Help Configuring water softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by KraTToR, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. KraTToR

    KraTToR New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Hi everyone! I have a 7 yr old softener that I need to setup/configure. It's a 32k grain with what I think is a Clack control valve. The sticker on the side say's its a F-30 (top) and F2-U-E (bottom) but according to clackvalves.net it looks like a WS1.5 or WS2 - CI.

    The city tells me that the municipal water supply runs about 25 grains hardness.

    Currently, the machine fills, sits for 2 hours, and then goes through its thing. Its set to re-gen at 2AM so it fills at midnight. I've been fighting with having enought soft water for a while and figured I would try here before requesting a service call.

    I have 3 young adults in the house along with my wife and I so there is quite a bit of showering, laundry, etc. In the summer I wash my car once or twice a week with soft water to prevent spots. The current settings are as follows:

    Fill - 8 lbs
    Up Brine - 60 minutes
    Backwash - 8 minutes
    rinse - 3 minutes
    capacity - 19k
    regen - auto.
    Hardness - 30
    Regen Day - 5

    From reading a few posts here I believe that some of these settings are on the low side and any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Patrick.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    A WS1.5 on a 32000 grain system? That is unlikely. Nobody even makes a 9" tank with a 4" opening. You probably have a WS1. I need the tank size, not the capacity it claims. You also need to do a softness test, the city says it is about 25 really means nothing, unless you have only 1 well or source they draw the water form and they never mix water from other supplies.

    That being said, I am going to guess the following.

    32K grains is a maximum capacity calculation that is used to make a system sound bigger than it really is. Your actual capacity should be set at 24000 grains when you are using 8 pounds of salt.

    Do you have any iron or manganese in the water supply?

    Does the valve have 3 or 5 buttons.

    I assume the system is metered.

    Fill, 8 pounds is fine, but you can test the system to see if it properly filling, it should refill approximately just shy of 3 gallons of water into the brine tank.
    Up-Brine, 60 minutes, ugh, upflow brining is great when it works and the system is working perfectly. I am not a fan.
    Backwash, 8 minutes, after upflow brining? Really, ugh, again, this is fine but... sigh...
    rinse 3 minutes, perfect.
    capacity, 19K, should be 24K
    Regen auto, good.
    Hardness, 30, set to the actual hardness, test the water, otherwise there is no way to know.
    Regen day, 5? Not even sure what that is, other than the day of the week, day 1 through 7, but what is the point on a metered system? Is the system metered?

    Your settings would waste a lot of salt but should maintain soft water.

    Unless it is a timeclock model, then...


    5 people x 70 gallons x 25 grains hardness = 8750 grains daily, the system would need to regenerate every other day.


    Your system is way too small.

    You need a 60,000 grain (real capacity, not maximum salt dosage capacity) or a 2.5 cubic foot system.

    The size of your system would make it very innefficient and intermittent hard water could definetly become an issue.

    Somebody here will know the programming of the older Clack valves better than me. Even so, reprogramming it wont fix the underlying problems.
  3. KraTToR

    KraTToR New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Apologies for not being more precise in my information.

    The retailer told me that it's a 32k system, I guessed that it was a WS1.5 based on a photo on the Clack website but i'm pretty sure it's a CI tho but really how do I tell? there's nothing I can find on the unit, same with the resin tank. Am I looking in the wrong place??

    WIth regards to the city water, a good friend of mine manages the dept. that is responsible for the city's water quality and he's telling me the average hardness of the city water is 25 but I've set it to 30 in case there's a fluctuation and also on his recommendation.

    On another note, you dont seem to like the un-brining and the backwash after. It is a metered system and I think the regen day of 5 is in the event it doesnt hit the capacity by that time from lack of use (never a problem in my house!)

    Again, thank you and I hope these comments help!


  4. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Up-flow brining is more efficient on paper, but in the real world, it is a pain. Lowered brine draw pressures causes all kinds of problems when you have to run the drain line up, or any distance. The potential efficiency gains are not worth thr problems. Kind of like the Honda civic hybrid, you get 1 more mile per gallon, but all the problems associated with the car, its not worth it.

    An upflow brining system should not be backwashed prior to brining which creates even more potential problems for the brining cycle due sediment loading of the resin and potential backpressures, and finally, backwashing after brining takes away the claim the the bottom resin is hit with the brine and therefore will give you the best quality water.... backwashing moves the resin around a lot. Just watch a standard system backwash in a clear tank, the resin goes all over the place.

    Up-flow brining is a great try, and really neat on paper, but in the real world it is not worth the potential problems.

    Anybody who has upflow brining, I recommend that the drain line goes down only, keep the drain line no less than 5/8", and keep the drain line short.

    downflow brining with adequate water pressure, you can run the drain line up and over the roof of a house if you needed to.

    If the WS1 is running out of soft water at your current settings, I would be checking a few things.

    Resin level inside your tank, it should be approximately 30" high inside the tank.

    Is the salt filling approximately 2.6 gallons of water back into the brine tank?

    Do you have any iron in the water? (iron will foul up the resin giving it less softening capacity)

    What is the real hardness? (hardenss is like amp draw on a battery, if you have 50 grains, your system will last half as many gallons as compared to 25 grains)

    Get a bigger softener, your system is completely undersized. The Clack valve will probably try to regenerate the system every other night just trying to keep up, this will waste 1/2-1/3 of the salt, and it will use a lot more water than it should.

    Hope these suggestions help.
  5. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have an up-flow Clack valve and have a couple questions, if you don't mind, others can respond as well.

    How is there any difference between up-flow and down-flow concerning pressure during brine rinse? If anything I would think there would be less pressure loss with up-flow through the resin, there is no possible compaction. What difference does it make how high and long the drain hose goes if it comes down the same distance, especially with the lower flow rate of brine rinse?

    I'm not clear what this means. With up-flow, would prior backwash be preferred, or is it bad, or is it unnecessary? If bad, why?

    My Clack provides provides only post backwash for up-flow but pre and post backwash for down-flow. This seems typical of other systems but why are there two for down-flow? Why backwash afterwards for up-flow and not before? Doesn't backwash just clear out sediment which I would think should be done first?
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Downflow is unregulated. The systems ability to use a veturi to create suction is also based on back pressure. If you have an unregulated venturi injection, you may have 70 PSI of available prssure, going up 15 feet will add about 7 pounds of backpressure, now take into consideration length of pipe, capillary restriction (friction loss) fittings, etc, all will affect a systems ability to draw brine.
    Upflow brining is regulated brining. If you ran full pressure you would disrupt the bed causing channeling of the media which would make for a poor regeneration.

    Yor thoughts on upflow being compacted vs. downflow... Resin is round, not irregularly shaped. Imagine a ball pit, not matter how many times you try to settle it, the balls will stay at the same hgight. Now consider a box of cornflakes, those irregularly shaped items will continually compact as they find ways to better fit into eachother. Disposable Resin based filtration systems do not have a backwash valve. The round media is not good for sediment removal, nor will it cause flow restrictions. We do hundreds of disposable DI resin tanks, Arsenic medias (Ferrl-X,) and other designs, we never put backwash valve on these.
    point being, wate will flow through the media wether it is backwashed or not, does your softener have better flow rate after regeneration? of course not. GAC, Multi-media, turbidex, filter ag, etc all require backwashing eventually because they are compactable medias that will eventually restrict flow.

    The theory is this...
    Downflow brining: The brine enters the top of the tank through the calcium filled resin first, and forces this "hardness" water down through the clean resin. On paper this is a bad design. In the real world, we know it is almost identical in efficiency to upflow.

    Upflow does the opposite, your clean resin never get hit with the bad water. The brine enters the bottom "clean" resin and forces the calcium back out the way it came. Worded correctly, this sounds like the only way to regenerate resin. A backwash before regeneration would mix the resin and would lessen the supposed benefits of upflow brining. The other supposed benefit is that the resin that the raw water touches last is "super regenerated resin" giving you the ultimate soft water! A backwash after regeneration defeats the purpose of giving the customer the super clean resin that the water hits last. Since it is being backwashed after upflow brining, the resin is now "mixed" negating the supposed benefit.

    The second backwash on a downflow brining system uses a small amount of extra water, but it mixes the resin giving you better quality soft water. This was found to be extremely beneficial once you drop below 8 pounds of salt per cubic foot of resin.

    The first backwash is to clean dirt, debris, precipitated iron, etc out of the resin. Depending on your water quality, it can be set at 1-3 minutes with no negative affect. Most municipal supplies have extremely clean water that requires almost no bakwash. The second backwash is usually set to 2-5 minutes.

    A quick technical note: Clack does not have a regulated injector which is common for other manufacturers to get the upflow brining to not disturb the resin bed, instead we use a much smaller than normal injector, and we use a longer brine cycle. Not exactly ideal but it works.

    Class dismissed.
  7. KraTToR

    KraTToR New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Ok, so I get the impression that you dont like my settings and that's ok, I didn't program it! LOL
    I'll check the resin to see if there's 30" of it.
    and my question is, how would you program it? Underlying reasons aside.

    :D



  8. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Ditttohead, thanks for the detailed response. I still have some questions if you don't mind.

    OK. I think I understand why there is no pre-backwash with up-flow. Hardness accumulated near the top sees a stronger salt dose and travels a shorter distance out of the resin and lightly or unused lower resin stays more regenerated. Overall, resin is more regenerated than with prior backwash. I should have thought that through.

    Does a region of resin produce less softened water to the extent that the resin has accumulated hardness? If so, then I can see that ideally you would always want up-flow and no backwash. Water stays very soft with best resin near the bottom seeing already soft water, but when water starts to get hard, the hardness ramps up quickly, as opposed to a reverse connected softener, assuming it doesn't lose resin and constantly mixes resin, that would slowly ramp up in hardness from the start. Is it that water can't be softened any more than the best resin it passes through? Am I picturing this correctly?

    I assume only debris less dense than the resin itself gets backwashed out. Is there ever any heavier debris that settles downward?

    I still don't see the pressure issue. The only thing the valve and injector could possibly notice in down-flow vs up-flow is that it might be slightly harder to push water downward than upward through resin during brine rinse and slow rinse. Aren't drain flow controls and injectors designed to maintain a roughly constant flow over a pressure range? I'm not sure what you mean by "full pressure disrupting the bed causing channeling which would make for a poor regeneration". I thought channeling was caused only by low service flow. Perhaps you could elaborate.
  9. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    ummm, that question is not answerable without the above questions being answered. The way you have it programmed, assuming your guestimate of hardness is correct should waste a lot of salt and water and should result in soft water assuming the valve is regenerating every other day. Setting it differently without knowing the water conditions does not make sense. Your settings are wrong, but should result in soft water. Your system is undersized by a factoe of three, but still, if it is working, it should maintain soft water. The Clack valves have extensive diagnostics that will tell you how often it regenrates, last regeneration, avg daily water usage, etc. More information than any technician would ever use. Assuming the systems meter is accurate, easy to test, simply run 20-30 gallons to wash a car or water the lawn and make sure the meter is reading accurately at different flow rates. if the meter is working, the brine tank is filling with the amount of water I said earlier.......
  10. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Resin will produce "softer" water based on its ability to attract and hold ions. A fully regenrated section of resin will produce softer water than a partially regenrated section of resin. That is why we use hardness bleed curves to determine the acceptable water quality limits vs. the efficiency.

    I am not quite understanding the reverse connected question, but simply put, the softness difference between an upflow regenerated system with a post backwash vs. a downflow regenrated system with 2nd backwash will be within a couple ppm, or (guessing here) 1/5 of a GPG. The only times this kind of calculation matters is in a steam boiler application, or post reverse osmosis, Pre EDI. Your test kit would not be able to tell the difference. It would take a highly accurate buffer solution type of hardness test kit to know the difference. Even then, we would not use a single tank softener for applications that require extremely soft water, we would use a softener regenratin with 4 pounds of salt per Cu. Ft, then a second softener as a polisher regenerating with 18 pounds of salt. The second softener is technically not effificient, but since it will only have to regenrate every couple of weeks, the system as a whole is highly efficient.

    Anything denser than resin will go through the resin. For the most part, large debris gets caught up in the top screen and is easily backwashed out, dirt or anything smaller than 30 Microns will flow right through the softener, gravel bed, and bottom screen and will go to the house. Sand is the main item to watch out for, if you have sand coming from your well, a sand trap or a pre filter must be installed.

    The pressure issue...

    Only DLFC's are designed to maintain a constant flow over a pressure range.
    upflow injectors (typically regulted to 20 PSI) are not affected by pressure since they self regulate. Standrad injectors do not maintain the same flow across a differing pressure range. Flow will double though an injector from 20-100 PSI. The draw rate will tend to max at about 40 PSI, but the total water flow is the concern, not the draw rate. http://www.pentairwatertreatment.co...ment/Manuals/7000SXT Service Manual 42775.pdf Check out page 38 of this Fleck 7000SXT manual for a better idea of the injector system flow rates across a varying pressure.

    Too much water in an upflow system will cause the bed to start moving, which will negatively affect the brining. Clack did the poor mans fix. They use standard injectors, but we drop the size 2 injectors as a starting point. IThe few times I did upflow systems, I would do the thump test on the side of the tank to make sure the resin was still not loose.

    Now for the pressure problem, as I said earlier, it is more of a problem on regulated injector systems. The Clack does not use a regulated injector.

    Venturi injectors work off of differential pressure, You have to calculate incoming pressure and back pressure. The larger the differential, the better. If you use a regulated injector, you start at 20 PSI. If you go up 15 feet, your differential pressure drops from 20 PSI to almost 10 PSI, not enough for a venturi to work properly.
  11. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I understand there are special applications that require more elaborate systems to provide highly softened water. My questions are more basic about what happens inside a basic home softener.

    The reverse connection thing is hypothetical to help me understand how resin, from top to bottom, takes out hardness. Tell me if this is right. If the resin were somehow churning while water flowed through a properly connected softener, all the resin would uniformly accumulate hardness as opposed to stationary resin where the higher resin takes more of the hardness and passes on partially softened water to the lower resin with less accumulated hardness. Providing soft water over a period of time depends on there being resin at the bottom having little accumulated hardness and hardness accumulating more in the resin above it. If the resin were somehow churned over time while in service, the hardness of the treated water would slowly increase (after a thorough regeneration) since all the resin is uniformly and slowly accumulating hardness. With stationary resin, the treated water coming out stays soft for a period of time until the bottom resin starts taking on hardness and then the treated water gets harder more rapidly thereafter. Of course regeneration would normally happen before it gets to that point. I hope I described it better. I think the two scenarios are qualitatively correct. No?

    I will think about the pressure stuff later. Thanks again.
  12. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    OK. I think I understand the pressure issue. I looked at page 38 of the document. I have similar graphs for the Clack valve. I also looked at the backwash bed expansion graph for the resin I have. I assume I can apply that for up-flow brine rinsing. I estimate there is about 8% expansion in my case if I figured correctly. It expands proportionately if there is any flow. Would 8% expansion cause the resin to move around much to lose the up-flow benefit?
  13. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Ditttohead, I sent you a message.
  14. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Yes, but... check your injector, usually the installing technician will do a field test and adjust the brine draw by thumping the mineral tank. It should be solid, and not sound like a drum during the brine cycle. The Clack valve will usually have an injector sized 2-3 sizes lower than an downflow designed system. That is why a regulated injector is technically better, it minimizes variables during the start up procedure, but it also adds cost and complexity. Considering the neglibe increase in efficiency, I dont feel it is worth the drawback. That being said, I would not change your system either. If you have up-flow brining and it is working, then excellent, you have a great system. Clack and Fleck are the best. I know an Autotrol guy will jump in saying that they are better, but... :)
  15. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The Clack service manual shows that up-flow injectors two sizes down from down-flow injectors for the same diameter tank with a footnote to the table I hadn't noticed. It says for up-flow using standard mesh synthetic media and NaCl, the injectors assume incoming water at 30-50 psi and a temperature at or warmer than 15.6C. Higher pressures should use a smaller injector to avoid lifting the bed. I see now what you mean by the pressure sensitivity.

    I have 70 psi water, 15C water but an injector that matches the table. I'm guessing I should have had an injector one size smaller. I can try thumping the tank with a manual regeneration next time it's about due, but the tank has a loose fitting silver reflective sleeve over it that can't be removed without cutting it or taking the valve off.

    The softener works fine and with my lower water usage it regenerates triggered by the day override with some capacity to spare. You mentioned adjusting the brine draw. Is that something different than a installing a different injector? If so, how might I do that?

    I will likely not change anything unless there is a strong recommendation, but out of curiosity, what would another injector cost? Could I get one through a dealer that sells Clack? I assume I could easily replace it myself.
  16. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    The only way to "thump" the tank is with the jacket off. Field service technicians who do commercial softening repair usually do about 6-8 repairs a day. The first thing we do when we walk up to a system is kick the brine tank and hit the tank. Commercial systems never have brine tanks, when they do, the health inspectors go nuts because of the potential for little critters to hide. Residentially the tank jackets are there for mostly aesthetic reasons. Regionally jackets can be used for more than just decoration, but here in California, they look real neat. We even manufacture an aluminim diamond plate jacket.

    Cold water is denser than warm water and lifts the bed much more than warm water. 2-3 sizes down is typical for Clack up-flow systems, but... if your water temperature varies significantly seasonally, or you pressure varies a lot, upflow can be a little more difficult.

    Adjusting the brine draw is done with the injector only. You could easily replace yours for less than $15, and it is very easy to do. The Clack valve has a threaded cap on top of the valve, the injector is underneath. . The injector can easily be removed with a pair of needle nose pliers.

    Honestly, even if the resin bed moves during regeneration, the system will likely be fine, it just lessens the potential for a perfect regeneration.

    The difference between a perfectly regenerated resin bed and a "oh so close" regeneration will only be a part per million or two for quality, and a couple percent for capacity. The reserve capacities, variances in incoming hardness, etc will all outweigh the difference.

    Hope that made sense. I have been installing my new system all day today. I will post pictures of it in my Prototype thread.
  17. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    My main concern is that the installer did not overlook something significant that might be a problem sooner than later. Everything seems to be working fine. It seems if the resin does expand some and move around during up-flow brine rinse, it is not a major issue. I hope it isn't any worse, or much worse, than down-flow. My softener programming is fairly conservative so it shouldn't matter.
  18. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Theres thge main issue. Downflow brining, we program it fairly exact. We may add a couple of grains hardness to the programming for a buffer, but for the mostpart, we do not vary. UpFlow brining is supposed to produce better quality water, and be more efficient, and on paper it is, but in the real world, we always program a little more conservative than downflow due to the potential problems thereby negating the potential eficiency gains.

    Now for the real important information, programmed conservatively like yours, you may use an extra bag of salt a year. $4.50, I dont think that is going to break the bank. As long as it maintains soft water, and you are attempting to maintain efficiency and your system is sized correctly, it will be great for a lot of years.
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