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Thread: How is softener capacity programmed or calculated with lower salt usage?

  1. #1
    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    Default How is softener capacity programmed or calculated with lower salt usage?

    I have a basic water softener control valve question. Maybe someone can clarify this for me.

    I have new water softener with a Clack control valve on a 30,000 grain tank. The valve is programmed with a 30,000 grain capacity and a 30 gpg water hardness which displays a 1000 gallon capacity after a regeneration. As I understand, 15 pounds of salt will restore 30,000 grains or 1000 gallons of capacity. But the salt use setting is programmed with 7 pounds per regeneration which is supposed to restore only about 22,000 grains of capacity. It seems that the valve is letting the resin tank remove more grains of hardness than it will restore in the next regeneration. Doesn't this mean that hardness will build up in the resin tank over time?

    Shouldn't the valve take this salt setting into consideration when calculating the restored capacity after a regeneration and display that there is only a 733 (=22,000/30) gallon capacity? If not, why?

    Should the softener capacity be explicitly programmed to equal the capacity restored by the salt used per regeneration? If not, how is this dealt with?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    The program works off what the user or service tech programs in, ie 22k 30k etc.... then the proper salt setting needs to be added in to get that capacity.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    So the salt dose and the corresponding capacity are set independently and the user should make sure they are consistent. The control valve just assumes the salt dose specified restores the capacity specified. Is that correct?

    Is there any reason or circumstance that the capacity would programmed to 30,000 for a tank with 1 cubic foot of resin when specifying less than 15 lbs of salt?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    The digital control is a computer, trash in trash out.. or at least that is that my teacher back in 81' said.

    The digital control works on numbers programed in, and I would say that yours was programed wrong, why I have no idea.

    I know that when I am programing a unit , I go through and put the numbers in and then go back through to make sure that I have the right numbers in the right spots, and then check again.

    Check and then double check again ... I am human and have been known to opps, so I check and check again to make sure that it is correct, but not all do the double or triple checks.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    Can you describe how you set salt dose, capacity, and water hardness or point me to information on how to figure the values to be set? I can't find much detailed information.

    I assume you start with how many grains of hardness need to be removed every day on the average (possibly adjusted upwards) and then set the salt dose for a reasonable interval between regenerations. The salt dose determines the restored grain capacity per regeneration to be programmed and then setting the water hardness determines the gallon capacity allowing water to be metered for the next regeneration.

    I assume some values need to be somewhat conservative to ensure hardness does not accumulate over time in the resin. Should the restored grain capacity for the salt dose be set a little more conservative than the tables show or are they already conservative enough? It seems the water hardness is typically set higher than the actual water hardness from other people I have talked to. What determines how the water hardness should be set?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Comp hardness on my books is
    iron x 4
    Mn x 4
    Hardness in grains.
    Iron + Mn + grains = comp hardness

    That comp hardness in to the programing at the step it is called for.
    I use 6lbs of salt getting 20k for capacity on 1 cubic foot and 12lbs for 32k is the standard max per cubic.

    1 gallon of water will do just under 3lbs of salt.

    Depending on the flow to the brine tank or salt tank as to how many minutes will give the water needed for the salt needed.
    If the control is .5gpm then 4 minutes will do 2 gallons and 6 lbs of salt.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    I thought it was 15 lbs of salt for 30K (or 32K), but OK. It seems the numbers aren't exact. So, for the numbers you gave, I would set the grain capacity to 20K if using 6 lbs and 32K if using 12 lbs. Correct?

    Once again I have been told that the water hardness should be set higher than the actual calculated hardness (about 20 in my case), by at least 5 higher by one person and 10 higher by someone else. Are there any reasons or situations for doing this? Is there any or ever a need to be conservative with any of the settings?
    Last edited by teve; 08-28-2011 at 02:19 PM.

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Where are you getting your hardness from?
    City water?
    Well water with a lab test?

    Some wells like to change in different parts of the year, around here the item that will go up or down is more likely to be iron.
    But if the hardness test is at 20 , I might use 21.
    Then there is the safety factor if your control has that as a step.
    If you have 3 people in the house and on average the usage is 175 gallons per day, you will try and take that into account so that there is treated water all day.
    If the capacity of the unit is 1000 gallons and you use 175 gallons then you will have the meter set for 825gallons.
    The digital is a little different to set, it may be a % or a number that you can use.
    What digital control are you using?

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    The city says the hardness is 18. Testing at Sears and Home Depot I think was about the same, I don't remember exactly. I have a Clack valve. Reserve is calculated from recent water use. Settings are hardness capacity, water hardness, (and water capacity calculated from that), salt pounds, day override, etc. I have heard that different wells can vary but the city person I talked to did not know much about it.

    By the way, what is the recommended maximum time between regenerations? I have seen different numbers on that as well.

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    I would go with 20 grains, just to be safe.

    If there is no iron in the water and you have good usage ,,,, you might be able to run with say a 14 day over ride.. but I my self would not try more.. after awhile you should be able to see on average the number of days that it takes to use the gallons that get set by the computer in the control.

    To soon and you waste capacity that you could have used and to late you get water getting by the media that is untreated.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    The day override only takes effect if it's been so many days and there hasn't yet been a regeneration due to capacity running out due to lower water usage. So the water should always be soft with any number of days in effect for the day override.

    My question concerns the resin, while still being good for treating the water, sitting there for a long time without regeneration. How many days can the resin go without regeneration while still having capacity remaining?
    Last edited by teve; 08-28-2011 at 08:42 PM.

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Iron and hardness work on the resin differently...
    Iron is harder on the resin than hardness..
    Are you trying to go thirty days before a regen? as I don't think that would work to well...
    If normal number of days and gallons work out to be 8 days then set the over ride to 9days.

    Engine oil needs to be changed every X miles or X months... or there is likely to be harm to the engine... resin is much like that... even if the system could go 20 days because of the low hardness and high capacity and low number of gallons per day.... it would not be good on the resin over the long term.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    I don't have to worry about iron or manganese. I haven't "tried" anything yet and I don't think any regenerations have been longer 15 days. I have done manual regenerations so as not to let it go too long. I have been informed of 14 days and 20 days should be the maximum day override.


    With a 30,000 grain tank and lower usage of 300 gallons a week (just me) @20 gpg (6000 grains per week) it seems I could use a salt dose of 3 lbs to 5 lbs to last about 2 to 3 weeks.


    By the way, is there a salt dose minimum that applies for a 30,000 grain tank?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    How much resin and what size of tank for the resin?

    Like the oil in the engine, if you would like to push it to 20k between changes,,, that is up to you.

    if you have a 1 cubic foot unit use 6 lbs and a capacity of 20k and 9 days over ride.

    If you would like to shorten the life of the resin that is up to you, doing what you are trying to do will most likely shorten its life and might also do some thing on the warranty of the rest of the unit that you bought.

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    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    I have not "tried" to do anything and do not intend to try anything until consulting with my installer and will almost certainly take his advice but I do appreciate your advice. I don't want to do anything that would prematurely degrade my water softener.

    Having had a new softener recently installed I am just curious about learning how they should be set up and why? My questions are more "what if ..." rather than "Is it OK to do or try this?" I find that I am getting somewhat different answers from people I have talked to. I want to learn more details about water softeners but also might want my settings adjusted.

    I do appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you.

    The tank has one cubic foot of resin, 30,000 grains (although I also see models saying 32,000 with one cubic foot, why is that? Different resins?). It is about 40 inches high and 9.5 or 10 inches wide but I am not sure how the exact size is specified.

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