Water softener plans

SlugTheGardnerMay 15, 2013

I am planning on buying a water softener and related items and would like to get feedback on my plans:

Water Stats:
City water
9 gpg hardness
No iron or magnesium
1.03 ppm total chorine
Service flow rate= 5.2 gal/min (measured by bucket filled at outside faucet)
Peak demand flow rate is about 8 gal/min.
Water pressure= 40 psi
Actual water usage = 120 gal/day (measured by water company billing), but with the addition of a softener and RO filter, call it 150 gal/day to be generous. 3 people are in the house, no plans for more people.
1.5 baths
No shower jets, multihead showers, pool, artificial snow machines, etc.,

Because chlorine degrades the water softener resin, and also to capture chemicals, I plan to install a whole house backwashing carbon filter ahead of the softener. And I plan to install a Culligan Big Blue filter ahead of the carbon filter to grab grit.

Set for a weekly recharge, a water softener would remove (9 grains/gal) x (150 gal/day) x (7 days/week) = 9450 grains/week, making a 15000 size softener best for our needs.
I can set the softener at 6 pounds of dosing to remove 10000 grains of hardness.

What I think I want:
15000 grain softener, mineral tank sized 7" X 44"
0.5 cu ft resin, 10% cross-link, standard mesh size
Fleck 5600SXT (electronic programable) valve
Transformer for Fleck 5600SXT
Upper distributor basket, standard size
Gravel underbedding
3/4 Inch Noryl Yoke with Noryl Bypass Valve
1 inch diameter riser tube
Standard mesh riser basket
Tubing to connect the control valve to the drain
(NO to: Res-Up, CanPro, Autotrol Turbulator, Vortech)

Brine tank:
Square 11x11x38 Brine Tank 156 lb capacity
4 inch brine well
Fleck 2310 Safety valve assembly
Brine tank cover
Brine overflow elbow
Hose for overflow
Salt grid
Tubing to connect the control valve with the brine tank

Whole house carbon filter:
10x44 resin tank
1 cubic foot of Centaur carbon
Gravel underbed
Fleck 5600SXT Auto Backwash Valve
Transformer for Fleck valve
3/4 Inch Noryl Yoke with Noryl Bypass Valve
Riser tube
Upper basket
Lower basket
Tubing to connect the control valve to the drain

Ahead of the carbon filter, I plan to install a Culligan Big Blue, 10", accessorized with a mounting bracket, special housing wrench, and food-grade silicone grease. I'll start with a 20 or 50 micron filter. If the Big Blue reduces pressure too much, I'll add a second one in parallel.

3/4" pipes and connections throughout.

I'll also install a RO system (Whirlpool WhER25), after the softener but that's fairly straightforward.

I finally decided against Vortech informed by AliceinWonderland's feedback and reasoning on a different thread. I realized that gravel is tougher than plastic.

What I'm undecided about:
1) The 10% crosslink resin is more expensive per bag than the supposedly superior Purolite SST 60. I don’t have an iron problem, but is there any reason to avoid the SST 60?
2) Whether or not to install pressure gauges at various points (between Big Blue filter and carbon filter, between carbon filter and softener, after softener).
3) Whether or not to install a hose bib for testing the water between the carbon filter and the softener. Do any forum participants have one installed and use it?
4) Getting a booster pump to compensate for water pressure loss. I will decide on this after everything is installed and we use it for a bit. Starting at 40 psi, with the sequence of Big Blue(s), whole house carbon filter, water softener, and then a split to a RO filter, I might end up with the water pressure of a damp sponge on a cold day. We'll see.
5) Using a larger brine tank (round 18x33, 240 lb capacity) instead of the 156 lb capacity I listed above. I'm expecting to use about 6 lbs of salt per week (see side notes below), so I think the smaller one would be OK. I can accept adding salt more frequently to the smaller tank with a benefit of having more free floor space.
6) Skip the Noryl bypass valves and install my own three valve bypasses with full port, 1/4 turn ball shut offs.
7) Getting a smaller 9" tank for the whole house carbon filter instead of a 10". The website listed a 10x44 tank for 1 cu ft of carbon, but it listed a 9x44 tank for 1 cu ft of softening resin. Does the carbon need that much more extra space than cation resin for some reason?

What I'd love feedback on:
A) Anything undecided above.
B) Is this plan reasonable?
C) Is the 15000 grain softener size correct?
D) Am I missing/forgetting/overlooking anything?
E) Anyone know a good source for pressure gauges so I can price them out? Or what I should be looking for/avoiding in a pressure gauge? I'm looking for something midrange.

Thanks for any feedback and comments!

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  1. Other than money, there is no reason to avoid SST-60. It is certainly overkill for your situation, but it's a very good resin. Further, since you are installing a carbon filter upstream from your softener, there is no need for 10% crosslinked resin either. There is really no reason to spend the extra money - you won't get any payback from the expenditure. Go with either the carbon filter, OR the stronger resin - not both.

  2. Pressure gauges are always a good thing. At the very least, you should have them upstream and downstream from the big blue filter (I'm also a big fan of the "Big Clear" housing so you have a visual indicator). While they aren't strictly necessary, having additional pressure gauges after the carbon filter and after the softener would be helpful in the event you ever have to attempt to diagnose a problem.

  3. A sample point between the carbon filter and softener is simple to install as long as you are installing plumbing anyway. It won't hurt anything, but neither will it ultimately be very useful.

  4. You should not need a booster pump, provided everything is sized correctly.

  5. The smaller brine tank will be fine

  6. I like to have both the Noryl bypass and a three-valve bypass, but your plan would be fine.

  7. Why, in the world, would you want to get a smaller tank than what is recommended? Available flow rate and pressure drop through the carbon is determined by tank diameter. Because of its irregular shape, a carbon bed causes higher pressure drop than a resin bed.

  8. Softener size: 0.5 cubic ft is too small. Don't do it. Normal household flow rates will result in hardness bleed. Go with 0.75 cubic ft. You will regen with 4.5 lb of salt (6 lb per cubic ft), go about10 days between regens, and use about 17 lb of salt per month.

  9. Sediment filter: Install a 3-valve bypass around the sediment filter - it will make filter changes much easier.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 7:13PM
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Thanks, aliceinwonderland. I appreciate the time you took to read and reply to a long technical post.

1) SST vs other resins- "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing," is how my wife dryly comments on most of my projects, right before she rolls her eyes. You're right- The SST is about $15 cheaper than the 10% crosslink, but it's about $70 more than the 8%. I had not compared SST vs 8% before. I don't recall my reasoning at the time, but I think I was worried about "chlorine breakthrough" from the carbon filter. After reading a graph from DOW on the effect of chlorine on resin, I was envisioning the resin dissolving from chorine like a sugar cube hit by a fire hose. (Google search on "Form No. 177-01754-0305" for the graph.) So I think I'd wanted the stronger resin to resist any chlorine that stealthed past my Centaur carbon.

2) I want the Big Clear for the visual, but several reviews said that the clear plastic was prone to cracking.

3), 4) and 5) Thanks!

6) Yes, I think I'll install duplicate bypasses.

7) I was considering a smaller tank because I don't necessarily trust the recommendations of the company selling stuff to me. (Case in point, they first recommended a 32000 grain softener to me. ) I noticed that they were using a 10 inch tank for both 3/4 and 1 cu ft carbon, then found out that the Vortech was not offered for smaller than 10 inch. I wondered if they were oversizing the 10 inch tank just so they can include the Vortech as an option. I had not thought about the pressure drop and tank diameter.

8) Thanks! The softener sizing and frequency of recharge has been difficult to evaluate. There does not seem to be consensus on how long a softener should go between recharges. How long do you think is too long?

9) Yes, I'll do that.

I found a double valve by Webstone that I'll be using for water sampling and pressure testing.

Thank you again for your feedback. I'll be adjusting my purchase because of it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:59PM
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Regen frequency depends on a variety of things. The presence of iron, manganese, chlorine, sulfur, high alkalinity, high TDS, pH all come into play. There are rules of thumb that say 7 days for most waters and 3-4 with high iron, but really optimum is different for each different water.

Your TDS is not very high, nor do you have iron, so there is no problem going a little longer between regens.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:13PM
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