Fleck 5600SXT water softener barely using any salt

Users who are viewing this thread

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I have a Fleck 5600SXT 56,000 grain water softener. It was installed by a plumber (not a water softener company) about 10 months ago. I am wondering if it is working properly.

The controller seems to be working fine. I know it is doing its regeneration in a timely matter. I don't see any signs of hard water since we installed it. Our water (city water, San Luis Obispo, CA) wasn't very hard to begin with, and so after we installed the softener we didn't notice much of a difference at all in the "feel" of the water in the shower.

But what is making me question if the unit is working properly is that it hardly uses any salt at all. I've added only one bag of salt to the brine tank in the 10 months we've had it. That doesn't sound right does it? We're just a family of two, but we certainly do our share of showers/baths, flushings, wash loads etc. Maybe it's normal, maybe the unit is just super efficient, I don't know. But I thought we were supposed to use a bag every month or two.

I should say that I am not even close to a good DIY kind of guy, an idiot about these things. :)

So, I just watched a few videos about water softeners and learned a few things. One video suggested that may I have a salt clog. I'm uncertain as to how to know for sure. I just went to the brine tank and it was at about 2/3 full. Curious where the water level was, I started shoveling out salt. When I got to just under 1/2 full, I saw water just under the top level of pellets. I was able to push my shovel into the salt without it hitting anything solid.

I've now started a manual regeneration, not that I know exactly what that would tell me. I hear the water being moved around, and hear water going out the drain. It's still running.

So, does it sound like things are okay or does anyone think I have a problem?
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
You want to get a Hach 5-B test kit to measure the hardness of your raw water and your water out of the softener.

That will help with selecting the settings, and it will tell you if the softener is working for you.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
Maybe 10 minutes into the BD cycle, the drain water should taste salty. 56 minutes in, it should not.

Here are some settings that I would think would be good for you, presuming you have a 0.5 BLFC. How do your current settings compare?

System info (not programmed)
salt lb/cuft = 8 ; A choice ( efficiency vs capacity)
BLFC = 0.5 ; Brine Refill rate GPM
cubic ft resin = 1.5 ; ft3 resin = (nominal grains)/32,000
Raw hardness = 25 ; including any compensation
People = 2 ; gallons affects reserve calc

Estimated gal/day = 120 ; 60 gal per person typical calc
Estimated days/regen = 8.3 ; Computed days ignoring reserve

Fleck 5600SXT Settings:
DF = Gal ; Units
VT = dF1b ; Downflw/Upflw, Single Backwash
CT = Fd ; Meter Delayed regen trigger
NT = 1 ; Number of tanks
C = 36.0 ; capacity in 1000 grains
H = 25 ; Hardness-- compensate if needed
RS = rc ; rc says use gallons vs percent
RC = 120 ; Reserve capacity gallons
DO = 28 ; Day Override
RT = 2:00 ; Regen time (default 2 AM)
BW = 5 ; Backwash (minutes)
Bd = 60 ; Brine draw minutes
RR = 5 ; Rapid Rinse minutes
BF = 8 ; Brine fill minutes
FM = P0.7 flow meter for paddlewheel in this case.
https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/img_fleck5600sxt_flow-png.31592/ shows the difference between the turbine and paddlewheel.
 
Last edited:

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
Thank you so much for all the detail Very kind of you. I'm running out but when I get back, and decipher the manual on how to look up those settings, I'll post back.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I'm going to order the Hach 5-B test kit online and get it Wednesday. But since I was anxious I bought a cheap $10 test at Home Depot an hour ago (the Labtech H2O OK Drinking Water Analysis Kit), the only test they had. The color result on the test matched the 100 ppm Total Hardness color. But that color sits between a color for 0 ppm and one for 250, so I question the accuracy of this particular test.

I was unable to do the taste test during the BD cycle since I already had started it before I saw your post.

I figured out how to get into Master Programming Mode and wrote down all the settings for you. Here they are, with bolded values being different than what you gave me:

DF = Gal
VT = dF1b
CT = Fd
NT = 1
C = 24
H = 20
RS = rc
RC = 150
DO = 14
RT = 2:00
BW = 10
Bd = 60
RR = 10
BF = 12
FM = 0.7 (actually says "P0.7" which I assume is the same thing)
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
http://slocountywater.org/ccr/lopez.pdf I was looking at 410 ppm calcium equiv and adding compensation.

I made a mistake giving you numbers for a "48000 grain" softener, which would usually have a 10x54 inch tank. How big is your tank?

FM = 0.7 (actually says "P0.7" which I assume is the same thing)
Not the same. That is for a paddlewheel rather than a turbine.

See https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/img_fleck5600sxt_flow-png.31592/ for pictures that show the difference. Establishing that is important. If you program P0.7 and have a turbine, the softener will not regenerate often enough.

Also look for a sticker that identifies the BLFC number. It may look like this: https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/huge_5600blfc-jpg.22481/

So with tank size, BLFC value, and paddlewheel vs turbine info, I will post an amended suggested setup.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
http://slocountywater.org/ccr/lopez.pdf I was looking at 410 ppm calcium equiv and adding compensation.

I made a mistake giving you numbers for a "48000 grain" softener, which would usually have a 10x54 inch tank. How big is your tank?


Not the same. That is for a paddlewheel rather than a turbine.

See https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/img_fleck5600sxt_flow-png.31592/ for pictures that show the difference. Establishing that is important. If you program P0.7 and have a turbine, the softener will not regenerate often enough.

Also look for a sticker that identifies the BLFC number. It may look like this: https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/huge_5600blfc-jpg.22481/

So with tank size, BLFC value, and paddlewheel vs turbine info, I will post an amended suggested setup.

Here are the specs of the unit from the online page:
  • Fleck 5600SXT Digital Control Head with bypass valve and 1" threaded plumbing adapter (yoke)
  • 10" x 54" tank, 15” x 34” brine tank with salt grid and safety float system, (color may vary)
Here is the product's Amazon page, which might help you:

It does not seem like it's a turbine. Pretty sure, but here is a photo of it:

I found a sticker for the BLFC. It's 0.5 GPM.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
I amended the above suggested settings to show the FM=P0.7, for the paddlewheel.

Nothing in your existing settings would explain your not using salt.
Your BF=12 corresponds to using 18 pounds of salt for each regeneration. So I would expect you should be using at least a 40 pound bag every month, and probably more.



I just went to the brine tank and it was at about 2/3 full. Curious where the water level was, I started shoveling out salt. When I got to just under 1/2 full, I saw water just under the top level of pellets. I was able to push my shovel into the salt without it hitting anything solid.

It is possible that your softener is not drawing brine. That could be from a small leak that lets air in during brine draw but a leak that is not big enough to pass water. The brine float could be keeping the salt level down; its job is to prevent overflowing if the brine is not being drawn out.

During the BD cycle, the brine should be sucked out. You can see the brine level by lifting the cap off of the brine well and looking there, or you could shove a yardstick in as a dipstick.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
Thank you so much for your help with this. I really appreciate it.

I'll try another BD cycle and see if the level goes down. At what point in the cycle should that occur?

I saw a youtube video about something called a "salt clog," Is that a possibility? Here's the video:
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
Aha! I just watched another video on a "salt bridge" in the softener. He said to take my fist and start banging on the side of the brine tank from the top to the bottom and feel if the flexibility of the tank wall "hardens" when I go near the bottom. Sure enough, when I got to about a foot from the bottom of the tank, it felt like solid lead when I banged on it. The salt must have hardened together at that level.

Does that sound like a possibility?

Tomorrow I will dig out the salt and see what's down there. The video said to bang on it hard to create cracks in it, and then pour 2-3 gallons of COLD water into the tank and then run the regeneration. I think I'll try to clean it out first.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
I think the deal with a salt bridge is that it would not feel solid at the bottom.

During BD, the brine level will start dropping immediately but slowly, and it will finish dropping some time later -- maybe 15 minutes give or take.
 
Last edited:

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I think the deal with a salt bridge is that it would not feel solid at the bottom.

During BD, the brine level will start dropping immediately but slowly, and it will finish dropping some time later -- maybe 15 minutes give or take.
I think you are right. I shoved a broom handle into the salt in several places and was able to get it to the bottom.

So, I started another regeneration (yikes, already have the water company charging me like 6X rates due to an irrigation leak I had), and watched it for about 30 minutes. After the first 5-10 minutes, it started trying to suck water out of the brine tank. I can hear it trying to draw up some water, but the water level is not going down. I can see what looks like air in the semi-transparent tube running up and out of the side of the tank. The float bobs around easily in the water when I tap on it, so it's free.

So, if it's a leak -- if that's what you think it is -- what do I do now? Remember, I'm all thumbs on this stuff. :)
 

Bannerman

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,864
Reaction score
801
Points
113
Location
Ontario, Canada
The first 10 minutes, will be backwash (BW=10). From there, it commences a 60 minute combination Brine Draw/Slow rinse cycle (BD=60). The fluid will typically be drawn out from the brine tank within the first 15 minutes of that cycle.

Suggest first check there is suction from the valve. One method to check for draw is to disconnect the brine line at the top of the brine tank. You should feel suction on your finger when the controller is in the brine draw position. If there is suction, then tighten all of the fittings between the softener and the brine tank. Even the smallest suction leak will prevent brine from being drawn. If that doesn't resolve the draw problem, you may then need to remove the brine pickup assembly and safety float from the brine well. This will allow access to additional fittings on the pickup assembly.

Did you notice if more water was added to the brine tank at the end of the cycle? (BF=12 minutes (your existing setting)) If the safety float in the brine tank is lifted, that then signifies the safety valve will be closed, thereby preventing more water from being added so as to prevent the brine tank from overflowing.
 
Last edited:

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
I would start by looking at where the brine line connects to the brine valve assembly. If there is a nut, is it loose or tight? If loose, tighten it.

It could also be a problem with the brine valve and float assembly. In that case, you would want to ask your softener dealer for help. It could be that you will need a replacement part. They will also know what your brine valve assembly is. Not all are the same. See the top of page 11 for one example of how a connection is made: https://www.cleanwaterstore.com/technical/water-treatment-guides/Softeners/2510_Softener_startup.pdf That one is different than most. Most have the connection under the brine well cover. See the second picture of https://www.softenerparts.com/kb_results.asp?ID=190

If you do pull the top end of the brine line loose where it connects to the controller, you could suck on that with your mouth. See if it can maintain a vacuum and even draw brine. Don't get a mouthful.

If the leak is in the brine tank area, I think the incoming air would give a parade of bubbles in the tubing during brine draw.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I would start by looking at where the brine line connects to the brine valve assembly. If there is a nut, is it loose or tight? If loose, tighten it.

It could also be a problem with the brine valve and float assembly. In that case, you would want to ask your softener dealer for help. It could be that you will need a replacement part. They will also know what your brine valve assembly is. Not all are the same. See the top of page 11 for one example of how a connection is made: https://www.cleanwaterstore.com/technical/water-treatment-guides/Softeners/2510_Softener_startup.pdf That one is different than most. Most have the connection under the brine well cover. See the second picture of https://www.softenerparts.com/kb_results.asp?ID=190

If you do pull the top end of the brine line loose where it connects to the controller, you could suck on that with your mouth. See if it can maintain a vacuum and even draw brine. Don't get a mouthful.

If the leak is in the brine tank area, I think the incoming air would give a parade of bubbles in the tubing during brine draw.

I checked all line connections and they felt tight. However, the connection where the line connects to the brine valve assembly uses a plastic nut (the whole assembly and connection there is plastic, no metal parts at all I see), and I wondered how much play was in that. By hand, it was tight, but I took a wrench to it. Since it was plastic I was afraid I could keep tightening and tightening it until I stripped the threads or something. I first turned it just a fraction of a turn. I then heard some periodic, like every 2-3 seconds, quick "pffft" sounds, as if air where minutely escaping or being sucked in. So, I cautiously tightened it a bit more, maybe what would be an 1/8 of a turn. I no longer heard that sound.

Am I correct in being fearful of continuing to tighten the plastic nut? I don't know about this one but others I've encountered sometimes just keep going until something gives. Here is a photo of the nut: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxozCVIWBWWcUS1ibzNiNDlUeEU/view

If I want to test this again, is there a way to not run the entire regeneration cycle? I'm trying to conserve water this month after an irrigation water leak.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
The first 10 minutes, will be backwash (BW=10). From there, it commences a 60 minute combination Brine Draw/Slow rinse cycle (BD=60). The fluid will typically be drawn out from the brine tank within the first 15 minutes of that cycle.

Suggest first check there is suction from the valve. One method to check for draw is to disconnect the brine line at the top of the brine tank. You should feel suction on your finger when the controller is in the brine draw position. If there is suction, then tighten all of the fittings between the softener and the brine tank. Even the smallest suction leak will prevent brine from being drawn. If that doesn't resolve the draw problem, you may then need to remove the brine pickup assembly and safety float from the brine well. This will allow access to additional fittings on the pickup assembly.

Did you notice if more water was added to the brine tank at the end of the cycle? (BF=12 minutes (your existing setting)) If the safety float in the brine tank is lifted, that then signifies the safety valve will be closed, thereby preventing more water from being added so as to prevent the brine tank from overflowing.
See reply to Reach4 concerning the nut tightening.

And while I did not disconnect the tube to check suction, I can see the suction working in the semi-transparent tube, with the water bubbles rising. And I can see the bubbles beginning at the bottom of the tube, where it connects to the brine tank assembly, so that must be where it's starting.

And no, I did not notice that more water was added to the brine tank at the end of the cycle.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
I might loosen the connection and inspect. I might use a compound such as silicone plumber's grease in there if there are any rubber seals, and maybe even if they are hard plastic seals.

If I want to test this again, is there a way to not run the entire regeneration cycle? I'm trying to conserve water this month after an irrigation water leak.
Yes. In the service manual, revision H page 5, column 2, it says
Manually Initiating a Regeneration
1. When timer is in service, press the
img_1.png
Extra Cycle button for 5 seconds on the main screen.
2. The timer advances to Regeneration Cycle Step #1 (rapid rinse), and begins programmed time count down.
3. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #2 (backwash).
4. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #3 (brine draw & slow rinse).
5. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #4 (brine refill).
6. Press the Extra Cycle button once more to advance the valve back to in service.​
After doing that, the softener will think it has done a regen. So it starts its count-down of gallons again.

I'm trying to conserve water this month after an irrigation water leak.
The shortened backwash times I showed above would reduce water usage. During backwashes, you use 2.4 gallons per minute.
 
Last edited:

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I might loosen the connection and inspect. I might use a compound such as silicone plumber's grease in there if there are any rubber seals, and maybe even if they are hard plastic seals.


Yes. In the service manual, revision H page 5, column 2, it says
Manually Initiating a Regeneration
1. When timer is in service, press the Extra Cycle button for 5 seconds on the main screen.
2. The timer advances to Regeneration Cycle Step #1 (rapid rinse), and begins programmed time count down.
3. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #2 (backwash).
4. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #3 (brine draw & slow rinse).
5. Press the Extra Cycle button once to advance valve to Regeneration Cycle Step #4 (brine refill).
6. Press the Extra Cycle button once more to advance the valve back to in service.​
After doing that, the softener will think it has done a regen. So it starts its count-down of gallons again.


The shortened backwash times I showed above would reduce water usage. During backwashes, you use 2.4 gallons per minute.

Thank you. So, I should begin the regeneration, then press the Extra Cycle Button twice to get to the "Regeneration Cycle Step #3 (brine draw & slow rinse)? And then if it's not sucking up the water well, I guess I could just end the entire thing; but if it is working well, let it finish?

Also, am I right to be concerned that I could tighten that plastic nut too hard, hard enough to damage something? I was thinking that if there is an air leak still, I could try gently tightening it while the brine draw is going on to see if I can get it set right. Just scared to screw something up.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,982
Reaction score
4,472
Points
113
Location
IL
So, I should begin the regeneration, then press the Extra Cycle Button twice to get to the "Regeneration Cycle Step #3 (brine draw & slow rinse)? And then if it's not sucking up the water well, I guess I could just end the entire thing; but if it is working well, let it finish?
Yes. If it has not sucked as far as it is going to go within 20 minutes, it's not working well enough. The normal action is that the brine level gets sucked down to where the intake is on the air check valve. Once air starts coming in there, a ball closes that path, and the rest of the cycle becomes the slow rinse. That slowly washes the used brine out of the resin. During that time, there is a vacuum in the line. You should not see bubbles.

Also, am I right to be concerned that I could tighten that plastic nut too hard, hard enough to damage something? I was thinking that if there is an air leak still, I could try gently tightening it while the brine draw is going on to see if I can get it set right. Just scared to screw something up.
With a wrench, you could strip out the threads. It is hard to describe how tight you should go. I would think something like hand tight plus 1/4 turn with a wrench. I am not a pro. That may not be the right amount. How about making a photo if the test does not show complete success.

If you fear overtightening the nut, call the dealer and follow their suggestions. If you act on their suggestion, and mess up a part, I expect they would not have a problem providing a replacement nut or whatever. I expect they will be helpful.
 

Mark F

New Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
I just had a friend out who is a jack of all trades kind of guy and while not a plumber is good at checking connections and such. We checked the fit at both ends of the water hose and they are solid. And he disconnected the nut at the hose-to-brine tank and added some sort of plumbers gel and reconnected. The hose is on solid at both ends.

He took the assembly out of the brine tank and undid and redid the connection of the rod to the top of the assembly, adding some sort of plumbers gel. It seems solid. However, it's interesting that the rubber gasket (if that's what it's called), has what looks to be a purposeful "notch" in it--don't know why that is. See this photo: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxozCVIWBWWcclZRb2ZzeTYwSlU/view

But here's the thing we discovered. When regeneration is in brine draw cycle, we hear a bit of gurgling within the big tube in the brine tank, in which the assembly resides. Now here's what's interesting: while in the Brine Draw cycle, if I manually move around the rod on which the float is attached, I can get the water to suck out of the brine tank. But I don't mean if I move it vertically, up and down. I mean if I push the top of that rod sideways, so that it results in the rod going down at an angle. But not all angles, just some positions work. But we cannot figure out what the heck that means.

There is water in the assembly tube, so there seems to be no way that there is air at the bottom of the tank where it draws water. Yet there is that gurgling sound and of course air in the tube.

Interestingly, about 15 minutes after the last regeneration cycle (skipping through all but the Brine Draw), I just went out to the unit and pushed straight down on that rod and a big puff of air shot up out of the center of the rod (it's hollow) at my hand.

Is any of this meaningful?

I'm about ready to call a water softener company out to do a service on it and try to fix it. We don't have a Fleck installer out here, so I'd have to call a Culligan type of service.
 
Top
Hey, wait a minute.

This is awkward, but...

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. We get it, but (1) terrylove.com can't live without ads, and (2) ad blockers can cause issues with videos and comments. If you'd like to support the site, please allow ads.

If any particular ad is your REASON for blocking ads, please let us know. We might be able to do something about it. Thanks.
I've Disabled AdBlock    No Thanks