Need New Water Softener!

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Andrew Huculak, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    First post here...

    From Saskatchewan near Regina.
    Old Kenmore softener finally dies after MANY rebuilds. I guess it doesn't owe us too much, installed in 1993.
    Acreage, well water. No iron or manganese.
    110 grains hardness.
    Only 2 of us.
    Thoughts on an upflow unit? Size, make/model, best price etc?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    With 110 grains per gallon hardness, you may wish to consider a twin tank alternating design utilizing a Fleck 9100SXT or Clack WS1 twin control valve.

    While it is usually preferable to size a single tank softener large enough so that regeneration will not be required more than 1X per week while using an efficient salt setting, your high hardness would then dictate using an unusually large capacity softener for a residential application.

    In addition, a single tank softener will utilize a Reserve Capacity allowance which is normally 1-day capacity. With 2 people estimated to each use 75 gallons (US) water per day, the reserve capacity allowance would be 16,500 grains (+ high hardness compensation) which will not necessarily all be consumed before each regen cycle. Whatever reserve capacity that is not consumed before regeneration will be re-regenerated which represents wasted capacity.

    A twin tank unit will not utilize a Reserve allowance as the alternate tank will immediately take-over softening duties when the initial tank's capacity has been consumed. This means all of the regenerated capacity in each tank will be utilized with no capacity being wasted.

    Twin units often utilize smaller capacity tanks with each containing a reasonable 1.5 or 2 ft3 of resin which will provide 36,000 or 48,000 grains usable capacity per tank while utilizing an efficient 12 or 16 lbs of salt respectively for each regeneration.
     
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  4. Ryan Symons

    Ryan Symons Dihydrogen monoxide specialist

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2018
    Location:
    Ohio
    Twin tank has my vote also. I can't believe that a Kenmore was able to do a satisfactory job on your water. Keeping it going that long is nothing short of a miracle!
     
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    No need for upflow. On paper upflow is amazing, in the real world... not so much. Twin Calck or Fleck has my vote too.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Make sure that you don't have 110 mg/l (ppm) hardness. That would only be 6.4 grains of hardness.
     
  7. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    We checked the hardness the other day at Water Warehouse in Regina and the fellow put in 108 drops of his test fluid before the water turned blue so I think we're at 108 grains.

    I purchased, at their recommendation, a 90,000 unit, (3 cubic feet of resin) with a Fleck 5600 Ecominder head. I read the SXT wasn't really needed.

    Installed it today... my wife can't believe the difference! I think the old Kenmore from 1993, which I rebuilt 3 or 4 times over the years, wasn't really doing the trick.

    I likely should have gone with the twin tank, but unfortunately didn't have the room.

    Turns out my pressure tank was shot as well as it wouldn't hold any air. Picked up a new 26 gallon pre-charged tank at Princess Auto for $79.99!

    With just the two of us, what are my optimal settings for the Fleck head? Salt usage, gallons etc.

    Many thanks...
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I used 72000 grains of capacity per regen.

    I selected 8 pounds/cuft of resin, or 24 pound of salt total per regen. I don't know how to set that, so if you don't know, say so. Somebody else will know.

    Next, there is something called high hardness compensation.
    https://terrylove.com/forums/index....0-sxt-programming-settings.60651/#post-450189
    With that in mind, your hardness would be calculated as 108*1.5. If I back off that 162 to 157, and compute with that, I get
    457.5 US gallons of softening. But if I take a 120 (2*60) US gallon reserve into account, I get 337.5 gallons. That is the number you would set the white dot on the Econominder to.

    With some experience, you could move the white dot to a higher or lower number. I compute that you would get 3.81 days of softening between regens, but of course that will be 3 or 4. Use less soft water, and it lasts longer. If you use less regularly, you could take that into account by subtracting a smaller number of gallons from 457.5.

    There is more than one kind of Econominder wheel setup, but I think the white dot next to the number is the same regardless.

    Usually, with the Hach 5B test, you would test a mix of 1 part test water with 3 parts distilled. Then multiply the number of drops by 4.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2020
  9. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    Thanks! I seem to recall my guy said he set it about 650 gallons and said it would use about 30 lbs of salt per regeneration. I think I'll start with that and see how it goes. Like you say, I can always turn it up or down as we get more experience.

    I'm thinking our old Kenmore was just taking the edge off for many years as I think it was only about a 40,000 unit. My wife recalls the water being, "slippery" in the shower the first few days after a regeneration, then not so much thereafter. If anyone needs parts, (board, cover, clips, new-venturi, ferrules etc.) I'd send them for the cost of postage.

    We also have a tank-less water heater... the hot water now seems to be hotter... go figure! I'm sure it will like the soft water.

    I like this Fleck 5600 metered head. No too much to go wrong. The old Kenmore was regularly not drawing brine etc.
     
  10. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    While we're at it, my well occasionally goes turbid, and a coffee filter won't filter it out. It happens about once a year around this time. With my new softener, perhaps I should put a prefilter after the jet pump? Or before?Any recommendations? Microns?
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Filter after the pump and after the water splits to go to the outside spigots. 5 micron I would think. 20x4.5 cartridge is better. Bypass is good, because otherwise a leak or bad 0-ring at the filter makes your water system down.
     
  12. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The Kenmore softener had only 40K total capacity when using the highest salt setting. With >19,000 grains anticipated compensated hardness load per day (60 gal X 2 ppl X 162 gpg), that softener would have at best, 2 days worth of capacity including the Reserve allowance.

    Two drawbacks with the Econominder controller include:
    • An inability to customize preprogrammed cycle times as water conditions may allow. Factory preset Backwash and Rapid Rinse times are often longer than needed. Those settings may be modified as appropriate when using an SXT controller.
    • Calculations incorporating Hardness, Reserve allocation and Grains Capacity must be manually performed to arrive at the appropriate Gallons capacity setting. With the SXT controller, each setting is programmed separately so the controller will automatically calculate the gallons regenerated and gallons remaining.
    Softener settings are not chosen at random or by trial and error but are based on scientific calculations which have been proven over time.

    With a 30 lbs salt setting for 3 ft3 of resin, the regenerated capacity is 78,000 grains. Even with no high hardness compensation, there is not sufficient capacity to provide 650 gallons + reserve.
    (78,000 / 108 = 722 gallons - 120 gallons (anticipated) reserve = 602 gallons programmed capacity)

    Since hardness compensation must be added, the compensated hardness will be 162 gpg which equates to 481 gallons - 120 gallons Reserve = 361 gallons capacity setting as you plan to continue using 30 lbs salt. If your actual water use is substantially different than 120 gallons/day, then the reserve allowance and programmed capacity will need to be modified accordingly.

    The chart linked below, lists various capacities based on the salt setting. Looking across the 3 ft3 row will show 72K grains when using 24 lbs salt (8 lbs/ ft3) and 78K grains when using 30 lbs (10 lbs / ft3).

    https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/resin-chart-jpg.53316/

    The salt setting for your 5600 Econominder is adjusted on the brine cam at the rear of the controller. If your controller is equipped with a rear cover, the brine cam will be behind the cover.

     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  13. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    Thanks... I was dissuaded from the SXT so I'll have to live with that decision.

    My well is sunk into an artesian well up in the hills on our acreage. It's actually higher than the house and the water level in it is at ground level year round. It has a 30" culvert for a casing. It has rusted through at ground level so this spring I'll need to line it, or do something to ensure my water supply is not compromised. I was thinking perhaps a culvert connector or some sort of plastic liner. The water actually bubbles up and out from around the well and has watered wildlife for centuries, I believe, so no shortage of H2O.

    I'll check the brine cam to see what it's set at... stay tuned. The chart is very helpful. Is 30 lbs optimal for my situation?
     
  14. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I mentioned the drawbacks with the Econominder mechanical controller to pointout to other readers of this thread there are some specific benefits to the SXT digital controller as some might conclude from prior comments that the capabilities are identical for both.

    With regard to 'optimal', that can depend on your meaning. You may be referring to available capacity, salt efficiency, water quality, or the quantity of water needed for regeneration.

    At the bottom of the resin capacity chart previously linked, lists the hardness reduction efficiency based on grains capacity per lb of salt, which is directly related to salt efficiency for each salt setting. It also specifies the amount of hardness leakage to eventually occur for each salt setting which is directly related to water quality.

    Increasing salt efficiency will reduce the usable capacity and also increase hardness leakage thereby lowering water quality. Although the water used for regeneration of a given size softener will be virtually the same each regeneration cycle, reducing the capacity setting will result in more frequent regeneration resulting in a greater amount of water to be consumed for regeneration each month/year.

    Water treatment often involves compromise. An 8 lb/ft3 salt setting will typically offer the best balance of capacity, water quality and salt efficiency.

    Since you stated you wished to use 30 lbs salt (10 lbs/ ft3), the appropriate capacity setting was then stated so you will obtain the proper result as opposed to running short of capacity prior to regeneration as will eventually occur with the 650 gallons setting initially programmed.

    Optimal may mean you prefer higher quality water and less frequent regeneration cycles resulting from using 30 lbs salt compared to using a lower salt setting.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
  15. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    What a wealth of information here... thanks again.

    I checked the brine cam and it is set to 30 lbs per regeneration. The softener has yet to regenerate, the water quality is currently exceptional, (certainly compared to what we're used to).

    I'm going to take a sample in to test with 100 gallons left on the dial and see where we're at.

    I'm about to order a 20x4.5 filter system... any in particular to recommend? All my fittings/lines are 3/4"... the old and obsolete polybutylene "Qest/Quest" brand. Thank goodness there's no chlorine!

    If I figure out how to post a photo of my new system, I'll do so.
     
  16. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    Well... advice required.

    It seems the unit regenerated for the first time last night after going through it's allotted 650 gallons. My wife says the water is soft this morning, and I'll check it later today, but...

    ...the brine tank this morning is about half full of salt with approximately 3" of water over it.

    It's a LARGE brine tank, (18"X40"). I had put about 5" of water in the tank, then 5 - 44lb bags of salt to start with on the advice of the store where the system was purchased.

    Does the 5600 leave that much water in the brine tank after regeneration, or do I have a problem with suction, or lack thereof?

    I don't want to go tearing into it if this is normal, but my old Kenmore left very little, if any water in the brine tank after a regeneration.

    I suppose a hardness test may tell the tale.

    If the water level this morning is abnormal, any troubleshooting tips would be most appreciated.
     
  17. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Your Kenmore likely utilized a Brine Fill First (BFF) configuration. At the start of each regeneration cycle, water will enter the brine tank and then there will be a 1+ hr delay to allow sufficient time for salt to dissolve to create brine before the controller proceeds with the remaining cycle. With BFF, only a small amount of fluid will remain in the brine tank between cycles.

    A Fleck 5600 Econominder will usually be configured as Post Brine Fill. With a 30 lb salt setting, 10 gallons water will enter at the end of each regeneration cycle so as to prepare brine in advance of the next following regeneration cycle. With the brine prepared in advance, no delay time will be needed during each cycle, thereby reducing the time needed for regeneration.

    Edit: As previously stated, a 650 gallons capacity setting is inapporopriate for your hardness amount. To continue with that capacity setting will soon cause all of the resin's capacity to be exhausted before the gallons capacity has reduced to zero remaining.. Once the resin' total capacity has been exhausted, then a restorative regeneration cycle will be needed using about 60 lbs salt.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  18. Andrew Huculak

    Andrew Huculak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2020
    Location:
    Craven, Saskatchewan
    Phew, that has put my mind at ease! That information about Post Brine Fill, along with the test I did this morning at the shop, which (after regeneration last night with only about 4 or 5 gallons of water) tested today at 4 grains.

    I bet there's about 10 gallons of water in the tank now, ready for the next regeneration. 1 gallon water dissolves 3 lbs salt = 30 lbs salt to be used next time.

    Questions:

    a) should the salt level always be higher than the water level in the brine tank, and,
    b) should I regenerate right away or wait a few days, and,
    c) should I set the gallons to 400? I believe my wife and I combined use something less than 100 gallons per day.
     
  19. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    a) Some part of the salt should be above the water always. Usually all of the water is covered, but if you are trying to watch what is going on, you could pour salt not level.

    b)Either. Regen when a touch of hardness appears would be most salt-efficient.
     
  20. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Your 3 ft3 of new resin, had a total softening capacity of 96,000 grains initially. As the 650 gallon setting X 162 gpg compensated hardness will have required 105,300 grains, I anticipate the resin's capacity had been exhausted prior to when regeneration occured, but since your hot water storage tank will have been filled with mostly soft water, that will have provided a buffer so the loss of soft water from the softener may not have been obvious.

    The recommended capacity and salt settings are always based on all of the resin's capacity being regenerated and available initially. When the resin contains the maximum capacity (96K grains), using 78K of that will allow the remaining 18K grains to support a reasonable flow rate without extreme hardness leakage directly before each regeneration. When all of the consumed capacity is regenerated each cycle using the correct salt amount, the total capacity will be repeatedly 'topped-up' so there should be no concern with running short of soft water prior to regeneration.

    Now that the resin capacity has been exhausted, it will need to be immediately regenerated using 60 lbs salt to restore all 96K grains capacity prior to regular ongoing use. Any resin that is not regenerated will not be assisting to remove hardness so increased hardness leakage through the resin will occur, just as you are now experiencing. Because your system is setup to use 30 lbs salt per regeneration, it would be simple to perform 2 manual regenerations back-to-back while waiting approx 90 minutes for salt to dissolve between the 1st & 2nd cycle.

    In post #11 above, the correct Capacity setting was already calculated as 361 gallons. The additional reserve allowance was anticipated to be 120 gallons which is not to be included within the gallons capacity to be programmed on the capacity wheel.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020 at 7:17 AM
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