water softener advice, 32K grain, twin vs single, 1" valve

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by lifespeed, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    Hi,

    I'm new to water softeners, having been driven here by steel pipe narrowed with scale deposits. I live in an area that averages 3 - 9 GPG hardness, but apparently that is enough to corrode the pipes over my house's 40 year life.

    I will now repipe with schedule L copper, and extend the 1" main to both ends of the 3 BR 2 BA house, tapping off 3/4" lines for individual bathrooms, tankless HW, washer, etc. I will bypass the water softener for the hose bibs, of course. I will also install a hotwater recirc for the kitchen on the opposite end of the house from the tankless.

    I would like to maintain good flow throughout the house. Worst case use is probably one bath, one shower, washing machine and dishwasher. I'm guessing not more than 12-14 GPM, and I am watering a family of 4. I would like to minimize pressure drop in the water softener and valve. To this end, I am asking for recommends on specific valve and tank models that will maintain high flow with a low pressure drop, and match my 1" piping. Fleck 7000 and Clack are two brands I have heard good things about.

    What about twin tank vs single tank? Are the single tanks smart enough to regenerate in the middle of the night when nobody is using water? Is the twin tank regeneration with softened water that much of an advantage in low maintenance and long life?
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    A twin tank is better than a single, but... for your application I would use the single tank. The twin tank is used primarily for applications that have very high hardness, or very high water usage, or that require 24 hour soft water. Most commercial applications use some form of twin, triple, or quad configuration. The water use of a residentail application is so small that the advantages offered by a twin tank installation are simply not worth it. All modern single tank systems use a computer to calculate the most efficient regeneration day, and all come programmed for middle ofthe night regeneration.

    The Clack or Fleck 7000SXt are the best valve on the market, I would not recommend any other. My personal preference is the 7000SXT. Either way, you will not be dissapointed.

    Regarding your 40 year old plumbing going bad, soft or hard water, galvanized plumbing has a limited life expectancy. Your Copper repipe will serve you for longer than you will be alive, assuming your pH is under control. Test to make sure your pH is very near or slightly above 7.0 and you will do fine.

    For size, a 1.5 Cu. Ft. system with the 7000SXT will do fine. Your hardness is low so the system may only regenerate every 10-15 days, but that is not a problem. You will usually see the 1.5 cubic foot listed as a 48000 grain system. You should set your system to 30,000 grains and use only 6 pounds of salt per CU. Ft per regeneration, or 9 pounds.

    Let us know what you decide.
  3. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

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    Not much can be added, D said it all.
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Spot on................
  5. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    Thanks for the info. After testing, it appears my water is actually around 15 grains of hardness. That may not change your recommends much. One of my local water guy likes Performa valves. But, to be honest, I don't feel a compelling need to go with his suggestions. While there is clearly some science to understand behind a water softener, I think the knowledge gained in this forum and elsewhere will serve well enough to understand the programming of said system.

    I have read good things about the Fleck 7000SXT, as well as Clack WS-1 CS. I understand the Fleck has 1.25" riser tube, vs the Clack 1" tube. I am very interested in minimizing pressure drop, so perhaps the Fleck would be the way to go? I think using the maximum amount of resin that doesn't push regeneration times out too long helps here also?

    I guess the Clack claim to fame is that even with a single-tank setup it is still able to regenerate with softened water? Or am I getting mixed up here.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    A little mixed up, The Fleck 7000 and the WS1 use soft water to refill the brine tank. A twin tank system is required to regenerate with soft water.

    The 32MM riser is very large but the pressure drop between a 1" and 1.25" in a small system would be difficult to measure. There are other items that will restrict flow before the riser pipe will. Technically, the 32MM is better, but on my test bench, on a 1.5 Cu. Ft. system, it is nearly unmeasurable.

    the Performa Valve is an excellent valve, you would not be disappointed. I still feel the Fleck and Clack designs are better, but the Performa is a proven, long term performer.

    Length between regenerations will not affect flow rate unless your water has considerable sediment. A resin bed, based on round beads, will not affect flow rates over time assuming the beads do not change shape (break) or are fouled up with sediment. That is why a portable exchange softener tanks can stay in place for several months without affecting water flow. The round media will only settle so much, irregular medias like GAC, GFH, Birm, etc, will start to restrict flow if they are not backwashed occassionally. Even so, many customers on municipal supplies only backwash GAC once a month.
  7. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    Thanks for all the advice. When I go to order a system is there anything else I should look for? I think the 8% crosslinked resin is satisfactory for most applications without iron issues. I think you may have mentioned in another post that there are big differences in quality of the screen used. Perhaps I should also enquire about this piece when I order.

    Edit: one last question - what about chlorine? My neighbor has a chlorine (charcoal?) filter preceding his softener. That struck me as possibly unnecesary. I have RO filter for drinking water and fridge, which will be on an unsoftened pipe with the hose bibs.

    I can only smell/taste a slight hint of chlorine in the water where I live. Not a scientific measure. Should I look into an exact measurement of chlorine, or are most softeners OK with some chlorine?
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  8. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    If you can smell the chlorine in your water, and you do not want to add a carbon tank in front of the system, you should use 10% crosslink resin. Personally, I would put in a GAC tank to remove the chlorine. The shower is the primary problem with Chlorine, the amount of Chlorine you are breathing can be considerable. You should put in a GAC tank. Where in California are you? I know several guys who can offer you great equipment at a reasonable price.

    The RO for the drinking water and refrigerator is ideal, your results will be exceptional. Just be sure to sanitize the RO system annually.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I understand bypassing for the hose bibs but why hard water for the RO filter?
  10. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    LOL, I missed that. RO's prefer soft water, they will last longer, work better, etc... Considering the cost of membranes, it is not as big of a deal as it used to be. I hope you didnt pay extra to bypass it.
  11. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Did you say that you have iron in the water also? If so I missed that somewhere and if so, how much?
  12. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    321
    Location:
    California
    The plumbing hasn't happened yet, should be next week. The hose bib is near the RO anyway. So, you're saying the CaCO3 is worse than salt in the water as far as the RO membrane is concerned?
  13. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Location:
    California
    No iron, city water.
  14. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    California
    I can barely tell there is chlorine in the water. Perhaps I should measure, or maybe my neighbor knew what he was doing when he installed the chlorine filter. If a chlorine filter is helpful and not too much $$ and maintenance I will do it. I'll tell the wife it is to keep her hair and skin beautiful.

    I am in San Jose, CA. I change the RO pre-filter plus two charcoal pre-filters annually. Don't know what you mean by sanitize, which would just be the membrane which is 4 years old now.

    PS - GAC = Granulated Activated Charcoal?
  15. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Location:
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    RO membranes definetly prefer sodium over calcium and magnesium. The sodium is easily rejected and will not scale the membrane. Hard water will shorten the membranes life expectancy. The real question is how much is the very small amount of additional salt going to cost you versus the cost of the membrane. Modern residential membranes will typically last 1-5 years on hard water, double it for soft. Now, this is not set in stone, and there are calculations I could do to estimate your membranes life, it is not worth bothering with since your membrane is lasting on the high side.

    I would also highly recommend adding a permeate pump, this will reduce your waste water considerably and give you much better performance.

    GAC = Granular Activated Carbon

    Send me a PM, I will let you know of a couple people up your way that will take great care of you.

    Sanitizing the ro, search the forum and it should come up, if not let me know and I will post how to do it. It isnothing more than removing all of the filters, and adding some bleach, pressurize, wait, purge....
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  16. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

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    Membranes are technically not filters, but a water separation device. Filtration media hold what is being removing from the flow whether it be oil, air, water, etc. Filters need to be either cleaned or replaced. With RO membranes, the electric charge on the surface of the membrane rejects contaminants which are then washed down the drain. What really kills a membrane, regardless of the contamination, is not the production of water but its idol time between production stages, which can be for extended periods of time. As the membrane produces water, the lateral flow wipes the membrane down and keeps it fairly clean; a well-used RO will last longer than one that sits for long periods of time. The old "Misuse By Disuse" comes into play here.

    As the membrane sits idol, the contaminants have a chance to adhere to the membrane and this can include fouling elements including calcium, iron, and even bacteria. That is why ROs are generally not considered a microbiological barrier even though the membrane pores are much smaller than any bacteria or virus. You're right Dittohead that sodium from a softener is hydrophilic and rinses down of the membrane easily. Another reason for having a softener that always produces softened water is an advantage.

    Keeping the membrane clear of these contaminants is key to a prolonged life and excellent production rates resulting in higher quality water for much longer periods of time. Of course other factors are involved but an RO membrane that has a self-rinsing mechanism, leaving RO treated water, free from not only sodium but other contaminants as well, resting against its surfaces will greatly benefit the system as whole. The life-expectancy of the membrane can be tripled--if not longer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2012
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Location:
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    The flow rate of water past the RO membrane is boosted by the pump during normal operation. I imagine that the increased pressure differential would increase efficiency as well. On my RO system, I have a manual valve to flush the membrane but found that it only works when the pump is running.
  18. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    I just started up the Fleck 7000 SXT water treatment: 1.5 cu ft Centaur carbon to remove the chloramine, followed by a 1.5 cu ft softener. I tasted the water out of the carbon filter and could not taste any chloramine. Took a shower this morning in softened water - what a difference! I actually felt cleaner. I expect the softened water will protect the new Noritz NRC-1111DVNG tankless water heater, allowing an annual vinegar flush to keep the heat exchanger clean and in good working order.

    I bought the hardware over the internet and configured somewhat worst-case for hardness based on parameters suggested by the vendor. I think I need to test my water hardness and program it more conservatively for maximum salt efficiency.

    I really like my new plumbing with softened dechlorinated water :)
  19. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Location:
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    Congratulations! Tankless water heaters should never be installed witout softened water. We manufacture several tankless water heater filters, and none of them work well compared to a traditional softener. If you buy the HACH 5B test kit, you can get an accurate reading of your raw water hardness and that will allow one of the guys on this board to help you program it for efficiency.

    Amazing how good the water can taste when it goes through a large column of carbon, you have chosen wisely!
  20. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    The HACH test kit is on order. I already have an RO filter for drinking water and the fridge. I don't really want to add sodium to drinking water, even in small amounts.
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