Fleck 5600 Econominder water softener

echo1305June 6, 2010

Although we have generally been satisfied with our 14-year old Fleck 5600 Econominder, the first cupful or so of water from the faucet has recently been tasting salty after each regeneration. Ques. 1: What repair is required and what would the approximate cost be? Ques. 2: Considering its age, would it be more economical to replace the entire unit - meter, resin tank and brine tank? (Note: The control unit was replaced with a new one when it was seven years old.) Thanks.

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If your Econominder is the electro-mechanical on demand model they're still making it and parts are no problem.

Although the control valve was replaced seven years ago the resin is getting long in the tooth at 14 years especially if you have any iron in the water.

By the time you get a tech out there to repair (probably rebuild) the control valve and replace the resin you'll be pretty close to the cost of an all new industry standard softener with a Fleck control valve.

If you think about going new we'd need the answers to the following questions so we can recommended a correctly sized softener...

Does your current softener have any identifying stickers on it that indicate size?

What are the height and diameter of the resin tank (the tank the Fleck 5600 is on) of your current softener?

Are you on a well or water system?

Do you know the water conditions? Hardness? Iron and manganese?

How many people in the home?

How many bathrooms?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 11:27PM
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Thanks very much for your prompt response. Think we'll pursue replacement of the entire system instead of repair/overhaul the current one. Your recommendation(s) will be appreciated. Here are the answers to your questions:

1. Neither the Service Manual nor stickers on the softener show any indication of size (I assume "size" refers to 32,000 Grain, 40,000 Grain, etc.).

2. RESIN TANK: 10-in. diameter, 39.5-in. height (47-in. to the top of the control unit that sits on the tank) BRINE TANK: 18-in. diam., 32-in. ht.

3. We're with the Henderson, Nevada (next to Las Vegas) water system.

4. I don't know the water conditions but can send for a testing kit, if necessary.

5. My wife and I, both seniors, are the only ones who have lived in this house; status not expected to change in the future. Frequency of doing laundry is probably at least "normal" - i.e., it is not sent out but done at home once or twice per week.

6. There are four bedrooms in this 2,700 sq. ft. two-story house that has 1 1/2 baths on the main level and a full bath upstairs. The full bath downstairs is used daily, the one-half bathroom is used when we have "day visitors" and the full bath upstairs is used only when we have "stay over" guests two or three times per year.

Additional info.:

- A label on the back cover of the control unit says "Model TT-37-56 MEI, SN 20374"

- A label at the point where the small black tube from the brine tank is attached to the control unit says ".50 GPM, 1.5 lb., SALT/MIN."

- There is a bypass valve on the control unit to which the two pipes exiting the wall are attached.

- The control unit does not have a "People Dial" or a "Grains Per Gallon Water Hardness Scale" although both are shown in a diagram in the Service Manual. The original unit may have had them; this is a replacement control unit that, as mentioned in my first post, was installed seven years after the original system was bought.

Looking forward to your recommendations. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 11:36AM
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You can contact the Henderson water authority for water quality test results. That will be the results of tests at their treatment facility. Look for hardness, iron, manganese, TDS, and chlorine (chlorides).

We need that info before we go any further.

A 10" x 44" resin tank would be a 1.25 cu ft softener.

Does your Fleck 5600 control valve look like this...

Do you intend to install and setup the softener yourself or buy from a water treatment pro who will install and setup the softener for you?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:59PM
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The Henderson City Water web site contains data from their 2009 analyses but, for some reason, is sans the specific ones that you need - hardness, iron, manganese, etc. I called the treatment facility and they will provide the requested info this afternoon. In the meantime, to answer your other questions:

- Yes, the current control valve looks like the pics - front and back - with the exception that was earlier stated that it does not have the "people" and "hardness scale" dials.

- I'm considering mail-ordering the softener and, presumably, it will be a Fleck. If the installed bypass valve is of the same size as the current one, then I think I can do the hookup to the delivery and return pipes from the wall (have done that sort of plumbing connections before). However, it will be only after the specific softener is decided upon when I will start looking into the installation of it; that is, if I should hire a plumber or if I can handle it.

Will forward the remaining data to you upon receipt from the treatment facility. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 2:44PM
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With the specific test results I can recommend a correctly sized softener using the same Fleck 5600 Econominder control valve so hookup should be real easy with the exception that the resin tank physical size may be different (taller or shorter) and that might require a minor change in the service and return hookup.

You might look at these to make the install really easy... http://www.falconstainless.com/price_list.html#Water_Softeners great products and a good company to do business with..

For the meantime you might take a look at these installation instructions by clicking here

If you feel comfortable doing it yourself after reading those then mail order or internet is the most cost effective at around $500-$550.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Here is the info from the Henderson water treatment facility that was left on our answerer this afternoon:

a. Hardness - 19 grains/gal.
b. Iron - 0.03 mg/liter
c. Manganese - no info available; it was termed a "non-issue"
d. TDS - not separated from the Hardness reading
e. Free chlorine residual - a range of 0.22 - 2.4 ppm with avg. of 1.06

Could you comment on the features of digital vs manual control units - ease of use, reliability, prone to problems, etc. Which would you recommend?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 6:40PM
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Essentially softener control valves break into two main camps... timer based, where regeneration is based on (preset) time elapsed between regenerations and DIR (Demand Initiated Regeneration), where regeneration is triggered by (calculated) water use.

Timer based is old technology and not as salt and water efficient as DIR, which your 5600 Econominder is.

The 5600 Econominder is electro-mechanical and it's setup parameters are limited. As reliable as a cinder block the 5600 has earned a reputation for long and reliable service in the field.

The current digital variation, the 5600SXT, is more flexible in setup and allows fine tuning for greater efficiency. Electronics have proved reliable and if you're going to have a problem it is usually right away.

Both versions require electricity and have motors to power the regenerations steps. I like both but favor the SXT cause I like to fine tune the settings.

Once either version is set they won't require attantion other than keeping salt in the brine tank and once a year brine tank clean out.

With your iron content a monthly application of Iron Out, Super Iron Out, or Pro Rust Out would be a good idea to prolong resin life.

For your water conditions and usage I'd recommend a 1 cu ft softener using a 6 lb salt dose...

Electronic: Fleck 5600SXT

Electro-Mechanical : Fleck 5600 Econominder

Both above links are for comparison.

I'd order either with the SS bypass and might add the SS corrugated flexible hoses.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:01PM
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If I should buy and install a 5600SXT 1.25 cu. ft. (40M) instead of a 1.0 cu. ft. (32M) unit, will there be any disadvantages other than the initial higher price of the 1.25 cu. ft. (40M)? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 1:11PM
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There will be no advantage to a 1.25 cu ft over a 1.0 cu ft softener.

The math of the setup will be different on the 1.25 cuber so you'll still regenerate every 7th day which is about right for best resin life. The salt dose will be higher because of the additional resin so in the long run you'll spend more on salt.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 1:28PM
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Thanks for all your input. Am on the verge of ordering a Fleck 5600SXT-32M 1 cu. ft. unit. Just to summarize: two-story, 2,700 sq. ft., 2 1/2-bathroom house with two adults living in it. Location of softener is in the garage. If any of the data had been missed in making calculations thus changing your recommendation, please let me know soon. Will probably order the unit tomorrow. Appreciate your help a lot!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:30PM
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When you program the 5600SXT set it:

capacity = 20k (20,000)
hardness = 21 grains per gallon (compensated hardness)
salt dose = 6 lbs
calendar override = 8th day

Watch the salt level in the brine tank weekly. Keep enough salt in the tank to cover the water and replenish as required. DO NOT FILL THE BRINE TANK TO FULL CAPACITY.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:42PM
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I have received the shipment of a new 5600SXT-32M but have not yet installed it. As I read the installation manual, a few questions have occurred to me concerning your suggested settings:

a. capacity = 20k (understood)
b. hardness = 21 (understood)
c. salt dose = 6 lbs (Couldn't find the salt dose entry as I went through the pictorial instructions. Where should it be entered?)
d. calendar override = 8th day (Is it OK to leave it at the defaulted value of 14? If the 8th day override is entered, approx. how many pounds of salt will be used in a month?)


    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 7:34PM
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Salt dose = 6 lbs... you're looking for the BF (brine fill) setting in the control valve programming. The setting depends on which BLFC (brine line flow control) is installed in the control valve (part #38 on page #24 of the service manual). There will usually be a sticker around or near where the brine line connects to the control valve that identifies the size of the BLFC that is installed. If you can't find a sticker call your dealer and ask which BLFC is installed. They might ask you why and tell you to just follow their instructions. Tell them you want to document EVERYTHING for future reference. Make them tell you and make sure they tell you the truth.

If BLFC is .25 gpm then set at 8 (minutes) for 2 gallons
If BLFC is .50 gpm then set at 4 (minutes) for 2 gallons
If BLFC is 1,0 gpm then set at 2 (minutes) for 2 gallons

Calendar override at 8 days is correct. If you go longer, especially with iron, you will shorten the resin life.

With salt set at 6 lbs figuring an average of 7 days between regen that's 24-26 lbs of salt per month... less than a bag or about 312 lbs or 8 bags of salt a year.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 10:31PM
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Forgot to include...

1 gallon of water dissolves 3 lbs of salt for brine so 2 gallons of water will give you the 6 lbs salt in the brine that you need.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 10:39PM
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I am still confused regarding the "salt dose = 6 lbs" suggestion.
The sticker on the control valve reads: Injector 1, grain flow 2.0 gpm. A picture in one of the installation manuals I have read shows the display that indicates the length of the Brine Refill Cycle as "BF 12."

a. Is this value of 12 the reading that is to be changed based on the on the label info that says "injector 1, grain flow 2.0 gpm"? If so, what is the number that should be entered in place of the 12?

b. Will the number that is used in place of 12 determine the desired "salt dose = 6 lbs"?


    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 2:49PM
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FOGET the installation instructions and get yourself a copy of the Fleck 5600SXT SERVICE MANUAL at click here for 5600SXT service manual

On page #24 part #38 is the brine line flow control nicknamed the BLFC. That is the part we need to know the size of. The size will either be ,25 or .50 or 1.0

In your post you typed "grain flow" but mistyped, it should be Drain flow". Right?

You are looking at the sticker referring to the INJECTOR NOZZLE and DLFC (DRAIN line flow control) which are different parts and not what we need.

Now, find the sticker that references the BLFC size or call your dealer to get the size of the BLFC that was installed then set the BF (brine fill) setting as I instructed in my last post...

If BLFC is .25 gpm then set at 8 (minutes) for 2 gallons
If BLFC is .50 gpm then set at 4 (minutes) for 2 gallons
If BLFC is 1,0 gpm then set at 2 (minutes) for 2 gallons

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 3:35PM
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You're right! "Drain" instead of "Grain." Sorry.

Upon closer inspection of the control valve housing, there it was in (almost) plain sight:

.50 GPM
1.5 lb.

Thus, when the BF window shows up on the display during the programming process, should the value in this window be changed to 4?


    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 4:14PM
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That's what we needed to know... set the BF (brine fill) to 4.

4 x .5 gpm x 4 = 2 gallons = 6 lbs of salt

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 5:22PM
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Think I now have all the details squared away for the installation which I hope to do next week. Will drop a note later ... hoping that it will be a "success story."

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 12:47AM
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Greetings! Here it is the day after installation.

First, the positive news:

Installed the Fleck 5600 SXT yesterday. Everything through the last programming step appeared to have gone per the manual's instructions along with the modifications that you suggested - e.g., changing the Capacity to 20K, BF to 4, etc.

Second, the "not so good" news:

Based on the manual's statement that "The resin is already charged so initial regeneration is not required" and the fact that the window of the control unit after the programming was finished showed, in addition to the time, "810" I did not add water or salt to the brine tank. Plus, since the number of gallons had dropped from 810 to only around 750 by bedtime, had thought it would be around a week before the first regeneration took place so I planned to add salt and water either today or tomorrow.

It was a surprise, then, to hear a faint sound coming from the garage after 2 am this morning. Finding that the softener was in a regeneration cycle without water/salt in the brine tank, I pulled the plug to stop the process.

After plugging it in today, I was ready to re-program the unit but found that although it had been sitting unplugged much of the night, the unit had retained both the time of day and the point of the regen cycle when the unplugging took place. Upon re-plugging it in, it finished the last few minutes of the cycle after which the window readings showed the correct time and, once again, the "810" that it started out with yesterday.


1. I did add salt/water today. Are the programmed values still in effect despite the unplugging/re-plugging of the unit or must changes be made?

2. Does the initial 810 gal amount appear to be a correct number?

3. Why did it regenerate last night despite the reading of around 750 gal. in the window late at night?

4. Henceforth, will the displayed number of gallons be a reliable guide to use in determining approximately when the next regen will be taking place? (Assuming that it's less than the 8-day cycle that was set in the program)

Appreciate your help ... as always.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 4:52PM
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810 gallons before regen is about right for 7 days with an 8 day calendar override including a reserve set aside.

You should have put two gallons of water and a bag or two of salt into the brine tank at installation.

If you read the service manual it says that time, programming, and sequence of regeneration are saved during a power outage.

Under normal operation the softener will regnerate that night at 2AM when the display hits 0 or it is the 8th day and the override will trigger a regen that night at 2AM.

There is no reason the 5600SXT should have regenerated the first night unless you set something wrong in the programming. Check the programming STEP by STEP. If you can't see anything wrong then post every setting in the programming and I'll review it.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 5:08PM
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1. Recap: The 5600 SXT was installed on Wed. last week and unexpectedly regnerated the first two nights following installation.

2. Current: There has been no subsequent regen but since the softener was running on RC yesterday (Thurs.) plus it was the 8th day of the 8-day override, regen was expected to happen last night.

3. Approx. 2:30 am last night: Went to the garage and heard some activity in the softener tank but none in the brine tank at that time (there was no water above the salt and the salt was not wet). The display showed ÃBDÃ with a relatively large number which, unfortunately, I donÃt recall but "think" that it was higher than 60.

4. Later this morning: Around 7:30, the display read 800 presumably having started off at 810 immediately after the regen process. However, the salt in the tank appears to be as before. Digging several inches below the salt level, I found the water level to be just above the shelf on which the salt rests. For some reason, I expected the water level to be near or above the salt level. Last week, I had added a total of three 40-lb. bags of salt and about four gallons of water to the tank.

5. Questions

Based on the above notes, does it seem to you that there was no activity in the brine tank and, if so, what might be a remedy? Instead of being concerned at this time (esp. considering my spotty observations) should we wait until the next regen cycle to see if its operating as it should? Thanks again for your help and for patiently indulging my lack of knowledge on the subject.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 12:36PM
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Let me try this another way...

Your initial 4 gallons of water was more than necessary. That 4 gallons was sucked out during the first regen and replaced with the 2 gallons calculated to gice you 6 lbs of salt.

Since your salt dose is 6 lbs so that's only 2 gallons of water so the level will not be really high in the brine tank. In fact with only 2 gallons the water will only be inches high.

That's why I told you to ONLY put enough salt in the brine tank to cover the water. I didn't tell you that for fun I told you that for a reason. 3 bags is far more than you need in the tank and more salt only makes it harder for you to satisfy your curiosity regarding the water level in the brine tank.

Here's what you do so you don't go crazy...

Remove the lid from the brine tank.

Remove the cap from the 4" round tube (that is the brine well) and stick a small diameter round wooden dowel along the side all the way to the bottom of the tube... DON'T FORCE IT AND DON'T PUSH ON THE FLOAT ASSEMBLY IN THE TUBE.

Remove the dowel and you'll see the water level in the brine tank.

You can initiate an immediate regeneration, or stay up till 2 AM the next time the softener regenerates, and wait till the display shows BD. That stage of regen is BRINE DRAW. When that cycle is finished use the wooden dowel to check the water level and you'll see that it is LOWER than when the softener is in service. If you have a clear tube from the brine tank to the softener you can see the brine being drawn from the brine tank during the BD stage.

The telling test is to use hardness test strips to check to see if the water is soft the next morning after a regen and through the days till the next regeneration.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 1:34PM
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I live in Las Vegas and I just installed the Fleck 5600SXT w/ electronic timer. Two retired people in 2500 sf house with 2 1/2 baths. With 32,000 grain 9 x 48" resin tank and 0.50 gal/min BLFC, I followed justalurker's instructions exactly and my water softener is working perfectly. Thank you justalurker.


7VT/DF1b (5600 Mode - some older may read St1b instead of DF1b)
CT/Fd(Meter Delayed Format)
NT/1 (Number of Tanks)
C/20.0 (Capacity)
H/21 (Hardness)
RS/SF (Reserve Selection)
SF/15 (15% Safety Factor)
DO/8 (Day Override)
RT/2:00 (Regenerate at 2 am)
BW/10 (10 min Backwash Time)
BD/60 (Brine Draw 60 min)
RR/10 (Rapid Rinse 10 min)
BF/4 (Brine fill 4" at 0.5 GPM BLFC = 2 gal = 6 lbs salt)
FM/t0.7 (Flow Meter Type)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:02PM
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You are welcome...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:27PM
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