Pentair w/ 5600 Econominder - Settings for Very Hard Water

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BillyBobjcv

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I have a 5600 EM and I'm having some trouble understanding what to use for the correct settings. My city water report has two lines that seem to apply "Hardness" in ppm and "Total Dissolved Solids" in ppm. I sort of understand the difference, but which is the more appropriate line to use for the water softener settings? I'm guessing it is "Hardness", since the "TDS" would probably include things in the water that could not be removed by ion exchange - is that correct?

My city water report shows the "Hardness" and "TDS" for several different sources of water (River, Ground Water, Lake), and the values are considerably different for the 3 sources. Each source is shown with an average and a range. Should I just average the "averages" of all the sources? I'm guessing that the city could be using any combination of the 3 sources depending on the time of year, water levels, etc. Or, should I average the high end of the ranges? Or use the highest number? (I suppose that would use the most water which would not be good).

If I average the averages, then for "Hardness" I get 457 ppm = 26.7 gpg and "TDS" is 841 ppm = 49.2 gpg.
If I average the high range, then for "Hardness" I get 523 ppm = 30.6 gpg and "TDS" is 961 ppm = 56.2 gpg.
The absolute high (ground water) for "Hardness" is 835 ppm = 48.8 gpg and "TDS" is 1533 ppm = 89.6 gpg (Yikes!!!)

Thanks in advance!!
 

Bannerman

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The numbers stated by the city are mostly worthless as they will be measured at each water source, but you are likely located somewhere in between and so will be probably receiving a mixture from all 3 sources.

Obtain a Hach 5B Total Hardness test kit to test the hardness level at your specific location. That test will be a snapshot at that specific time. As there is typically some hardness variance due to time-of-day water use within the city as well as distribution system maintenance, it is recommended to anticipate and allow for some variance by adding 2-3 grains per gallon to the test result obtained at your location. With your own test kit, you can retest each season to ensure your softener settings remain appropriate for that season.

You didn't state the total capacity of your softener, nor did you indicate the number of people in your home. That information and hardness level in gpg are utilized when programming the softener.

Although an Econominder controller utilizes a meter to measure the quantity of water flowing through the softener, unlike the digital controller models (ie 5600 SXT), most settings for an Econominder must be manually calculated and programmed as gallons to be softened each regeneration cycle.
 
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BillyBobjcv

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Thank you! There are 2 of us in the house. Printed on the dial it says "32K CAP." Does that sound right? It is a weird story how we ended up with a 5600 EM instead of the SXT - let's just say that this wasn't my idea, but now I'm stuck with it. Part of that story is also why I need to set this up now even though it was originally installed by a contractor.

Here's a pic of the control. Does this mean it is only a 32K unit?
 
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Bannerman

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Does this mean it is only a 32K unit?
Not necessarily.

If you don't know the system capacity in grains (ie: 24K, 32K, 48K, 64K) or the amount of resin contained (ie: 0.75 cuft, 1 cuft, 1.5 cuft, 2 cuft), what size is the resin tank? (diameter and height)
 
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Reach4

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Should I just average the "averages" of all the sources? I'm guessing that the city could be using any combination of the 3 sources depending on the time of year, water levels, etc. Or, should I average the high end of the ranges? Or use the highest number? (I suppose that would use the most water which would not be good).
Easy way is the highest. Get a Hach 5B kit to measure yourself. It will also be useful to check for residual hardness from your softener.

If your tank is 9" x 48", it would typically have 1.00 cu. ft. of resin. Marketers call this "32,000 grains", although you will use a different number for salt efficiency.
A 1048 10" x 54" tank holds 1.50 cu. ft. of resin typically. That is a common size. It can do 32K for real. 10x47 is not as common. Maybe that would be loaded with 1.25 cuft of resin. .


Have you read the Economizer service manual, and do you think you know how to set the dials?
 
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Bannerman

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Clack is the tank manufacturer and you are correct that 1047 signifies the tank size is 10" diameter X 47" tall.

Tanks are never filled completely as there needs to be some empty space at the top (Freeboard) to allow the resin to expand, lift and reclassify during the backwash portion of the regeneration cycle. For a 1.5 cuft (48K grains total) softener, the usual tank size is 10" X 54" so your 47" tall tank likely contains either 1.25 cuft of resin, or 1.5 cuft without a gravel underbed. Gravel is always recommended but if the softener was obtained online, many online dealers omit the gravel as it saves them some cost for shipping, with further marginal savings realized when using a smaller tank. Many online dealers goal is to be $1 cheaper than their competition.
 
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Bannerman

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As 1 cuft resin typically has 32K grains total capacity when manufactured, so 1.25 cuft would then have 40K. This amount of capacity would require a large and inefficient quantity of salt to regenerate on an ongoing basis.

The usual recommended capacity and salt settings for salt efficiency for a 1 cuft softener are 6 lbs salt to regenerate 20K usable grains capacity (3,333 grains per lb salt efficiency) or, 8 lbs to regenerate 24K usable grains (3K/lb efficiency). For a 1.25 cuft unit, this equates to 7.5 lbs salt to regen 25K grains or, 10 lbs to regen 30K.

In the 5600/5600 Econominder Service Manual (link below), page 9 section 2 indicates two methods to program capacity. Suggest setting time-of-day as detailed in the first method, then program usable gallons capacity as specified in the second method.

For example, using 30 gpg hardness (27 tested + 3 for variance), 30K usable capacity and 60 gals/person/day water consumption:
30,000 / 30 gpg = 1,000 gallons - 120 gallons reserve = 880 usable gallons capacity to be set on the gallons capacity program wheel. Your photo shows the capacity setting currently as 2,100 gallons.

The salt setting is adjusted on the brine cam, located behind the rear cover of the controller.

The above is an example so you will need to program the gallons capacity based on the hardness as tested at your location, and your usual daily water consumption.

The usual method to size a softener is to obtain a unit large enough to satisfy the household's requirements while needing to regenerate no more than 1X per week while using a salt efficient setting. As you can see, in using 30K capacity and 30 gpg, a 1.25 cuft unit will barely satisfy your current requirements. If you didn't already own that softener, then at a minimum, 1.5 cuft would normally be recommended, but if your hardness and/or water consumption is actually higher, an even larger softener would be appropriate.

https://www.purewaterproducts.com/img/docs/manuals/5600servicemanualpdf.pdf


 
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BillyBobjcv

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Thank you! The really sad part is that the contractor (that was doing a bunch of small repair/maintenance on our newly purchased home) that installed this unit had good intentions - but he jumped the gun and purchased the unit from a wholesaler before giving me a chance to confirm the model and size. My wife gave him the go ahead while I was out of town. I came back, and the unit was already installed. While I was gone, I was doing research and had decided that I wanted a unit with a digital control head and around 45-48K capacity. The contractor is a family friend, and he honestly though he was doing us a favor. I'm too nice a guy to get mad at him for buying the wrong unit, and I also don't want to eat the cost to replace this unit. So, I guess I'll make do with what we have for a while. That setting of 2100 gallons was how he had it set. I suspect that he didn't ever actually change the settings, that's probably what it was out of the box.

The salt setting on the back cam is currently at 18 - which based on 3K/lb seems too high, right? I'm now thinking I should change that to around 8-10. Does that setting change if you use KCl vs NaCl?

I have a Hach 5B on its way.

Thank you very, very much for all the great info!
 
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Reach4

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The salt setting on the back cam is currently at 18 - which based on 3K/lb seems too high, right? I'm now thinking I should change that to around 8-10
I read the Economizer programming before, but have forgotten it. I think I remember that the capacity you dial in does not include the reserve, as it would with a digital controller.
Does that setting change if you use KCl vs NaCl?
You need to use more KCl vs NaCL for a given amount of softening. That compensation could be done by changing one setting or another.

Before deciding to use KCl, understand the temperature-change sensitivity. If you put your brine tank outdoors, temperatures can change a lot. You can get salt bridging. With a digital controller you could set the controller to do "brine fill first". The Economizer does not have that choice. With NaCl, the solubility with temperature is much less temperature-dependent. So you can fill at the end of a regen so it is ready when it regens a week or so later.

So for an outdoor brine tank, I suggest you decline your opportunity to spend 5x as much for your salt because of the KCl problem.
 

Bannerman

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I'm now thinking I should change that to around 8-10.
The appropriate amount of salt to regenerate 30K of capacity in 1.25 cuft of resin was prev stated as 10 lbs. The salt amount is directly relevant to the amount of capacity to be regenerated so 8 lbs would be insufficient.

I stated the configurations for 1 cuft as it should then be a simple matter for you to calculate the usable capacity and salt setting for any amount of resin.

KCI can be less efficient at regenerating capacity than NaCI so an additional amount is often necessary. KCI can also be more problematic for the reasons described in this article: https://view.publitas.com/impact-water-products/2018-catalog-final/page/53

The usable capacity settings recommended, are conditional on the total resin capacity being first regenerated. If you have been operating your softener with a 2,100-gallon capacity setting, depending on the actual hardness quantity, the resin's total capacity will likely have been exhausted each time before regeneration took place. As such, suggest adding water to the brine tank with a bucket to dissolve additional salt to regenerate all of the resin's capacity.

To regenerate all 40K (100% of 1.25 cuft), 22.5 lbs salt will be required. As the brine cam had been set for 18 lbs per regeneration cycle, there should now be 6 gallons water in the brine tank, so an additional 1.5 gallons could be added. Each 1 gallon will dissolve 3 lbs salt. Once the capacity restoration cycle has been performed, and the appropriate hardness and reserve settings have been implemented, the softener should then require little interaction from you, other than periodically topping-up the brine tank with salt.
 
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BillyBobjcv

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My system is inside my garage, and I live on the coast of California. Annual temperature swings from ~50 deg F to ~90 deg F, with the vast majority of the year being between 60 deg F and 80 deg F. Yeah I know, I'm really not trying to rub it in!
 

BillyBobjcv

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I just want to follow-up in case any other homeowner ever has this problem. I solved my issues with the Econominder - and it was the silliest of all possible things: The handyman/contractor that installed my softener failed to plug-in the little cable that runs from the control head to the flow meter! It was plugged-in to the controller, but not the flow meter. So, usage was never triggering a regen!! No where in the instructions does it show a picture of that cable connected to the flow meter, and since I had never had a controller like this, I had no idea - and clearly neither did the guy that installed it. It's always the silliest things... :oops: Thank you everyone!!
 
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