# Water Softener Settings & Salt/Brine Grid Question.

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by John5, Nov 27, 2012.

1. ### John5New Member

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Nov 27, 2012
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Hi,

I got tired of washing dishes by hand or hiding them in the oven so I finally broke down and installed a softener...

I have "temporary" hard water, total hardness 224mg/l (13.44 grains) iron is negligible (0.039mg/l).

Using Gary Slusser's Softener Sizing Chart and Cubic Foot and Capacity Calculator and based on a 75 gal/day usage I obtained a suggested softener capacity of 8157.6 grains with .5 cu/ft media and a 10 day regen. I did not consider .5 cu/ft adequate for my SFR or future household needs, I live alone at the present time but to get suitable Service Flow Rate and to allow for another person or family later on I opted for a 1 cu/ft softener. It is my understanding that the minimum practical or recommended salt dosage is 3lbs cu/ft, again playing about with Gary's Cubic Foot and Capacity Calculator I came to the conclusion that 12,800 grains is sort of the minimum practical capacity of 1 cubic foot of media with a 3lbs salt dose.

My softener is:

- Fleck 7000 SXT with 1 cu/ft resin
- .12 gpm (.37lb/min) BLFC

and my settings are:

VT: dF2b
CT: Fd
C: 13,000
H: 13 (my hardness is 13.44 should I round up to 14... or is 13 good enough?)
RS: SF
SF: 10
DO: 8
RT: 3:30

Cycle times are (minutes):

B1: 10
BD: 60
B2: 0
RR: 10
BF: 9

After a regen the softener indicates that I have 948 gallons available.

My questions:

1- Do my above calculations, assumptions and settings look correct? Any comments?

2- My Fleck manual says that the second backwash (B2) is not normally used and to set it to 0 unless instructed otherwise by a qualified technician. Yet, in some other documentation on the internet it is suggested that a second backwash of 5 minutes or so be set to avoid the risk of resin channelization. Should I set a second backwash? Comments?

3- I have a salt/brine grid installed. the type with 4 coffee cup sized legs with about 1/4" holes in the bottom of the cups. After the brine draw there is about 2-1/2" of brine remaining in the bottom of the tank, that is at the valve check mark. (The softener empties the tank at about 1/2 to 3/4 ways into the BD cycle and then sucks air for the remainder of the cycle). The 9 minute brine fill adds about 2 inches of water to my 12" x 12" tank for a total of about 4.5" of water after the fill, the grid level is at 5 inches, so, except for the salt in the cups, the salt is above the water. Do those 4 coffee cup legs with the 1/4" holes at the bottom really work and allow for the proper creation of fully saturated brine? Will those 1/4" holes in the bottom of the legs eventually plug up?

John

Last edited: Nov 27, 2012

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4. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
Location:
Ontario California
The brine grid does not hinder the brine solution nor does it help. Water will disolve salt and max out at approximately 3 pounds of salt per gallon, this varies slightly depending on water temperature, but it is not critical to adjust for this unless you are planning on using potassium chloride.

The brine draw cycle should not "suck air", if it does, you have a bad aircheck. Probably just a misunderstanding, but in the bottom of the brine tank is a floating aircheck, when the water runs low, the air check will seat causing the system to suck nothing for the remiander of the BD cycle. It will simply "slow rinse".

As to the second backwash, if you are using the 3 pounds per cu. ft. brining, I would recommend the second backwash. Salt settings above 6 pounds, it is not needed. The second backwash is not used to prevent channelling, the first backwash does that. It is used to mix the highly regenerated top portion of the resin with the less regenerated bottom portion of the resin. This is an old trick used for ultra low salting systems to give higher quality soft water. It is only 10 gallons, I would recommend it. If you dont, the system will still work very well. The difference is typically less than a few ppm difference. If you want to save water, then split the backwashes, 5 minute first backwash, 5 minute second backwash.

Always round up the hardness, and it is normal to add a couple of grains for a buffer, to accomoadate for regular variations in the water supply.

Sounds like you got yourself a great setup, congrats and enjoy!

5. ### John5New Member

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Nov 27, 2012
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Thank-you, Tom.

Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
6. ### John5New Member

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Nov 27, 2012
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Thank you, Dittohead. I will bump up the hardness settings and set a second 5 minute backwash. The 7000SXT valve is noisy, I'm not sure if it is actually sucking air but I'll double check to make sure that it isn't.

John

7. ### lifespeedMember

Joined:
Apr 27, 2007
Location:
California
I would change DO to 21 days at least. An 8 day override will have you regenerating with capacity still left.

8. ### Gary SlusserThat's all folks!

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Wherever I park the motorhome.
No more than the reserve if he has it programmed correctly.

And he needs a reserve as all regular softeners do, or, if a twin tank, an amount of capacity to be able to use softened water to regenerate the other tank with.

9. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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Ontario California
Thanks LifeSpeed for the catch on the DO. As long as water is being used intermittently, the DO at 21 or 30 will be fine. The reserve is programmed in the SF, 10% of the systems capacity is set as the reserve.

The SF setting specifies what percentage of the system capacity will be a reserve. Since this value is a percentage, any change to the system capacity or feedwater hardness that changes the units calculated capacity will result in a corresponding change to the reserve volume.​

10. ### John5New Member

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That is contrary to what is being said almost everywhere on the internet and in almost all softener documentation, most say to not allow more than 10 to 14 days between regens for better resin life and performance.

11. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

Joined:
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Occupation:
Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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Please link to the manufacturer of resin that states the resin should be regenerated every 10-14 day. I work directly with every major resin manufacturer they all agree that for residential applications, run times of 30 days is not an issue unless there is considerable fouling potential (Iron, Manganese primarily). The DO is important primarily for systems that do not receive any water flow for extended periods of time. (vacation homes) Non electronic systems, (5600, 9100, 9000, Kinetico's, etc) all can go for months without regenerating if the water flow is low, and these systems do just fine. Even my own house only regenerates monthly for the past 10+ years, no problems yet. Every major portable exchange tank company tries to size the equipment for monthly routing to save on fuel and labor costs. We had tens of thousands of tanks in the field regenerating no more than monthly, with no issues for decades.

Honestly, there is no need to be concerned with regeneration frequencies, unless they go beyond 30 days, then you might consider a different design.

A good example of where this becomes a common issue is a large house, a few people, and a large main line with low hardness, 5 grains. The SFR and pipe size by code may require a 2.5 or 3 cu. ft. system. The water usage may only be 120 gallons per day, and the system has a capacity of 50,000 grains.

120 gallons x 5 grains = 600 grains per day / system capacity of 50,000 = 83 days between regenerations. This is not an uncommon issue to run into. You could regenerate at minimum salting, dropping the capacity to 35000 grains, but this still puts you at 58 days.

In this situaton, the 30 day over-ride will come into play. If the homeowner left it with no DO, the system would still be just fine.

12. ### John5New Member

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I'm not an expert, that is why I came here asking for advice, and I much appreciate you guys taking time to freely share your knowledge! There is a lot of conflicting (or outright wrong) information out there so the less knowledgeable ones (like me) can often be led down the wrong path. Many seemingly reputable sites say something along these lines:

"For the majority of homes, our 30,000 grain unit (1 cubic foot of resin) is more than enough capacity. Ideally, a water softener should be sized so that it does not regenerate more often than 5-7 days, nor goes longer than 14 days before regenerating.(this can cause compacting of resin, and fouling with sediment or iron)." http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/faq-water-softeners.htm#3

Newbies like me see this repeated in many places so we are led to believe that it is best to regenerate at least every 14 days! Thanks for clearing this up, as far as I'm concerned if it doesn't harm anything then fewer regens is better, less salt used and less water wasted!

13. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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Ontario California
Correct, and the website you referenced ... I know them very well. The information is, umm... just read the information below from their website for their whole house carbon and TAC system.

Unlimited ultra-pure, quality filtered drinking water – superior to bottled water
Best tasting water for cooking and making delicious coffee, tea and ice
Safe and healthy drinking water – up to 99% contaminant FREE
Chlorine, chloramine & odor free water at every faucet & outlet in your home
Chemical removal for healthier skin, hair and lungs after every bath or shower
Reduced hard water spots & issues for easier household cleaning
Scale reduction in pipes and all water appliances for improved performance, efficiency and longevity.

Ultrapure??? Better than bottled??? With a carbon filter? 99% contaminant free??? Amazing! Many online retailers are more into marketing than anything else.

You came to the right place for getting advice from people who are actually trained, licensed, and qualified to do so. Well, at least several of us here are.

14. ### Gary SlusserThat's all folks!

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Althuogh I haven't looled it up lately, most resin manufactures say weekly regeneration for residential use of their resins. Your comparing exchange tank softening with a softener is not good because the exchange company didn't expect or get 15-20 years out of their resin as homeowners and small business people do.

Also, you talk as if everyone reading your suggestions of 30 days and more between regenerations is on city water in California. They aren't and many DIYers have their own wells.

Rather than you asking for us that say weekly or so to prove it, you should prove your claim that the resin manufacturers say 30 days or longer is fine.

15. ### ByteMeSemi-Pure awesomeness!

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Nov 11, 2012
Location:
Scio Ohio
OK folks. When I get him I have some manufacturer documentation that I believe says maximum of a 14 day regen. Very valid question, even ohiopurewater recommends 14 days.

Will post when I get back home.

16. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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I am looking for documentation from the resin manufacturers. Purolite, Sybron, etc, Ohio Pure Water is a great group, but it is also nothing more than an internet company that has other companies drop ship product for them.

If the documentation exists, great, but regardless, GE, Culligan, Rayne, Puronics, Seimens, and virtually all other companies that do portable exchange, which is nothing more than regenerating the resin off site, all try to run 30 day routes. That being said, there are also many protocols for regeneration plants, including water reuse, brine reclamation, etc, so it is not a true apple to apples comparison.

My real question is, assuming a decent iron free water supply, what is going to happen if the resin does not regenerate every 14 days or more? And using my earlier example, what is the proper way around the massive salt waste that would occur if you forced a system to regenerate every 14 days if it only needs to regenerate every 30?

With over 25 years of commercial, industrial, and residential experience, dealing with water and systems from all over the world, I will give you the simple answer. Nothing. It is fine to regenerate less frequently than every 14 days. The original 14 day idea is an old idea, written many years ago that has been cut and pasted for decades into companies literature. I have some great old literature that goes over the proper method of installing a softener, basically mandating that toilets must be bypassed. That old idea was finally abandoned a little over 20 years ago, although it still pops up from time to time. Most internet websites simply copy other websites literature, change a few words and voila, they are a "knowledgable" water treatment company. Sort of the same way some people try to take credit for the sodium in water to white bread analogy, or a can of baked beans. I heard those my first day of training, and to this day, people use those examples like it were their own.

I have searched for a long tim e for the resin manufacturers to make any recommendations on regeneration frequency. It does exist on certain other medias, KDF, Pyrolox, Filox, Birm, etc, but resin, and most other medias do not. They have pages of information on regeneration capacities, flow rates, pressure curves, temperature ratings, pH ranges, freeboards, expansion rates, regenerant capacities based on regenerant, etc.

All that being said, I think what is missing in this conversation is some guidelines. If you have water with turbidity issues, regenration frequency will be more important. Iron in the water... salt quantity and regeneration frequency are important, no water flow at all, (vacation home), regenerations should be done to prevent the stagnent water issues. For my vacation home, I have it set to regenerate every 14 days, but I change the salt setting to almost nothing unless it is occupied. A good clean water supply, why would frequent regeneration be necessary? What would happen if you went past 14 days?

This idea is similar to the flow controls on RO debate. The old idea of a 4 or 5 to 1 ratio is still practiced, even though membranes now cost 1/5 of what they used too. Is the extra water waste worth trying to eek out another 6 months from a membrane? Your membrane will last 4 years instead of 4-1/2. If you have a softener, is it really necessary to have that bad of a ratio. Sorry, going off into a different area but I think the ideas from this industry that are still hanging in there from 25 years ago need to be addressed.

25 years ago, meters were a "neat but expensive" item, and were rarely used, and the salt settings were 10-15 pounds per cu. ft. Now we are pushing 3-8 pounds of salt per cu. ft., and very few companies would even consider not using a meter, and in many states, it is not even legal to install a residential timeclock softener. Reputable distributors wont even sell single tank large commercial systems if they know that is improperly designed and highly wasteful in order to save a few dollars up front.

The most recent article from Purolite written over a decade ago I have read that discussed resin regeneration frequency went both ways on the idea. Frequent regeneration leads to shorter resin life due to osmotic shock, lowering salt amounts and not allowing the resin to become completely depleted could protect the resin from the damaging affects of this problem, later in the same article it recommends increasing the regeneration frequency if fouling is a problem, iron, sediment etc.
The article never did set what the frequency should be.

Sounds reasonable to me

17. ### ByteMeSemi-Pure awesomeness!

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Location:
Scio Ohio
Sounds to me like I read that same document.

The concerns I remember seeing where one of two main themes; bacterial growth (I read somewhere that softeners outside where more prone to this) and resin fouling (mostly iron). I don't know the truth of either of these.

*edit* I think the 5600SXT defaulted to a 14 day DO.

Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
18. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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Both have validity and both are easily remedied. It has become much more common in the past 10 years to regularly sanitize resin with a small amount of bleach in the brine tank annually. Chlorine damage is cumulative, annual sanitizing has very little affect on resin, considering the 40,000 - 100,000 gallons of water the average softener sees in a year. A well system that is not chlorinated should definetly be sanitized annually, or softeners on chlorinated supplies that are pre-treated with GAC to remove the chlorine.

Iron... this always starts some weird debate on this site, and it gets tiring going through the same old and tired arguments. Several on this site agree that softeners can treat iron, but with the modern medias available, and simplified equipment, and the innefficiencies of using the softener as an iron filter, alternative treatment methods of removing iron should be considered. A softener that is used for iron removal has to use a compensated hardness, basically an 85:1 ratio, this is not efficient, but it definetly works. Manganese has a 425:1 efficiency ratio when done on a ppm basis. Both of these common water problems are easily treated with some additional costs up front, and some additional equipment. Water softeners that are used for iron removal should be regenerated often, and with higher salt doses as you read in the article. Other methods include chemical drip systems (acidifying the brine solution with phosphoric acid), and regular chemical cleaning of the resin with acids.

It looks like you understand the common sense part of it. Now to throw another idea your way. Channelling is not an issue in most properly designed resin based systems for a simple reason, the media is round. Irregular medias like GAC, filox, filter-ag, calcite, mag-ox etc should be backwashed more regularly due to the shape of the media. That is why many resin based systems that are single use do not have a backwash valve and they are downflow. Irregular shaped medias tend to be upflow if they are not going to have a valve due to media compaction, and the potential for channelling. Consider the rack of balls at wal-mart, once they settle, they can settle no more, and the can never block water flow. Unless the balls pop (the crosslink structure of the resin fails and the medias fracture) The main requirement for this design is that sedimnet be removed prior to the resin. DI tanks, Arsenic removal resin, post RO polishing softener tanks, etc all designed for single use, and are designed to last for several years do not require backwashing.

Great questions!

19. ### John5New Member

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Nov 27, 2012
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I was also not 100% sure or confident about the low 3lb cu/ft salt dose, the old ways says 6lb minimum, some of the newer information says 4 or 3 lbs minimum. I'm worried that this low 3# dosage for 13K might cause media depletion and I also set the 8 day override with this media depletion concern in the back of my mind. I figured the meter at 13K would be maximum before a regen and that with my use that at 8 days the media would regenerate at about 8K use, before depletion could become a concern. Am I just fussing and worrying for no good reason? Or is a 3# dose good enough for my usage? Sometimes I'm just too fussy and I end up spending too much time on minutia...

20. ### Tom SawyerIn the Trades

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Location:
Maine
But Dittohead, why would anyone believe what you say? After all you only have been in the industry for 20 years or so. Maybe if you bought yourself a motorizd trailer and settled into a Wal-Mart parking lot you'd be a little more credible BTW, I frequently program for 30 days and even more when applicable and have NEVER had a problem doing so. Then again, I've only been at this for almost 40 years and sold my motorhome a decade ago. Too much noise in the parking lot LOL

Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
21. ### ditttoheadWater systems designer, R&D

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Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
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Ontario California
LOL, 25+ years, Certified Water Specialist Level 6, Certified Installer, C-55 contractors license, Steam boiler operator, etc..., I am just a noob.

As to the 30 days... We have portable exchange tank systems that are on a 6 month route, never been a problem in a quarter century yet.

My own system is regenrated with 6 pounds of salt for many reasons. The main issue is my wifes hair. She is black, and her hair is unmanageable with any hardness in the water. I have tried the 3-4 pounds settings, she complains and goes to the beauty salon to get her hair done at \$75 a trip. One extra bag of salt a year is lot cheaper than 12 Beauty salon trips a year.

Here is a great article on softness of the water. http://www.wcponline.com/pdf/1203Michaud.pdf A softener regenerating with 3 pounds per cu. ft. will have some bleed, this is normal and well charted. A softener regenerated with 6-8 pounds will have much lower leakage, but you will give up some of the efficiency. 6-8 pounds is still very efficient. See the attached chart above for detailed hardness leakage / efficiencies. As you can see, you will near the 1/2 GPG mark at 3 pounds of salt, this does not take into consideration end of run (the day or two prior to regeneration where leakage will be much higher).

Last edited: Nov 29, 2012