Another help me with water softener options and sizing.

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Derek Morgan Jr, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    Like others have found, the so called water softener calculators on the web are all over the place.

    I used some test strips that indicate around 25gpg. I called the city and they were not helpful. There website says about 125PPM average through the whole city. There is no way, ours is much higher. We don't have iron or magnesium issues. The water lines in my home are PEX. 3/4" coming into the basement immediately turns into 1". In various areas the lines go back down to 3/4". PH is 7.6. First floor is 1474 Sq ft. Basement is 1424 Sq ft. 3 bathrooms with single shower heads.

    Our family has 7 people. 2 adults and 5 kids. Age 10, 7, 7, 5, 2. So right now we don't use a ton of water but as the kids get older demand will surely increase. Our dishwasher runs 3 times per day (High efficiency but around 12 gallons per use). The softener will feed 2 outside faucets but those are only used in the summer for washing cars.

    I talked to OHIO PURE and they were helpful but gave many choices so I would like some more opinions on what fleck system to buy. They recommended the new fleck 5000. Either a 48 or 64 single tank. Or a 40 or 48 twin tank system.

    They said I could go 80 and that it wouldn't regenerate as often. They also recommend the vortech system but are not pushy about it.

    I know potassium cost's 4x as much as the salt and would like to go that route but don't want to spend a $100 per month. How often would I need to put salt in?

    Research online has told me anywhere from 64 to 110 grain system is needed. 48 single tank seems small.

    What should I do or what do you recommend?
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,415
    Location:
    IL
    You may want to invest in the Hach 5b test. It is much more accurate than strips. Order directly Hach them is often a pretty good way to get that. If you know somebody else who wants a test, you can each save by combining the order.

    Did you look at http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm ?
    I am not going to work your numbers, but I am going to guess the suggestions will be for a single tank 12" x 52" 2.00 cu. ft. or
    13" x 54" 2.50 cu. ft.

    You have water bills, so you can see what you have been using so far.

    By using less salt per regen, you will get more salt efficiency. So you don't want to try to achieve the headline grains for the advertized system.
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,717
    Location:
    Central Florida
    We really need a sticky for this topic.
  4. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    I put in the info into the quality water associates calculator and its saying like an 84000 system. I checked our water bill and it is roughly 8000 gallons per month. Which is way less then 60 per day which is what most people seem to use, to base numbers on. That is probably due to my kids being younger and not using a ton right now. I also have concerns that the city is not RIGHT in there metering. We had an issues a few months back that they were not getting a reading. Our dishwasher runs 3 times per day, so that is more than a kid uses.

    Obviously as time goes on, our kids will use more and more.

    It seems like a twin tank would be nice so that we never run out of soft water before regeneration, but that is just what I have read as an advantage.

    Either way I am still lost what to buy.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I would recommend a 2.5 Cu. Ft. 7000 and a real test kit, not test strips. The Hach 5B is the only kit I recommend for its accuracy, cost, and repeatability of results. 125 PPM does not match the test strip kit, you shold be seeing about 425 ppm.
    A twin alternating system would also be ideal for you if your hardness is 25 GPG, it will be slightly more efficient that a single tank system, but it would be hard to justify the extra complexity and cost for a very slight efficiency gain. You will use approximately 200# less salt per year with a twin alternating unit, or $20 savings.

    General calculations as follows:

    25 gpg x number of people 7 x est. water usage 60 gallons per person per day = grains needed per day = 10,500 grains x 7 days between regenerations for efficiency = 73,000 grains capacity. A softener set somewhat efficiently can be set as high as 24,000 grains per cu. ft. = 3 cu. ft. Since you use less than an average amount of water, and since 3 cu. ft. systems tend to be huge (14" x 65" tanks), the 2.5 is the most common larger size unit for a residential application. A 2.5 Cu. Ft. system should be just fine for you and it should maintain excellent efficiency.
  6. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    Thank you for the response. I just figured out that 2.5cu ft. = 80,000 grain system.

    Since I am apparently (from water bill) using less water for our household size right now, will it be okay to have such a larger system? I have read that ~7 days is typical for regen. If I have the 2.5cu ft. system won't it take much longer if my water use is only 8000 gallons per month? Or do I set all of that somehow?

    What can I expect for a typical month in purchasing salt? How many of those 20lb bags is typical? Do you put salt in after every regen? I know it is based on how much water is being used what what is a typical?

    I guess I will order the Hach 5b for better accuracy.
  7. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Regeneration frequency is not as critical as one person on this site claims it to be. Many years ago, the 5600 econominder was the main metered softeenr valve. With over a million in the field, and none of them have a "Day Oor-ride" feature, these systems only regenerate when they run out of water according to the meter. Many of these systems only regerate every month or so if that, never been a problem. If you are treating for Iron and manfganese, frequent regeneration are advised. For regular softeneing use, every month is fine. Even my own system only regenerates monthly. It has done so for decades. Resin fouling is not a problem with calcium and magnesium removal.

    All that being said, you can set your system to a low salt setting making the system a 50,000 grain system using only 6 pounds of salt per cu. ft., and you could even go as low as 4 pounds per cu. ft. A 50,000 grain unit according to your preliminary numbers will regenerate approximately every 7 days at your current water usage. This is highly efficient. The system will use 6 pounds of salt per cu. ft. or 15 pounds per week. A twin alernating system can be as much as 15-20% more efficient in your application. You should simply keep the salt tank full of salt, the system will automatically do the rest. Considering you will use just over a 50 pound bag per month, and a common tank holds about 300 pounds, you would probably want to add some every few months to top it off.

    Hope this helps,
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,717
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I'll bet the city doesn't get too many complaints about meters reading too low...
  9. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    This is definitely helping.

    Our house is new construction and I totally forgot that I have a Taylor test kit for my Hot Tub at our older house. I got it out and did the calcium test with that and sure enough 450PPM. Which is a little higher than the test strips I have, but the test strips were only a guesstimate because of the color. I can't believe I didn't think of my Taylor kit until I was looking at the Mach and it does the same thing.

    Off topic but I guess I should unpack some more boxes!

    So 450ppm hardness ~ 26GPG.

    I also wanted to go potassium instead of sodium but not sure I like the cost of that now.
  10. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    I bet not but our meter was reading zero gallons a few months ago and I didn't want them to back bill me if I let it go.
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,415
    Location:
    IL
    You can drop the capacity of a 2 cubic ft unit to 40000 grains and use 6 pounds of salt per cf. If later you want more capacity, increase the salt dose.
    6lb PER cuft 8 lb PER cuft 10lb PER cuft 15lb PER cuft will give
    40000 48000 54000 60000 grains respectively. So you have the flexibility to adjust as your needs change. Less salt is more efficient to a point.
    hugebrine2.png from Gary's examples.

    If you use 6lb PER ft = 12 pounds, and you regenerate every 7 days, that will take almost a 40 pound bag every 3 weeks. A 50 pound bag would last about a month.

    People usually say to cover the water level with salt. However if you are only filling the salt to even 1/4 of the way up to the water level, the salt will saturate well before that 7 days. Letting the salt go low maybe once per year is good IMO to let you inspect for any debris and salt bridges. Filling to about the water level also lets you see the water level. Otherwise, you can fill the salt nearly to the top. It's hard to mess that up IMO.
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Potassium... no real need, I would recommend a simple RO system for your drinking water. Definetly worth the small investment.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Derek, looking at a twin tank type softener and recalling that the softened water used to regenerate the other tank uses capacity, and thereby salt, and when compared to the 24 hr reserve of a normal softener, there is little if any improvement in salt efficiency in the twin tank type.

    A young family of 7 uses a substantial amount of water even using 60 gallons per person per day and since I also had a family of 7, I can tell you that as time goes by, maybe more than 60 gals/person/day. You also say the 2 outside faucets will use softened water, so I can see maybe three showers running and maybe a load of laundry and/or the dish washer all at the same time if not now, soon. And you have 3 bathrooms. You might go with a 2.5 cuft @ 3333 grains per lb salt efficiency and subtract 1 day's grains or gallons from the K of capacity or gallons that that gets you. And regenerate on a 7-9 day basis because it is best for the resin and your water may not be as 'clean' as some that suggest you go monthly. A 2.5 cuft gets you 15 gpm constant SFR, if you need more than that then a 3.0 cuft gets you 18 IIRC. Teenage girls use long showers, and I hear boys are getting as bad.
  14. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    A common minsconception of twin alternating systems is the soft water regen taking capacity from the first tank, thereby reducing its capacity over the next run. What is missing from this equation is the use of hard water during the regeneration process of a single tank system. The last half of the brine cycle is taking away capacity, as is the second backwash and the fast rinse cycles. Are these hard water uses taken into consideration when programming a softener? Answer: sort of. Certain variables are left to the discretion of the professional installer to make a determination if some slight adjustments need to be made. Twin alternators are more efficient and soft water regen takes away from tank one, but it is recoevered in tank 2. It is really a very simple concept that most of the people who regularly contribute on this site understand.

    Twin tank systems are needed primarily if a system size can not be kept within specifications or regenerations can not be extended out beyond 4+ days. Softeners and other POE water treatment equipment not only have recommended maximum flows, they also have peak flows, and minimum recommended flows for a reason. If you are going to exceed the maximum flow once in a while, that is what the peak flow is for. Same goes for the recommended low flow. An undersink RO uses approximately .15 GPM, well below the minimum flow of any standard softener. Does it matter? not really. But a 3 Cu. Ft. system in a properly sized 14" diameter tank has a recommended low flow rating of 4.2 GPM. Very large softeners are not recommended in appliacations where low flow rates are the norm, IE: residential applications. Unfortunately, we can get into a difficult sizing issue in some of the larger houses. From a code compliance standpoint, some residences require very high flow rate large equipment, even though they may never need it.

    Anyway, twin tanks are more efficient than single tank, we do not even calculate the regen water since the water is not depleting the capacity of the tank being regenerated.
  15. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    I did a bucket test in my bathtub and it filled a 5 gallon bucket in exactly 60 sec. So 5GPM. Line is 3/4" that reduces to 1/2". Is this good or bad?

    At this point I am thinking about ordering a Fleck 7000 (2.5cu), 18x40 brine tank. Is 8% resin okay or should I upgrade to the 10%?

    Can you guys recommend an RO system. It has to feed the fridge too. Or is there anything I should look out for here? Upgrades, etc?

    Also I decided to install a bypass for the outside faucets that will normally have the hard water, but that I can turn soft water on for washing cars, etc.
  16. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    For an RO that will feed the refrigerator, I highly recommend a system that uses an Aquatec Permeate Pump. The 2.5 cu. ft. 7000SXT will be fine for your application.

    8% is fine unless you have a decent amount of chlorine. If you have anything over 1 ppm, then a 10% crosslink resin is highly recommended or pre-treat the system with GAC.
  17. Derek Morgan Jr

    Derek Morgan Jr New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Utah
    Awsome! Thanks. I will look into the a system with that pump. I can check for chlorine too.
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The problem is that that is not what I said, meant, implied etc..

    A twin is calculated as to the max number of gallons the same as a regular softener, and then you subtract the gallons (or grains) used to regenerate either tank. Many twin tanks will regenerate more frequently than a correctly sized regular softener. Some twins will regenerate multiple times a day.

    If you add up the salt used for both types of softeners over the number of days the correctly sized regular softener with the same type of resin regenerates, it is a rare twin that will get better salt efficiency and in many cases it will use more, and that includes subtracting the number of gallons or grains for a 24 hr reserve in the regular type softener.

    Another problem with a twin is that most do not allow water through both tanks at the same time so, you get to suffer a reduced flow when one tank or the other goes into regeneration. AND more reduction, equal to the gpm of the drain line flow rate, during regeneration. IOWs, your SFR gpm is reduced by more than half. And recall that you have to be using water to cause a twin tank to go into regeneration, and usually you do not shut off your use so you must live with the reduction in flow rate. Especially if you happen to be in the shower.

    Really.... salt is used to produce the K of capacity that is used no matter what tank is being regenerated and the pre regeneration gallons will be identical regardless what tank is regenerating the other tank. Or it could be said that the same amount of capacity (gallons or grains) will be used for either tank.

    Meaning the twin tank will be smaller than a correctly sized regular softener, thereby it will be regenerating sooner which is more often than the regular softener. And there goes any increased salt efficiency.


    I don't think I've seen peak flow rates for softeners, just control valves. A common mistake many guys make when talking about flow rates of softeners. And anyone can learn how to size a softener (including a twin tank) for the peak demand flow rate of the customer.

    So you say that the RO and any other flow less than 4.2 gpm is going to cause hard water through the softener.... even though most of the water in the resin talk is softened water, and all the water in the plumbing is softened water... So tell us, how long does that flow have to flow before the RO etc. (you forgot ice makers) gets hard water? I ask because according to you, and in the past here many others, I've been accused of selling larger than needed softeners but not one of my customers have ever mentioned any problem with small flow caused problems.

    We aren't talking about the "tank being regenerated".

    We are talking about the tank providing the softened water used for regeneration of the other tank. You subtract the gallons or grains of capacity to soften the water used to regenerate each tank of a twin tank softener. The instructions are in the Fleck manual for whatever twin tank valve you are using.
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Since you get only 5 gpm at a tub, I suspect the tub has an anti scald valve or you have a pressure regulator valve that isn't adjusted correctly or some other problem that is reducing your flow but..... that is not your peak demand flow rate because any additional water use has to be added to the 5 gpm to find your peak demand gpm. IOWs you have to run all the fixtures you normally use and collect the water at the same time, not one at a time,
  20. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,860
    Location:
    Ontario California
    You obviously have no clue as to how a twin alrtenating softener works, so I will discontinue trying to educate you on it. You can argue all day long, you are simply wrong on this one. no big deal, I tried. Common sense cant be taught.

    Peak flow rates of softeners is in most of the major system manufacturers catalogs, I have posted these for you in the past, you must have forgotten (or chose to ignore) that information. Peak sytem flow rates are typically done at a 15 PSI drop across the system, not just the valve. You are correct that many companies wrongly post the maximum flow rates of the valves and not the systems. As I have said so many times, there are a lot of unqualified, untrained, uncertified, and unlicensed people out there who think they know water. They have enough knowledge to fake it, but when it gets into more complex issues, IE: twin alternating systems, their true depth of knowledge and experience is exposed.

    And, if you are able to read without desperatley trying to make some stupid point, you will see that I stated that larger systems have maximum and minimum recommended flow rates. I also said that in general it is not critical, but it is there for a reason. Extended flow rates outside these recommended flow rates can cause problems. Occassional use outside these recommendations are typically not a problem.

    Now please try to add something beneficial to the discussion rather than trying to challenge my knowledge and expertise in a weird effort to show your Alpha male prowess on this forum.
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