Fleck 5600 L head resurrection

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BRG244

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Hi all -
I bought my house 3 years ago and it came with an old softener with a Fleck 5600 L head (installed outside) that had been put into bypass mode. I don't know if it worked when we bought the house, and I was traveling for work too often to check it out. Now, I'm considering a rebuild and trying to resurrect it. The knob wouldn't rotate as the main piston was pretty stuck. I disassembled the valve and the seals are totally shot. I emptied the brine tank, as it had probably 80lb of caked salt, and bleached the parts after cleaning out. The check valve seems good.

Given the overall age I'd like to avoid going too far down this rabbit hole for a unit that's potentially decades old. I did not notice any nasty smells when I took the valve off the tank.


My family has 2 adults and 3 kids. Local water is apparently 10-15 gpg in my area with negligible iron, I'm testing it later this weekend.

Specs
* 8.75" diameter x 48" (round down to 8"?)
* 12d wheel
* .25 gpm - .75lb salt/min brine valve configuration
* 24v timer motor

At a minimum, I was planning to purchase
* main piston rebuild kit
* o-rings for everything I've disassembled
* the air disperser
* the brine and drain hoses (both are rotted)

That's about $100 worth of parts already, and I don't know if the resin is ok or how long the power head will last. I'm not sure if the softener was set up correctly originally, and it's suspicious that the unit wasn't in use at time of sale.

I'm not afraid of the rebuild, but the last thing I want is a project that NEVER ENDS, and I come to you, the local experts, for your advice: do I cut bait or fish? Ditch this relic and get a new one, or refurb it?
 
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Bannerman

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An 8" diameter tank is suitable for only 0.75 cubic feet (ft3) of resin. With a total 32K grains capacity per ft3, a 0.75 ft3 softener will have a maximum hardness removal capacity of 24,000 grains, but, softener's operate very inefficiently when programmed to utilize 100% of capacity before each regeneration.

A demand type (metered) controller will operate more efficiently compared to a time clock type controller, as the water meter will cause regeneration to occur when a specific quantity of soft water has been consumed. Time clock controllers (your 12-day controller) will always perform each regeneration after x-days, regardless of the amount of capacity actually consumed since the previous regeneration cycle.

Local water is apparently 10-15 gpg in my area
As I suspect your water source is municipal, the chlorine in the water will cause the resin to deteriorate over time. Chlorine damaged resin will often cause a flow restriction through the resin bed, which I suspect may be part of the reason why the softener was bypassed.

As your small capacity softener is equipped with an out-dated Time Clock controller and likely requires new resin, suggest upgrading with a new, properly sized system equipped with a metered controller, and 10% cross-linked resin to better tolerate the chlorinated supply.


For 5 ppl with 15 gpg hardness, estimating 60 gallons per person per day, the estimated softening load will be 4,500 grains per day.

With no ferrous iron present, the usual recommendation is to obtain a large enough system so regeneration will be required not more frequently than 1X per week, but at least 1X per month while utilizing efficient settings.


A system equipped with 1.5 ft3 resin (10" tank), will have a total capacity of 48,000 grains, but will operate more efficiently when programmed to utilize 12 lbs salt (8 lbs/ft3) to regenerate 36,000 grains capacity each cycle.

36,000 / 4,500 grains load = 8 days - 1 day reserve capacity = an estimated regeneration frequency of 7-8 days.


A system equipped with 2 ft3 resin (12" tank), will have a total capacity of 64,000 grains, but will operate more efficiently while programmed for 16 lbs salt (8 lbs/ft3) to regenerate 48,000 grains capacity per cycle.

48,000 / 4,500 grains load = 10.6 days - 1-day reserve capacity = an estimated regeneration frequency of 9-10 days.

Either of the above size units will be appropriate for your current requirements.
 
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BRG244

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An 8" diameter tank is suitable for only 0.75 cubic feet (ft3) of resin. With a total 32K grains capacity per ft3, a 0.75 ft3 softener will have a maximum hardness removal capacity of 24,000 grains, but, softener's operate very inefficiently when programmed to utilize 100% of capacity before each regeneration.

A demand type (metered) controller will operate more efficiently compared to a time clock type controller, as the water meter will cause regeneration to occur when a specific quantity of soft water has been consumed. Time clock controllers (your 12-day controller) will always perform each regeneration after x-days, regardless of the amount of capacity actually consumed since the previous regeneration cycle.


As I suspect your water source is municipal, the chlorine in the water will cause the resin to deteriorate over time. Chlorine damaged resin will often cause a flow restriction through the resin bed, which I suspect may be part of the reason why the softener was bypassed.

As your small capacity softener is equipped with an out-dated Time Clock controller and likely requires new resin, suggest upgrading with a new, properly sized system equipped with a metered controller, and 10% cross-linked resin to better tolerate the chlorinated supply.


For 5 ppl with 15 gpg hardness, estimating 60 gallons per person per day, the estimated softening load will be 4,500 grains per day.

With no ferrous iron present, the usual recommendation is to obtain a large enough system so regeneration will be required not more frequently than 1X per week, but at least 1X per month while utilizing efficient settings.


A system equipped with 1.5 ft3 resin (10" tank), will have a total capacity of 48,000 grains, but will operate more efficiently when programmed to utilize 12 lbs salt (8 lbs/ft3) to regenerate 36,000 grains capacity each cycle.

36,000 / 4,500 grains load = 8 days - 1 day reserve capacity = an estimated regeneration frequency of 7-8 days.


A system equipped with 2 ft3 resin (12" tank), will have a total capacity of 64,000 grains, but will operate more efficiently while programmed for 16 lbs salt (8 lbs/ft3) to regenerate 48,000 grains capacity per cycle.

48,000 / 4,500 grains load = 10.6 days - 1-day reserve capacity = an estimated regeneration frequency of 9-10 days.

Either of the above size units will be appropriate for your current requirements.
Hello Bannerman, thank you SO much for your detailed reply; that's the sort of information I need! I'll start looking for something in the 48k-64k grain range.

When you talk about "operating more efficiently", that is with respect to what criteria? Why is a 48k unit operating at 36k more efficient? I'm familiar with not running equipment at 100% except for short, infrequent bursts to reduce wear and tear, but this sounds like a different principle.

The system is currently installed outside here in FL with no sun or rain protection. If it's not possible to relocate the plumbing inside, any recommendations on features the new unit should have to protect it?

Thanks again.
 
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Bannerman

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When you talk about "operating more efficiently", that is with respect to what criteria?
Efficiency, with regard to salt utilization.

The quantity of salt consumed, will govern the amount of capacity that will be regenerated.

For example, a system equipped with 1.5 ft3 resin, will have in total, 48,000 grains hardness reduction capacity. To regenerate 100% of the resin's capacity, will require 30 lbs (20 lbs per ft3), thereby resulting in salt efficiency equalling 48,000 / 30 = 1,600 gr/lb.

Reducing the softener's 'Capacity' setting so regeneration will occur when 36,000 grains capacity has been consumed (leaving 12,000 grains capacity remaining), will require only 12 lbs salt. Salt efficiency: 36,000 / 12 = 3,000 gr/lb.

While salt efficiency maybe further improved, efficiency comes at a cost. When more efficient settings are utilized, soft water quality will become lower due to eventual increased hardness leakage through the resin. In addition, lower capacity settings will result in more frequent regeneration, thereby resulting in a greater amount of water utilized for regeneration when considered for each year of operation.

The recommended 36K/12 lb or 48K/16 lb settings, are based on 8 lbs salt per ft3 resin, which will provide the best balance of salt efficiency, capacity and water quality. (See chart below)

Water treatment devices equipped with a translucent media tank, when mounted outdoors in direct exposure to sunlight, will often result in algae growth within the tank. While chlorinated municipal water will likely prevent algae growth, recommend a painted tank or a tank jacket to eliminate the amount of light that will penetrate through the tank walls.

Rain covers are often available for control valves, but some simply place an overturned bucket over the valve.

Best would be to locate the equipment within a shed or suitable enclosure, not only to prevent sun, water & wind exposure, but also to prevent UV degradation of pvc plumbing lines and other plastic components.

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