Does water softener brand matter?

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kabguidon

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I am trying to choose a water softener that minimizes the amount of salt I drain onto my property (I cannot put in a dry well, and I cannot drain the brine to the septic or a sewer). My well-water is very hard (11 grains per gallon) and basically no iron content. I plan to only soften the hot water line, since our showers are basically the only thing that we want softened water for.

Is there any difference between brands of water softeners when it comes to the amount of salt used to soften a given quantity of water? Are some water softener brands more "efficient" in their use of salt than others? If so, how would I identify those brands? Is it about the design of the tanks? The type of resin used? Do softeners get more efficient the larger they are?

Any recommendations on what equipment to buy would be much appreciated!
 

MaxBlack

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You could use any brand softener and run it with Potassium chloride and not Sodium chloride.

Note 11gpg is not "very hard". Our water in Texas was 120gpg--now THAT was hard! You should also re-think "hot water only". Any mixing of hard with soft water almost completely ruins the effect i.e. you will still have frizzy hair!

;)
 

Bannerman

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Some softeners are preset and have no ability to adjust usable capacity or the quantity of salt utilized during each regeneration cycle.

Suggest obtaining a softener equipped with either a Fleck or Clack metered control valve so as to obtain a superior quality valve which will permit full settings adjustability and most efficient operation.

To increase hardness reduction efficiency, the softener will be programmed to regenerate when less than 100% of the resin's total softening capacity has been consumed.

For example, while a softener containing 1cubic foot (1ft3) of resin will have a maximum capacity to remove 32,000 grains of hardness, to regenerate that amount of capacity will require a very inefficient and wastefull ~20 lbs salt. Hardness Reduction Efficiency will then be 32,000 / 20 = 1,600 grains per lb.

For improved HRE, that same 1 ft3 softener will be usually programmed to regenerate when 24,000 grains capacity has been consumed, as that will require only 8 lbs salt. (HRE: 24,000 / 8 = 3,000 grains per lb)

HRE maybe further improved by further reducing the Capacity setting and the salt quantity, but the amount of hardness leakage in the soft water will be increased, thereby the water quality will be reduced. Ex: 21,000 grains Capacity will require 6 lbs salt. (HRE: 3,500 gr/lb)

FYI, a university study (posted in this forum some time ago) determined that softener discharge to a septic tank will be beneficial for septic tank bacteria when the softener has been programmed for efficient operation (8 lbs salt per ft3 or less)

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kabguidon

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Thank you both!

@MaxBlack
1) Thank you! I should note that the water hardness is 202 mg/L which I believe converts to 11.8 grains per gallon. I thought that was pretty high even in Texas? Here's the overall report, for what it's worth:​
1655824772808.png
2) Super interesting to hear that even a little bit of hard water will nullify the effects of softening the water. I had been doing some research, and some sites suggested that it was a good idea. I also figured that I could turn down the temperature on my water heater so that I could use only the hot water for a comfortable shower temp.​

@Bannerman
1) Thank you for the explainer; that chart is quite helpful.​
2) So am I correct to understand that if I'm aiming to maximize salt efficiency, I should care about getting a softener with a high-quality metered control (Fleck or Clack), but things like the overall design of the system and the type of resin (for example, this company claims to have "Ultra High Efficiency Resin Beads") don't matter that much? For example, I was thinking about this Waterboss 700. Mostly because it seems to be small and cost-effective.​
 

MaxBlack

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Yeah I get that the Water Quality Association rates >10gpg as "very hard", I was just saying some of us have tried to deal with water that is 10 times that bad--looks like milk coming-out of the ground. You have implied that showers are most important to you--I would suggest that faucets and appliances will also degrade wildly faster if you don't take those into consideration also which is why I think you don't just soften the hot water. Now, if you are trying to minimize the dumping of salty brine onto your property, I would suggest again to consider Potassium Chloride. Yes it's expensive, but we use that at our lake house where the hardness is only 8.5gpg but wife likes soft water for showers (meaning hair) and I am particularly interested in not dumping salt into our septic system incl drainfield hence potassium. Dunno why that water site link didn't mention it...

As for system hardware, any modern softeners should do what you want. I doubt any are so much more efficient than another to make a noticeable difference in the quantity of whichever resin regen you use (sodium or potassium).
 

Treeman

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DIY homeowner here. I hope its ok to post the following link that I found to be a good softener primer: https://www.aquatell.ca/pages/ultimate-water-softener-guide

11grains per gallon with no iron should be a cake walk. You might even get by using 6 lbs. salt per cu. ft.. I think most here would agree that a 2 piece system is better than a cabinet model. Probably stay away from the very expensive proprietary parts brands as well as the big box store cabinet brands. The component parts brand is more important than a recognizeable package brand (I.E., GE, Whirlpool, etc.). As stated above, Clack/Fleck/Autotrol are the leading high quality valve systems. Efficiency will depend on correct sizing and programming.

Dumping your rinse water onto your property seems like a problem.

Good luck on your purchase and installation. Lots to learn here studying past threads.
 
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