # of people during the holidays when entertaining then when only two of you are in the home you will have channeling in the resin and that is a problem.

The problem you need to address is that for most of the year you only have two people but also have a high demand appliance. For a short period of the year you have LOTS of people and your water demand increases dramatically and the high water demand appliance will get used more frequently.

Ideally you would have a smaller softener for ten months of the year and only use the big tub when no other water is being used and then have a large softener for use two months of the year when occupancy increases dramatically for the holidays. You can't have a BIG softener running at 20% for 10 months without having problems.

If you didn't have the big tub it would be a lot easier...

When I look at the K capacity of resin I reference the material provided by the resin manufacturer not advertising on a softener web site. Regardless of the spin Hague puts on the info they offer the laws of physics still apply. 1 cu ft of resin regenerated at the MAXIMUM salt dose of 15 lbs/cu ft = 30,000 hardness removal capacity and fine mesh resin gets you 33,000 NOT 35,000. There must be more than 1 cu ft of resin in the Hague.

Here's a salt dose chart with sizing capacity for various salt doses with 1 cu ft of standard resin...

6 lbs gets 20,000
8 lbs gets 24,000
10 lbs gets 27,000
15 lbs gets 30,000

" The HydroClean3-35 says it uses much less salt than a Fleck 5600 in an online chart..."

Every (any) water softener will use the same amount of salt with the same amount of resin. A Fleck 5600, or any other control valve, sitting on top of the same size resin tank with the same amount of resin as the Hauge can use the same amount of salt per regeneration as the Hague and get the same hardness removal capacity. The laws of physics and chemistry apply equally to all brand control valves.

There is no reason to use fine mesh resin in your circumstances and a 1" valve is no advantage if you have 3/4" service and return.

It would be helpful if Hague provided any technical details at all regarding their product instead of just bullet points in sales speak.

I did find the manual for the Hague here... http://www.slowater.com/pdf/HydroClean3V2.pdf

If you go through the manual you'll find that the 20 minute regeneration is at the minimum softener capacity of a smaller softener . The 35,000 regeneration time is considerably longer and the salt dose is considerably higher with the 35,000 model also. The 35,000 model only has 10 gpm SFR @ 15 psi drop which is lower than you need for just the big tub let alone any other water use at the time.

The numbers never lie regardless of what the marketing department would have you believe.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:16PM
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With your plumbing configuration, the Q237 would be, at times, pressed to give adequate flow rate but only if numerous faucets were running at the same time.

With you situation I would recommend a 2060s OD. This is a special application providing excellent certified flow rates at 20.5gpm (peak 30.0) so there should never be a problem with adequate flow.

The efficieny would 4,600+ grains per gallon and regenerate every 634 gallons; uses 35 gallons and takes 45 minutes. These are very quiet and very, very rarely regenerate during the wee hours, unless you are doing laundry at that time--in that case a single tank shouldn't be used anyway.

With your varible water use and different volumes and higher rates, this would be ideal.

I have installed many Q237s in smaller homes and they work perfectly. But with yours they 2060s OD is just right. It will more expensive than the Q model but last for decades and provide superior service. Run water all day without any problems.
Andy Christensen

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:22PM
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What is the SFR of the 2060S OD when it retreats to only one tank (0.7 cu ft of resin) in service during the 45 minute regeneration period every 634 gallons?


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 2:38PM
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Thanks guys for the useful input!

Now I am reviewing only 1.5 cu.ft. tanks but need to sort out some facts from sales pitch.
A. "Salt brining" keeps whole system cleaner and less prone to require repairs. Fact/fiction?
B. "Counter current brining" increases efficiency of resin, reduces salt use about 30%, and prevents channeling. Fact/fiction?

The contenders:
1. Local Commers E50 model: 10 x 54 tank, relies on a plastic cam shaft control (Osmonics) with LED screen for consumer settings. $1199
2. Commers high efficiency model, "uses 30% less salt" b/c of "salt water brining and counter current brining." Has a piston valve, long warranty. $1499
3. Hague Hydroclean HC3, also with salt water brining, counter current brining, vacuum packed fine mesh resin, 10 x 54 tank, uses Watermax multi-compartment system, their branded electronic valve, 1" connections to our 3/4" plumbing, $1595.

I am leaning towards the #3, b/c the fine mesh resin seems to be an added value. The #2 system also claims to prevent channeling b/c of the extra rinses and stirring effect with water circulating entirely through the resin tank, bottom to top?

I didn't ask for specs on the resin. He described it as very light color and fine like gold dust compared to the amber, coarse resin. I thought the resin manufacturer's site indicated this does make the resin more efficient at removing minerals. Of course, my mind replays his comment about how all his neighbors are happy with this and I get no calls from the 450 people I sold this to in the past year... Focus on the facts, right?

When I ask about adjustments for salt use: "You never should worry about it, but it can be done." They would rather set my hardness at 20 [city water is 13 in the winter] and use more salt and make sure I have all the soft water I need. Good/bad? We don't mind having to regenerate occasionally for the houseful at holidays. Also, we don't use other appliances when the tub is running b/c it draws so much water.
I forgot to mention in my city, the water in mid-summer has higher iron & manganese content b/c they blend treated water with well water to meet demands for lawn sprinkling. This is usually only a few weeks. ~~ Julie

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 6:07PM
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A. All BRINING is done with salt by definition. Brining is the regeneration process of exchanging sodium (or potassium) ions for the hardness, iron, and manganese ions deposited on the resin by hard water.

B. Not necessarily and when it does it is a small increase in efficiency, not 30%, and will not eliminate channeling.

All three of the options you are considering are marginally sized for just the SFR demand of the big tub. If ANY other water use occurs at the time of the tub fill hardness will leak through.

None of the options you are considering are remotely close to adequately sized for the holiday period where the occupancy of the house will dramatically increase. All three options will be regenerating very often during that time and wasting a considerable amount of water and salt... and hardness will be leaking though often.

"They would rather set my hardness at 20 [city water is 13 in the winter] and use more salt and make sure I have all the soft water I need"

To quote Forrest Gump's Mama... "stupid is as stupid does".

Increasing salt dose to any volume of resin will ONLY increase the hardness removal capacity to a specific point set by the volume of resin and not beyond that point. The maximum salt dose is 15 lbs/cu ft of resin and any salt increase above that goes down the drain. The maximum hardness removal capacity of 1.5 cu ft of resin @ 15 lbs/cu ft of salt is 40,000 and the SFR of that softener is 12 gpm.

You are truly blessed to have found three water treatment companies that (according to your posts) know remarkably little about even the most fundamental operation of their equipment and even less about how to size and setup a softener correctly.

I wish you the best of luck... let us know how it works out after the holidays.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 6:35PM
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If I were you I'd give serious consideration to Andy's recommendation of a Kinetico 2060S OD.

The 2060S OD can deal with the SFR your circumstances require. The 2060S OD will provide you soft water 24/7 with no soft water timeout for regeneration. The 2060S OD will accommodate both the 2-3 person occupancy and the increased occupancy during the holidays with no action on your part. The 2060S OD is efficient in regeneration with modest salt and water use and it regenerates and makes brine with soft water which increases the service life of the resin. None of your three options do that.

The Kinetico 2060S OD will cost more than the undersized models you're considering but you get what you pay for and the difference in cost of the Kinetico amortized over the 10+ years the Kinetico will serve you is easy to swallow. Then you have the Kinetico rebuilt and go another 10+ years.

The only caveat to the 2060S OD is that during any regeneration period it's SFR will be reduced for the 45 minute duration but that's a small concern compared to the three solutions you are considering which all fall short of the required SFR all the time.

IMO all things considered the Kinetico 2060S OD is the only choice mentioned in this thread that will meet your needs because the other three choices you posted all fall far short of what your circumstances require.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 8:01PM
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Justalurker, I am learning the lingo of this topic, thanks for helping me focus on facts.

A. Soft [not salt] water brining -- my mistake.

I will disregard the pitch on resin after reviewing that on-line installation manual & talking to my husband. He thinks I fell for a pitch. I need to get and compare the specs and discuss how any system I buy will be set up to regenerate. I would hate to carry any more salt than needed and run the system more than necessary for the occasional situation. Likewise, I would hate to spend $$ for occasional situations.

Sizing: I think your first recommendation solves this brain teaser for our house. A 1.5 cu ft resin tank, which was the suggested by the local dealer (#1 above), provides the maximum 13 gpm we need for the tub to get soft water for that. Realistically we don't fill the tub with both faucets wide open, plus no other appliances are used at that time, because it is wind down time! With a newer home, our fixtures and appliances are efficient and we are virtually a two-person household most weeks of the year and for most years going forward. Even using the tub we likely do not exceed the usual estimate of gallons per day in a week.

Previously posted information: 1.5 cu. ft. tank handles 30,000 - to 45,000 grains of hardness, using a minimum of 6 # to a max of 15 pounds of salt for regeneration. Am I missing something?

Thanks everyone! ~~ Julie

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:03AM
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I didn't recommend a 1.5 cu ft softener anywhere in this thread. I said "just to get the 12 gpm SFR for your tub you'd need 1.5 cu ft of resin and that wouldn't accommodate your other appliances". To clarify, a 1.5 cu ft softener would only support the SFR needed by the tub and that would be ignoring any other water use in the home. During the holidays with 20 people it would be difficult to find any moment when there wouldn't be someone using water somewhere in the house like sink, toilet, bath tub, washing machine, shower, water heater, etc... understand?

"Soft [not salt] water brining -- my mistake"... now more to learn...

There is soft water brining with hard water regeneration and there is soft water brining with soft water regeneration. The 1.5 cu ft softener you seem to have fallen in love with only offers soft water brining with HARD water regeneration which is a good feature but not as desirable as soft water brining WITH soft water regeneration which the Kinetico offers.

The 1.5 cu ft softener you seem to have fallen in love with will regenerate at 2:00 AM (in some control valves you can change the time but it MUST be during a period where there is NO water use) generating the noise you don't want to hear and do it for a longer time interval and waste unused hardness removal capacity set aside as a reserve while the Kinetico will regenerate immediately whenever the gallon count zeros with no set aside reserve capacity being wasted. The Kinetico will use less water and salt to treat an equal # of gallons of hard water than the 1.5 cu ft softener you seem to have fallen in love with which SAVES you money every time it regenerates... and the resin will last longer because it is being regenerated with SOFT water.

"Previously posted information: 1.5 cu. ft. tank handles 30,000 - to 45,000 grains of hardness, using a minimum of 6 # to a max of 15 pounds of salt for regeneration. Am I missing something?"

Yes you are and for the umpteenth time... the max hardness removal capacity of 1.5 cu ft of resin at the max salt dose of 15 lbs/cu ft or 22.5 lbs for 1.5 cu ft of resin is 40,000 not 45,000

The occasional use you now define is a considerable percentage of your annual water use. The additional occupancy at your home during the holidays will be a huge increase in water use for that period.

If you're smart you'll buy the Kinetico 2060S OD and get what you need. The Kinetico will have a longer warranty and cost less to operate then your 1.5 cube favorite and in the long run it will cost you less than buying what you don't need.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 1:01AM
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My apologies...

The max hardness removal capacity of 1.5 cu ft of resin at the max salt dose of 15 lbs/cu ft or 22.5 lbs for 1.5 cu ft of resin is 45,000 not 40,000 as I have posted.

Guess I've got a touch of the mad cow... Denny Crane

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 9:58AM
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Think I'll just shut down the B & B!! Then I can sit on the patio like Denny Crane, except here it would be in a solarium that keeps us sane through the winters, and enjoy a refreshment!

Really, only the 3 kids bounce back for the overnights. Since one has a real job now and the other has a girlfriend in another state, .... those days may be winding down. The youngest called yesterday to annnounce a summer job on campus.

Then, since our home has turned the corner from new to wearing out, the furnace labored last night. It sounded like our local train was very, very long. So, today, I am waiting for our service guy who did some repairs last fall and commented there was only one other thing that could go wrong now! I'm not asking for comments on this. [Filter, air intake, humidifier filter all ok].

We replaced the water heater last year and that required the main water valve to also be replaced which required shut off from the city main. The furnace repair came after the fire truck arrived to shut our gas off due to gas build up, and then after the furnace repair showed electrical issues, the local utility company replaced the transformer serving our house. I think the softener should be number three, right?

Hopefully, there is nothing else lurking around the corner.

Today I was going to order the local softener, #2 on the list. Now, I have to keep that area open for the furnace service call. Guess I can call around and talk to another Kinnetico dealer and get spec.s from the local dealer we are leaning towards.

So what do people do with their spare time once a house is remodeled and updated? ~~ Julie

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:35AM
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You are making this softener thing way more difficult than it really is. It's arithmetic, physics, and chemistry with a touch of mechanics. Things that marketing and sales people don't know.

"...my softener only softened half the water we used."

Your WH would have lasted longer if your old softener hadn't been grossly undersized.

Don't change your lifestyle to TRY to accommodate a cheaper water softener... spend the money to cure the disease and don't just treat the symptom.

Allan Shore and I are waiting for you on the balcony.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:26PM
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With the application you describe I believe a twin tank system is the best option. You will always have soft water no matter the # of people, yet it is very efficient. A Fleck 9100 twin tank 10x54 softener is an option and more cost effective then the Kinetico.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 8:29PM
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A Fleck 9100 twin with (2) 10x54 tanks (1.5 cu ft of resin in each tank) won't provide any more SFR (12gpm) than a single resin tank 10x54 (1.5 cu ft) softener and that's why I didn't recommend it.

The 2060S OD Kinetico is unique in that it's overdrive feature provides greater SFR than just the one tank a Fleck 9100 has in service at any one time.

There is no disagreement that a twin resin tank softener is the best choice for the OP because of the varying occupancy, but in this instance the Kinetico 2060S OD is a unique solution to the OP's needs while the Fleck 9100 is not.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 8:55PM
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