Water Softener for whole house

old_monkJuly 3, 2013

Hello Alice, JaL, et. al.

Please help me design the softener for the whole house. I have read many of the past threads and have gained fairly good understanding of how to do it DIY. I'll be hiring a plumber to do the hookup. I got the water test results back and here are the key numbers:

TDS 380 mg/l
pH 7.2
Turbidity 0.41
Odor - No Odor
Color Alkalinity (as CaCO3) 55 mg/l
Total Residual Chlorine Ammonia (as N) Nitrite (as N) Nitrate (as N) 0.73 mg/l
Chloride 160 mg/l
Sulfate 25 mg/l
Calcium 36.2 mg/l
Iron Magnesium 5.15 mg/l
Manganese 0.038 mg/l
Hardness as CaCO3 111.6 mg/l

This is town water supply. Main plumbing is 1-1/4" PVC. Family of 4, kids are very young so our consumption will probably go up significantly as they grow. The water bill of past 4 months shows an average of 120 gallons/day. Master bath has a Jacuzzi and shower has 3 body sprays besides the rain shower and hand shower (Jacuzzi and body sprays are used occasionally). Total of 3.5 baths in the house. Two spigots that are outside will be bypassed. Flow rate measured at the Jacuzzi with both hot cold fully open is 9.67gpm.

Please advise what size softener and type would suit the best. I'll be probably ordering from OPW and Fleck 7000SXT looks like the right fit for my plumbing.

Thanks and Have a Happy and Safe Fourth!

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I did some more reading and this is what I think I should get:
Fleck 7000SXT 48K grain capacity w/ Purolite C100E 8% crosslink resin.

Even though the hardness and iron level doesn't demand 48K grain but I read the recommendations that with the body sprays one should target getting at least 15gpm flow which won't be possible with the lower capacity.

Chlorine isn't much so 8% crosslink resin should suffice??

Of course, the top distribution basket, gravel underbed and the fleck 2310 brine bypass float.

Does this all sound reasonable? thanks!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:52PM
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48k (1.5 cu ft) softener = 12 gpm not 15gpm SFR.

10% crosslink resin is preferable and should be a minimal cost upgrade. Make sure you're getting name brand resin like Purolite or Sybron and not from the anonymous Asian resin company.

Fleck 2310 is a safety float brine pickup not a bypass. The Fleck 7000SXT comes with it's own Noryl bypass valve.

Top basket and gravel underbed for sure. Also specify real FLECK top and bottom baskets not the cheapo and fragile Chinese ones.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:46PM
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thanks for the feedback jal!

Do you think I should go for a higher capacity softener 2.0 cu ft to maintain good SFR for the body sprays?

Anything else to be considered for the Alkalinity, sulphate and Magnesium?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Bigger is not better and can result in problems.

There have been posts on the forum stating that OPWC has said that if the customer demands a gravel underbed then there is no warranty on the softener so you might want to look at other dealers.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 10:59AM
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I'm still not clear what size would be optimum, 1.5 vs 2.0 cu ft?
1) Which size would make sure regen is happening at the right interval to avoid resin bed compaction/beads getting crushed leading to channeling?
2) What is the maximum recommended regen interval that can be used still not damaging the resin?
2) Can we program it to regen say every 15 days for now and change it to every 7 days when our water consumption goes up later on?

I'll ask OPWC if warranty is really an issue with the gravel underbed.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Your circumstances are those that don't get an easy answer.

With any iron or manganese you really don't want the resin to go longer than 5 days or so between regenerations and you would be routinely using Iron Out or a similar product..

Based on the conditions and numbers you posted a 1 cu ft softener would be adequate and provide regeneration at appropriate intervals but would not provide adequate SFR at only 9 gpm so hardness would leak through when using the big tub or uber-shower or a combination of bathrooms being used at the same time.

Increasing to a 1.5 cu ft softener would increase the SFR to 12 gpm which is slightly above what you need. With short salting and proper setup you'd have no problems but in the long run you'd use more salt and water for regenerations than a 1 cu ft softener.

A 2 cu ft softener would increase the SFR slightly but channeling would be a concern.

A common practice would be to sell you a 1 cu ft (or smaller) softener based on your numbers and you'd never know that hardness was leaking through. Ignorance may be bliss but it's not soft water. That's how Sears and HD and Lowes sells softeners.

IMO if you're paying for soft water you ought to get it all the time and not subject your plumbing, fixtures, appliances, and family to intermittent hard water... but that's just me.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:04PM
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IMO if you're paying for soft water you ought to get it all the time..
I believe in that as well and am striving for that in this design.

Iron and Manganese are really low as per the test results so would it not be ok to go bit longer between regenerations?

How bad is this, Sulfate 25 mg/l ? Would it foul the softener with Sulfur and any special action/precaution to avoid the sulfur bacteria?


    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:03PM
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One more question - OPWC doesn't offer Purolite C100 x10 resin, is there another seller that offers Fleck 7000SXT with this resin at competitive price?
Or, just go with SST-60 that OPWC offers?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:43PM
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If cost is a consideration then you don't want SST-60 and it will do nothing for you.

Pretty much all the online softener hucksters are the same. By definition they offer no service and warranty parts replacement is time consuming and you provide the labor and bear the shipping costs. None of them stock anything and they never even see what you receive. They all order from regional drop-shipping wholesale distributors around the country. They can all order any industry standard component or part (with a few exceptions) and when they say "we don't carry that" they are really saying there's less or no profit in that part so I'm switching you to a part that is more profitable for us.

Since you've decided exactly what you want and have made some specific component choices hit your keyboard and shop around for a seller that will at least give you the illusion that they value your business and will sell you exactly what you want. Call them on the phone and speak to a real person.but don't be surprised if you end up dealing with someone who knows less about water treatment than you do..

Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Ok, here is the list of items that I'm planning to buy. Please review if I overlooked anything.

* Fleck 7000SXT downflow on demand with it's specific bypass included
* 1-1/4" NPT PVC connector
* top basket for Fleck 7000SXT
* extra clips for the bypass
* resin tank with 1.5 cf of Purolite C100 x 10 resin
* gravel underbed
* 18x33 brine tank with Fleck 2310 safety brine float

One other thing - Fleck 7000SXT service manual says if drain line is going to run 20' or more then use 3/4" dia tube. In my case it will be close to 20'. Do I really need this size tube or standard 1/2" will do?


    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Purolite or Sybron or Dow are all good resins.

Real Fleck top and bottom basket not the cheapo imitations.

@ 20 feet 3/4" is best. You can use polyethylene (PE) tubing

What about the brine tank overflow?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Thanks for the feedback.

Please advise how best can brine tank overflow be handled. What can be done upfront to avoid the overflow? This softener will be in the basement (I'm in MA) and can't put this in the garage


    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:00AM
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In the event the control valve malfunctions and sends too much water to the brine tank the 2310 safety float is designed to stop the brine tank from overflowing like the float in your toilet tank.

The toilet tank directs overflow into an overflow tube to the drain if the float malfunctions.

If the control valve malfunctions and If the 2310 safety float malfunctions then the overflow is directed out an elbow on the brine tank. That elbow is supposed to get a drain tube to run to a gravity drain.

Millions of softeners are installed without any drain line on the brine tank elbow and the multiple failures that have to occur for the brine tank to overflow are not common. I suspect that there have been enough occurrences that the brine tank overflow elbow is there for a reason.

On the other hand, when was the last time you inspected or replaced your washer hoses?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:34AM
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About connecting overflow drain to a gravity drain, this will be a problem in my basement. My sewer line runs at about 2 feet above the basement floor. I do not know how high is this overflow elbow on the brine tank but I may have to create a raised platform for the softener and the brine tank to use the gravity. Do you agree with this approach? Can I just raise the brine tank and leave the resin tank on the floor (i.e. does it matter if brine refill line at the resin tank is at lower elevation than the brine tank)?

And many thanks for your valuable feedback so far.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Control valve fills brine tank @ line pressure so you could hang the brine tank from the ceiling if you wanted, but it'd be harder to put salt in it.

I'm simply making you aware of considerations that should be contemplated when installing a softener. The are millions and millions of softeners installed and operating with no problems that were not installed according to the rules and manuals.

In order for brine tank overflow to occur a combination of failures has to occur. How much of a risk that is is up to the person who would be paying for the repairs.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Thanks for the educational insights!

I'll shop around for the right components and will come back for the assembly and installation help. So far looks like no one offers the 10% resin, I spoke to two companies and they'll get back to me after talking to their distributors.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Have you considered looking for a local independent water treatment pro? They can get whatever components you want.

They'll charge more than an internet seller but they generally stock parts and provide service.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Yes, I did with two companies locally. First, they didn't share all the details about the water test results with me (just a high level statement that water is hard and needs softening). Second, they both quoted me more than $3k for parts and labor.
If I go DIY route, I have full control over what I'm designing and installing and saves money too.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:42PM
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I'm having hard time finding any seller with 10% cross linked resin from Purolite or Sybron or Dow. Any specific seller that anyone know carry these resin types?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Or I may have to buy the resin separately from some where? Not sure how that would impact the warranty on the valve and the tank.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:31PM
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It looks like I'll have to go with the 8% crosslinked resin. None of the water treatment guys are offering 10% brand name resin. Google shows some chemicals related companies that do offer such resins but none of them are willing to sell it to a homeowner!!

Justalurker, anything else can be done here?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:29AM
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In my experience online sellers don't sell what is the highest quality or the best for the job. They sell what is most profitable.

Since you have full control of the design and installation of your softener you have to decide what compromises you'll accept.

"The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten".

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Ok, after much looking around I'm able to get a quote from a company that is willing to sell me C100x10 resin. First, they sell in multiple of 1 cu ft so I'll have to buy 2 cu ft, 1.5 cu ft is not an option. Second, this resin shipped to me is $265. Is that a fair price and really worth investing in to get longer resin life (chlorine level isn't too high in my town's water)?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 2:52PM
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One more issue that I need help on, my home is a new construction and recently we started getting foul sewer type smell from the bathroom faucets if they are not used for a while. I had a plumber come in last week to look at it. He is saying that sulfur bacteria (which I was suspecting to be the cause) has come in from the town supply line and is the source of this foul smell. He recommended installing a sediment filter and occasionally flushing the line with hydrogen peroxide via this filter.
1) is that the best approach to treat this issue?
2) would this sulfur bacteria foul the softener? and how can I protect the softener?
Many thanks, I want to make sure I'm taking all the necessary actions to treat the hard water and this foul smell.

BTW, I'm getting the 7000SXT kit w/o the resin from OPWC and am ordering the Purolite resin separately from a Purolite distributor. Somewhat expensive but I guess the right thing to do.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 7:24PM
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Ok, Kinetico Sulfur Guard is what was advised by the plumber (which he supplies) for the H2S treatment. I did some more reading of the old threads here and am not sure what is the right solution.
1) Most H2S removal systems involves removing the Iron as well (my iron level is 2) Centaur Carbon system - May not work best if H2S is more than 2ppm. I do not know the H2S level in my water.
3) Big Blue 20" with KDF-85 filter - couldn't find much feedback on such a setup.

Any help or advice? thanks!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 12:16PM
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One question, does Fleck 7000SXT softener creates a closed plumbing loop and I need to have expansion tank installed at water heater? Right now the Watts PRV that I have allows expansion bypass. Or should I get the expansion tank anyway, just to avoid hot water from reaching the softener?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:44PM
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No correctly operating softener should create a closed plumbing system unless the softener bypass is set to stop the water flow into the softener and the house.

Regardless of the expansion bypass in the PRV I would still want an expansion tank installed at the cold supply for the WH.

How would hot water ever reach the water softener? Is the softener plumbed into the house water service or into the cold supply for the WH?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:53PM
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ok, I'll get the expansion tank. Amtrol sizing calculator says I need ST-12.

I was worried about thermal expansion pushing the water back in cold water line and this water ever reaching the softener.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Here is a picture I drew that I'll give to the plumber about what needs to be done. Anything I should change? thanks!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 6:06PM
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An update - I received the items yesterday, softener from the OPWC and C100x10 resin from a purolite distributor. I'm still waiting for the expansion tank and will then hire the plumber for the whole job.

I plan to do the assembling this weekend, OPWC did send me a pdf file with instructions. Anything in particular that I should be very careful about? Can I program it earlier, before it is plumbed?

Also, the resin is 2 bags of 1 cu ft. I'll have half bag left after the assembly. How can I store it safely to use it later? Its darn expensive and would hate to just throw it away.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 10:58AM
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In your diagram, the valve just before the filter is a shut-off not a bypass.

You never mentioned the pre-filter before... what are you filtering? what size is the filter? What element is inside? Does it have adequate flow as to NOT impede the house water pressure and flow? If there's a good reason to install the filter then install pressure gauges before and after the filter so you can see the pressure drop and know when to change the filter element.

Close the open resin bag and keep it clean and dry.

I'd assemble the softener and get it plumbed, check for leaks and correct operation, and then program it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 3:44PM
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That's a big blue 20" with 1-1/2" connections. My plumbing is 1-1/4" so this should not impede the flow. I plan to use a Polypropylene String-Wound 5 micron sediment filter (WP5BB20P).

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:19PM
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I give up..

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 5:38PM
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Please don't :(
Is this sediment filter a bad idea?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Does this look good?

C - 27
H - 8
SF - 20
DO - 21 (??)
RT - 2:00
BW - 10
BD - 60
RR - 10
BF - 16

BFLC is 0.125 so BF is for 4#/cuft.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:39PM
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