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Thread: Water softener selection help

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member chris1044's Avatar
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    Default Water softener selection help

    First post from a home owner newbie....I've helped plenty of friends with home projects/builds, so I'm not totally green. I was a mechanic in my former life, now an engineer, and know that there's the right way/wrong way to do things....I want to do it right, which is why I'm posting.

    Recently purchased a home that had a kinetico softener in it. It was foreclosed, and the previous tenant took it with them. That said, I need a softener before I start replacing appliances and actually living there because the water is so hard/irony.

    I've had Culligan and a local (Wolverine) company out to check the water and throw their pitches, and the Kinetico guy is coming out Tuesday for the same. The problem with them is that they want 3k+ for softeners (Culligan man said 2300, but I don't want to get stuck with Culligan proprietary equipment that they bend me over on when it breaks). Based off the two visits, this is what I have for water specs:

    Culligan man: Hardness of 25 gpg, iron of 2 ppm, iron bacteria (smell), no sulfur, no arsenic/ammonia, fairly high dissolved solids at roughly 300 (don't know the units on this).

    Wolverine: Hardness of 37 gpg, Iron of 2 ppm, Iron bacteria, no sulfur, no arsenic/ammonia, 412 for dissolved solids.

    I'll have a third sample to average against after Tuesday, but the bottom line is that it's very hard water and it's got some iron in it. We had the water tested for arsenic/nitrates/etc before we bought, so it's at least safe to drink (but not until softened IMO).

    I've done plenty of research, and from what I've gathered the Fleck 5600 and Clack WS1 seem to be good softeners. The home has CPVC plumbing through out, and I need to verify what size it is (though I believe 3/4"...it may be 1"). As of right now it is myself and the better half, but we'll have children eventually, so I want to size for the future right now. That in mind, I'm thinking I need at least a 42k grain softener.

    But, the reason I posted is because I'm not an expert. Any input here would be great...my budget isn't really limited, I just want to do it myself and not pay for the overhead/sales, and learn how it works as I'll be fixing it when it breaks down the road. I'm hoping to stay around 1500 though...

    Thanks in advance,
    Chris

  2. #2
    In the Trades Wally Hays's Avatar
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    Either the Fleck or the Clack are very good choices. Both are rugged and dependable and easy to service. The WS-1 is a bit easier to service and is a more efficient unit but only slightly. If there was already a softener there then the piping should be pretty close to all set up. Should only take you a couple hrs to install it.
    Perception is 3/4 of reality

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    I am concerned about the iron bacteria--it is not generally detected by smell but by the presence of slime in the toilet tanks. If you do in fact have iron bacteria you need to deal with it first because it will foul and render a softener inoperative if not killed before the softener.

    In selecting a softener valve you should consider your maximum rate of water use--the Fleck 5600 is a 3/4" valve while the Clack WS1 is a 1" valve. If your main water line is larger than 3/4" I would recommend the Clack or a 1" or larger Fleck valve. The Fleck 7000 would be my recommendation if you are buying an electronic control valve and the Fleck 2510 for an electromechanical valve.

    You will be able to buy either a Clack or Fleck unit, complete and delivered, for well under $1000 from online dealers.
    Of course you would be responsible for selection, installation, programming, and maintenance.
    Last edited by Bob999; 04-25-2010 at 04:20 PM. Reason: Add information

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    DIY Junior Member chris1044's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Bob999;256250]I am concerned about the iron bacteria--it is not generally detected by smell but by the presence of slime in the toilet tanks. If you do in fact have iron bacteria you need to deal with it first because it will foul and render a softener inoperative if not killed before the softener.

    QUOTE]

    The culligan man said iron bacteria as opposed to sulfur, but the wolverine man said it was sulfur; I'll be sure to have a third opinion pitched to me tomorrow. That said, I feel as though the Culligan man may have "minipulated" my water sample test to yield numbers that matched a system within my budget - I made the mistake of telling him how much I wanted to spend before he started, and ironically the price came in roughly 100 under that.

    However, in regards to iron bacteria - our toilet tanks are not slimey at all. They are, however, very rusty. This makes me think it's sulfur and not iron bacteria that's causing our smell.


    Any help on sizing? Are my numbers vastly off?

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    The rust in the tank is consistent with iron in the water. If the water runs clear but turns orange after sitting that is consistent with what is called clear water iron and a softener will remove the quantities you have. A softener will not remove H2S--hydrogen sulfide with is typically detected by the smell of rotten eggs.

    There is is significant discrepency in your hardness figures but if I use the higher figure (37 grains) plus compensation for 2 ppm of clear water iron I get a compensated hardness of 45. With 2 people and typical usage of 60 gpd per person that is 5400 grains per day to remove. With the iron content I recommend a regeneration every 4 days that would mean you need c. 22,000 grains capacity plus a reserve. You will need to regularly use a cleaner such as Iron Out or Resup with your iron content to keep the resin clean.

    Softeners are sized by the volume of resin and are available with 1 ft3 (often referred to as 32,000 grains), 1.25 ft3 (often referred to as 40,000 grains) 1.5 ft3 (often referred to 48,000 grains), etc.

    Given all the circumstances I would be inclined toward a 1.5 cubic foot unit for your situation so long as your peak water use is 10 gpm or less.

  6. #6
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The cuft of resin dictates the constant SFR (service flow rating) of the softener, and that has to be higher than the peak demand gpm the softener has to treat.

    The cuft volume of resin dictates the size of the resin tank and the size of the tank dictates the control valve that can be used to serviced that size tank. The 5600 can be used on up to a 12" diameter tank, a 2.0 cuft softener and 10" tank for a filter, a 1.5 cuft filter. The Clack WS-1 can be used on up to a 21" diameter tank for both a softener or filter, a 7.5 cuft.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    Default Sources and prices

    Here are 3 web sites that sell both a variety of softeners and have very good prices. I have no connection with any of these sites and am providing the addresses for your information.

    http://www.ohiopurewaterco.com/shop/customer/home.php

    http://www.qualitywaterforless.com/

    http://www.discountwatersofteners.com/default.asp

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob999 View Post
    Here are 3 web sites that sell both a variety of softeners and have very good prices. I have no connection with any of these sites and am providing the addresses for your information.

    http://www.ohiopurewaterco.com/shop/customer/home.php

    http://www.qualitywaterforless.com/

    http://www.discountwatersofteners.com/default.asp
    Bob, none of those sites sell the CS version.

    One site of the three doesn't sell anything with a Clack WS-1 on it.

    All three use a chart for sizing that is useless and causes the customer to use the max salt dose lbs for the cuft volume of resin and the K of capacity they suggest. That gives their customers very poor salt efficiency.

    IIRC only one of the two selling the Clack WS-1 EE tells their customer how to get into the dealer's side of the programming where 98% of all the programming is done. That means the customer uses the default settigs which do not match the K of capacity on their sizing chart.

    One of the two selling the Clack WS-1 EE has higher prices than my price for the same size but they do not include everything that I do.

    The other one that sells the Clack WS-1 EE has a lower price for the same size but again, they too do not inlude everything that I do.

    If you were trying to help the OP you've failed IMO.

    Here is a link to one of those sites' sizing chart. IIRC all three use the same chart; I know that the two selling the Clack WS-1 EE do.

    http://www.discountwatersofteners.co...les.asp?ID=127
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    I also believe twin resin tank softeners use less salt when properly set up.

    All other things equal the reason twin softeners use less salt is that no reserve (which on average leads to unused capacity) is nessary to account for the time between reaching programmed capacity and the time of regeneration .

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob999 View Post
    I also believe twin resin tank softeners use less salt when properly set up.

    All other things equal the reason twin softeners use less salt is that no reserve (which on average leads to unused capacity) is nessary to account for the time between reaching programmed capacity and the time of regeneration .
    Yet all twin tank softeners use salt to create the capacity they use to soften the water that is used during regeneration of the other tank with softened water.

    So if each resin tank of the two different type softenrs have the same volume of the same type of resin in them, and both softerners have the same number of lbs of salt being used to regenrate with, don't both softeners have the same salt efficiency?
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    I share your thinking that up flow regeneration is more efficient, or at least has the potential to be more efficient, than down flow regeneration. The reason is that the brine moves directly into the resin rather than having to move down through the 18" or so of water at the top of the tank --with resulting dilution of the brine--that happens with down flow regeneration.

    That said down flow regeneration is the most widely used approach in the US and most internet Sellers of softeners don't even list up flow regenerating softeners on their sales pages. I am a firm believer of staying in the mainstream with equipment so while I think up flow regeneration has some technical advantages I don't recommend.

  12. #12
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob999 View Post
    I share your thinking that up flow regeneration is more efficient, or at least has the potential to be more efficient, than down flow regeneration. The reason is that the brine moves directly into the resin rather than having to move down through the 18" or so of water at the top of the tank --with resulting dilution of the brine--that happens with down flow regeneration.

    That said down flow regeneration is the most widely used approach in the US and most internet Sellers of softeners don't even list up flow regenerating softeners on their sales pages. I am a firm believer of staying in the mainstream with equipment so while I think up flow regeneration has some technical advantages I don't recommend.
    Dilution is caused by the slow rinse water flow that creates the vacuum needed to suck/lift heavy brine water into the resin bed and it is diluted more because of the water in the tank. Which is the same as down flow and the water above the resin.

    UPflow brining's benefit is to more fully regenerate the resin in the bottom of the column of resin (bottom of the tank) which the water goes through last on it's way to being used, it is done that way to limit/control leakage of hardness for certain manufacturing requirements, not to save salt/increaqse salt efficiency.

    If UPflow is said to be good, you could likewise say, which no one does, that downflow brining treats the water at the top of the column of resin and prevents used capacity in the lower part of the cloumn of resin.

    And potential doesn't count, you get what you get.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  13. #13
    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Up Flow regeneration will work when the resin bed stays Packed.. even with the up flow brine action will unpack the resin bed and let brine get past resin with out full recharging taking place.

    Even if there is what is called an upper basket in the softener that is not enough to keep the resin bed from unpacking while in brine rinse mode.

    The Water Boss and Water Max are the only ones that I know of that have in the tank a screen on top and bottom of the resin to hold it in place while the brine/rinse is going on , thus keeping the resin bed packed.

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