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Sizing water softener

Posted by tim12345 (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 22:11

I've recently moved into a newly built home and the water here is pretty hard, and I'm looking to install a softener to solve this problem. I'm hoping I can get some guidance as to the proper size of water softener and if the softener I'm leaning towards sounds right for my application.

Water hardness is 18 gpg according to city water department. No iron. Hardness is high calcium and magnesium. Water has no odor, is clear, and has very little particulate. I've not done any tests, information has come from the water department.

Home has 3/4 inch pex coming off of the water meter and 3/4" or 1/2" pex feeding different parts of the house. 2 adults and 2 young children. Eventually will probably be 3 kids for a total of 5 people in the house. 4 bed 3 bath 3000sf located in PA. One large tub, no multi head showers. I'm planning on softening all interior water and leaving exterior hose bibs unsoftened. Softener would be located in the basement.

I'm leaning towards the fleck 5600sxt 48,000 grain water softener system that would include a 1.5 cubic foot 8% cross link resin, a 10x54 resin tank, and a 14x34 square salt tank. Ive read targeting a weekly regeneration is ideal, and would like to aim for that. Help me understand if this is a smart choice for me. Also, I know next to nothing about filtration. Based on this info, should I be looking at some sort of water filtration, and if so, what type? Please let me know if I have left out any critical information.

Thanks!
Tim


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sizing water softener

Filtration: What would you like to filter from your water? That will determine if filtration is necessary and the type. You mentioned "very little particulate" --- if we assume that means you do have some particulate, then a particulate filter should be installed upstream of any softener. My preference is for two "big blue" type canister filters, 4.5" diameter x 10" long plumbed in parallel with full-port bypass valves to make filter changes quick and easy.

Can you please post a link to your city water report? That way I can easily see if there are any other items in your water that I need to be concerned with before recommending a softener size.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Here is the link to the water quality report:

http://www.brightontwp.org/documents/WaterQualityReport.pdf

I can call and request addtional information (hardness isn't listed, I called for that info).

Regarding the particulate/filtration, I don't quite know what I'm looking to filter, I'm just making sure I have my bases covered while I'm installing the water softener. When I poured a glass last night, there wasn't anything that had any color to it, and nothing that I would have noticed if I wasn't specifically searching for it. What I did see was what appeared to be really small bubbles, but could have possibly been something else. Is particulate clearly visible if it's concerning?


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RE: Sizing water softener

Wow. That is a pretty thin report. See if you can get TDS, pH, iron.

When you have city water, it should be safe for use. Some folks object to the taste of chlorine, but that is purely subjective. If you have no objections to your water and see no particulates, filtration is not necessary.

The tiny bubbles you see in your water are from the aeration that happens as the water exists your faucet. They are of no concern and will disappear after sitting for a while.


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RE: Sizing water softener

I spoke to the water department and found out the following information:

TDS - 395 mg/l
Suspended Solids - 0
Hardness - 18 GPG (primarily calcium and magnesium)
pH - 7.4
Chloride - 0.40 mg/l
Alkalinity - 130 mg/l
Iron - < 0.03 mg/l

Hopefully that paints a clearer picture on whether filtration is necessary and can help determine the softerner sizing.

Thanks!


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RE: Sizing water softener

I spoke to the water department and found out the following information:

TDS - 395 mg/l
Suspended Solids - 0
Hardness - 18 GPG (primarily calcium and magnesium)
pH - 7.4
Chloride - 0.40 mg/l
Alkalinity - 130 mg/l
Iron - < 0.03 mg/l

Hopefully that paints a clearer picture on whether filtration is necessary and can help determine the softerner sizing.

Thanks!


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RE: Sizing water softener

Bump to see if aliceinwonderland or anyone else had thoughts on water softener selection and if filtration is needed.

Thanks!


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RE: Sizing water softener

A 1.5 cubic ft softener would work for the size of your family right now. However, since you plan on adding to your family, a 2.0 cubic ft softener will be a better fit.

You have not indicated particulates in your water, so additional filtration is not necessary. If you find that you object to the taste, you may wish to install a POU (point of use) GAC (granulated activated carbon) filter for drinking water.

First, call your local water treatment pros and get them to come out and make recommendations. For most homeowners working with a local company is best - that way the responsibility for correct equipment selection and troubleshooting does not reside with the homeowner. If local companies are unable to meet your expectations, there are online options available. Just realize that leaves you with total responsibility for setup, operation, testing and maintenance. At the very least, you would need to invest in a good hardness test kit (Hach 5B)

The following requirements are for an industry standard softener. If you are looking for a non-electronic softener, Kinetico offers the more reliable options at a premium price (and you would need to deal with a local Kinetico rep). Any decent softener vendor should be able to provide the following:


  • High quality American or German made resin. This will provide a tight size distribution for optimal flow within the resin
  • Since you have CITY WATER: 10% crosslinked resin. The oxidizers that city water treatment plants use, such as chlorine or chloramine, are harmful to softener resins. Higher crosslinking will resist chemical attack longer.
  • Top basket. This serves two purposes. It sets up a proper water distribution during normal operation and prevents resin loss during backwash.
  • Gravel underbed. The gravel underbed is there to set up proper flow patterns, improve backwash, keep the bottom basket in place, prevent basket failure, and prevent channeling. Many softener sales companies like to leave this out or sell softeners with a vortex system instead. Vortex systems weigh less than gravel so they cost less to ship. In addition, they are a more expensive item that adds profit for the softener salesperson, but provides no additional benefit to the homeowner . It simply adds another piece of equipment that can break.
  • Fleck or Clack valves. These set the industry standard. Be aware that you will not be able to purchase Clack valves online. This is not a problem if you purchase locally. If you choose a Fleck valve, go with the 7000sxt.
  • The valve should regen based on water usage, not time.
  • Noryl bypass. Most softeners are available with either Noryl or stainless bypass valves. Both are good valves, but the noryl tends to be more reliable when not used for long periods of time.
  • Install the softener with a three-valve bypass. This will make it so much easier if you ever need to remove the softener for repairs or wish to take it with you when you move. Use full-port, quarter-turn valves.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Deleted double post

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 0:06


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RE: Sizing water softener

Tim12345, you have done quite a bit of research and know what you want, and Alice has given you a good amount of information, that's great!

Here are my two cents:

About the softener, look at these two key value to size the salt softener:
(1) capacity (like 48000 grains): it tells how often you need to replenish the salt, which depends on your expected usage and your local water hardness, a smaller (or larger) softener may work just fine if you don't mind adjust your replenishing cycle accordingly.
(2) flow rate: a larger capacity softener gives higher water flow rate. You will feel it when you are taking a shower, one of your kid is filling up the bath tub, and your spouse is washing the dishes :)...

Regarding filtration, I highly recommend a small RO system for drinking water: there are 'unpleasant' chemicals that are not required to be measured or reported in the water quality report. If there is still budget left, I would go with a whole house sediment and/or chlorine filter. Sediment filter takes care of the sand/sediment that gets into the system by default or by accident (for example water company fixing the main pipe down the street and inadequately flushing the line after done.) Chlorine is bad for the resin bed (as outlined by Alice) but also doesn't do well for your family's skin.

Hope it helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Akwamag.com


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RE: Sizing water softener

Tim12345, you have done quite a bit of research and know what you want, and Alice has given you a good amount of information, that's great!

Here are my two cents:

About the softener, look at these two key value to size the salt softener:
(1) capacity (like 48000 grains): it tells how often you need to replenish the salt, which depends on your expected usage and your local water hardness, a smaller (or larger) softener may work just fine if you don't mind adjust your replenishing cycle accordingly.
(2) flow rate: a larger capacity softener gives higher water flow rate. You will feel it when you are taking a shower, one of your kid is filling up the bath tub, and your spouse is washing the dishes :)...

Regarding filtration, I highly recommend a small RO system for drinking water: there are 'unpleasant' chemicals that are not required to be measured or reported in the water quality report. If there is still budget left, I would go with a whole house sediment and/or chlorine filter. Sediment filter takes care of the sand/sediment that gets into the system by default or by accident (for example water company fixing the main pipe down the street and inadequately flushing the line after done.) Chlorine is bad for the resin bed (as outlined by Alice) but also doesn't do well for your family's skin.

Hope it helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Akwamag.com


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RE: Sizing water softener

AkwamagTeam - Did you read the TOU for this site? Posting here in order to try to obtain free advertising is prohibited.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Great info, I appreciate the responses. I do have a few additional questions after reading these responses:

1. A 2.0 cuft softener would likely only require flushing every 10-14 days based off of some assumptions about water use for now and with future additions to my family ((64000/(5x75x18) or (64000/(4X60x18))). Is that too long? I thought I've read that longer than 6-8 days can cause the resin to not regenerate propertly. Is there such a thing as 'too big', and if so, would a 64,000 grain softener qualify? Is flow rate an issue with smaller softeners (sounds like this may b the case based off of Akwamag's post)?

2. Any advice where can I find a 10% crosslinked resin? Seems like most places I look offer 8%.

3. Why choose the 7000sxt over the 5600 sxt? With 3/4" plumbing and a 10" or 12" diameter resin tank (depending on size of softener), are there benefits to having the 7000sxt? Would the 7000sxt help to not reduce flow/pressure like the 5600sxt might? What about line size...would I benefit running 1" lines to/from the softener off of my 3/4" existing lines?

4. Is there a benefit to having the noryl and 3 valve bypass, or just redundancy?

5. Top basket - is this installed inside the resin tank, or on top of it between the tank and the valve? I'm a bit confused on this one. Is this part of a typical system?

6. Gravel underbed - is this literally gravel in the bottom of the resin tank? Help me understand what this is and what it does, please. Is a bottom basket standard equipment?


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RE: Sizing water softener

Double post

This post was edited by tim12345 on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 17:05


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RE: Sizing water softener

Tim,

1. the cuft indicates the capacity and the flow rate (think of it as bigger size, better flow). We assume your calculations are (grains capacity) / (people x per person usage x hardness), if so then you are correct. We don't know much about the resin deterioration; that's not our area of expertise :). Regarding flowrate, you can go by the mfg rating on household sizes (example: Fleck 5600 SXT is rated for 2-3 people), why buy more if you don't need the extra capacity.
2. Your softener resin deteriorates at ~1-2% per year. An 8% crosslink lasts you 4-8 years. There are more things that might go wrong during that time (salt bridge, timer). Why must it be the 10% crosslink?
3. The bottle neck factor is the internal of the resin tank, not your pipe size. Increase to 1" does not help. Also, imagine if there were no softener and you insert a 1" short line to your 3/4" piping system, the gating factor will be your 3/4" line anyway.
4. Bypass valve is nice if your softener goes out or you deliberately want to put it out of service temporarily (for example: you can't get the salt to keep it operates, for some reason). Either buy the one designed for it or just install 2 3-way valves (I assume you know what I mean). Some softeners come with bypass valves.
5 & 6. Dunno what you describe, sorry can't help you there.

Best of luck.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Akwamag,

#1 - I'm confused by your response to #1. All I'm trying to figure out is what is the right softener to buy (and the right options). My water specs are above, we've got 4-5 people in the house. I'm seeing mixed suggestions between Flecks 5600sxt and 7000sxt. I don't mind paying the slight differnece in price if the 7000sxt is the right softener for any number of reasons - keeping my gpm up, efficiency, etc.

#2 - I was asking about 10% resin as aliceinwonderland had suggested it be used with my city water.

#3 - This leads me to believe that the 7000sxt with 2 ft^3 of resin would be best to help keep the flow up. In your opinion, would a regeneration every 14 days be too long between regenerations? That seems to be what the math is telling me will happen.

#5 & #6 - Also in response to Aliceinwonderland comments. I believe I've since figured out what the gravel does, where to get it, etc. I'm still not quite sure what the top basket does, where it is installed, if it's a standard part, etc.


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RE: Sizing water softener

1. A 2.0 cuft softener would likely only require flushing every 10-14 days based off of some assumptions about water use for now and with future additions to my family ((64000/(5x75x18) or (64000/(4X60x18))). Is that too long? I thought I've read that longer than 6-8 days can cause the resin to not regenerate propertly. Is there such a thing as 'too big', and if so, would a 64,000 grain softener qualify? Is flow rate an issue with smaller softeners (sounds like this may b the case based off of Akwamag's post)?

Yes, there is such a thing as too big, but a 2.0 cubic ft softener does not qualify as too big.

With your conditions, a 2.0 cubic ft softener will need to regen every 8-10 days with 4 people in the house, depending upon the salt dosage we use for regen. Once you have 5 people in the house, it will regen every 6-8 days. The reason you came up with 10-14 days is because you made a very common mistake in your calculation. Softener resin capacity is approximately 32,000 grains per cubic ft when it is new. It is possible to keep it that high, but in order to do so we would have to regen with 24 lb salt per cubic ft, which is extremely inefficient. As we reduce the amount of regeneration salt to a more reasonable 6 -9 lb per cubic ft of resin, we gain efficiency, but we also don't regenerate the resin quite as completely so capacity drops to 25,000 grains per cubic ft at 9 lbs of salt/cubic ft or 21,000 grains/cubic ft at 6 lbs of salt/cubic ft.

Time between regens: The most appropriate time between regens depends entirely on your water conditions. 6-8 days is a good general time-frame to shoot for. BUT, when you have city water that is a bit more damaging to resin, going longer between regens is better because we put less stress on the resin. Provided you don't have particulates in your water, 10 days between regens will be fine.

2. Any advice where can I find a 10% crosslinked resin? Seems like most places I look offer 8%..

Any softener vendor ought to be able to get this for you, although they may need to special order. Some will choose not to because they don't want the hassle - in that case perhaps your business is too much hassle for them. You could choose to use an 8% crosslinked resin, but realize you will likely need to replace the resin in around 7 years. 10% crosslinked resin should give you 15 years.

3. Why choose the 7000sxt over the 5600 sxt? With 3/4" plumbing and a 10" or 12" diameter resin tank (depending on size of softener), are there benefits to having the 7000sxt? Would the 7000sxt help to not reduce flow/pressure like the 5600sxt might? What about line size...would I benefit running 1" lines to/from the softener off of my 3/4" existing lines?.

If you were to go with a 10" resin tank, then a 5600sxt would be fine. Your softener would be too small, but the valve would function just fine for you.

A 12" tank places you at the maximum for the 5600sxt. Given that the cost difference is $0 in most cases, the 7000sxt with its larger internal porting will cause lower pressure drop and will ensure your flow is not impeded, particularly given the size of your house and family.

Running 1" lines to the softener will provide you little benefit unless the lines are quite long.

4. Is there a benefit to having the noryl and 3 valve bypass, or just redundancy?

I like to build in redundancy. If you choose to only go with one bypass, install the 3 full-port valves. It should look like this:
3-valve bypass

5. Top basket - is this installed inside the resin tank, or on top of it between the tank and the valve? I'm a bit confused on this one. Is this part of a typical system?

Inside the resin tank at the top of the riser tube. This SHOULD be part of a typical system, but some dealers leave it off as a cost-saving measure. Make sure you get this - it prevents your resin from escaping during backwash.

6. Gravel underbed - is this literally gravel in the bottom of the resin tank? Help me understand what this is and what it does, please. Is a bottom basket standard equipment?

Yes, this is literally gravel in the bottom of the resin tank. It is a specific size of clean gravel - not just a few shovels-full from your driveway. Garnet is also acceptable, but a more expensive option.

As I stated before, the gravel serves several important purposes.

  • From a maintenance standpoint, it eliminates the need to empty your softener a few years down the road to replace the bottom basket. Bottom baskets are under a good deal of stress, so they fail. They are also necessary for proper softener operation. Th gravel surrounds and supports the bottom basket, preventing those stresses from deforming and eventually breaking the basket.
  • The gravel is dense enough that it won't be moved around by the water flow like the resin could be. It forces the water to distribute across the entire diameter of the tank, preventing water from channeling through only a small portion of the tank during normal operation.
  • During regen, the gravel again sets up proper flow distribution ensuring thorough regeneration of the resin bed.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I think that I'm pretty set to shop around a bit and order. I'm glad I stopped in or I may have ended up with a poor purchase.


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RE: Sizing water softener

Water softener has been installed for a little while now and working well. I had a follow up question regarding the TDS in my water. Water authority claimed it was around 400 mgl/l and i had a free water quality report done and they measured 496 ppm. From what I understand the ppm and mgl/l are interchangeable and the upper limit should be 500. Should I be concerned and does the RO system fix this problem, or is there another solution? Is this more of a preference of water taste or something I really should address?

Thanks.


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RE: Sizing water softener

There really is no upper limit on TDS as far as health is concerned - it all depends upon what comprises the TDS.

An RO system will reduce whatever is in your water by 90-98%. Larger ions and molecules are removed to a higher degree than smaller ions molecules. For example, an RO will remove nearly 100% of large, organic molecules, but close to 90% of sodium.

Most water softeners don't arrive with correct programming. I'd be happy to take a look if you would like.


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