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Thread: Water Softener, I'm learning but still a bit confused....

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Tlhfirelion's Avatar
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    Default Water Softener, I'm learning but still a bit confused....

    I had no idea softening water was so complex. I'm here because I'm trying to figure out if a non box store water softener uses less water when regenerating among other things. I won't go into the whole story as to why, but my small community is on one water treatment plant. The less water we send down the drain the better and we also want to reduce our water usage in general. As we've been replacing toilets, fixtures etc as we fix up our house, we go for the more efficient options always. I've heard that the box store water softener can use up to 50 gallons to regenerate and that could happen a couple times a week for our family of 4. That seems like quite a lot of water. Do the various softeners discussed on here use less? Is there an average number of gallons per regen? I read over sizing is an option but then does it become cost prohibitive?

    My last question is about sizing. I've seen it mentioned on here about sizing then system, but I must have missed the formula so if anyone has a link. For info, we are a family of 4, 1500 sq ft house, 1 shower. 1 shower/bath combo, 2 toilets, sinks in kitchen and both baths and we are on a small community well. I used a hard water test strip from lowes and said we are a 15.

    Sorry for the long post as my first, but wanted to paint a picture of our situation. Thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide.

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    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    The bigger the unit, the more water will be used the regenerate it, but it will have to regen less often than a smaller unit. You will use less water by getting an electronic unit vs a mechanical one. Clack and Fleck make very good electronic unit that you can program for a specific amount of discharge water. The average discharge per cubic foot of resin may be backwash 10 min @2.4 GPM, brine 60 min @ .33 GPM and final rinse 10 min @ 2.4 GPM. I did not mention refill because you will reuse that water.

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    DIY Junior Member Tlhfirelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mialynette2003 View Post
    The bigger the unit, the more water will be used the regenerate it, but it will have to regen less often than a smaller unit. You will use less water by getting an electronic unit vs a mechanical one. Clack and Fleck make very good electronic unit that you can program for a specific amount of discharge water. The average discharge per cubic foot of resin may be backwash 10 min @2.4 GPM, brine 60 min @ .33 GPM and final rinse 10 min @ 2.4 GPM. I did not mention refill because you will reuse that water.
    What model is it? Do you know how I calculate what size I need? Thank you for the reply.

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    If money were no object, would an RO system do the job and "waste" less water?

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    DIY Junior Member Tlhfirelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    If money were no object, would an RO system do the job and "waste" less water?
    RO system?

    Thank you for the reply.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Ro's waste more water than anything
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tlhfirelion View Post
    RO system?
    Reverse Osmosis - water to be treated is forced through a membrane to remove just about any impurities. In theory you would end up with pure water on one side of the membrane, and the impurities would go down the drain, much like when you sift sand through a screen, but apparently in practice you have to waste a lot of water to make that happen.

    Tom, any quantitative data on just how much water it takes to end up with one good gallon?

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tlhfirelion View Post
    What model is it? Do you know how I calculate what size I need? Thank you for the reply.
    I would need to know the water quality to answer. The water treatment plant should have or post the water test results. I need to know the hardness, iron amount and pH.

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    any quantitative data on just how much water it takes to end up with one good gallon?
    Typical household RO systems put 4 gallons down the drain for each gallon produced with 90-95% removal of dissolved solids.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Thank you Bob, I've been really busy lately.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    DIY Member silversaver's Avatar
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    1 out of 5 gallons of water.

    The question I have is... I thought a RO system is a must if you are running a salt base softener. Water softeners do add sodium to tap water.. especially for those with high bloos pressure. Am I getting the wrong info?

  12. #12
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    True, they do add salt, but I don't know how much (Bob? Tom?). The current NIH recommendation for those of us over 51 is no more than 1500mg per day. But recent research suggests a "disappointly weak" link between salt and high blood pressure, and there are even some who say salt is good for you. See http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/fo...d_Pressure.php for a biased summary of the current state of salt thought, or read the INTERSALT study. Nevertheless, if I were building a new home today I would run a separate water line from the carbon filter direct to the kitchen sink, bypassing the softener. Then I could have it either way until the health community makes up its mind. Or eat more bananas. Or both.

  13. #13
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    About a single slice of white bread. Thats how much sodium you get in your softened water. Not much, but if you have medical problems maybe too much in which case you have a couple options. number one, drink bottled water. Number two, put a point of use
    RO filter at a faucet and number three, PUR and a couple others make RO caraffes
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silversaver View Post
    1 out of 5 gallons of water.

    The question I have is... I thought a RO system is a must if you are running a salt base softener. Water softeners do add sodium to tap water.. especially for those with high bloos pressure. Am I getting the wrong info?
    Mikey's suggestion for a separate tap is my preferred solution if the water quality prior to the softener is adequate and the cost is typically no more than installing an RO unit at the point of use.

    But as Tom points out the amount of sodium added by a softener in most applications is relatively small compared to the sodium content of typical processed foods and, I would add, for the individual who needs to restrict sodium intake there are far more productive areas of the typical diet to focus on--processed foods and typical restuarant meals along with use of salt in cooking and at the table to name the primary sources--before any need to worry about the sodium content of the water.

    But you should also be aware that the amount of sodium added by a softener is proportional to the hardness of the water being treated--the higher the hardness the more sodium will be added. So if you have very high hardness water seeking an alternate water source assumes more importance.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The formula is 7.85 mg/l of added sodium per grain per gallon of ion exchange (compensated hardness).
    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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