Water Softener Help

toukekiOctober 7, 2011

Our water softener finally went out and I could really use some additional guidance before the new purchase. Budget is very tight so I want to be informed enough that I can make a purchase with confidence whether I chose to go through a local water professional or purchase a system on my own. I thought I was doing well with my research but I am confused when it comes to flow rate and calculations. I believe I need 2.5 cu ft. but the automatic calculators seem to vary in what is recommended, so I am hoping someone can assist me in confirming which size system would best suit our needs and the settings that should be used once installed. Father is a plumber and would be able to order and install a unit for us once we decide on one. Without specific expertise in this area, he is suggesting a 76.000 grain capacity. Meanwhile, I received my first (out of two) estimate from a local water company who upon glancing at our existing setup decided that it would be best for us to replace the valve only ($550) in our current unit which I am told is a 24,000 3/4 cu ft. autotrol. In addition to the replacement valve we would need to add tannin ($100) for the brownish orange film we have always dealt with. We have owned the current system since building our home in feb 2002 and it was a preowned system (2-3yrs) before us. I was also told that once the current unit is up and running it would be set to regenerate every other day. If I am understanding the information I have gathered from the posts so far, this does not sound like the best recommendation for our needs. As for a new system, they offered the Fleck 5600 or the Kinetico 2060s. Weather permitting, we are expecting our second estimate this afternoon from company number two.

Also, with the working softener drinking water has always been great in our opinion (prefer it over most bottled) with no odd taste, odor, or color that I can detect. We have used the Morton System Saver salt exclusively in the tank and there is an attached sand filter on the line. I am trying to grasp the usage of NaCl or KCl and do not understand the differences in using one over the other... should I be concerning myself with this or leave well enough alone? I am interested in the basic information needed to make an informed decision so it would be great if someone is willing to put this as simply as possible.

Our situation is this...

Our beverage consumption is mostly water obtained through the filtered refrigerator door dispenser.

We may do a weekly car washing from the softened hose bib.

2100 sq ft single story living

2 adults 2 teenagers

3 people home at all times during the day.

front load washing machine


2 full baths

private well

iron .8

22 gpg hardness

ph 8

tds 500ppm

slight yellowish tinge to water taken at pump.

Please help :)

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Whoever recommended keeping your .75 cu ft Autotrol must own stock in both the salt company and the water company. Regenerating every day you can just stand there and watch your money go down the drain... literally. Plus the .75 cube softener would have far too low an SFR.

Based on the info you posted a 2.5 cu ft softener will do nicely. Set at 50k with 6 lbs/cu ft of salt (15 lbs total) it will regenerate every 7 or 8 days so you'd set the calendar override at 8 days.

The Fleck 5600 won't run a 2.5 cube softener so a Fleck 2510SXT or Fleck 7000SXT are appropriate choices. The 2510 is a 3/4" valve and the 7000 is 1" to 1/14".

Since Dad is a plumber, and there is already a softener installed, assembling and installing a new one should be easy so ordering online may appeal to you and it is the lowest cost alternative... as long as you order from a reputable company cause when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame ;-)

If you decide on one of those I'd have some detailed recommendations before you order the softener.

You'll want to start routine maintenance with Iron Out or a similar product for longest resin life.

Since you found a salt you like stick with it. The main difference between NaCl and KCl is that there is no sodium in KCl. If someone in the home is on a salt restricted diet then KCl is the only choice, but it has gotten very expensive. KCl is more friendly to house plants than NaCl.

With your water hardness and TDS I recommend you consider an RO under the kitchen sink for cooking, coffee, drinking, and a line to the fridge door dispenser and ice maker (bypass the fridge filter).

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 2:33PM
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Thanks jal! I agree, I was not impressed with the first individual for a variety of reasons. I just finished up with our second estimate and was quoted for a 32,000 grain (hellen) or a 40,000 Eco 2502 which would have us at 1 cubic ft with the Hellen and I am told a little more?? with the Eco. With those I am told regeneration every third to forth day at a 9 to 12lb setting on the salt. I was informed that if we went larger than these two options there would not be a benefit... it would cycle less often but we would use the same amount of salt. This is where I get lost.

Anyway, I would like to make a decision by Monday. The Fleck sounds like the way to go and I am sure it would be the more economical choice as well. I have considered RO but with the softener working properly we really have no complaints whatsoever with the drinking water. Staying with the salt we like sounds like the plan then and thanks for mentioning the Iron Out maintenance. I neglected to use it in the past since I never realized the importance of it.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 6:23PM
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Going smaller (in cu ft) than required compromises SFR and more frequent regenerations leads to a shorter resin service life.

"... it would cycle less often but we would use the same amount of salt. This is where I get lost"

Simple arithmetic... the softener I quoted, set up as I instructed, will give you 3333 grains of hardness removal capacity PER lb of salt (salt efficiency). That's the same as the ECO 40k will do @ 12 lbs except the 2.5 cube softener is regenerating every 7 or 8 days instead of every 3 or 4 days. The ECO will use twice the water and twice the salt in 7 or 8 days that the 2.5 cube softener.

With the ECO you'll be a slave to that dealer for parts and service @ whatever they charge and you won't find parts or tech info anywhere else if you decide to help yourself.

Get the Fleck 7000SXT and make sure you get it with the top basket and a gravel underbed regardless of what the softener seller says. And buy 4 or 6 extra clips for the 7000 bypass in case you break one. They are cheap (about $1.20) and good to have as spares.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Fleck 7000SXT with top basket, gravel underbed, and extra clips it is then! It's great to be able to move onto the ordering stage with complete confidence thanks to you. I am really looking forward to getting this new unit since I know it will make a world of difference.

Last but definitely not least, many thanks to you for coming through for me as quickly as you did. I really appreciate the time you have taken to help out and now that I think back, I believe a great deal of the information I read and learned previous to posting came from reading your responses to others. So again, "Thank you" to you and others for the awesome information that you are so generous to share with us through this forum :)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 12:32PM
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Before you order have your Dad look at the connection options for the 7000SXT so he can tell you which will be best for connecting to the existing softener loop.

Since Dad is a plumber... I'd ask him to add a three ball valve bypass at the softener loop in case there isn't one there already. With that bypass added, if there is ever a need to service the Fleck's included bypass you'll still have (untreated) water to the house while repairing or waiting for parts.

Let us know how it works out... and you are welcome.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 1:17PM
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Will do.

Just to confirm that I have the correct specs when I order...

Fleck 7000 SXT on demand 2.5 cube 80,000 grain
top basket and gravel underbed
3/4 inch plastic bypass
18x33 brine tank
Almond, grey or black

and of course extra clips for the bypass.

is this correct?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 7:19PM
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The 7000SXT control valve comes with it's own unique bypass.

Don't forget to have Dad decide which connectors to order.

You might want the 18x40 brine tank if you have the floor space. not a big difference if you don't. You want to check the salt level weekly anyway.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 7:46PM
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I believe I should have said "3/4 inch plastic bypass connection". I noticed one online website had this to offer... "1 1/4" Plastic Bypass Included FREE!" but dad says we need 3/4 since that is the size of our existing pvc. So does that cover me regarding which connectors to order?

I received an email earlier this evening from a company in the area who just confirmed that they sell the Fleck 7000SXT's and this is the information they are asking from me...
"Yes we do however I would need to know size of tank needed, color, metered or time clock, bypass etc..."

I would like to be clear on the details when I send my response but at the same time I would like to avoid sounding like an idiot :)

...and I thought I had the ordering part all figured out!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 9:26PM
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If you don't know, then admit that... it isn't sounding like an idiot. A simple mistake when ordering can really screw up the install and that's why it's better to deal with a local water treatment pro if you don't know what you're doing.

There are two different 3/4" connectors available for the Fleck 7000SXT...

42414-01 Connector Assembly, 3/4" NPT, 7000, Plastic

42414-11 Connector Assembly, 3/4" BSP, 7000, Plastic

Have your Dad decide which is best in your installation.

* Fleck 7000SXT downflow on demand with it's specific bypass included
* appropriate connectors (see above)
* top basket for Fleck 7000SXT
* extra clips for the bypass
* 13x54 resin tank with 2.5 cubes of standard high capacity resin
* gravel underbed
* 18x33 or 18x40 brine tank with Fleck 2310 safety brine float

Here's the Fleck 7000SXT service manual for your reading pleasure... http://www.ohiopurewater.com/shop/files/7000SXTServiceManual.pdf

Any online place you order from can deliver what you specify. Just because 3/4" connectors are not listed doesn't mean they are not available. All the online softener sellers and local independent water treatment dealers have the parts drop shipped from just a few regional distributors and these distributors stock pretty much every part and every option.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 10:21PM
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justalurker, You deserve a medal!

I was under the impression that my job was to figure out which unit to go with and "my plumber" would take over the finer details-- boy was I wrong.

I didn't realize what I was getting myself into and I guess you could say the same :-)

Thanks for taking care of me.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 12:55AM
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Water treatment can be very confusing and frustrating to those simply looking for quality water and willing to pay a fair price to get it.

Unfortunately, like other industries, there are those out for the quick buck and those who just don't understand what they're doing but continue to do it anyway.

While there is technical knowledge required to provide water treatment many think they are biologists and epidemiologists and heath care professionals when it comes to what needs to be treated and what doesn't. The length of time one does something has no bearing on whether they do it right or wrong.

That's why, with respect to Dad and other plumbers, water treatment professionals should be sought out for water treatment. Plumbers are fine for hooking up the softener, although I have seen the inny and outy reversed in softener installs on occasion, in general they are not water treatment professionals.

You're on the homestretch now and the finish line is in sight.

Just make sure that Dad charges you a fair price for the install.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 1:33AM
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lol, install shouldn't be too much of an issue if dad knows what's good for him... he loves gifts and the holiday is around the corner!

Unfortunately no water softener yet. I am still pricing the unit out but I wanted to share a couple of responses I have received regarding the 7000...

"This is one particular control valve we have never handled. It is a choice we made sometime ago. According to the best of our knowledge from other users, the track record is not as good as we would like in order to handle another valve and it's related parts. I do not know who handles the 7000"

"I've used 1/4" adapters to quote. I can get the 3/4" , but will need to order. Which is not too big a deal , since I would also need to order the valve also. I do not have a softener valve here. We do not sell many of the 7000 valves , so since we have very little sales , we have not been stocking".

Is this norm (as far as sales and track record) when ordering these 7000s?

My best quote so far is listed below which is $130-$150 less than the others. So, since I know very well that dad is not a water treatment specialists, I wanted to make sure it includes everything we actually need since it's like a foreign language to me.

*13x54 tank w/ distributor

*Gravel under bedding w/ 2.5 cf resin ( 80k grain cap)

*7000 metered sxt electronic valve w/ top dist , bypass and adapter kit

*18x40 brine tank w/ safety overflow prevention

These are the specs I am asking to be quoted on which includes the appropriate connector...

*Fleck 7000SXT downflow on demand with it's specific bypass included
*42414-01 Connector Assembly, 3/4" NPT, 7000, Plastic
*top basket for Fleck 7000SXT
*13x54 resin tank with 2.5 cubes of standard high capacity resin
*gravel underbed
*18x33 or 18x40 brine tank with Fleck 2310 safety brine float
*4 extra bypass clips

This will soon be over-- if I make it!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 6:43PM
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Sometimes you can't teach an old dog new tricks and sometimes you can't teach an old dog any tricks at all.

I've run across a lot of old timers who refuse to use anything introduced after they learned what they learned on. Small shops try to keep inventory to a minimum so you won't get a selection... "we sell what we sell"

Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish... finding the absolute lowest price almost always comes back to haunt you and when you buy online you can't look the seller in the eye.

Sounds like the places you've contacted so far are not the ones you want to do business with anyway so that's important info to have.

As far as the Fleck 7000... there don't seem to be many posts on the net regarding problems... maybe because they work?

If you're really concerned then get the 2510SXT with Noryl bypass (not the SS one), 3/4" NPT yoke, and top basket for more money.

Here's two choices for your reference (I have no affiliation with any company selling water softeners)...

Fleck 7000SXT

Fleck 2510SXT

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 7:22PM
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You make some very good points. I guess I'm more curious than concerned but I appreciate the additional information on the 2510SXT.

Once again, I'm thankful for the education you have given me :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 1:26AM
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My Fleck 7000SXT is finally being delivered today! The install should be some time this weekend but I have one last detail to address before then...

I recall somewhere along the way someone mentioned that I would need to have a sediment filter installed between the water pump and softener or my Fleck warranty would be voided. I currently have a filter installed between the pump and existing softener but I am not exactly sure if it is what is required. Unfortunately I don't have any details to provide (plain black housing/disposable filter inside) but figured since it is over 12 yrs old, it might be in my best interest to replace it when we do the softener install. Would you be able to offer guidance regarding which filter to use with this particular softener.

Thank you much.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 10:15AM
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Fleck has no requirement regarding pre-filters that I am aware of. Kinetico requires a pre-filter in certain circumstances with certain of their softeners and that may be where you read it. You purchased an industry standard softener that does not use a packed bed of fine mesh resin as some Kinetico softeners do.

I do not recommend pre-filters unless there is a condition that needs to be treated. Most people that have pre-filters don't due the routine filter maintenance and that causes more problems than the filters may cure.

If you have a sediment problem then use a 4.5" x 20" big blue filter housing just before the softener with a pressure gauge installed before and after the housing to monitor the pressure drop so you know when to change the filter. I'd start with a 20 micron cartridge.

Based on your original descriptions early in this thread it did not sound like you have a sediment problem.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Great to hear --one less thing to worry about.

I believe it was one of the internet dealers who told me that when I called about placing an order specifically on the Fleck 7000SXT. It surprises me to find out how many people have given me inaccurate information during this process and I am grateful to have your help. I decided to purchase locally which is why I had to wait longer... I found a new dealer branch just getting set up in our area and I chose to wait for their shipment of these units to come in.

I can't wait for installation and I will post an update on how much our water has improved while using our properly sized unit :)

Thanks again for your help and guidance.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 12:58PM
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Remember, you're not going to program the softener as the seller delivers it.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 6:10PM
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Yes, I will use your settings...

"Set at 50k with 6 lbs/cu ft of salt (15 lbs total) it will regenerate every 7 or 8 days so you'd set the calendar override at 8 days".

Tomorrow is the day for install :)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 1:04PM
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26 gpg (compensated) hardness

For 15 lbs of salt you need 5 gallons of water. you get that by finding the sticker near the brine line and look for BLFC size. That will be like .125 or something like it and it reflects gpm.

So 5 gallons divided by the BLFC size = minutes (to get 5 gallons in the brine tank) and that is the BF setting.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 1:59PM
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For routine resin maintenance due to iron...

For resin cleaning, once a month use 1/4 cup of Iron Out, Super Iron Out, Rust Pro etc. dissolved into a gallon or two of warm water and pour it into the 4" round tube in the brine tank where the float is and then flush that with a quart of clear water. Wait two hours and then do a manual regeneration.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 2:20PM
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Thank You so much : )

I will report back to you once we have used it long enough to tell the difference.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Update... unfortunately a little sooner than I anticipated.

Install was completed on Sunday, however, I had other commitments and wasn't able to oversee the programming or check on it until tonight. The water still seemed "off" to me despite the new unit being installed so that's what prompted me to check all of the settings. I was disappointed to find out that the numbers were not entered as I had requested and did not following the specifications that you provided to me.

I was finally able to go in and change the settings tonight to what I believe to be correct, but I am guessing that I should do a manual regeneration (or two) since the numbers were all wrong to begin with?

My settings are as follows:

BLFC = 0.5

DF = gallons

VT = df2b

Ct = fd

C = 50 (changed from 35)

Rs = cr

DO = 8 (changed from 14)

RT = 2:30

H = 26 (changed from 15)

B1 = 10

BD = 60

B2 = 5

RR = 10

bf = 10 (changed from 12)

Fm =t1.2

I am hoping that I have everything as it should be.

Thanks in advance for your time.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:39PM
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Change RT to 2:00 AM

Change RS to RC, then set RC to 248 (gallons reserve)

Hope no one changed any of the regeneration stage times.

Water will seem odd until you get the hard water flushed out of the water heater.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:02AM
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I was informed that the programming was done for us upon delivery (kind of them) although no one had my hardness numbers in order to do that properly! I was not present during that time and the unit was not yet in my possession, so I could not say with any certainty whether or not the regeneration stage times were changed before being brought to my home on Sunday. When the unit it arrived here, I provided the numbers you gave to me for programming and was under the impression it was set accordingly. Evidently there was some miscommunication along the way which I wasn't aware of until last night.

I appreciate your guidance regarding programming and I will go in and make those additional changes. Since there is some doubt as to what exactly was changed in the programming before it arrived here, should I be doing anything more? Is a manual regeneration required now that changes have been made and how long should I expect it to take before the cold side of the water is as it should be?

Thanks very much.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:32AM
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The cold water will be softened immediately upon softener installation.

I'm surprised that someone who has spent the time you have investigating your softener purchase din't make sure you were on-site during installation to KNOW that what you got was what you wanted and that it was set up according to your wishes. You missed an opportunity to learn things you seem to want to know. Now, you have to believe what you are told instead of what you saw with your own eyes.

You should get hardness test strips and make sure you are getting 0 hardness water and that it holds 0 hardness all the way until regeneration. You should check every month for a while then every 6 months just to make sure.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:47AM
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Ouch! No more salt in that wound please :)

We had to accept installation when it was convenient for everyone else but us which could have been any time or day with ONE exception-- Sunday morning! Murphy's Law, I should have known.

I did understand that the cold water was immediately soft upon install but since it was installed with incorrect settings on Sunday and with all of the changes to programming as of last night and today, what can I expect? I want to do whatever it takes to get the best possible water as soon as possible and that's why I thought a regeneration might be in order. In other words, will the new settings make an immediate difference in the water or will we be stuck with the results of improper settings for a while?

Thank you for your time and I apologize for taking up more of it due to my absence during install.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:32PM
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Installation is always at the convenience of the person writing the check unless they give that right up... 'nuff said.

Virgin resin is ready to go at full hardness removal capacity right out of the box (bag) in a new softener.

All the settings will apply at the first regeneration after the settings were (are) changed so your water should be 0 hardness right now... untreated water in the water heater not withstanding. After a time the soft water will mitigate hardness deposits in the plumbing, appliances, and fixtures but you won't feel anything different in the water. It may take a while to get accustomed to the feel of soft water and you will want to be using less soap and detergent.

You can initiate a regeneration and get things on the right track if you wish or wait till the softener regenerates itself which would be based on the new settings anyway.

Your concern about this is far less important than knowing if the regeneration stage settings have been changed because that will effect EVERY regeneration and every gallon of water from now till the water runs dry or the softener stops working.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:50PM
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Okay, I'm concerned... is there a way to tell for certain if the regeneration stage settings have been changed other than asking the one person who originally sold, delivered, and programmed it for us? If the effect is so detrimental, what would be that persons reason for changing these or am I missing something? Are the settings you are referring to accessible to me?

I noted the changes that I personally made in the configuration I posted above and those are the only settings that I have become "slightly" familiar with thanks to you, other users posts, and the Pentair manual.

Please excuse my confusion...

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 3:04PM
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The cycle settings are BW, BD, BW, RR, and are accessible in the Master Programming Mode.

Control valve programming is applied by either the wholesale distributor who supplies the valve when the seller orders a complete softener (then the wholesale distributor knows the resin capacity) or by the seller if they order discrete softener components.

There are two ways to know that the settings were not changed from the way the valve was delivered to the seller from the wholesale distributor IF the seller ordered a complete softener...

1. Be there to see with your own eyes that they weren't.

2. Ask the person who installed and programmed the softener if those specific settings were changed (if YES, then what were the settings?) and rely on that person to accurately recall if they were and/or to tell you the truth.

"If the effect is so detrimental, what would be that persons reason for changing these or am I missing something?"

Not detrimental so much, but rather correct or not. The reason for an installer changing any setting is that they (think they) know how to program the softener and as experience has proven... very, very few softener installers know how to program a softener correctly for efficiency and even fewer know how to correctly size a softener.

Isn't that why you're here in this forum?

Of the things you (should) have learned from your questions in this thread and your other investigations is that you are not going to size or program your softener as the seller supplies it yet you didn't do the one thing you had to to make sure they didn't change something you wouldn't want changed and that was to be there during installation to make sure.

Now we have a variable introduced and all the correct programming (for efficiency) information I have supplied you is dependent on the regeneration cycle settings being correct.

I regret rubbing salt in the wound but you opened the bag of salt...

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 3:38PM
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I have identified the "regeneration cycle step times" in my service manual and the only one that was changed by us was the brine fill time which you gave me guidance on. All others (B1, BD, B2, RR) were left as is.

Instead of using my own eyes, I relied on my husband's since he had to step in during my absence and be the "on-site" guy the day of installation. I thought the programming would be easy enough with the manual on hand, so I printed out your numbers for him and my father to use that day. After going over the manual, my husband chose to call the seller to get a better understanding of it all and during that conversation the only changes made were with the RT and DO settings. I was not aware of the capacity, hardness, and brine fill discrepancies until last night and changed them immediately. Hindsight being 20/20, I can only do my best to try and make it right and hope for the best outcome.

These are the current configurations:

DF = gallons
VT = dF2b
CT = Fd
C = 50
H = 26
RS = rc
RC = 248
DO = 8
RT = 2:30 (works best for us)
B1 = 10
BD = 60
B2 = 5
RR = 10
BF = 10
FM = t1.2

Despite the mistakes I've made along the way, I appreciate all that I have learned through you (and this forum).

Thank you no longer seems like enough, but thank you once again for your patience and for taking all of the time you did to share your knowledge with me.

I will get those hardness test strips and keep an eye on things as you suggested.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 9:50PM
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These are the only settings you should be concerned with...
C = 50
H = 26
RC = 248
DO = 8
RT = 2:30 (works best for us)
BF = 10

Make sure the RT setting is 2:30 AM and not PM.

There is a reason I only provide settings that should be changed... cause if one don't know what the other settings are one generally won't play with them. That's the reason that these setting are in the protected Master Programming and not as easily accessible as the owner's settings.

Every one is free to accept my recommendations or ignore them and do what they want. Those that choose to ignore my advice are free to correct the problems they create for themselves. I am not including you in the latter.

So, everything is as it should be and you should be enjoying soft water for a long time to come.

One last piece of advice... which ever NaCl or KCl you choose to use only put as much in the brine tank as you need to cover the water. Get in the habit of checking the level once a week before regeneration and add what you need to cover the water. Check two hours after regeneration as that's when the most salt will dissolve. Doing this will minimize the chances of salt bridging or mushing.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:18PM
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Completely understood and thanks very much for that last bit of advice. I will be sure to follow it (and the rest) thoroughly.

Really great working with you justalurker. Happy Holidays.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 11:48PM
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May the soft be with you...

... and to everyone on the forum, have a safe holiday.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 11:28AM
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