Softener sizing

kellerk2March 4, 2013

I need help sizing a softener.

I have 16gpg hardness, 3ppm iron, two people, one bathroom house. I am not sure how much water we each use but I would think that 60-65 is plenty. I plan on getting a fleck 5600sxt with sst 60 resin.

I have been told by one online retailer that a 1.25cf softener (40,000) is what I should purchase. They recommended regen every 7 or 8 days.

One local retailer tried to rent me a 60,000 grain unit, and said it should regen every 3 or 4 days because of the amount of iron.

A national brand retailer suggested a 32,000 unit with a regen every 3 or 4 days because of the amount of iron.

I want to have the highest salt efficiency possible. I am not overly concerned about water usage, but obviously using less is better. I also want to prolong the life of my resin as best I can because I know that I am really going to be running too high of iron through it.


1) do i need to regen often (3-4 days) in order to keep my resin in good condition with my high iron?

2) Would the interval of regen be considered in the sizing of my softener? If so, which size softener should I get for a shorter interval and which size should I get for a longer interval?

3) Approximately how much salt would I use for either of the appropriate options?

4) should I consider a Fleck 7000sxt because of the soft water brine refill feature which should (?) keep my softener in better shape with my high iron?

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Your name looked familiar. Looking back, I see your previous analysis was:

Iron (total Fe): 6.16 mg/L
Hardness (as CaCO3): 264 mg/L
Alkalinity (CaCO3): 361 mg/L
TDS: 349 mg/L
Sulfate (SO4): Sulfur: Manganese: 31.9 ug/L
Chloride: 1.20 mg/L

What changed?

Your questions [IF the analysis you supplied in this thread is correct.]:
1) No, but you should regen with a bit higher salt dosage
2-3) Yes, of course. You could use a 1 cuft softener at 6# salt per cuft, regen every 4 days and use about 51 # salt per month. You could use a 1.5 cuft softener at 9# salt per cuft, regen every 7 days and use 51 #salt per month. Your resin will last longer with the larger softener
4) Yes

If this analysis is correct, using a softener to removed your iron is marginal. If your first analysis is correct, using a softener to remove your iron is foolhardy.

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 19:51

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:03PM
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My first analysis came from a state agency. We took the sample right when we moved in and the iron content seemed much worse at that time. The house had not been lived in for approximately three years prior to our moving in. Maybe dissolved iron had built up in the pipes/system. The water was orange sometimes, clear sometimes. Either way, that is where the first analysis came from. Not sure if dissolved iron can build up in the aquifer or not.

Recently the iron has not seemed as bad. The water is always clear coming out now. We had two local companies come out and test the water twice each. all tests yielded only 3ppm iron, same hardness (the other constituents were not testing these times). I have no good reason to suspect the results of the iron test because there is a noticeable difference now compared to when we moved in.

So if I go with the 1.25 cf softener quoted by the online company, with the sst 60 resin, and a 7000sxt valve, I should have a properly sized unit? Or, should I go to a 1.5cf?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:18PM
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You want:

1) 1.5 cuft softener
2) Either fine mesh or the sst60 resin
3) Top distribution basket
4) Gravel underbed
5) Noryl bypass
6) Plumb the softener with a bypass so it can be removed if necessary without disrupting water flow to your home.
7) Install an automatic resin cleaning system. With dissolved iron, you always have the possibility that some converts and fouls the resin. Eventually, the resin will need to be replaced. Resin cleaner will prolong resin life.

I still suggest an iron removal system in addition to a softener, but if you have space and money constraints preventing that, a softener will certainly be better than doing nothing.

When your softener arrives, post to this thread and I'll help you with programming.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:55PM
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3ppm iron is manageable using just a softener but you want to regenerate every three to four days if you expect reasonable service life from your resin. A week is too long.

Automatic resin cleaning systems are like universal brackets... they usually work equally poorly in all applications. Use Iron Out or the like routinely. There's a simple and easy monthly routine.

SST60 is an unnecessary expense. You can use fine mesh but a quality hicap standard resin from Sybron or Purolite will do. Avoid the anonymous house brand resin.

I'd prefer a Fleck 7000SXT or a Clack WS1. Both have soft water brine refill which is nice, but a real advantage with 3ppm iron would be regeneration with soft water that a twin resin tank softener would offer. Regenerating iron laden resin with iron laden water is like washing clothes with dirty water... seems kinda dumb doesn't it? The Fleck 5600SXT is tried and true with a great history in the field.

This post was edited by justalurker on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 17:53

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:39PM
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I think that the shorter regen cycle seems logical, as does the soft water regen. unfortunately, a twin tank system is not going to be in my future. Also, I had sort of planned on using iron out vs. res up type stuff just cause you can easily purchase it from a brick and mortar.

Does the soft water brine refill on the 7000sxt have any advantage other than keeping the brine tank clean?

Will the 7000 have a significant advantage over the 5600 in terms of the life of the unit?

If I am going to regen more often (3-4 days) can I use a smaller unit (1 or 1.25cf) in order to use less salt?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:27PM
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If you are concerned about salt usage, you would save 360 lb per year if you removed your iron prior to the softener.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:05PM
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Do you have current numbers for pH, Manganese, TDS, and the SFR of your plumbing?

Brining the depleted resin with soft water brine does not introduce any iron or hardness into the resin you are regenerating making for a more thorough and efficient process. You will still be rinsing and washing the resin with hard water containing iron.

"you would save 360 lb per year if you removed your iron prior to the softener"

Let's accept that (just) for the sake of discussion...

So that 's 9 extra bags of salt @ $3.89 a bag at HD = $35.91 plus tax / year Alice says you'll buy if you don't pre-treat the iron.

Now, how much for pre-softener iron treatment hardware, installation, and routine maintenance, and repairs and what is the service life of the iron removal hardware?

3ppm iron is manageable with a softener cost effectively.
This is a subject where Alice and I disagree.

If you're not willing to spend what it will cost to treat your water right, and efficiently then wait till you can.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Iron: 3ppm
Hardness (as CaCO3): 264 mg/L
Alkalinity (CaCO3): 361 mg/L
TDS: 349 mg/L
Sulfate (SO4): Sulfur: Manganese: 31.9 ug/L
Chloride: 1.20 mg/L

SFR is between 6 and 7gpm as far as i can tell using a bucket and timer.

I'm not really too concerned about salt usage really. Maybe I can state my question a different way. If I am going to have X size water softener (48,000 grains per Alice) and need to regen every 7-8 days, but regen every 3-4 days is better, then I should be able to use a smaller softener right? Or I just use the larger softener and regen more frequently. If I only go through 15,000 grains in 3-4 days, do I need to have a 48,000 grain softener regenerating every 3-4 days or is it better to use a 32,000?

I know that I really SHOULD put an iron filter first. However, this is obviously a debate that you will get different opinions on no matter how many times you ask.

Even though just a softener is not the ideal situation, I just want to have the most efficient setup I can for MY situation, if possible.

I also really appreciate the advice that you guys are providing me.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:24PM
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also my pH is 7.8

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Iron Out: The product works fine. Realize, it is not as simple as pouring it into your brine tank and forgetting it, not if you want to ensure it does a good job. If you use it monthly, you need to pre-dissolve the Iron Out and pour it into the brine well. Then start a regen cycle. Wait until your softener has completed its backwash and then finished drawing brine (you can hear a change in the sound). Now you should stop the regen cycle and bypass the softener for an hour to allow it to soak. Then restart and allow it to finish the regen. Then start another manual regen. If this does not sound like something you will do consistently, and you don't care to use a feeder, use rust remover or red-out salt.

Resin: When you have iron present there are reasons why you should use inert-core resin, such as sst-60. Second best would be a high-mesh resin. Standard resin should never be used for anything but incidental iron. 3 ppm is not incidental. This is because of slow mass transfer rate coupled with the higher bonding of iron to the resin's exchange sites. The farther iron travels to get to the bead center, the less likely you are to be able to remove it.

Salt use: I addressed salt use based on a concern expressed by the OP, not as a monetary issue. Salt use has now been expressed as not really being a concern.

Regen frequency: If you use the appropriate resin, you may regen every seven days and use a larger softener(1.5 cuft). If you are more comfortable with more frequent regens, you may use a smaller softener (0.75 cuft or 1.0 cuft ).. Realize the more frequent regens will cut your resin life because of more frequent osmotic shock. If you regen every 4 days, a 0.75 cuft will use 51 lb salt, a 1.0 cuft will use 68 lb salt and a 1.5 cuft will use 102 lb salt per month. With a 0.75 cuft softener, 4 days is all you can get, 5 with a 1.0 cuft softener, 8 with a 1.5 cuft softener.

Fleck 7000 vs 5600 with iron: The 5600 is a fine, reliable valve that will provide many years of service. It is just not appropriate where you have significant iron. As mentioned previously, the 7000 will make up the brine with softened (and iron-free) water. Although it will not regen the resin bed with softened water, it is still important to use softened water for the brine make-up. Water will be added to the brine tank at the end of the regen cycle. In the brine tank, the water will sit for 3 - 7 days, depending upon regen frequency. If the brine has ferrous (clear-water) iron in it, it will be exposed to air during that time and convert to ferric (particulate) iron. These particles will be tiny, so tiny they won't readily settle, but will tend to remain in suspension. They are perfect for forming a sticky film on anything they touch, including the resin in your softener. The sticky film builds up over time and is very difficult to remove, generally requiring mechanical agitation along with cleaning chemicals which cannot be accomplished in situ. The problem may be easily avoided by just using the 7000 or similar Clack valve that fills brine with softened water.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Thank you very much Alice, that comprehensively answers my questions.


I take it that the manufacturers directions of layering the powder are not sufficient to get an even and consistent application of the product for every regen?

Regarding the install with the 7000sxt:

I have a 1" service line that enters my house, it is reduced to 3/4" just after the pressure tank, then it goes to the WH and the rest of the house. Since a 7000 will have the larger porting, should I tap into the full 1" line, run it to my softener/filters, then back to the 3/4" and onto the WH/etc., or is it sufficient to just tap into the 3/4" since my gpm is not really high coming from the well anyway (seems around 6-7gpm).

I apologize if I should have started a new thread.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:23PM
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The problem with layering the powder is you don't get dosage control. Additionally, the active ingredient in Iron Out, sodium dithionite, will degrade if left in solution too long, which is what happens when you layer it with your salt. Doing it this way is better than nothing, but you have consistently high iron and should use consistent, controlled resin cleaning.

It will be fine to T from the 3/4" line that is feeding your house, provided you do so upstream of the water heater so your entire house receives softened water.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:49PM
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I am leaning towards going with a .75 or 1.0cf and regenerating often. At least if my resin doesn't last as long there will not be as much to replace. The other reason I am considering this is because if my situation changes (either my iron content increases and I need to put an iron filter first, or I just end up with extra money and decide to put in an iron filter) then I will have a softener that will be more properly sized for my hardness with no iron.

Thanks for all your help

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:24PM
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Posted by kellerk2 (My Page) on Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 22:17 I need some help programming my new Fleck 7000sxt, 1cf (SST 60) softener that I just installed.
Iron: 3 mg/L
Hardness (as CaCO3): 264 mg/L
Alkalinity (CaCO3): 361 mg/L
TDS: 349 mg/L
Sulfate (SO4): Sulfur: Manganese: 31.9 ug/L
Chloride: 1.20 mg/L

Two people in household, one bath.

I would like to regen about every 4 days because of my iron content.

I have the user manual so I can figure out how to navigate the menus, I just need to know what I should change in order to get the correct salt dose, etc...


I've copied your question into your original thread to keep all the information together. There are a couple of pieces of information we need in order to program the valve.

1. BLFC (brine line flow control) size
2. DLFC (drain line flow control) size

Both of those should be on stickers located on your Fleck 7000SXT. If you follow the brine line to the point where it enters the valve you will find the BLFC sticker. Follow the drain line to the point where it enters the valve to find the DLFC sticker.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:42PM
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OK, so I have one sticker. Says BLFC .125 gpm, DLFC - and no number, also says Injector: 00

I tried to match the part number that was stamped on the DLFC to the list in my manual and could not find a matching number. The DLFC is a 3/4" MIP if that helps at all (doesn't seem like it will)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Enter Master Programming Mode

  1. DF=Gal

  2. VT = St2b

  3. CT=Fd

  4. NT=1

  5. C=25

  6. H=32

  7. RS=SF

  8. SF=20

  9. RC=0 (You are using a % reserve rather than a fixed reserve)

  10. CR=0 (Don’t use variable reserve with iron in your water)

  11. DO=4

  12. RT=2:00 (or another convenient time when you won’t be using water for a couple of hours)

  13. Regeneration cycle step times

  14. Ensure all days are set to ON, unless you have a specific day of the week when you do not want the softener to regen.

  15. CD doesn’t matter unless you set a day to OFF in step 14.

  16. FM You shouldn’t have to change this

  17. doesn’t matter

Exit Maser Programming Mode
Set time

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 2:43PM
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I hope you meant BD=60 and BF=22.

Also, what would my values be if I decide to go to 5 days between regens?

BTW, thanks again for all your help.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Goodness, yes. I'm glad you caught that - it's amazing how easy it is to miss a typo like that.

If you wish to go longer between regens, just reset the Day Override in step 11. The softener is set correctly to automatically regen based on capacity. The maximum it will go between regens is about 6 days, depending upon water usage.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I have a couple more questions:
I just want to make sure that your parameters intended to add to the brine tank about 2.75 to 3 gallons of water (.125gpm x 22 min) which would equate to somewhere over 8lbs of salt. Correct?

The sticker says that my BLFC is .125gpm but after the 22 min brine fill, there was 11 inches (total) of water in the brine tank. The brine tank is listed as a 15x17 but at the water level it is effectively about 14x15. Unless my calculations are totally wrong, that equates to about 6.5 gallons of brine which will be drawn (I had 3.75 inches after the brine stops drawing so 11-3.75 X (14X15).

So, figured that maybe I actually have a .25gpm BLFC instead and I set the brine fill to 11 min. Ran the regen and now I have about 7 inches (total) of water in my brine tank. So, 7-3.75x(14x15)= somewhere around 3 gal of brine which will be drawn, so about 9 lbs of salt.

Does this sound right?

I called the dealer where I purchased the unit and he said that it is possible that I have the .25gpm BLFC but he could not tell from the order info. He told be to have about 8 or 9 inches of water after the brine fill (he based that off of having the SST 60 resin, he said normal resin would would want about 10in of water).

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:23PM
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Do you have salt in the tank?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Yes salt is in the tank and has been throughout the entire process that i described above.

When I initially setup the unit, I filled the brine tank to about 1-2 in above the salt grid then put 80lbs of salt in it. Did the first regen after 4 days, then it filled to the 11in with the 22 min BF.

I waited about 5 days, changed BF to 11 min, did a regen, took the measurement of 3.75 inches after done drawing brine, then it refilled to about 7in.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 6:08PM
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You didn't account for the salt volume.

Set the brine fill back to 22.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 6:18PM
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yeah I just realized that after I posted the reply.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 6:36PM
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