How is softener capacity programmed or calculated with lower salt usage?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by teve, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have a basic water softener control valve question. Maybe someone can clarify this for me.

    I have new water softener with a Clack control valve on a 30,000 grain tank. The valve is programmed with a 30,000 grain capacity and a 30 gpg water hardness which displays a 1000 gallon capacity after a regeneration. As I understand, 15 pounds of salt will restore 30,000 grains or 1000 gallons of capacity. But the salt use setting is programmed with 7 pounds per regeneration which is supposed to restore only about 22,000 grains of capacity. It seems that the valve is letting the resin tank remove more grains of hardness than it will restore in the next regeneration. Doesn't this mean that hardness will build up in the resin tank over time?

    Shouldn't the valve take this salt setting into consideration when calculating the restored capacity after a regeneration and display that there is only a 733 (=22,000/30) gallon capacity? If not, why?

    Should the softener capacity be explicitly programmed to equal the capacity restored by the salt used per regeneration? If not, how is this dealt with?
  2. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    The program works off what the user or service tech programs in, ie 22k 30k etc.... then the proper salt setting needs to be added in to get that capacity.
  3. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    So the salt dose and the corresponding capacity are set independently and the user should make sure they are consistent. The control valve just assumes the salt dose specified restores the capacity specified. Is that correct?

    Is there any reason or circumstance that the capacity would programmed to 30,000 for a tank with 1 cubic foot of resin when specifying less than 15 lbs of salt?
  4. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    The digital control is a computer, trash in trash out.. or at least that is that my teacher back in 81' said.

    The digital control works on numbers programed in, and I would say that yours was programed wrong, why I have no idea.

    I know that when I am programing a unit , I go through and put the numbers in and then go back through to make sure that I have the right numbers in the right spots, and then check again.

    Check and then double check again ... I am human and have been known to opps, so I check and check again to make sure that it is correct, but not all do the double or triple checks.
  5. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Can you describe how you set salt dose, capacity, and water hardness or point me to information on how to figure the values to be set? I can't find much detailed information.

    I assume you start with how many grains of hardness need to be removed every day on the average (possibly adjusted upwards) and then set the salt dose for a reasonable interval between regenerations. The salt dose determines the restored grain capacity per regeneration to be programmed and then setting the water hardness determines the gallon capacity allowing water to be metered for the next regeneration.

    I assume some values need to be somewhat conservative to ensure hardness does not accumulate over time in the resin. Should the restored grain capacity for the salt dose be set a little more conservative than the tables show or are they already conservative enough? It seems the water hardness is typically set higher than the actual water hardness from other people I have talked to. What determines how the water hardness should be set?
  6. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    Comp hardness on my books is
    iron x 4
    Mn x 4
    Hardness in grains.
    Iron + Mn + grains = comp hardness

    That comp hardness in to the programing at the step it is called for.
    I use 6lbs of salt getting 20k for capacity on 1 cubic foot and 12lbs for 32k is the standard max per cubic.

    1 gallon of water will do just under 3lbs of salt.

    Depending on the flow to the brine tank or salt tank as to how many minutes will give the water needed for the salt needed.
    If the control is .5gpm then 4 minutes will do 2 gallons and 6 lbs of salt.
  7. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I thought it was 15 lbs of salt for 30K (or 32K), but OK. It seems the numbers aren't exact. So, for the numbers you gave, I would set the grain capacity to 20K if using 6 lbs and 32K if using 12 lbs. Correct?

    Once again I have been told that the water hardness should be set higher than the actual calculated hardness (about 20 in my case), by at least 5 higher by one person and 10 higher by someone else. Are there any reasons or situations for doing this? Is there any or ever a need to be conservative with any of the settings?
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  8. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    Where are you getting your hardness from?
    City water?
    Well water with a lab test?

    Some wells like to change in different parts of the year, around here the item that will go up or down is more likely to be iron.
    But if the hardness test is at 20 , I might use 21.
    Then there is the safety factor if your control has that as a step.
    If you have 3 people in the house and on average the usage is 175 gallons per day, you will try and take that into account so that there is treated water all day.
    If the capacity of the unit is 1000 gallons and you use 175 gallons then you will have the meter set for 825gallons.
    The digital is a little different to set, it may be a % or a number that you can use.
    What digital control are you using?
  9. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The city says the hardness is 18. Testing at Sears and Home Depot I think was about the same, I don't remember exactly. I have a Clack valve. Reserve is calculated from recent water use. Settings are hardness capacity, water hardness, (and water capacity calculated from that), salt pounds, day override, etc. I have heard that different wells can vary but the city person I talked to did not know much about it.

    By the way, what is the recommended maximum time between regenerations? I have seen different numbers on that as well.
  10. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    I would go with 20 grains, just to be safe.

    If there is no iron in the water and you have good usage ,,,, you might be able to run with say a 14 day over ride.. but I my self would not try more.. after awhile you should be able to see on average the number of days that it takes to use the gallons that get set by the computer in the control.

    To soon and you waste capacity that you could have used and to late you get water getting by the media that is untreated.
  11. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The day override only takes effect if it's been so many days and there hasn't yet been a regeneration due to capacity running out due to lower water usage. So the water should always be soft with any number of days in effect for the day override.

    My question concerns the resin, while still being good for treating the water, sitting there for a long time without regeneration. How many days can the resin go without regeneration while still having capacity remaining?
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  12. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    Iron and hardness work on the resin differently...
    Iron is harder on the resin than hardness..
    Are you trying to go thirty days before a regen? as I don't think that would work to well...
    If normal number of days and gallons work out to be 8 days then set the over ride to 9days.

    Engine oil needs to be changed every X miles or X months... or there is likely to be harm to the engine... resin is much like that... even if the system could go 20 days because of the low hardness and high capacity and low number of gallons per day.... it would not be good on the resin over the long term.
  13. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I don't have to worry about iron or manganese. I haven't "tried" anything yet and I don't think any regenerations have been longer 15 days. I have done manual regenerations so as not to let it go too long. I have been informed of 14 days and 20 days should be the maximum day override.


    With a 30,000 grain tank and lower usage of 300 gallons a week (just me) @20 gpg (6000 grains per week) it seems I could use a salt dose of 3 lbs to 5 lbs to last about 2 to 3 weeks.


    By the way, is there a salt dose minimum that applies for a 30,000 grain tank?
  14. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    How much resin and what size of tank for the resin?

    Like the oil in the engine, if you would like to push it to 20k between changes,,, that is up to you.

    if you have a 1 cubic foot unit use 6 lbs and a capacity of 20k and 9 days over ride.

    If you would like to shorten the life of the resin that is up to you, doing what you are trying to do will most likely shorten its life and might also do some thing on the warranty of the rest of the unit that you bought.
  15. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have not "tried" to do anything and do not intend to try anything until consulting with my installer and will almost certainly take his advice but I do appreciate your advice. I don't want to do anything that would prematurely degrade my water softener.

    Having had a new softener recently installed I am just curious about learning how they should be set up and why? My questions are more "what if ..." rather than "Is it OK to do or try this?" I find that I am getting somewhat different answers from people I have talked to. I want to learn more details about water softeners but also might want my settings adjusted.

    I do appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you.

    The tank has one cubic foot of resin, 30,000 grains (although I also see models saying 32,000 with one cubic foot, why is that? Different resins?). It is about 40 inches high and 9.5 or 10 inches wide but I am not sure how the exact size is specified.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You haven't given all the programming data but, it certainly sounds as if it is not programed correctly.

    Go to my web site's Sizing page, the link is in my signature. You'll see that the K of capacity is adjustable and it is dictated by the lbs of salt set for the salt dose per cuft of resin.

    IIRC the WS-1 Clack you probably have allows down to 1 lb and 5K but don't hold me to that. The Clack sets the reserve every night based on actual water useage, 2 hrs before the scheduled time for regeneration, usually 2AM so midnight.

    Meaning that you don't add to the hardness figure or K of capacity etc.. Use the highest hardness in your city water system (not what it tests as at your house) as the hardness figure. Use 60 gals/person/day and round up to the next higher whole K and then for a scheduled regen every 8 days. Set the salt lbs to get that K based on the cuft volume of resin you have; 1 cuft; resin manufacturers' figures are on my web site.

    That regens the K of capacity you used between regens, adding more salt or K wastes salt. The remaining K is like the gas still in your gas tank when you buy more gas; you can only fill the tank as much as you used and the remaining is still there to be used if needed. That can't harm the resin because what capacity you didn't use is still fully regenerated; unless you aren't programmed right and use more water than programmed for....

    Set the calendar override for 8 days so you don't use more capacity than the salt dose can regenerate or you end up not fully regenerating all the resin and that leads to hard water getting through the resin down the road. Then you must do 2 manual regenerations with no water use during or between them at the max of 15 lbs.cuft of resin, in your case 15 lbs each or a total of 30 lbs. All because you didn't program right to begin with.

    The "32K" for a 1 cuft softener is a slang term. You get a max of 30K/ft @ 15 lbs.; 32, 48, 64, 96 etc. is the same slang type term. 15 lbs regens 30K max per cuft of resin so, 30, 45, 60, 90 etc. is the max operating K of capacity at the max capacity based on cuft of resin, at the max salt dose of 15lbs/cuft. Most guys do the CYA thing by adding to the hardness and/or K of capacity or use a percentage of reserve etc.. That proves to me that they really don't know what they are doing, like a mechanic that can't troubleshoot and keeps suggesting a part and throwing parts at the thing until it works. That behavior also says they don't know how the thing should work; like most softener guys.

    Salt efficiency is figured like fuel mileage. The K of capacity divided by the lbs of salt used per regeneration.

    30K/15lbs= 2K per lb per cuft of resin. 20K/6lbs = 3333K/lb with 1 cuft of resin etc. etc.. The lower the salt dose, the higher the salt efficiency and most mainline (all Autotrol, Clack, Erie, Fleck) control valves allow for setting the salt lbs used per regeneration; of course there are those that don't want the consumer to find out how to do it.... So the K of capacity and the efficiency is adjustable on most if not all softeners. It's like your right foot controls your vehicle's fuel efficiency.
  17. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Thanks for chiming in Gary. I have a few comments and questions for you but others are most welcome to comment.


    "IIRC the WS-1 Clack you probably have allows down to 1 lb and 5K but don't hold me to that."
    Mine goes down to 0.1 pounds of salt. Where would that setting ever be used?


    "The "32K" for a 1 cuft softener is a slang term."
    Who came up that and why? It seems it can only cause confusion. I can see marketing people preferring the bigger number. I read somewhere that 32K refers to "ideal lab conditions", and 30K is the more practical value for home use.


    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]Let me clarify something about my understanding about computer controlled, water metered softeners. Their regeneration is basically determined by metered water use which is determine by programmed capacity and water hardness. Mine is currently set to 30,000 grains and 30 gpg which gives 1000 gallons between regenerations (and set with 7 pounds of salt). It seems that I could set these values to 20,000/20 or 150,000/150 or 7,200/7.2 or 1000/1. All give 1000 gallons of capacity. It seems that is all that is done with those numbers. I assume the control valve would operate exactly the same, not knowing the difference. Is that correct or could the softener do something different?[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]"[/FONT]Set the calendar override for 8 days so you don't use more capacity than the salt dose can regenerate"
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif](Now I have heard 4 different numbers.)[/FONT]
    I don't think the day override is meant to protect against using too much capacity, I think it protects the resin from going too long without regeneration due to low water use. The water metering ensures regeneration is done when capacity is reached. Low water use is when the day override kicks in. High water use is when the water meter kicks in. Or am I missing something?


    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]I am assuming the desire is efficient salt use, as low as is reasonably possible, with the longest reasonable time between regenerations that is not too long (harming resin) and not too frequent (wasting water and valve wear). I think that basically sums it up. I am not sure what other factors might come into play. One question I have is this. Is there a salt dose that can be too low? I would think there must be.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]It seems that one should aim for days between regeneration based on expected water use and set a day override a somewhat larger for infrequent occasions when water use happens to be lower than normal. But maybe it should be set to ensure regenerations are done regularly at the expected water use. I'm not sure.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]With a 30K tank, 20 gpg hardness, one person, 60 gpd water use (1200 grains per day), regen in 8 days, after 9600 grains, would take 3 pounds or less of salt I think. Is that salt dose too low? For 14 days, 16,800 grains, 4 pounds of salt. For 20 days, 24,000 grains, 8 pounds of salt. Is 20 days getting too long?

    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]Of course with more people/water use or more water hardness, the longer time between regenerations is less of an issue and frequent regeneration and water use more of an issue.[/FONT]


    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]I have read/heard that 14 days is recommended as the longest time that should be allowed between regenerations. I am assuming that is for routine regenerations. But maybe it is OK to go longer if it is infrequent. It seems different people have different recommendations.

    Note that I am not trying set my softener as cheaply as possible. I am thinking it could possibly be set less conservatively.

    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Program for an 8 day service run and set the override to 8 days, that is best for resin etc.. 9600 should rounded up to 10K. Answers to the rest of your comments/questions are on the Sizing page on my web site, link in my signature.
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