Softener setup help for extremely hard water

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Benjdow

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Hello,

I'm hoping I can get some help from you smart folks on a water softener rehab project.

We're on well water and I finally got the water tested, it's about 40gpg higher than I thought. Our water hardness is 101gpg. Our water softener has been installed for 20 years, and we've been in the house for 7 years. I changed the valve, but haven't done anything else. I've bypassed it since resin is coming through plumbing.

I'm open to any recommendations (even if it's drastic change from what we have now) and could really use the help.

This is what I currently have:
3.0 ^ft resin tank (tank & resin 20 years old)
Fleck 5600sxt (4 years old)
.50 gpm 1.5lb salt/min
Injector 1
Drain flow 2.0 gpm
 

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WorthFlorida

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Fleck 5600sxt (4 years old)?

Our water softener has been installed for 20 years?



If it was my home, I would get an entire new softener. The old one is leaking resin.
 

Reach4

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14 x 65 tank? That should have a 5.0 GPM DLFC. A 2.0 would be for a 9 inch tank.
 

Reach4

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With such high hardness and 3 people, you could make good use of a two-tank system using maybe the Fleck 9100SXT. But you have what you have.

If you preserve water, you might get by with a smaller reserve than 180.

System info (not programmed)
salt lb/cuft = 8 ; A choice ( efficiency vs capacity)
BLFC = 0.5 ; Brine Refill rate GPM
cubic ft resin = 3 ; ft3 resin = (nominal grains)/32,000
Compensated hardness = 161 ; including any compensation
People = 3 ; gallons affects reserve calc
Estimated gal/day = 180 ; 60 gal per person typical calc
Estimated days/regen = 2.48 ; Computed days including reserve

Fleck 5600SXT Settings:
DF = Gal ; Units
VT = dF1b ; Downflw/, Single Backwash, black cam
CT = Fd ; Meter Delayed regen trigger
NT = 1 ; Number of tanks
C = 72.0 ; capacity in 1000 grains
H = 161 ; Hardness-- compensate if needed
RS = rc ; rc says use gallons vs percent
RC = 180 ; Reserve capacity gallons
DO = 30 ; Day Override (28 if no iron)
RT = 2:00 ; Regen time (default 2 AM)
BW = 5 ; Backwash (minutes)
Bd = 90 ; Brine draw minutes with #1 injector
RR = 5 ; Rapid Rinse minutes
BF = 16 ; Brine fill minutes
FM = ____0.7 ; https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/img_fleck5600sxt_flow-png.31592/
 

Bannerman

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Extreme hardness reduction will often utilize 2 softeners plumbed in series.

The initial softening stage will remove the most significant quantity of hardness, but to achieve greater salt efficiency, a lower than usually recommended salt setting will be utilized, which will result in higher than desired hardness leakage through the resin bed. The 2nd softener will then further reduce hardness to the desired level.

A twin tank softener will offer 24/7 hardness reduction, and as no reserve allowance will be utilized, the entire amount of capacity that is regenerated each cycle, will be available for use, which will further increase efficiency for the initial stage of hardness reduction.

Although a 14" diameter softener tank is larger than recommended for a Fleck 5600 based system, if your existing softener is re-bedded, it could likely be utilized for the 2nd hardness reduction stage, but the lower basket and riser tube would first need to be replaced as failure of the lower basket is resulting in resin to enter your plumbing system. With the age of the resin and as some resin has been lost, recommend re-bedding with 3ft3 of new resin + 30 lbs bedding gravel.

In addition, as previously stated, your existing softener's 2.0 GPM drain rate is too low, which will require the simple replacement of the existing DLFC flow restrictor, with a 5.0 GPM restrictor to allow the appropriate drain flow rate needed during the Backwash and Rapid Rinse stages of regeneration.

As this type of softening exchanges hardness ions (mainly calcium and magnesium), replacing with sodium ions, your softened water will contain an excessive quantity of sodium. A reverse osmosis system should be utilized to provide water for drinking and cooking as R/O is extremely effective for removing sodium.
 
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Benjdow

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Reach4, Bannerman,

Thank you for the replies, very helpful! Both of you mention a two tank system. I'm not opposed to investing into a different setup. I was under the impression that a 2 tank system was solely to circumvent using hard water during regen, sounds like there's more to it?

What would you recommend? A 9100sxt? I'm unclear on sizing resin tank(s) . Before posting here I used an online calculator that said I need a 283k grain water softener. I don't mind getting different resin tank(s) since the one I have is tan and let's UV light in, which is an issue where it's at in garage. I'm somewhat concerned about the complexity of a two tank system, e.g., 2 separate valves/meters. I'm wondering how that works in parallel or series?

Bannerman, you mentioned water containing excess sodium. Is this the trade off regardless of anything? We do have RO, but would still like the non-RO water to taste less like the ocean
 

Bannerman

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Twin tank softeners, utilize two separate resin tanks, but only one control valve (ie: Fleck 9100) . Softening will be performed by one of the tanks at one time, but once that tank's programmed capacity has been depleted, the control valve will immediately switch over so the alternate tank will provide soft water, and the depleted tank will undergo regeneration. The newly regenerated tank will then be ready to deliver soft water once the alternate tank's capacity has been depleted.

Because each tank will alternate to provide soft water once the other tank's capacity becomes depleted, no Reserve Allowance will be required as the depleted tank can undergo regeneration immediately even as soft water continues to be supplied to the home. As the entire regenerated capacity of each tank will be fully usable, no reserve capacity will be wasted, which with your excessive hardness, can mean a substantial reduction in salt and less water utilized for regeneration compared to a single tank softener.

I mentioned using your single tank softener for the 2nd stage of hardness reduction. As it would be supplied water with most of the hardness removed by the 1st stage, the 2nd stage softener will require substantially fewer regenerations while providing high quality fully softened water.

you mentioned water containing excess sodium. Is this the trade off regardless of anything? We do have RO, but would still like the non-RO water to taste less like the ocean
Regardless of single tank or twin tank, a water softener utilizes a process of ion exchange. Hardness ions that are removed to soften the water, are replaced with a proportional quantity of sodium ions.

See short article at this link: How much sodium is in softened water?
 

Reach4

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With a single tank softener, at 2 am each night the controller figures out if there is enough remaining capacity (reserve) to make it until 2 AM the next day. If not enough remains, then the softener regenerates.

Suppose a nearly worst case scenario that you only get 1.9 days of softening for each regen. In that case, you would regen every day, leaving 0.9 days of softening on the table. So you are only using 53% of the resin, or you are using up to 48% more salt.

With a 2-tank system, the softener would use 1.9 days of capacity, and then switch to the second tank. The first tank gets regenerated and is ready to go when needed.

I was estimating you get around 2.48 days of capacity. The wasted salt is not nearly as bad. Not terrible.

You would like the softener to go for 7 or more days before needing regenerating.
For high hardness compensation info, see https://terrylove.com/forums/index....0-sxt-programming-settings.60651/#post-450189

Also http://media.wattswater.com/F-WQ-EngineeringGuide.pdf page 11 of 40

In my calculations, instead of using the table directly, I interpolated... actually I curve fit.
 

bingow

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@Benjdow, DIYer here with similar situation. Following advice from this forum, we changed from an undersized cabinet style softener to a twin (two 2-CuFt tanks) system for well water hardness that is currently at 100 gpg. No longer needing the reserve, the softened water is much more consistent, and salt use has dropped at least 20% compared to the old system. Regen is every 3rd or 4th day. You might consider ordering the Hach 5B hardness test kit to track hardness. Our hardness sometimes decreases, but the trend is harder.
 
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ditttohead

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Strange and not well known. Variable brining is an excellent alternative to twin alternating for high hardness applications. This is not as good as twin alternating in extremely high use applications, but for residential applications it tends to be much better that twin alternating systems due to its lower cost and simplicity.
 

Benjdow

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Fellas, again thank you for the advice and help.

So would this be an appropriate solution?
1st stage
Fleck 9100sxt
Twin 2^ft resin tank?

2nd stage
Use my existing fleck 5800 sxt and 3^ft tank?

Dumb question, but would I need a 2nd brine tank? (I do have another brine tank I'm not using)
 

Benjdow

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@Benjdow, DIYer here with similar situation. Following advice from this forum, we changed from an undersized cabinet style softener to a twin (two 2-CuFt tanks) system for well water hardness that is currently at 100 gpg. No longer needing the reserve, the softened water is much more consistent, and salt use has dropped at least 20% compared to the old system. Regen is every 3rd or 4th day. You might consider ordering the Hach 5B hardness test kit to track hardness. Our hardness sometimes decreases, but the trend is harder.
This gives me peace of mind, thank you. I had to DIY repipe my entire 2400sq ft house due to slab leaks in copper pipe, which I assume was caused by hard water.

Do you happen to know what your hardness level is with your current softener setup?
 

bingow

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...Do you happen to know what your hardness level is with your current softener setup?
Raw well water hardness, checked one month ago, was 100gpg. Our current system, with salt dosage of 16#, tames that down to 1-5gpg until the last few gallons nearing regen, then it will spike. Sometimes we hurry the next regen to avoid a hard water shower; it depends. With the twin system, the regen can happen any time of the day, and having the system tucked away in the nearby laundry makes it easy to "game." Note: when we first built 23 years ago, water was tested at 38gpg. After 12 years, it was 62gpg (two different commercial labs). For the past two years, it has been in the 70-100 range, Hach 5B. Pump is 140' deep, 8gpm.
 

Bannerman

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which I assume was caused by hard water.
Your leaks are more likely to be a result of the copper pipes being in direct contact with the concrete slab. Concrete is initially corrosive while curing and copper pipes will expand and contract due to temperature change, so without a plastic or similar sleeve around the pipe to isolate it from the concrete, the copper will be expanding and contracting in direct contact with the concrete slab which can result in wear on the exterior of the pipe.

Water Hardness will often cause limescale buildup within the pipe's interior walls, which in some manner can protect the pipe from potential corrosion since the scale will prevent the pipe interior from having further contact with water. Unfortunately, once scale begins to form, it can continue to accumulate until eventually, it is so thick that it prevents water from flowing through the pipe.
pipe-1.jpg



would I need a 2nd brine tank?
Two brine tanks would be needed as each softening stage would utilize a specific quantity of salt brine that is governed by the amount of capacity to be regenerated for each unit.

As Ditttohead mentioned, a single tank softener with an ability for variable brining, might be a preferred alternative to a twin tank softener for your 1st stage application.
 
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Bannerman

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salt dosage of 16#, tames that down to 1-5gpg until the last few gallons nearing regen, then it will spike.
While the 2ft3 of resin within each of your twin tanks, has 64,000 grains total hardness removal capacity, 16 lbs salt per cycle will regenerate 48,000 grains of usable capacity.

Since you are experiencing a hardness spike just prior to when regeneration is to occur, suggest performing 2 regenerations back to back, the 2nd directly following the first for each tank (4 regenerations total) so as to restore some additional capacity beyond the 48K grains you are regularly using from each tank.

Perhaps there was temporarily insufficient salt within the brine tank for a few regen cycles, so the 16,000 grains additional capacity (64,000 - 48,000) was depleted beyond the 48K being regenerated. Without sufficient additional resin capacity beyond 48K, hardness leakage will be increased during regular use, and with almost no capacity remaining directly before regeneration, there will be insufficient contact time with resin containing any remaining capacity so as to remove hardness while there is even a modest rate of water flow through the resin bed.
 
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bingow

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Thank you Bannerman; I'll give it a try, maybe Thursday next week when wife will be gone most of the day.

My idea of a "spike" is when, say, at 30 gallons (softened) remaining and just beginning to show increased hardness, by the time it starts the next regen, it will test close to full hardness. This I checked by drawing samples at 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 gallons remaining, which I do about twice a year.
 
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bingow

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(From post#16)....Since you are experiencing a hardness spike just prior to when regeneration is to occur, suggest performing 2 regenerations back to back, the 2nd directly following the first for each tank (4 regenerations total) so as to restore some additional capacity beyond the 48K grains you are regularly using from each tank...
I did the two regens (4 total) you suggested, but first I rechecked well water hardness, which had been a high of 100 gpg a month earlier (previous to that, the hardness had increased from low 60's in 2021, to 80's in late 2022). This time it was 115, checked twice. For the next 15 days, checked several times, the well hardness varied from 95 to 115 (Hach 5B, mixed 4-to-1 distilled). Using a hardness compensation factor of 1.4 (I can't bring myself to 1.5 just yet), that is a swing of 28 for the softener's hardness setting. That could explain the unexpected "spiking" or hardness leakage, since I did not reprogram the softener...yet. With all my messing around, I can't verify the back-to-back regens made a difference.

I suspect drought. By the end of August for the past 4 years, we had received 12", 19", 17", and 16" (2022). This year, only 5½" at end of August. The mower gathered a lot of dust.
 
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