Please help size a watersoftener... justalurker?

jumper75November 8, 2012

I'm currently completing a new home, should be ready in about 6 weeks. We've stubbed up for a water softener in a closet accessible from the garage. I'd also like to do a whole house carbon filter, and yes I know there are those that advise against it. The house is 4,100 sq ft, 4 full bathes, and it's my wife and I plus our son - and we're expecting our second child so I'd like to size for four (4) people.

I filled a 4.5 gallon bucket in 32 seconds using my master tub. I also had a water test done, here are the results:

Copper = 0 ppm

Total Chlorine = 1.5 ppm

Nitrates = 0

Nitrite = 0

Alkalinity = 100

Hardness = 9 GPG

pH = 7.0

TDS(Total Dissolved Solids) = 297ppm

Iron = 0

I'm looking at a Fleck based softener and carbon filter, I would of liked to have gone with Kinetico but I prefer to stay in the $1,500 'range' (or less of course).

Please make your recommendations - I've read a lot of good info from justalurker on the web so hopefully he will chime in as well. Thanks Gardenweb!

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If you are still looking for advise:

A one cuft softener will do nicely for your situation. There are lots of threads on softeners and what to ask for and what to look out for so I won't repeat all of that information here.

As to the carbon filter, do I assume correctly that you are on city water and want to remove chlorine? Or are there other contaminants you are concerned about? In order to size it correctly, you need to know what you are removing. Make sure the carbon filter flow rate exceeds the flow into your master tub. Also, DO NOT let any salesperson try to tell you that a mixed bed softener/carbon filter is a good idea. Two separate units should be installed.

If you have any other specific questions, I'll keep watching this thread.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:50PM
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Thanks for your reply, I can't believe how crazy it is to get all the real facts about water softeners and filters to make an informed decision. I've been recommended everything from Kinetico to Culligan, I was hoping to find some consistency in recommendations but they've been all over the map. The most popular has been a 1.5 cu ft Fleck 7000 based softener and a 2.5 cu ft Fleck based carbon filter. Some recommendations as high as 2.0 cu ft on the softener and 3.5 cu ft. on the carbon filter but I think that might be too high.

Please let me know what you think about going with a 1.5 cu ft (48k grain) Fleck 7000 based softener and 2.5 cu ft. Fleck 7000 based carbon filter (I know you mentioned only 1 cu ft for the softener). I'd go with the catalytic carbon option in the filter due to the chloramines in the water. What upgrades or options / accessories should I include? Gravel underbed, media upgrade (SST-60?), upgrade brine tank size, upper baskets, noryl vs brass, etc etc etc.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:19PM
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What size is your plumbing?

If 8.4 GPM is the maximum flow you are able to get, you can only use a 13" tank for your carbon filter, which is 2.5 cuft of carbon. If you can get a higher flow rate of 10 gpm, you could go with a 14" tank and up to 3 cuft of carbon. If you get a tank larger than you can successfully backwash, you will run into problems.

As to softener size, a one cuft softener will regen every 7-8 days with optimum salt and water efficiency. If you get a 1.5 cuft softener you have to make a compromise. Either you allow it to regen every 12 days which causes more damage to the resin, or you regen every 7 days and spend more money on salt. If you have high-flow fixtures, such as a jacuzzi tub or a multi-head shower, or have frequent guests, it may be worthwhile purchasing the larger softener.

You want:

1. Gravel underbed - REQUIRED
2. top basket
3. noryl bypass the same size as your plumbing
4. American-made media for better size distribution. This is particularly important if you opt for the larger softener. Since you are installing a carbon filter, 8% crosslinked is fine. If you decide against the carbon filter, get 10% crosslinked resin.

You asked about:
Fleck 7000: should provide good, reliable service for many years.

SST-60 resin: This is a great resin, but may be overkill for you. It is fine mesh, 10% crosslinked resin. I would recommend it if you had iron or were not installing a carbon filter since it has good oxidation resistance and works well when a bit of iron removal is required.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 3:16PM
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It's 1" PEX stubbed for the softener / filter. Our meter is 5/8" and the builder ran 1-1/4" from the meter to the house. In the house is 1" to the main areas then down to 3/4" or 1/2" to the fixtures depending on flow requirements.

I'm not sure how I can get more flow than what I measured at the master tub, I measure at an outside hose bib and the flow was slower there. Is 8.4 GPM relatively slow? I think I'd rather go with 1.5 cu ft and have capacity to handle more demand (understanding I'd be using more salt).

Why would somebody recommend a 2.5 Cu. Ft 7000 (13x54 tank) for the softener and setting the override to 30 days? That was recommended to me earlier today.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Someone would recommend a 2.5 cuft softener because they have the bare minimum training necessary to sell a softener and have not clue one how they work, OR they just want the higher $ sale and will be happy to sell you new resin down the road when it fails earlier than it should. In my experience, most softener sales folks don't know a thing - they sell pretty much the same thing to everyone.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Thanks again. I'm thinking back to your comments about flow rate and the 8.4 GPM I get at my master tub. How do I get a better idea of what the house's flow rate would be at the carbon filter? Wouldn't it be more than 8.4 GPM since that is just from the master tub? If I turn on other faucets at the same time isn't my overall SFR increasing?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:00AM
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If you have a spigot close to the closet where the filters will be located you could measure there. Typically an outside faucet close to where water enters the house will give you a better picture. Or you could try a tub and a shower to see if you actually do get more flow. You might not - some tub faucets will take as much water as you can get there. 8.4 seems a little on the low side, but you may have obstruction somewhere, a valve not entirely open, any number of things.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 1:30AM
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"I filled a 4.5 gallon bucket in 32 seconds"

That's 9 gpm allowing for slightly sloppy timing. Not an uncommon SFR in many homes and right on the nose for what a 1 cube softener using standard hi-capacity resin would provide. I would expect a higher SFR for a 4 full bathroom home. You might discuss that with your builder and the plumbing inspector.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 2:44AM
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Thank you all for the info. I have a follow up question... would a twin tank softener be of any advantage in my scenario? I find the efficiency aspect appealing (not the 24/7 availability), water is expensive in our neighborhood and the price will be going up more than usual over the next few years (per our newsletter).

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 3:38PM
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