Questions about an Eco-water, water softener

baymeeSeptember 27, 2009

Not sure if this is the best place for this question.

I was given a working water softener and I have a few questions about the head and the plastic beads inside the tank. There is no information to be found on the net about servicing an Eco water softener.

In the first picture there is a round device that had a plastic tube connected. What is that for?

In the second picture, in the left hand port is a device with holes drilled into it, a diffuser?. In what position is that placed? It came apart when I pulled the valve assy. out to remove the head. The thin line that attaches to the round device in the first picture is also seen.

In the third picture, it shows the two assys. lined up as they would go back together.

The tank is a 40" high, 9" diameter, and the beads are about 12" below the top of the tank. How high should they be? It's a 30,000 grain system.

The head has a hose that goes upward to the sewer line. Is it controlled by a pump and will it pump up 7 1/2 feet high.

Thanks for any help.

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That control valve appears to be a Fleck 5600 Econominder demand unit. That is a popular and reliable control valve. Parts and tech info are readily available.

The gizmo with the handle is a bypass valve and the other thing is the meter (turbine) housing that is part of the control valve.

Here's a link to the service manual... click here to download a PDF file of the service manual

The resin does not fill up the resin tank. There needs to be room (freeboard) for the resin to move during regeneration.

The resin usually takes up 2/3 to 3/4 of the tank.

The drain line that goes from the control valve to the sewer line should be air-gapped for safety and code requirements and the water will flow through that line with a 7.5 foot rise.

I'm curious, if you were given a working water softener why did you take it apart?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 5:57PM
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Thank you for the helpful advice.

The resin is at about the 3/4 level, so I'm good on that. Does it ever have to be replaced?

My son bought a house and the softener was in the plumbing water loop, but wasn't plugged in or salted for two years. It was too heavy to get out of the basement, so I took the head apart to dump the water. I didn't realize there were beads in it because I've never seen a softener before.

I don't care for soft water, but I have about 12 grains of hardness and want to install an UV light for my well water and need softer water.

The salt tank was empty.

When you say water break, do you mean some sort of U trap, like a sink.

Will look at the manual now.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I said "air-gapped" not water break. It is to make sure there is no cross-contamination from a sewer to potable water. you can make your own or go to and buy one

Since you removed the control valve you probably lifted the distributor tube and bottom basket out of the dimple at the bottom of the resin tank.

If I were you I'd empty the resin into a clean bucket, or two, and sanitize the resin tank. Then reassemble as if you were assembling a new softener.

Click here for softener assembly instructions

Make sure you plumb the IN and OUT correctly or you'll pump resin into your plumbing.

The final step will be to set the softener correctly for your water conditions.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 7:12PM
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You're right. The tube came up. Not exactly what I wanted. Back to the drawing board, but I have alot of good info to read up on.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 7:43PM
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Inspect the bottom basket on the tube carefully for cracks. Don't want resin getting through.

Read up, take your time, be neat, and be careful. It ain't rocket science but it is chemistry and physics ;)

Any questions... we're here to help.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 8:24PM
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Thanks. Only one question for now: I get the impression that there is no water flow to the house during regeneration. True?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:38PM
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With a single resin tank softener, like yours, you get untreated (hard) water to the house during regeneration . That's why single resin tank softeners are usually set to regen at 2AM. They think we're all asleep.

Twin resin tank softeners regen immediately as required and you continue to get treated (soft) water during the regen.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:59PM
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It's possible that the hard water was going through the resin bed for many years......5, maybe longer, without being regenerated, no salt, and not plugged in.

How long will the beads last and how can you tell if they're spent? They look like medium grains of sand.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 6:06AM
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On municipal water systems resin lasts 10. 15. and sometimes 20 years if the softener is setup correctly with minimal maintenance. On well water and/or if there's iron resin life is shorter.

When resin goes really bad it turns to mush and squishes when squeezed between two fingers. If it feels solid when squished then it's most likely OK.

If the bypass valve was set to bypass then the resin is probably OK. If not, then the only way to know is to assemble the softener and give it a try.

After you assemble the softener and set the front dials for your water conditions put a bag of salt in the brine tank. Add 5 gallons of water to your brine tank.

Wait 2 hours and do a manual regeneration. don't use any water till that is done. At the end of regeneration there will be water in your brine tank. Add 1 gallon of water to the brine tank and wait two hours. Try not to use any water while waiting. After the 2 hour wait do another manual regeneration and don't use water till that is done.

Now your resin has been regerated to it's maximum capacity and will work as well as it can.

Get some hardness test strips and check the hardness. Keep checking the hardness till it regenerates. If the water stays soft (0 grains hardness) all the way to the regeneration then you did it.

If not, then you got what you paid for. Call a local independent water treatment pro for help.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 9:29AM
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I checked the resin and when squished between the fingers, it remains a sandy type feel. It was installed in '92 and used with municipal water, probably treated from a large well. The unit was not in the bypass mode, so I'm sure water was going through the bed for quite a few years without being regenerated.

It will be a few weeks until I get everything installed and I'll get back to you.

You've been a great help. Come over to the Lawn Mower forum so I can help you with mechanical questions sometime :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:21AM
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Toro Wheelhorse 518xi garden tractor... it don't break.

Let us know how the softener works out.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:55PM
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I have the old Wheelhorse 312A and a JD 316 and they don't break either.

I dumped out all the beads and the gravel into several buckets and sifted out the gravel and put everything back where it should be. That took over 2 hours.

Everything looks to be in real nice shape.

My project involves hooking this conditioner into the line from the acid neutralizer, then a cartridge filter, then a UV light and then back to the main line. So, it will take a couple of weeks in my spare time. On top of that, I have to rearrange the basement to make this stuff fit, plus wiring, etc. I also have an indirect water heater sitting there to be hooked into my boiler. Busy, busy, busy.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 6:15AM
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Here is a link where you may be able to get additional information you need. Ecowater is a local company with a good reputation and they also make water softeners for Whirlpool that are sold at Lowes.

Here is a link that might be useful: EcoWater

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:02PM
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"Here is a link where you may be able to get additional information you need"

The OP's EcoWater softener has a Fleck 5600 Econominder demand control valve not the proprietary EcoWater controller they use in their branded softeners or the price point softeners Eco builds for the box stores and plumbing supply houses.

In fact, that softener doesn't seem to be found anywhere on the EcoWater site you linked to.

IMO the OP lucked out because hisEco softener has an industry standard control valve with tech info and parts readily available pretty much everywhere.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 8:17PM
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" lucked out because his Eco softener has an industry standard control valve"

......and I'm glad it does.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:01PM
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OK, the system is installed and completed. In series, the well tank, 10 micron filter, acid neutralizer, 10 micron filter, water softener, 5 micron filter, UV light and house plubing.

I don't think this is an Eco-Water system. I think it's a softener that was sold by an Eco-Water dealer using common parts and a Fleck head.

The instructions aren't clear about the Fleck 5600 head and manual regeneration. It just says that the beads are new and it doesn't need regeneration.

I see that the raised portion of the gallons meter dial starts the regeneration cycle. There is no clue as to how many gallons should pass before regeneration, but I set it to 13,000. They don't say if the hand valve at the rear of the head should be in bypass or service, but I assume it should be left in service. On the back of the head is a selection for gallons of salt. I think it's set to 12.

If I wanted to manually regenerate this thing, I know how to start it, but nothing is said if I can drink the water while it's being regenerated. It doesn't do it at a certain time. It's done by gallons used as far as I know.

So, to sum it up:

1. What should be the gallons of salt set at?

2. Can I drink the house water when this is regenerating?

3. How many gallons should I set the regeneration cycle for a family of mostly two? The hardness of my water is about 10-12.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:01PM
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Often times national brand name softener companies make industry standard softeners available as an economy or entry level softener and that is what you have.

The setting in the back is for POUNDS of salt not gallons.

To set the softener up properly you need to know the actual hardness of the water (you need to check the water hardness AFTER the acid neutralizer because it will add to the hardness), iron content, manganese content, # of people in the house, and the volume of resin in the softener (the height and diameter of the resin tank will tell us that).

While the softener is regenerating you get UNTREATED (hard) water to the house.

I'd be very leery of the two 10 micron filters you have installed. No real reason to have them and they may restrict the flow rate enough to cause problems regenerating the softener.

Any inline filter should have pressure gauges installed before and after so any pressure drop can be easily seen and the element replaced.

Post a picture of the front of the control valve.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 10:27PM
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Due to a computer crash, the picture will have to wait until the software is added this weekend. It's the Fleck 5600 Ecominder?

The reason for the two filters was that I definitely need one between the well and the neutralizer, otherwise the gravel would be coated with a brown/orange slime. It never gets backwashed. The filter after the neutralizer was to keep sediment and gravel from blocking the faucet screens and valve seats. With the new addition of the softener, you're right, I could probably eliminate the second filter. The final filter is necessary just before the UV light and shouldn't affect the softener.

I have a pressure gauge before and after the filters at the neutralizer and the pressure is always around 50 psi, depending upon whether the well pump is pumping or not.

I'll post the other details asap.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 6:15AM
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Whoa, hold on here... "coated with a brown/orange slime"?

Sounds like IRB (iron reducing bacteria) and that needs to be dealt with by other means than a simple filter.

You need to get a comprehensive water test from an independent lab (for the usual stuff and potability) and see what is in your water or get someone in there that understands well water treatment.

Until you do that there's little more I can do to help.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:44AM
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All this started when I got the results of my well water test from Penn State. There is some coliform in the well which doesn't hurt us, but might give some visitor a stomach ache.

All results come from water taken directly from the well.

PH 6.8, TDS 287 ppm, Hardness 166 ppm, copper 0.174 ppm,
iron 0.20 ppm, manganese 0.01 ppm, calcium 39.1 ppm, magnesium 16.7 ppm, total alkalinity CaCO3/L 74.

Penn State didn't have any concerns except for the coliform.

I have to get a test kit to give any more information.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 6:20PM
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"Penn State didn't have any concerns except for the coliform". Yea, they're not drinking it!

Everything in your water can be treated but you're not doing anything about the coliform.

The hardness (after the acid neutralizer), manganese, and iron are used to calculate the compensated hardness. The compensated hardness, volume of resin in the softener, and # of people are used to calculate the settings for the softener.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 6:50PM
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Oh yeah, that's what the UV light is for. And because of the UV light, I had to install a softener. See how things develop?

Will have to wait till the weekend before I can get more info.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 8:45PM
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Still waiting for the test strips. Here is a picture of the front and rear of the softener's head. I was told it was a 30K grain softener.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 2:40PM
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The softener cylinder is 9" in diameter. The beads are at about the 30" height. The grains of hardness after the acid neutralizer are 25 and the grains of hardness after the softener are zero. Two people using water.

How would I determine the pounds of salt, now set at 12 and the gallons before it regenerates?

Can water be made too soft?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:42PM
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Ideally you want 0 hardness all the way until regeneration.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 11:13PM
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Can you guide me as to how I should make my gallon settings for regeneration and the pounds of salt?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 6:05AM
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Assuming you have a 9x48 resin tank which should have 1 cu ft of resin and you use a medium salt dose of 9 lbs you get 26,000 grains of hardness removal.

Using the formula at the above link that results in a setting of 660 gallons because I find 60 gpd per person more realistic than 75 gpd. That includes a reserve calculated in.

Ideally you want a softener to regenerate every 6 to 7 days unless there is iron and then more frequently.

I think your small 1 cu ft softener will regen every 4 to 5 days.

You could increase the hardness removal capacity of your 1 cu ft of resin by increasing the salt dose at the expense of salt efficiency.

At a high salt dose of 12 lbs you'd set the gallons at 750 using 60gpd per person.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 12:04PM
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I've been running the softener for a few months now, thanks to the help of a lurker. I kept testing for softness and bumping up the gallons used before regeneration and am up to about 1100, which is several weeks.

Two questions:

How does the black wire from the round device on the Fleck head measure the water used? I don't see any moving parts.

How full can you make the salt container. The directions only say to add a few bags, but there is alot of room left in the salt bin.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 8:00AM
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Several weeks is too long before regenerations and will shorten the life of the resin.

The black wire (cable) from the dome in the rear of the control valve is being turned by a paddle wheel (turbine) in the domed housing and that turning determines the gallon count used.

Keep enough salt in the brine tank to cover the water and check it weekly. If you're gonna go 2 weeks between regens then check every two weeks and add as necessary.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 11:39AM
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How long would you consider too long before regeneration? I can always cut back on the gallon setting.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 10:42PM
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Asked and answered... look 3 posts up from this post.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 11:00PM
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That's 3 posts up from your last post...

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 11:02PM
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Got it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 10:29AM
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