Water Softener Guidance

invader21May 16, 2012

I have a 12 year old GE PNSF35B that was placed in the house when we built it. It has done a great job up until now, but has become 'buggy' over the last few years, and tonight, I found a leak in the resin tank (leaking into the brine tank, thankfully).

In my research and reading, I have settled on the Fleck 7000 SXT but need guidance sizing.

We are on city water with approximately 9.6 GPG hardness. There are three of us at home currently. The home has 3.5 bathrooms.

I am trying to decide on the capacity of the resin (thinking around 2 cu ft), and the grain capacity (based on high-level, quick research, thinking around 48k-64k).

We are on brink of being empty-nesters, so dropping back to 2 in the house is on the near horizon.

Any guidance? I am, of course, in a little bit of a hurry. We have a bypass valve, but don't want to run with hard water very long. Appreciate any insights.

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Depends on your water useage. I have a family of four, yet find (now that I have a metered water softener to inform me) that we average about 150 gallons per day. This leads to regenerating once every 3 weeks with a Fleck 7000SXT 1.5 cu ft set to a salt-efficient 30K grain capacity using 6 lbs/cu ft. This softener is advertised as 48K capacity.

If you don't use a lot of water, you would be drastically oversizing with a 2 cu ft (64K) system. I would get no larger than 48K/1.5 cu ft system. Fleck 7000SXT is a great valve.

I recommend SST-60 resin, also.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:23AM
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You can always regenerate a bit more often until the last fledgling leaves the nest if you use more water. Also, a 1.5 cu ft system uses the same 10" X 54" tank as 2 cu ft, so an increase in size, if necessary, is nothing more than buying another 1/2 cu ft of resin.

Not much risk in getting the 1.5 cu ft either way.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:27AM
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You sure got your money's worth out of that GE... an exception rather than the rule.

I don't know how you arrived at a 2 cu ft softener but it would be WAY, WAY, too large for your needs.

Based on 10 gpg and three people, if there's nothing else in the water, a 3/4 (.75) cube softener will do nicely. It will have a 7 gpm service flow rate and regenerate every 7 days (which is about ideal) if you set it up for efficiency.

When you're down to two people easy programming adjustments will be all you need to do.

Either a Fleck 7000SXT or 5600SXT or a Clack WS1 would be good choices in control valves.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:30AM
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Thanks to both of you. I wasn't sure if I was lucky or unlucky with that GE, to be honest. I know the 'big box' variety is less dependable, but I have been going back and forth on whether it was a good choice or not (didn't know anything about water softeners at that time, and still don't know much).

I think I will try to double-check/retest my water to be sure on the hardness if I can get that turned around quickly.

Now this question: Is it normal to acquire the WS on my own, and have a local plumber install it? Will they not want to sell me whatever they resell??? And if I choose to order it myself, how do I separate the reputable sellers out there from all of the "other" sellers that litter the internet?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Ahhhh....also found what I had been looking for over the last few weeks...the performance data on my PNS35B. Max flow rate of 9 GPM. 35,400 grain capacity. And it was doing quite well when it was functioning, so a 48,000 should more than do the trick, I would think?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:37AM
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48K? you would think... and you would be wrong. Regeneration intervals longer than 7 or 8 days, even with no iron, will shorten resin service life.

Your GE listed at 35,400 is at MAXIMUM SALT DOSE. You size a softener by volume of resin and not hardness removal capacity. EVERY softener has adjustable K (capacity) based on salt dose and how it is programmed.

Since you already have a softener installed you should have AC power and a drain nearby so a plumber will have an EZ time hooking it up. Just make sure the plumber gets the inny and outy connected correctly cause sometimes they get it backwards. Do not let the plumber set up the softener.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:17AM
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On what do you base your claim that resin must be regenerated every 8 days or it will fail? Are you aware that exchange tank softener services will swap out (regenerate) your tank once a month without any ill effects? What exactly are you fixing by more frequent regeneration, assuming you're just removing hardness and don't have other water ills that should be addressed?

Also, I don't think your estimate of a 7 gallon SFR rate for a 3/4 cu ft softener is correct. From what I have read you need 1 cu ft to get 7 gallon SFR, and 1.5 cu ft to get 9 gallon SFR.

Depending on your circumstances, 7 gal SFR could be marginal. The tub spout and one other appliance could over run that rate allowing hardness leakage. So sizing a softener is not just about grains of capacity and water useage, but an SFR that will assure soft water when more than one fixture/appliance is in use.

For some, the 7 gal SFR might be OK. But SFR is probably a bigger consideration than shrinking the capacity to accomplish 8 day regeneration intervals for your average water-conserving family.

I say get a larger unit and SFR, increase the regen intervals somewhat and use 6 lbs per cu ft for salt efficiency.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:43PM
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"On what do you base your claim that resin must be regenerated every 8 days..."

Read the tech sheets from the resin manufacturers.

"I say get a larger unit and SFR, increase the regen intervals somewhat..."

You are entitled to your opinion.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Regarding regeneration frequency - there is a difference between a softener installed and regenerated in a home and one that is swapped out monthly by a service company.

Resin manufacturers specify regeneration frequency to maximize resin life. Water softening resin consists of tiny polymer beads. As water flows through the bed of beads, it places pressure on them. Over time, this causes the bed of resin beads to become more compacted, fitting together more tightly. The longer they are left without being backwashed, the tighter the bed becomes. As the bed becomes tighter, pressure drop across the bed increases, which, in turn, makes the bed even tighter. The backwash portion of a regeneration cycle lifts and separates the beads, relieving the pressure, essentially "fluffing" the bed, and removing pieces of broken resin bead along with other particulate matter. The longer you go between regen cycles, the more pressure on the beads and the more damaging each cycle becomes, causing more broken beads and resulting in shorter bed life. Additionally, often in a home situation with an oversized softener, the ability of the home plumbing to provide adequate flow rate to backwash a large softener is marginal, resulting in inadequate removal of broken beads. Over time, as the broken pieces build up, the result in channeling through the resin bed - hardness bleedthrough at all times. Not good.

Yes, there are companies that will swap out your resin tank monthly for regeneration. They charge a premium to do so. They have made a business decision - even though it is more damaging to the resin beds and resin replacement will have to happen more frequently, it is still cheaper for them to do that than to go to houses weekly to swap out tanks. They also regen in a facility where they can recover brine and have access to higher flow rates to ensure the additional load of broken resin beads are adequately removed during each regen. This type of thinking does not apply in a home-regen situation.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Have you decided on whether to go with a .75 cu ft, a 1.0 cu ft, or a 1.5 cu ft softener?

I am in a similar situation, 3 people using 200 gpd, 3.5 baths, 7.5 gpg compensated hardness, potential for peak flow rate to to reach 9 gpm, but I have well water, not city water.

Being a newbie to using forums I am not sure whether I should have started a new thread or not. Sorry if I unintentionally hijacked this thread. Suggestions from other members would be appreciated.

I have been researching how to best determine what size unit to purchase and am still in a quandary and need to replace our system soon. From my recent research, I understand that for our consumption pattern and our well water condition, if I get a 1.0 cu ft unit using a Fleck 5600SXT and set it to use 6 lbs of salt, it will regenerate approximately once a week. This would be an efficient use of salt and would be good for the resin's performance and maintenance. I would need to accept that if we occasionally exceeded the stated peak or maximum service flow rate of the resin, that hardness will break through. From what I understand, 1.0 cu ft of 8% crosslink resin can handle a maximum service flow rate of 9 gpm. If I wanted to get a higher max service flow rate of 12 gpm, I would use 1.5 cu ft of resin, and using a 6 lb salt setting would use 9 lbs of salt per regen but this would not regen within the optimal timeframe for a healthy resin bed and would lead to channeling. So, I assume I would need to set the override on the Fleck to regen every 7 to 8 days and I would be using 9 lbs of salt per week instead of 6 lbs for the 1.0 cu ft unit in order to get a higher service flow rate thus potentially avoiding hardness breakthrough. I would be using more salt and more water to regen the 1.5 cu ft unit. This would not be an efficient use of salt or water to get a higher max service flow rate but would be necessary to maintain the resin bed properly and to potentially avoid hardness breakthrough.

Sorting through all the information and opinions on the internet and from local water conditioning professionals to come up with an answer to the question "what salt setting should be used if I want to regen every 8 days and use salt efficiently and effectively for a 1.0 cu ft unit?
For a 1.25 cu ft unit?
For a 1.5 cu ft unit?
consuming 1400 gallons of water in 7 days with a compensated hardness of 7.5 gpg?" has been a real challenge.

I will probably be going with a 1.0 cu ft system using SST-60 resin (for its potential higher flow rate capabilities and salt efficiency), set to regen using "X" amount of salt ((to be determined)(any suggestions)) with the override set for every 8 days. I understand that if I exceed the max SFR of "X" (7 gpm? 9 gpm? still researching) that hardness will breakthrough.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Yes, a new thread would have been the better choice.

Since you are on a well your circumstances are entirely different than the OP's.

The place for you to start is with a comprehensive water test from a certified independent lab. With those test results we can see what else might need to be treated and advise you.

If you have any iron or manganese an 8 day override is too long between regens for optimum resin life.

SST resin will do nothing for you.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Thanks for the posting advice. I will start a new thread titled "Water Softener Sizing Advice" and copy and paste part of my thread from above.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 3:47PM
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Well I got some great info in this board and also from a local supplier. I tested the water and found it was 15 gpg and not 10. Then I began to consider how likely I was to take on maintenance myself in the future.

Net outcome: I went with a 1.0 cu ft Clack WS-1.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 2:02PM
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