Water softener for 6 person household

juniorkDecember 5, 2011

Hi all, would very much appreciate any advice. We're at the end of a 1 1/2 year build, and this is one of the last construction decisions I'll (hopefully) ever have to make re. the house. Completely burned out, at this point! I looked over the search results, found some great threads, but most were for smaller households, so the numbers were completely inapplicable. Here are my stats:

6 person household, 5 bathrooms (may incease to 8 people if grandparents move in; in 10 years, will be down to 2 people)

city water, hardness: 19.2 grain (327.9 ppm)

iron: none (per phone call to water district, when it wasn't listed on their site)

manganese: presumed none

TDS: 25.7 grain (439.6 ppm)

chlorine: .64 ppm

ph: 7.48

per the water co's website, I guess I'm in the 'very hard' water range, at >300ppm. But no iron, which is good. We have a 75 gal. hot water tank and a jacuzzi bathtub, may use twice a month, but we don't know, since we haven't moved yet. Also don't know monthly water usage or flow rate, since, again, we haven't moved.

I contacted OPWC per an old thread recommendation, and this is what they replied with:

Fleck 9000 3/4 Inch Meter On Demand Control Valve Twin Tank Water Softener 480000 Grain Capacity (Each Tank)

(2) 10x54 resin tanks

3.0 cubic feet of resin

12 gpm service flow rate

2.50 gpm backwash flow rate

Floor Space Required is 47x15x62

Selected options:

Fleck Valve Connection: 3/4 Inch Stainless Bypass Valve

Tank Color Option: Blue

Brine Tank Size: 15x17x36 Rect Brine Tank

Softening Resin (3.0 cuft): High Capacity Resin

total $1025, which sounds reasonable as I know it's a house with alot of bathrooms and people. Again, I LOVE gardenweb, and all the experts here, who have helped me keep my sanity throughout this build, and would appreciate any and all advice. If you know of a more economical option, that'd be great. A better option in the same price range would also be great. I haven't looked at Kinetco just because we're sort of tapped out, financially, and 'look forward' to that final CO payment, so trying to save a few pennies right now. THANKS for any and all advice!

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With 20 gpg hardness and 6 people you think $1000 is priced high? that's very reasonable. Check with Kinetico and Culligan but sit down when they give you the price.

OPWC Sounds about right except I'd choose the 9100SXT 3 cu ft (1,5 cu ft each tank) in Noryl instead of a 9100 brass. I'd also choose the Noryl bypass instead of the stainless one. I'd program the softener for efficient operation rather than the way it will come from the seller.

I'd also plumb in a three ball valve bypass at the softener connection so that in the event the Fleck bypass ever needed service or leaked you'd still have (untreated) water to the house while you wait for parts or repair.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:18PM
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I would say that your choice would work perfectly. It would regenerate about every 850 gallons and use about 7 lbs of salt.

I would double check the hardness numbers again to make sure that they are consistent as many cities use multiple source of water and may rotate them as demand requires.

I carbon prefiltration may be recommend to reduce the chlorine effect on resins. Have you considered and RO?

Andy Christensen

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 6:44PM
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Thanks for all the advice! No no, I think $1000 is reasonable, too, but I didn't want to miss out on a MORE reasonable option. :)
I haven't thought about any prefiltration. I wasn't going to get a RO system just because I've only seen the ones at Costco, and thought they were just for undercounter drinking water. I already have a separate cold filtered water tap at the kitchen sink. Hopefully these are the correct numbers, as they're what's published on the water company's website for the 2010 tests. How important is the prefiltering?

So this system would be fine for 6ppl, maybe 8 if the in-laws move in? What about if we downsize to 2 ppl? I read some threads where justalurker mentions that there is a downside to over-sizing the water softener.

Thanks again, for these great responses!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:18PM
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see, justalurker? I think you gave me a MORE reasonable option! They list the 9100 as $950. Is that right? Why is the "higher number" model less expensive?


Also, as a complete newbie, i have these choices for the Fleck Valve connection:
3/4 inch Noryl Yoke
1 inch Noryl Yoke
3/4 inch stainless Yoke
1 inch stainless Yoke
3/4 inch stainless bypass valve
1 inch stainless bypass valve
3/4 inch Noryl Yoke with Flexible Hose Kit
3/4 inch stainless Yoke with Flexible Hose Kit
3/4 inch stainless Bypass Valve with flexible Hose Kit

I have to admit, justalurker, you've lost me with the choices! I would be eternally grateful if you could just tell me what you recommend in terms of actually ordering this thing. Is my link leading to the correct one? Do I need anything else from that site? I assume the plumber will supply and install the other 3 way valve you were talking about. Sorry, but I've never even looked at water softeners before today. Thanks again!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fleck 9100 SXT at OPWC

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:58PM
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Because the 9000 is BRASS which is more expensive than the 9100 which is Noryl. IMO, Noryl is a wiser choice.

You don't have to accept the limited choices they offer. If you call on the phone and tell them exactly what you want they will order it from their drop-shipper exactly as you order it.

You want...

9100SXT 3 cu ft (1.5 cu ft each tank)
top basket for both tanks if available
3/4" Noryl bypass
3/4" Noryl threaded yoke

gravel underbed for both tanks (they will grumble but tell them you want it at no additional charge)

standard hi-capacity resin

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 10:27PM
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Thanks, Justalurker!
I've been busy today, working on this. Met with the builder, who says there's a 1" line in the garage for the water softener. So I called OPWC, who says they only have a 1" control valve (link below), in brass, as they only have the 9100 Noryl in 3/4", not 1". Unfortunately, it's $1275, but they would do the gravel bed for me for free (it's only $16 on another site, but hey, free is free).

There's no choice on their website for Fleck valve (bypass, yoke, etc.) for this 9000 set-up, like there was for the 9100SXT. The very nice OPWC lady seemed to be referring to the website as well, when talking to me.

How does that sound? About right? Do you think I can still go with the 3/4", or would that constrict flow too much, as she suggested? I'm fine with the extra cost if it's needed to maintain water pressure, but I don't want to pay 20% extra for nothing. Anything else I need to ask for with this setup? Thanks for your expert opinion!

Here is a link that might be useful: OPWC's Fleck 9000 1

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Call OPWC and speak to CK Moore. There are lots of 3/4" softeners out there on 1" lines without problems.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:37PM
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Ok, I emailed CK Moore, and he agreed with you. If I'm at 12 GPM (I'm hoping it's not more!), then he says it's still fine to put a 3/4 softener on 1" line. He did say to get the 1" stainless bypass line, so I did (I stressed that I wanted as much Noryl as I could get). Just bought it, hope it arrives by next week.

Thanks much for all your help, Justalurker! So could you possibly recommend some settings for me? Obviously it's not like I'm calling the 'Culligan man' to come out and set this up for me, and I'm sure my contractor is as clueless as I am about this. His last install was a Sears one, he said. I really do appreciate all your help!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Yea, CK loves the SS bypass and that's why I say tell them what you want and make them give it to you. If you can get the order changed to include the Noryl bypass I highly recommend you do it.

Set the softener as follows...

Hardness = 20
Capacity = 30k
salt dose = 9 lbs (you'll need to see what the sticker on the control valve near the brine connection says for BLFC)

When you get the softener together post what the sticker says for BLFC and I'll give you the programming.

That should get you a regen about every 4 days then it will switch to the other tank and still get you 3333 grains of hardness capacity removal PER lb of salt

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Justalurker, hope you're around!

I could kill my contractor! He told me that the house has a 1" line, and I finally got around to measuring the softener loop in the garage, and it's 1 1/2"! ARGH!

So I called CK and spoke to him. The other stats haven't changed...softener on the 1st floor, master shower with a showerhead and 4 body sprays on the 3rd floor (2 floors up, so water pressure is important!), total 5 full baths (6 people, 8 some months with the grandparents here), water hardness (19g) and TDS (25.7g)as above. 1 jacuzzi, maybe used twice a month. I definitely don't want the pressure to drop, so I'll probably be eating the return shipping cost, and return the system I already bought.

OPWC recommends this:
Fleck 9500 1-1/2" Meter Control Valve Water Softener 120000 Grain Capacity (each tank)

(2) 16x65 resin tanks
24x50 brine tank
8 cubic feet of high capacity resin
75 lbs 1/4x1/8 gravel support bed
20/40 gpm min/max service flow rate
7 gpm backwash flow rate

I'm wondering about this one (2/3 the cost):

Fleck 2850 1-1/2" Meter Control Valve Water Softener 120000 Grain Capacity

16x65 resin tank
24x50 brine tank
4.0 cubic feet of high capacity resin
75 lbs 1/4x1/8 gravel support bed
20/41 gpm min/max service flow rate
7 gpm backwash flow rate

Given that my water needs haven't changed, it's just that my pipe size went from 1" to 1 1/2", do you think it's ok to go with the less expensive option? It's over $1000 difference, and I'm already out maybe $200 in shipping the first one back. With the new recommendation, my grain capacity has more than doubled. I really don't want to have to pay for it if I don't need it. Help! Any advice appreciated!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 1:57AM
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While your water conditions and usage have NOT changed the SFR sure has. CK and I disagree here... there's no reason to increase the capacity of the softener (volume of resin) and I wouldn't because it will introduce problems, but the commercial valves don't take smaller tanks. Either of those choices is getting out of the residential line and parts and service might be hard to find locally.

If I were in your shoes (house) I know what I'd do but it would cost money so I'll just beg off.

Let us know what you decide... oh, and you ought to get your contractor to eat the return shipping on the softener, but if you do he'll just add it in somewhere else in the job.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 11:29AM
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I REALLY would love to hear your suggestion, justalurker! I'm currently going to go with the less expensive Fleck 2850 single tank one. I heard back from OPWC, and he says that if I don't mind doing the 'no shower at 2am during regeneration' thing, then it's fine to go that route. For a savings of $1000, I'm definitely happy to shower during normal business hours! Please, please, at least tell me what you're thinking in terms of a softener for my house...

thanks much!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 4:53PM
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The reason CK and I recommended a twin was to get you away from a big tank with a lot of resin. So, now that you have 1.5" plumbing it's OK? You may have channeling problems with a 4 cu ft softener. There's more to twin versus single resin tank softener choice then showering @ 2AM and cost.

Interesting, from the description of your house and the occupancy and the 1.5" plumbing that you want to do your water water treatment on the cheap.

IMO you're making the wrong choice and for the wrong reasons, but let us know how it works out for you.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Hi Justalurker, thanks for your response! I guess I am willing to do twin tanks, if the importance of it justifies the cost. You know how it is, get to the end of the build, and the budget is shot, and something's gotta give...actually, many things have got to give!
I just thought that suddenly needing more than double the grain capacity because I had a 1 1/2" pipe didn't make as much sense to me. Unfortunately, you're right. I don't have a choice of dual smaller tanks, otherwise I'd completely jump on that one. I will talk with the plumber who is installing this, and see what he thinks.

Thanks for your help! Really do appreciate it, and Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 8:42PM
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No, I don't know how it is. The math is the math. You do it right or don't. You are out shopping for softeners and don't know the supply pipe size for sure. You ask people for their time and knowledge and help and then waste it. Is that how it is with you, cause that's not how it is with me.

I'm wondering if the 1.5" lines are necessary or are a mistake... that's a plumbing question that can be answered with plumbing math. Contractor ever give you an SFR specification? Did you ever ask?

With the 1.5" pipe size you need more SFR in the softener not more hardness capacity. Problem is that Fleck 1.5" (commercial) valves (either single tank or twin tank models) are not designed to service modest diameter tanks.

If you haven't learned this already... stay away from both your plumber and your contractor in matters concerning water treatment. They will put you a few more giant steps back than you have moved already and you'll pay even more $$$ to resolve the problems they lead you into..

You ought to call Kinetico and do this right but you'll never spend the money so whatever you decide will be a compromise which may work at least to some degree... for a while.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 9:24PM
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