Softener, What's wrong with my numbers?

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HudsonDIY

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I moved into my home in March of this year. The house came with a water softener with an old school fleck 5600 meter. The softener was out of service for an unknown amount of time. After moving in I took to task cleaning up the old softener and getting it back in service.

The softener has a 32,000 grain capacity.
Our municipal water supply has a hardness of 15 grains. (by their own admission, I have not tested it)

I'm using the following calculation to set the meter.

32,000 grains x .75 = 24,000 divide by 15 grains hardness = 1,600 gallons - 150 ( 2 people ) = 1,450 setting.

The brine cam was originally set at 9 but I've moved it to 12lbs.

Right after the softener regenerates I have water that is very soft, there doesn't seem to be any problem there. But 1450 just isn't cutting it, I run out well before the next regen. Is there a flaw in my calculations. Are my wife and I water hogs? I just don't get it.

I should mention this is the third house I've owned with a fleck, I've never had this kind of problem and I'm familiar with the normal operation. In our past houses we were going through about one 40# bag of salt per month. I filled the brine tank with salt in April and I doubt I've gone through much more than two bags since. Obviously something isn't right.

The only difference in my newest scenario is we have a pool which I have to fill frequently due to evaporation. However the outside faucet used to fill the pool is on the supply line coming into the house before the softener, there should be no affect on the softener.

I'd really appreciate some advice from the experts, I'm perplexed.
 

Reach4

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Resin degrades faster when it is handling water treated with chlorine or chloromine. You probably should replace the resin. I have heard 10 years of use with chlorinated water might be a life expectation, but that would vary.

Clean the injector and injector screen if you did not do so already.

Another way to look at it is that if your water softness has degraded by the time you have used 800 gallons, set your Fleck Econominder gallons to 800-120=680. I am not a pro.
 
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Bannerman

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While 9 lbs salt should normally be more salt than needed to restore 24K grains capacity, those settings are based on all of the resin capacity being restored and available initially. As the softener capacity has been exhausted and then regenerated with too little salt, not all of the resin capacity will have been restored.

Because 1 ft3 of resin will require 20 lbs salt to restore 32,000 grains capacity, suggest performing 2 back-to-back manual regeneration cycles using your current 12 lb setting. Wait approx 1 hour after the 1st cycle before initiating the 2nd cycle, to allow enough time for salt to dissolve for the 2nd cycle. After the second cycle, you will then be able to better assess if the capacity will be adequate to provide ~1450 gallons (+ 150 gallons reserve) per regeneration cycle.

After the 2nd cycle is performed, the salt setting could then be lowered to 8 or 9 lbs.

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

Edit: Because municipalities will often obtain water from multiple sources which may each have different hardness amounts, the 15 gpg they told you, may be an average from all sources. Suggest obtaining a Hach 5B Total Hardness test kit to test hardness at your specific location. Since a test is only a snapshot at that specific time, calculate the softener capacity using 2-3 gpg higher than the test result, to anticipate occasions when hardness may be higher than tested.
 
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ditttohead

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Excellent advice above!

Get a real test kit, Hach 5B... do your own test. Water hardness can change considerably.

Also be sure to check the BLFC button... it is a common mistake for people to have a mismatched sticker set. Remove the brine line from the unit and put the system into refill.
If you salt sticker is 3-15 (or 18 on older units) then the refill rate should be 1/4 GPM.
If you salt sticker is 6-30 (36 on older units) (or 18 on older units) then the refill rate should be 1/2 GPM.
The valve should have a blue or black sticker indicating this but this does not mean that somebody could not have put in the wrong button.

Make sure these match.

Remove the valve from the tank and check your resin level. I frequently see resin levels far lower than they should be in softeners. As the resin degrades and breaks down it is easily expelled from the tank out the top during backwash. Your tank should be about 2/3's full of resin.
 

Bannerman

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Worth, while iron-out or citric acid treatment will not hurt, iron is not usally a concern with municipal sourced water as it will typically contain sufficient chlorine or chloramine with extended contact time to oxidize ferrous (clear water) iron to convert it to ferric iron (rust). The ferric iron will settle-out or be easily removed with a sediment filter and so will not accumulate on the softener's resin.
 
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HudsonDIY

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Excellent advice above!

Get a real test kit, Hach 5B... do your own test. Water hardness can change considerably.

Also be sure to check the BLFC button... it is a common mistake for people to have a mismatched sticker set. Remove the brine line from the unit and put the system into refill.
If you salt sticker is 3-15 (or 18 on older units) then the refill rate should be 1/4 GPM.
If you salt sticker is 6-30 (36 on older units) (or 18 on older units) then the refill rate should be 1/2 GPM.
The valve should have a blue or black sticker indicating this but this does not mean that somebody could not have put in the wrong button.

Make sure these match.

Remove the valve from the tank and check your resin level. I frequently see resin levels far lower than they should be in softeners. As the resin degrades and breaks down it is easily expelled from the tank out the top during backwash. Your tank should be about 2/3's full of resin.

I've attached picture of both the salt sticker and for reference the meter itself. As you can see the salt sticker goes from 6-36. Its going to take some time to get the button out to check it for size and I didn't have that time last night. The entire unit will need to be disconnected in order to remove the meter from resin tank. Again, time I won't likely have until some time next week.

From everyone's posts I am assuming the main question in my post has been answered in that there is nothing wrong with my numbers but something else is going on.

Until I can get the unit torn down to inspect the resin, would some resin cleaner have a positive affect or would that be a waste of time and money? As Bannerman said, iron content is negligible. Even if the resin has past its lifetime wouldn't the softener use the same amount of salt regardless. Doesn't the salt go in regardless if the resin picks it up? Like I said before, it just doesn't seem to be picking up the salt. I'm thinking Dittohead is on to something with the button. I'll get that out tonight. If it were plugged or improperly sized it stands to my reasoning that the softener wouldn't be picking up the proper amount of salt.

Thanks for everyone's replies.

dial.jpg salt.jpg
 
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Bannerman

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A simple method to check the BLFC flow rate without removing the BLFC button is as Ditttohead specified, disconnect the brine line, then advance the controller to brine fill and measure the resulting fill volume in 60 seconds. With the 6-36 label, the volume should be 0.5 gallons. If the brine line is disconnected at the top of the brine tank (as opposed to at the control valve), the flow can be easily directed into a jug or pail.

As your resin tank appears to be beige with no outer jacket, you maybe able to view the resin height through the translucent tank walls by placing a bright light behind the tank. Darkening the room may make seeing the resin height easier.
 
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Bannerman

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Hudson, your calculations are correct but suggest basing capacity on slightly higher hardness for the reasons stated in post #3.

If you wish to use a resin cleaner (Iron Out, Super Iron Out, Rescare or citric acid), add it to the brine tank during the initial manual regeneration detailed above. The second manual regeneration will ensure any remaining acid is flushed away in addition to restoring additional resin capacity.

Liquids added to the brine tank should be poured down the inside of the brine well (plastic tube containing the safety float and valve) whereas powders should first be dissolved in 1-2 gallons warm water before they are added.

Resin does not loose capacity over time, but fractured, worn and lightweight granules will be flushed to drain during each backwash so the volume of resin can reduce over time, thereby lowering the softener's overall capacity. For this reason, although 1 ft3 of resin will typically have 32,000 grains softening capacity when manufactured, most knowledgeable installers will consider the capacity as 30,000 grains in anticipation of losses over the lifespan of the resin. Ditttohead's earlier question regarding resin height, is to ensure there is adequate resin remaining as resin may be lost for other reasons than normal attrition.

In water containing iron, iron can accumulate on the resin, imparing the resin's ability to remove hardness and additional iron. When removing iron with a softener, the regeneration frequency will usually need to be more frequent, and the amount of salt will often need to be greater. Adding an acid to the brine tank or using salt with an additive will further assist the salt to remove iron from the resin during each regeneration cycle.

Constant chlorine exposure will cause the resin's crosslinking to fail more rapidly, typically resulting in the resin becoming swollen and mushy. When this occurs, the flow rate through the softener will be noticeably reduced, often suddenly.

Regular, good quality resin will have 8% crosslinking, but there is plenty of lower quality resin with 7% or lower CL. When the water contains chlorine/chloramine, then 10% CL is recommended as it can better tolerate chlorine to extend the resin's lifespan somewhat.
 
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HudsonDIY

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Thanks Bannerman, that all makes perfect sense. Let me throw a couple things out there to make it clear.

I'm in Pasco county Florida, we get our water directly from the Floridan aquifer. Its incredibly clear clean water from a deep source. We in fact provide water to most of west central Florida and the "Natural Spring" Zephyrhills water you buy in stores comes from the very same source. The only caveat to that is the water is filtered though limestone so it is somewhat hard due to the limestone content. Iron is mostly non-existent.

As I said before the softener was offline when I moved in. I should qualify what I mean by "offline". The softener was unplugged however the bypass was still set to run through the softener. So you have potentially years (I really don't know how long) of hard water running through the resin without a regen.

I'm going to try the flashlight deal and brine fill tricks when I get home tonight and I'll report back my findings. I still think the salt intake is key. It seems to me even if the resin were not absorbing the salt it would still be used up and flushed out with the backwash. Especially now that I have it set even higher.
 

Bannerman

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Once the resin's capacity has been exhausted, running more water through it cannot deplete capacity further.

Once exhausted, then a full restorative regeneration using 20 lbs salt per ft3 of resin will be needed to restore the resin's total capacity, even as you will only be using 3/4 of the total capacity on a regular basis. Since you had already programmed the salt setting for 12 lbs, I then suggested 2 back-to-back manual regeneration cycles before resetting the salt to the 8 lbs needed to regenerate 24,000 grains in 1 ft3 of resin.

It seems you are saying the water is obtained from one source so the hardness level should remain consistent. That could be so or, the hardness amount may vary throughout the day depending on the demand on the system. The hardness needs to be determined at your location and it remains advisable to calculate hardness as slightly higher than the test result to anticipate occasions when hardness may be somewhat higher.

Verify the brine fill rate. If a 0.25 gpm BLFC button is actually installed, the softener would be attempting to regenerate 24,000 grains capacity with only 6 lbs salt even as you have the brine fill cam set to 12 lbs.
 
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HudsonDIY

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So I used Bannerman's flashlight method (well played Bannerman) to see how much resin was in the tank and it appears to be over 3/4 full. 29 inches of it's 36 inch height.
20191119_172213.jpg
 

HudsonDIY

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So I've figured this out after filling my pool again and noticing the water softener down to zero. I never really paid much attention to the plumbing coming into the house and assumed the guy who did the plumbing for the softener knew what he was doing. I should have noticed this long ago. Instead of putting the outdoor faucet on the supply from utility side they put the faucet on the into house after the softener side so water coming through this faucet is soft water from the softener. Who does that?? The solution is simply putting the softener in bypass when I fill the pool and eventually re-plumbing the outdoor faucet correctly.

What a duh moment!

Thanks for everyone's input.

20191121_184929.jpg
 

Reach4

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Many people want to put soft water into a pool. However watering plants with soft water is something to be avoided.
 

HudsonDIY

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Many people want to put soft water into a pool. However watering plants with soft water is something to be avoided.

Well I have read that the soft water can actually eat the finish off the pool since it is lacking calcium and the calcium from the pool will leach into the water and it can generally make keeping the water in balance for a pool difficult. I've never really experienced any problems keeping the water right but I'd just as soon not be paying for an expensive refinish soon.

The irrigation system is off the main line before the softener for sure, although we do some spot hand watering from time to time from that faucet.

I've lived in three houses with softeners and its common in Florida to have the main plumbed like in my picture but normally the outdoor faucet is off the utility main before the softener. This is just a very odd set up.

I really feel like a dolt for not noticing that.
 

Reach4

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I now understand that hardness in a pool is often desirable in a pool, even to the extent of adding hardness. Hardness for a pool on the order of about 6 to 18 grains is good according to what I read..
 

HudsonDIY

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I now understand that hardness in a pool is often desirable in a pool, even to the extent of adding hardness. Hardness for a pool on the order of about 6 to 18 grains is good according to what I read..

The county has posted on their website a water hardness ranging from 12-15 grains. So it's completely acceptable for the pool. Until I owned a pool I had no idea the massive amount of evaporation lost on a weekly basis (Luxuries are expensive even after they are paid for). I fill on average a minimum of once per week with the few exceptions when we get a particularly rainy week. By my calculations I'm dumping a minimum of 600 gallons at a shot so it's no shock that I was killing every bit of soft water reserve.
 
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