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Thread: Please help with water softener sizing

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member ribs1's Avatar
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    Default Please help with water softener sizing

    Hello Everyone,
    My current water softener is just about shot. I need to order a new one pretty soon.
    Looking for advice on sizing. These are my test results from the county health department
    All results are ppm
    Chloride 26
    Flouride .37
    Hardness as CaCO3 370 (21.6 gpg)
    Iron 1.8
    Sodium 9
    Sulfate 76
    Manganese <.05
    PH 7.6
    Bacteria, nitrates, nitrites etc. are all 0

    We have 2 adults and 2 kids. We have 3 bathrooms. No big water hogs like hot tub etc.
    I have attempted to test my flow rate. Using the method described on budget water.com I came up with 13.55gpm.
    Using the bucket method I filled a 5 gallon bucket in 34 seconds. This was done at a hose bib in my softener room just after the pressure tank. This method results in about 9gpm

    I am comfortable with diy but have no plumbing experience. I am planning to order a softener online and assemble it myself. I plan to hire a local plumber or handyman to install the softener.

    Also considering an iron filter like filox, catalos etc.
    Any opinions on the best place to order?
    Thanks
    Last edited by ribs1; 02-12-2012 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    48,000 grains should be about right. Go with a metered demand unit if your budget will allow. Either Clack or Fleck
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  3. #3
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I would recommend a 2 Cubic foot softener and pre-filtration, Filox/Pyrolox would be ideal but the backwash rates of Pyrolox are difficult.

    Some in here may recommend a 1.5 Cu. Ft. softener, this would be fine as well. The slightly larger 2.0 cu. ft. unit will increase efficiency slightly.

    Your general water test looks decent, nothing really stands out.

    Iron removal may be done with a birm system. I am not a big fan of birm, but I do have several customers that sell a lot of them successfully. As long as the oxygen levels in the water are adequate, the birm works fairly well. Pyrolox almost always works, and the media lasts a long time as long as it is backwashed regularly. It is just difficult to backwash due to its 25 GPM per Sq. Ft. requirements. Several of my customers backwas it at 15 GPM per Sq. Ft with success, but I recommend higher.


    If you decide to remove the iron with the softener, then I would highly recommend the 2 Cu.ft. Again, the 1.5 will work, it is just a question of salt and water efficiency.

    Iron removal with a softener can be done, but... it should be avoided. If you are dealing with an extremely tight budget, then a softener will work for iron removal. Otherwise, a proper iron removal system would be a better solution.

    Hope this helps.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    48,000 grains should be about right. Go with a metered demand unit if your budget will allow. Either Clack or Fleck
    Sorry Tom, I saw your reply after I replied. No offense meant on the 1.5 Cu. Ft. system. It will work perfectly, the 2 Cu. Ft. would just be slighly more efficient. But... the difference would be like bragging that my car get 45 MPG insted of 43 MPG.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member ribs1's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice so far fellas.
    Budget is not really a concern. I plan to live in this house forever so I would like to get the best possible system for long term success. Obviously I don't want to waste money, otherwise I would just call the local culligan or kinetico guy. I don't mind spending the money for the ideal size softener and a filox iron filter if necessary especially if it will save money long term on salt, maintenance etc.

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Pre-treatment, a Pyrolox/Filox system, 9x48 tank is slightly undersized but due to your available water supply it will be the largest I would recommend. You mentioned testing the water from a hose bib, this should not be done due to the small port size on most hose bibs. You can replace the hose bib with a ball valve/hose bib that is full port and get a much more accurate reading. If you can get 13 GPM then a better choice would be the 10x54 Pyrolox/filox system with a Fleck 7000SXT valve. Follow that with a 12x52 Softener with the Fleck 7000 SXT controler and you will have a great unit that should last many years.

    As a side note, Pyrolox/Filox systems take a lot of water to start up. Do not be surprised if the water comes out "dirty" for a long time during the backwashing cycle. I would recommend putting the unit into backwash and let it run for a couple hours to clean the maganese Dioxide media. The Pyrolox/Filox filter media is dirtier than dirt.

    I have some contacts that will sell direct, pm me if you want more info. I do not sell but I know a lot of good distributors of this equipment.

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Ribs, I would not suggest an iron filter for only 1.8 ppm of clear water iron. A correctly sized softener will have no problem removing it and all that is needed is to clean the resin and valve internals once every 4-6 weeks with a 1/4 cup of Iron Out dissolved in 1-2 gallons of water and poured into the water in the salt tank and either catching it the night it is supposed to regenerate or do a manual regeneration the night you think it will regenerate.

    You will save the price of the filter and any maintenance plus a lot of water, reducing pump wear and water use and keep drain water flow to a minimum. Plus floor space.

    Using the info at the link in my signature, you would need to add only 8 gpg (2*4) to your already 22 gpg of hardness and program for the best salt dose to get a regeneration on average of every 7 days with a 24hr reserve of 8K. That should be a 2.5 cuft softener.
    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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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I agree that a correctly sized and serviced softener will indeed remove 1.8 ppm of iron but, the key here is properly serviced and my vast experience as someone that has sold, installed and serviced softeners for 35 years or so tells me that a lot of things happen and folks stop doing the maintenance. Things like, sell the house and not tell the new owners. Or the husband dies and the wife has no clue and often does not want to either. So many years ago I stopped treating iron with a softener. I will admit that I am a cover my ass kind of guy (and with lawyers these days you need to be) and as I've said in the past when the unit goes tits up and the customer is pissed off, you can stand there and argue with him till you're blue in the face but I guarantee you that in his mind you are the jerk that sold him equipment that was not designed for his conditions and you can believe that he's going to tell the whole damn neighborhood what a schmuck you are. Not worth the argument and really not worth the bad press.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I agree. Softeners can be used for iron removal but the efficiency losses, the potential problems, the chemical cleaning, etc... Iron filteration units are simple, cheap, and effective. Even birm under the right condition works extremely well. I have several customers using Filter Ag+ for iron removal, the media is cheap, it doesnt take a lot of water to backwash, and the regeneration frequency is not that critical. Not only that, but the water can be reused for irrigation in some municpalities. Filox is an amazing media, but for most cases, it is totally overkill. It is one of those medias that works perfectly almost every time it is used, but is it really necessary? I prefer selling Pyrolox mainly because I am not a pro on every water supply in every community across the US, and it eliminates the potential for complaints.

    If you are on an serious budget, then a softener may be ok for iron removal, in your application, you will use approximately 20-30% more salt, and the chemicals used to keep the resin clean will also become part of the environment. Iron removal treatment, excluding Pot Perm greensand systems add nothing to the environment except for some additional water use. But... we even have systems that use no additional water for Iron removal by utilizing a twin tank/single valve configuration. The water softening regeneration water is used to clean the iron removal media so the additional water use problem is solved. You can always buy a birm filter cartridge for about $15 dollars and do a quick pilot test to see if it as a proper media for your application.

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    DIY Junior Member ribs1's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice fellas,
    I have a few more questions.
    1. Can I run a line that comes off between the iron filter and softener? The reason I ask is that I would like to run a hose bib outside for filling an inflatable pool for my kids. No reason to use soft water for this, but getting the iron out would be good.
    2. Also I would like to have hard water for filling aquarium tanks but again no iron. I plan to raise African Cichlids. These fish do really well in hard water but the iron will stain tanks, gravel ets.
    Thanks

  11. #11
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Your idea of using the soft water for specific applications and not for others is excellent. It will save you some salt and waste water. Just tee a line between the two units and you will be fine.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member ribs1's Avatar
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    Wondering what size Filox filter I would need should I choose to go this route. Also, with only 2ppm iron, how often would I have to backwash the iron filter?

  13. #13
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Technically, filox is supposed to be backwashed daily. Now a reality check, every third or fourth day will be fine. Birm can be backwashed even less often. Micro-Z/Filter ag+/turbidex/ weekly is fine for most residential applications. If water waste is a concern, the water can be used for irrigation if your local code allows this. Be sure to check for any problems with this if you care about your lawn or whatever you are reusing the water on. This waste water will have slightly elevated turbidity and iron. Not usually bad for your lawn. I have a condutivity monitor on my drain line of my entire water system and this diverts all lower tds waste (non salty) to the lawn. Not acceptable by my local code but....

    10x54 filox if you can handle the high backwas rate.
    Last edited by ditttohead; 02-14-2012 at 08:58 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member ribs1's Avatar
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    Hi Fellas,
    Sorry to bring back this old thread. Still haven't bought the new softener. Wife decided we needed new windows first.
    Anyway, I am wondering if I can get a few more questions answered.
    1. To Gary, You recommended a 2.5 cuft softener. When I plug the numbers into the chart on your website, I come up with 3.0cuft. I am using your chart incorrectly?
    2. Also to Gary, I know you don't like the 7000sxt valve so what valve would you recommend? The 5600 seems to have a max of 2cuft of resin. I am planning to buy this softener online probably from Ohio pure water and as everyone knows Clack is not an option.
    3. Should I be using sst-60 resin? I don't mind paying the extra 200 bucks or so if it will be more efficient and or remove the iron better.
    I have decided against adding an iron filter as my iron is only 1.8ppm. The cost of a filox iron filter is almost $1000 and that buys a lot of salt. I don't want the extra water use, well pump wear or extra water discharging into my septic system.

    If anyone else has anything to add please feel free and thanks to everyone for all your advice so far.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member F6Hawk's Avatar
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    I love my 7000SXT thus far, but have only had it a couple of months. Only time will tell, but I got it based on the recommendations of several here that sell & install them with great success.

    Using your numbers in the first post, I would calculate 31gpg total hardness including iron. Assuming 4 people use approx 60GPPPD, with a 2.0 cu ft:

    5 day regen using 8 lbs of salt (16 per regen), to remove 44,640/48K grains (with reserve), about 1168 lbs per year, at about $124
    4 day regen using 6 lbs of salt (12 lbs per regen), to remove 37,200/40K grains, using about 1095 lbs of salt (think pounds not poured into the environment), and spend about $116.34.

    Step up to a 3.0 cu ft softener, and you get:

    10 day regens using 10 lbs of salt (30 per regen), to remove 81,840/81K grains, 1095 lbs of salt per year, at a cost of about $116.34 (this assumes you never go over your reserve, otherwise you will have hard water bleed thru)

    8 day regens using 8 lbs of salt (24 per regen), to remove 66,960/72K grains, 1095 lbs of salt per year, costing about $116.34
    7 day regens using 6 lbs of salt (18 lbs per regen), to remove 59,520/60K grains, 939 lbs per year, at $99.72
    5 day regens using 4 lbs of salt (12 per regen) to remove 44,640/48K grains, 876 lbs per year, $93.08

    (Of course, a 2.5 would fall somewhere in between these two, just compare initial purchase costs and annual savings to figure out what works for you)
    Hope this gives you some parameters to assist in your choice of system.

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