yet another softener sizing assistance request

teartagsNovember 17, 2011

I've been reading all the old softener posts here and they've been a huge help. However, this and all the other sites has me really confused on what size softener I need. We just moved into a house on a well and the water tested to

12 GPG

0.1 mg/l iron

177/230 tds

It's just my wife and I right now. We might have a kid, but probably not. House is about 2000 sf. We use the same shower and will remodel this soon to have a standard shower head and a steam shower. There's also a jacuzzi tub now which may stay or just turn in to a larger soaking tub. It'll probably be used 2-3 times a month. We're pretty conservative with water. Don't know if it's relevant, but the well pumps to a 1000 gal. cistern, which pumps to a pressure tank. I need to check the size of the plumbing coming off of the pressure tank.

I'm looking at one of the Fleck models. A 5600, 2500, or 7000 series based on the plumbing we have. Any advantage to Ecominder vs. STX? What should be included with the model? I'm probably going to install it myself. Might take me all day, but I've got the skills and after buying the house, we're broke. Any advice? Does the waste line have a pump or is it gravity fed? I ask because I think the softener will need to be installed below the main drain line.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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justalurker

Water treatment on well water begins with the results of a comprehensive test by a certified lab. Hardness, manganese, magnesium, iron, arsenic, sodium, copper, TDS, bacteria, and nitrates at a minimum. Living on a well is more complicated than living on a water system because YOU have the responsibility of making the water nice and safe.

The Fleck 5600 series is a proven 3/4" design and is limited to 12" or smaller diameter tanks. The 5600 Econominder is an electro-mechanical design and is quite competent but offers limited flexibility regarding set up. The SXT version adds electronic control and is more flexible in programming options. Both versions require AC power.

The 2510 series is also a 3/4" design and has been around quite a while. The 2510 is also available in an electro-mechanical and SXT version.

The 7000SXT is only available in the electronic version and is a 1.25" valve. It is a different design from both the 5600 and 2510.

All Fleck control valves have a 5 year warranty from Fleck through the selling dealer.

Purchasing softeners on the cheap you should expect a control valve , top basket for the control valve, bypass valve for the control valve, appropriate connectors for the bypass valve to your plumbing, distributor tube with bottom basket, resin tank, standard hi-capacity resin, resin tank with brine well and safety overflow float assembly, and appropriate tubing and hardware.

All components should be familiar name brand and made in USA, if possible.

The softener drain is line pressure and can be run up and across for a limited distance and must be air-gapped at the connection to drain.

The safety overflow for the brine tank is gravity and can only be run DOWN.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:40AM
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teartags

Thanks justlurker. I was hoping you'd show up. Any advice on the size of the softener given the limited parameters I have?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 12:26PM
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justalurker

Based on the "limited parameters" you posted I hesitate to make a sizing recommendation.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 12:42PM
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teartags

I wrote my inspector to see exactly how detailed their test was and received this.

There are a few things that we can infer from the testing we did, even though we did not test for any of these things specifically. The hardness is a test for calcium and magnesium (the hard water ions). 12 grains per gallon equates to 205 mg/L and the hardness around here is typically about 85% calcium, so the water would be about 70 mg/L calcium and 12 mg/L magnesium. When tested we did not see indications of copper or manganese, so these are likely not an issue. Our testing accounted for most of the TDS, so sodium is probably not an issue, either.

Is that enough info or do I need to get a full blown test to size a softener?
Also, I've got a guy around here that really likes Clack softeners and without asking my parameters, said he can install a system for $2000. Is it strange that he's recommending a system without knowing what he's up against?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 7:25PM
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justalurker

"Is it strange that he's recommending a system without knowing what he's up against?" Asking that question is the answer to it and that huckster should be avoided.

AFAIK when a house with a well is sold a detailed water test in mandated and conducted by an independent certified lab in order for a permit (certificate) of occupancy to be granted. Your inspector(?) is either oblivious to the law or incompetent. There was no mention of testing for nitrates and bacteria which is ESSENTIAL and determines whether your well water is SAFE. There should be a detailed lab report on your well water conditions somewhere and if there isn't then you want to know why not.

Hardness, manganese, magnesium, iron, arsenic, sodium, copper, TDS, PH, bacteria, and nitrates at a minimum

Water treatment is based on chemistry, physics, and mechanics... disciplines that don't embrace guessing.

When we have the numbers we can speak intelligently about water treatment.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:28PM
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teartags

Well, it took us awhile, but we finally got our water tested. Here's what we've got

Total alkalinity 120.8
Bicarbonate 147.4
Carbonate Chloride 4.8
Iron 0.014
Fluoride 0.58
Potassium 3.1
Nitrate Nitrogen 4.52
pH 7.05
Calcium 40.9
Magnesium 16.0
Sodium 6.7
Sodium absorption ratio0.2
Total hardness 168.1
Sulfate 33.8
TDS 228
ecoli & coliform absent

I went down to check the size of the in/out pipe to the expansion tank, but have forgotten by now. Another trip into the crawl space will happen soon.

So, based on those numbers and the previous info, any help on what models and parts we should order would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:35PM
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justalurker

Units of measurement would be a big help for those looking to learn... you know, pounds, gallons, ounces, grains, ppm.

So... hardness is 10 gpg, PH looks perfect, iron is .014 ppm, No result for manganese? Manganese and magnesium are two different things.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:18PM
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justalurker

Still need to know plumbing size and SFR in order to size the softener.

I can tell you it will not be big and will be modestly priced.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 5:45PM
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teartags

Right. All numbers are in mg/L except pH of course - units.
Interesting as the original well inspection I had came up with a hardness of 12 GPG which seemed really hard. Though with the way our skin and hair felt, it made sense. I don't think they're equipped for very accurate testing though. So is our water not THAT hard?
And no. No manganese. This is where we got it tested http://www.coloradolab.com/drinkingwater.html The "domestic water test". They apparently don't do Manganese until you get tested for irrigation purposes?
Sorry, what's the SFR? I'll check the plumbing tonight.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:03PM
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justalurker

The WQA says...
soft: 0-3.5 grains per gallon (gpg),
moderate: 3.5-7.0 gpg,
hard: 7.0-10.5 gpg, and
very hard: over 10.5 gpg

10 gpg is hard and hard enough to manifest in scale and make life harder (pun intended) on plumbing, fixtures, appliances and life in general.

SFR is service flow rate... or in simple terms, how long it takes to fill a one or five gallon bucket from a full flow primary valve extrapolated out to gallons per minute. If the softener won't handle the SFR then hardness will leak through at peak flow and you'll be paying for soft water and intermittently not get it.

Post the plumbing size when you get it... and write it down this time.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:32PM
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teartags

How do I figure out the SFR? Can I use a stopwatch and a gallon container at one of the tub spigots?! Won't this change with the pressure in the expansion tank?
The plumbing coming in and out of the expansion tank is 3/4"

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:48AM
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justalurker

Not expansion tank... well pressure tank.

If there's a valve on that tank it's a good place to test SFR. Next best is a tub and open BOTH hot and cold. Measure how long it takes to fill a gallon bucket and extrapolate to a full minute to get GPM.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:48PM
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teartags

OK, I just checked it at an outside tap and got 44 seconds for a 5 gal. bucket. I think that comes out to 6.67 gal/ min.. Does that sound like the right ballpark?
Our only tub has a single handle control, so I was worried the mixer might limit the flow.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 6:54PM
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justalurker

Good catch on NOT using the single handle mixer.

With just two of you...

Fleck 5600SXT (or Clack WS1).75 cu ft (or 1 cu ft) softener with top basket, Noryl bypass, Fleck 2310 Brine valve assembly, and whatever connection style matches up with your plumbing.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:25PM
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teartags

Sorry for he delay too much stuff going on. Thank you for your advice and education. It's a huge help.
Will the 1 cu ft. give us the potential for more capacity in the future should the need arise?
When we are able to actually put it in, I'll be asking about the settings!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:22PM
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justalurker

A 1 cube softener will give you some extra room by increasing the salt dose for a higher K rather than going to less days between regenerations with a smaller softener.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 1:11PM
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teartags

I noticed in other posts that you specify the gravel underbed. Do I need that with the standard resin if I don't have high iron?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:46PM
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justalurker

Yes on the gravel underbed... it is a no lose add-on along with a top basket.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 4:13PM
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teartags

Gotcha. however I was told that this size tank is too small and once you put the gravel in there the resin gets too high. Apparently the warranty will be void if I use the gravel? Sound legit?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:55AM
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justalurker

"Sound legit?" Sounds like they don't want to give you the gravel at no charge. If they fight you too much the gravel is not a must have but for fun, try another seller and see what they say. No one will want to give you anything for free but if you insist and another seller will include the gravel you will have learned something about the first seller who told you the tank is too small for gravel..

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:21PM
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teartags

It's actually OPW. He was willing to send it, but was going to make a note about it and if there was a problem with the unit not being able to backdrain( or backwash?) properly or the brine got clogged up and didn't drain properly that it wouldn't be warrantied. He says on a larger tank there's enough perimeter room for the water to soak through the resin and the gravel but not on a 9" tank. The manufacturer apparently advises not to use them on the smaller systems.
I told him not to worry about it.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:52PM
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justalurker

Yea, CK and I have banged heads on things once in a while.
I've never seen that in a 9" tank but if he's that worried about it and it will effect your warranty then bail out on the gravel.

Make sure you get the top basket and Noryl bypass (not the SS one) and the correct yoke to connect to your plumbing.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:18PM
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teartags

OK. everything got delivered and my plumber is hooking it up on fri.. Any suggestions on the settings? We opted for the 1 cf model

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:24PM
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justalurker

Which control valve did you choose?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 10:04PM
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teartags

Right. Sorry! Fleck 5600 SXT

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:30PM
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justalurker

Look for a sticker near where the brine line connects to the 5600 that says BLFC and there will be a number like .25 or .50 or 1.0

I need that #

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:25PM
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teartags

It says .50
So I looked at the installation instructions and it seems about as simple as it gets. Coupled with the ease of access and perfect setup of my plumbing, I think I'm going to tackle it myself. Everything seems straight forward, my only questions lies in hooking up the 1/2" drain line. I've got vinyl tubing. Can I just run that drain line into the top of the existing floor drain, or possibly tie into the drop on that line above the p-trap? Or is that a big plumbing no-no because the drain line can get contaminated being that it is an open drain above?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:06PM
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justalurker

NO vinyl tubing! It will collapse and block the drain line. Use polyethylene (PE) tubing.

Softener drain line must have an air gap at whatever drain you use.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:31PM
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teartags

OK, I'll get PE. Is just putting it in the open drain at the floor and tying it down considered and air gap?
How about settings if the BLFC is 0.50?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:02PM
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justalurker

"Is just putting it in the open drain at the floor and tying it down considered and air gap?"

Short answer... NO

Longer answer... "The key characteristics for an air gap is protection from back flow and back siphonage. Back flow occurs when there is a clog or blockage downstream in the drain line which with more water entering causes the nonpotable water to back up fully engulfing the air gap unit or at least reach in the back siphonage critical level (C/L) of the air gap unit. Back siphonage happens when there is suction on the potable water line and air gap inlet that sucks non-potable water port back into the potable (drinking) water line. The ideal air gap would provide protection from back flow and back siphonage."

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:48PM
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teartags

Sorry. Probably should've googled it before asking. Got it. No problem

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:41PM
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teartags

Alright. I've got her all hooked up with no leaks and a nice airgap for the drain. Any idea on the settings I should use? 0.50 GPM for BLFC

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 10:34AM
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justalurker

Be VERY careful in the programming menu. Write down ANY setting you mess with so you can retreat if you goof.

C = 10k
H = 11
RS = SF
SF = 20
DO = 8
BF = 4

That will do for the two of you. When (if) your occupancy increases you'll have to go through an easy procedure for goosing the resin back up to full removal capacity.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:04AM
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teartags

Alright. We're operational and everything at least seems to be going well.
Thank you so much. You've been a huge help.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:41PM
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justalurker

You are welcome...

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 12:18AM
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teartags

Me again reviving my old post.
We did the unthinkable and had a daughter! We're using cloth diapers, so between that and all the house guests we're using quite a bit more water. I notice the softener flushing a lot more.
Do I need to change settings on our softener? If so, got some recommendations?
Thanks for your continued help.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 11:01AM
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aliceinwonderland_id

If your softener is programmed per the recommendation you got last March, then your capacity is set incorrectly. A 1 cuft softener regenerating with 6 lb salt/cuft has a capacity of 21,000 grains. Go into master programming and set C = 21. Your water will be soft and your softener should regen once per week.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:16PM
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