Questions about water softener choice...

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Kung, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. Kung

    Kung New Member

    FLW, MO
    Ok; will provide as much information as I possibly can; hopefully it's enough.

    It's fairly obvious to me that we need a water softener - you know, scale on the dishes/glasses, residue on other stuff, etc. So I got one of those DIY water tests, and the basic results:

    Iron/Copper/Cl - negligible
    Alkalinity - 180-240ppm
    pH - 8
    Hardness - 25 grains
    Nitrates - 0

    Details about the house plumbing: We have approximately 1400 sq ft finished (2200 sq ft total, 1100 ft upstairs, 300 ft downstairs). It's me, my wife and my 1-yr-old son in the house. I don't know exact water usage every day; we both take a shower every day, and possibly a load of laundry every other day.

    Water pressure is normal range for a house on a well w/bladder tank. I don't know EXACT GPM estimate - will get if necessary - but I know that we've got plenty of flow.

    Septic - I have a lagoon septic system, although our lagoon is abnormal. Our next door neighbor has 4 adults, and their lagoon is maybe 1/2 the size of ours. I believe ours used to be a pond that was sealed/converted into a lagoon. In other words, plenty of capacity.

    Now on to the details:

    It was a foregone conclusion that I did NOT want an all in one softener. My dad has, and recommends, a Kinetico, and I'm sure they're great products; but I flat out don't have $2K. :p The Culligan guy says $1400 installed, with a lifetime warranty; but as others have pointed out to me, a lifetime warranty with exceptions means they can and possibly will find a way out of it. :p

    The local guy who's been doing this the longest recommends a Fleck 5600 tank. He recommended a 32K grain water softener, and suggested any more would be 'too much for my well pump to handle' and would leave my water too salty. The techies over at, on the other hand, said that wasn't correct; quoted me 2gpm for a regeneration for a 32K resin tank, and 2.4gpm for a 48k - both well within what my pump can provide.

    They recommend the whole SST-60 resin, which I was interested in due to the supposedly salt-saving properties; but I've read reports on not being worth it unless your water has high iron, which mine does not have - reports are minimal and the water in our downstairs toilet, which NEVER gets flushed (like 2x a year) has a VERY faint red ring around it - I do mean faint.

    So the upshot of all of this is to ask: Is a Fleck 5600 (SE/Econominder/whatever), 48K water softener the right choice? SST-60 resin or no? I'm all for saving salt and such, and for using the good stuff; but not if it's not going to net me no appreciable reduction in salt usage.
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes with 25 gpg hardness you certainly need a softener but... Hard water scale does not get on glasses etc., that is probably something like sulfates, chlorides, high TDS etc. that a softener does not remove or reduce.

    The square foot of the building has nothing to do with sizing a softener etc.. Just the number of people in the family and the number of bathrooms and the type of fixtures in them.

    The local guy saying a larger softener - salty water is too much for your well doesn't know what he is talking about, or you misunderstood what he said or meant.

    You don't size a softener by the 32K or other K figures. It is the cuft of resin and what type of resin, that dictates the size of the resin tank and that dictates the control valve that can be used.

    That's because ALL softeners, regardless of the brand name or the control valve brand name, have an adjustable K of capacity.

    That's because they have an adjustable salt dose that is set by the number of lbs used per regeneration. It's like if I said regardless of the vehicle's fuel mileage figures, your right foot controls your fuel mileage.

    SST-60 is not going to provide enough increased salt efficiency to justify it's high cost. So anyone attempting to sell it to you based on salt use does not have your best interests at heart.

    I suggest you look at the Clack WS-1 control valve. It has many features a 5600 doesn't have. And IMO, based on good salt efficiency (not the constant SFR gpm for your peak demand, which I don't know yet) you need a 2.0 cuft softener.

    To learn all about correctly sizing a softener click Softener Sizing and at the bottom of that page, after doing your math, click on Calculator and check your math.
  3. Kung

    Kung New Member

    FLW, MO
    I probably should clarify - the 'residue' when washing *ONLY* occurs in the dishwasher; so in all likeliness we're not talking about 'scale' but soap residue, especially considering that chlorides/sulfates, etc., test negligible, and our whole house filter really doesn't get all that dirty. Our last house had LOADS of TDS, plenty of iron, etc.

    This house is nowhere near that; so based on my revision of what's going on, all I really need to treat is water hardness, I think; not 'scale.' My mistake.

    SFR - I actually took a bucket around the house and measured everything, did the whole 6 second thing. Including the outside faucets. Not sure if I was supposed to add it up...but when I did the 6 second test on the entire house, all faucets, the bucket had approximately 2 gallons in it. I would assume this points to a 12GPM SFR?
  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Unless you collected water from all the fixtures you had running at the same time, you didn't come up with your maximum peak demand flow rate.

    And as that sizing page says, collecting water in a bucket means [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] you have a snapshot of the condition of your plumbing and your water pressure BUT... that gpm is not the constant SFR gpm you need. [/FONT]

    If you measured 12 gpm, that means the softener has to have a constant SFR gpm higher than the 12 gpm. That would be a 2.0 cuft or larger softener, which goes along with the salt efficiency sizing (2.0 cuft) I mentioned previously.

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]You'd have to call me and give me more info so I could come up with what you and I think is your max peak demand based on how your family actually uses water.
    [/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][/FONT]
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Control valves have an SFR @ 15 psi. All resin manufactures have a SFR per cuft of each of the various resins they make. All softeners have an SFR of X gpm @ 15 psi.

    All softeners also have a constant SFR gpm dictated only by the cuft volume of resin in them and if it is exceeded by the peak demand of the number of people in the family and number of bathrooms used and the type of fixtures in the bathrooms, the resin can not remove all the hardness in the water. The water actually used by the family IS NOT the peak demand of the entire house; it is only the fixtures they use at any given time.

    So your disagreeing is fine with me but you're wrong, especially when you don't know if he has a large tub, two person shower, or 1-6 body sprays in a regular shower, if he has drilled out the flow restriction in a shower head etc. etc..

    Also, the 2.0 cuft gives him one regeneration on average every X gallons and 8 days.

    How many regenerations in 8 days would he have with a "32K" AND how much salt would he use in 8 days with your "32K"?

    Can he regenerate "32K" with a 1.0 cuft softener using regular mesh resin? And if so, how much salt per regeneration does that require?
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The constant SFR of a water softener must cover all the peak demand gpm of all the fixtures that are being used by the family at the same time. That is not like running all fixtures in the entire house at the same time; which no one does. Do you disagree?

    BTW, a 100' long 3/4" copper pipe with 30 psi water pressure delivers 17 gpm. Higher pressures delivers more gpm.

    The total gallons used between regenerations has nothing to do with the constant SFR gpm of a softener, which is what we are talking about but....

    IF a softener runs out of reserve capacity before it regenerates, then that softener is not sized and/or programmed correctly; usually both.

    Or it has been run out of salt and the resin bed has not been fully regenerated since then, and if not, it will never produce 0 gpg soft water until it has been fully regenerated. To do that you must regenerate it twice with the max lbs of salt for the volume and type of resin used. Regular mesh resins require 15 lbs/cuft and a max capacity of 30K.

    The softeners I sell do not have a set/programmed/calculated reserve as those you are talking about do.

    What I sell has a variable reserve and it is calculated by the computer based on the programmed K of capacity based on the salt dose and cuft volume and type of resin used.

    That calculation is done every midnight usually, but it's actually two hrs before the scheduled time of regeneration; industry standard 2 AM, and it is based on the actual gallons of water used (in gals/day) by the family, over the last 3 tomorrows in the last 21 days (3 weeks).

    And if the gallons were to run down to zero on the meter as you are talking about, the computer waits until water usage stops for 10 minutes and then the control valve does an immediate regeneration which will be done in usually less than 1 hour and 15 minutes (1.25 hrs).

    And yes, if water is used during that 1.25 hr +/- regeneration, hard water is delivered but... that is much better than a softener delivering hard water until after the next delayed regeneration that usually starts at the next 2 AM. That wait could be up to 20+ hours.
  7. Kung

    Kung New Member

    FLW, MO
    I dunno for sure; I know he has a Kinetico and hasn't had a problem with it. He's just got the single tank thing, I think (IOW, one brine tank, one resin tank).

    Actually, I believe that the pipe coming from the well to the house is 1" - the OD is 1.25", and if you subtract a 1/4" you get the ID - therefore 1". We do have some 'stuttering' in our lines occasionally; but that's another matter. We still have great water pressure; I believe that we might have a stuck or nonexistent check valve - that's fairly common in this area.

    Well, to be honest, our last house had the crappiest water softener ever; and we've lived here going on 2 years without a softener. Truthfully, I LIKE the taste of hard water better. :p In other words, if we happened to be without it for a half a day, I wouldn't exactly beat myself about the head and chest with a cat o' nine tails.

    This being said, we're fairly frugal on our water. We have a front-loader washer, and we both take a shower a day, plus baby boy might get a bath. A few loads of laundry a week, and that's about it.
  8. Kung

    Kung New Member

    FLW, MO
    Easy enough to answer:

    - not a big tub - my wife and I can stand up in it to take a shower, but only if we're in a hurry to take a shower (or, ahem, not in a hurry ;))
    - 1 body spray
    - haven't drilled out any flow-restriction in the shower head - it works just fine as is
    - 1 bathroom (we WILL have 1.5 - I will install a corner stand-up shower stall downstairs)
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Then for a regeneration on average once every 8 days using a total of 11 lbs of salt, a 2.0 cuft, with a Clack WS-1 control valve.
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