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Thread: water softener advice

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    Default water softener advice

    Hi, Newb here. I've been lurking and searching and trying to educate myself and am still a bit overwhelmed so I thought I would post. I'm building a new house for my family of 4: two adults and two kids. 3,100 sq ft with 3 bathrooms. It will have in-floor heat using a Polaris on an open system so it provides hotwater for both the floor and dhw needs. It has three zones on the 2000 sq ft floor lower level but the tap water at the sinks and all hose bibs are regular city water. As I understand it for the Polaris warranty to be valid it needs to be used with a water softener since Flagstaff AZ water is considered Hard.

    I'm a geologist and I confess other than knowing what Mb and Ca are I know very little about water softeners, how they work, and most importantly what I need. I looked at the big box store options (ie., Sears and Home Depot and they look cheap to me. I'm a DIYer but the plumber on the job is willing to install the water heater but wanted me to pick it up. However, I'm not certain that he knows enough about water treatment to size the unit correctly and I don't want to install the the cheapest unit I can at Home Depot. I like the fact that he's letting me know that he really doesn't know except that he thinks we need a 70,000 grain unit. That seems overkill to me. Here's the basic info:

    -the water hardness in Flagstaff varies depending on sources but ranges from 125ppm to 200 ppm (7.3-11.7 grains per gallon). I measured it myself as 8.6 GPG. Dissolved irons and other solids are minimal. It's mainly Ca and Mg.

    -we're pretty light on water consumption and our billing shows about 200 gallons/day. Doing the math from what I've gleaned on this forum means my system needs to remove ~2000 GPG/day. Maybe more when my daughters become teenagers

    -the house is pre-plumbed for a water softener. There is a "U" in the pipes located to the left of the water heater. Space is a bit limited but it looks like a unit that is 24"x24" or 18" x 30" would fit. The plumber said a stacked tank design would fit better but the ones I looked at just like they're going to break in 3 years.

    -the return and supply is 1"

    From my research it looks like I could get by with a 1.5 cu ft 40,000 or 45,000 system and not 70,000 as recommended by the plumber. The units I have looked at on-line that have a Fleck valve or Clack which seem to be highly regarded also appear to be a two part system where the brine tank is separate so I'm not sure about fit. Anyway, I'm more concerned about quality and longevity and not bells and whistles. I'm a set it and forget it type. But the Clack WS1 valve looks nice. Any suggestions on a system that will fit by size requirement and type (Anion vs cation) as well as filtration is appreciated!
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    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    I've been doing more research and leaning toward buying a system that's a little oversized for our needs atm. Re-doing the math:

    Daily usage at ~200 gallons. 200 gallons per day x 10 gpg hardness x 14 day regen = 28,000 grains.

    Is a 14 day regen too long? Should it be more frequent? Thinking Fleck 7000SXT Valve and a 2.5 cu ft system. Any input appreciated.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Your 2.5 w/ a 7000 sounds perfect. Regeneration frequency is often misunderstood. The general consensous by the proffessionals is not more than every 5 days for resdidential, not less than every 30 days. 14 days is the default daily override on the 7000 for many companies, but a lot of companies will reset that to 30 days. As long as water is flowing regularly through the system, the regeneration frequency is not critical. Less than 5 days will start to get you into low efficiencies. More than 8 days between regeneration and you will see very little efficiency gains by going longer.

    If you are using the softener for iron removal, frequent regeneration should be considered to lessen the iron fouling of the resin.

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    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. That makes sense on regeneration when the resin is exhausted.

    It looks like the on-line options with a Fleck valve are all dual tank systems. I may have to find something stacked or cabinet style to fit my space requirements. Any difference in efficiency between the two styles? I confess the geek in me prefers the techy look of the dual tank system with an exposed tank.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    When you say stacked, are you referring to a carbon tank/softener combo? Or do you mean a "Cabinet" unit, where the softener is inside the salt tank?

    FYI, cabinet units are very limited in size, they do not save much space, cost more, and are more difficult to maintain.

    Do not get a cabinet unit. You can get a square or rectangular brine tank if space is the main concern. A Salt grid can make a 15x17 system easily work with a 2.5 cu. ft. softener.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    Yes, I was referring to the cabinet style that are what is solely offered by the big box stores but when I also checked out what the local plumbing supply place carries and it was a cabinet style Eliminator for $1200 http://www.eliminatorpro.com/
    That's more than I want to spend but made me curious about why having the tank external to the brine tank is better. Not to mention that some are non-electric but that doesn't give nearly as much control as an electric metered valve, right? http://www.kinetico.com/water-soften...al-series.aspx

    One question I have before I pull the trigger on the Fleck is whether I should consider at twin-tank design. This apparently provides a continuous supply of soft water, even during the regeneration process. One tank is always in service while the other tank is either on standby or regenerating. And if this is the case, then the single tank systems are cleaning and regenerating using hard water (ie., less efficient). The marketing hype is that with soft water regeneration, the system will work better and last longer. I guess that makes sense but they are considerably more expensive. I guess if you needed soft water 24-7 then the twin-tank is the way to go but if you regenerate at 2am what's the big deal. The marketing hype is that regeneration with soft water will use half the salt and for the added expense will pay for itself in 2 to 3 years. That was the sales pitch from the local Kinetico dealer. The flow rates are also much higher but the Fleck is 10 gpm which seems plenty for my needs.

    I perhaps started my thread too soon as my education has continued. This is a great forum and a wealth of information. Thanks!

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member stevenjer's Avatar
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    I personally no longer recommend water softeners all of which use salt which is an annoyance and bad for the environment. We use an electronic technology which conditions the hard water using no salt and requires no maintenance. It is called Scalewatcher and we got ours from Aqua Genesis because they offer a lowest price guarantee, 10 year warranty and had really friendly customer service. Since we installed it all the limescale is gone and cleaning up countertops and showerdoors is now a breeze. take a look aquagenesisusa.com also, these systems are built to last up to 20 years with no maintenance instead of having to buy a new one every 3 to 5 years, here’s proof http://aquagenesisusa.com/blog.html

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for the quick advertisement. Someone needs to block this dufus.

    Now back to the real world.

    Twin alternating is critically important in larger applications or commercial use. It is more efficient than single tank designs, but in a residential application, the salt/water savings are not worth the additional costs and potentially higher service in the future. A properly sized residetntial unit will be 90+% efficient.

    The soft water regeneration neither adds or detracts from the system capacity. It is a simple math calculation, and the amount of water used during regeneration is rarely even the calculated into the systems capacity. Do not listen to the hype. Kinetico units are some of the highest quality units available but they are much more expensive and they are proprietary. If your local Kinetico dealer is good, then you will be fine. most Kinetico dealers are excellent and they have a very low complaint rate.
    I would avoid the Eliminator, this is not a common valve, electronics etc can be difficult to source in the future.
    Last edited by ditttohead; 07-25-2013 at 03:29 PM.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    Wow, thanks for the quick advertisement. Someone needs to block this dufus.

    Now back to the real world.

    Twin alternating is critically important in larger applications or commercial use. It is more efficient than single tank designs, but in a residential application, the salt/water savings are not worth the additional costs and potentially higher service in the future. A properly sized residetntial unit will be 90+% efficient.

    The soft water regeneration neither adds or detracts from the system capacity. It is a simple math calculation, and the amount of water used during regeneration is rarely even the calculated into the systems capacity. Do not listen to the hype. Kinetico units are some of the highest quality units available but they are much more expensive and they are proprietary. If your local Kinetico dealer is good, then you will be fine. most Kinetico dealers are excellent and they have a very low complaint rate.
    I would avoid the Eliminator, this is not a common valve, electronics etc can be difficult to source in the future.
    Thanks for the help dittohead! I pulled the trigger on the Fleck7000 with a Chlorine resistant 10% Crosslink Resin. The chlorine is 0.27 ppm but varies and can be greater range from 0.5 to 1.0 depending on how the city is blending the water from different sources. I'll report back after installation.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Congrats, that is an excellent system. You should be sure to order it with the 32mm manifold, and dont forget, they should offer you the option of many different plumbing connectors to match your plumbing. 3/4" to 1-1/2" threaded and sweat connectors are available.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member rockman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    Congrats, that is an excellent system. You should be sure to order it with the 32mm manifold, and dont forget, they should offer you the option of many different plumbing connectors to match your plumbing. 3/4" to 1-1/2" threaded and sweat connectors are available.
    Everything I have is 1". I got it from Ohio Pure Water Supply but didn't see anything about a 32mm manifold but I added these 90 degree elbows for the back of the 7000 control valve to help get the tank closer to the wall http://www.ohiopurewater.com/shop/cu...cat=462&page=1
    Last edited by rockman; 07-26-2013 at 02:10 PM.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Thats fine, the 32mm internal manifold is a better design since it eliminates an internal adpater and o-ring, as well as the 32MM bottom screen that everybody uses is the best screen on the market (assuming they use the 40924 bottom screen). The 1.05" bottom screens can be real junk and most companies will try to save a few dollars by selling their equipment with the cheapest bottom screen they can get. I would only recommend the 40922 bottom screen with a gravel bed. A lot of the bad online companies try to justify no gravel underbedding with ridiculous arguments that show their lack of basic fundamental knowledge of a how the systems work. They will claim their many years of experience as their reason, not actual facts. In all reality, they are simply selling the units for such a low cost they cant afford the additional cost of the gravel or the additional shipping cost/weight or some other guy in his underwear eating cheetos will undercut his online price by a nickel...

    I highly recommend checking the physical address of the online companies you buy from. If it is a house, a motorhome, or a UPS store... they dont stock the equipment, have a real staff,etc..., they simply do a paperwork shuffle over to another company.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    That's pretty good coming from someone that doesn't use his or his company's names. And is a 'manufacturer' that does not sell to the retail customer or local dealers, and has not been in the field to service equipment for many years now.

    Anyone wanting to know that info, PM me and I'll give you names and address.

    Dittos... you are spreading gossip you hear from your distributors and their dealers, and other 'manufacturers', their distributors and their dealers, that are all against online dealers and their suppliers that ship to online customers.

    Lets see if I understand you, Rockman could be ripped off online is what I take from your comments BUT... he paid a thousand plus LESS online than what the same thing would cost him had he bought from a local dealer that ripped him off...

    I say he's much better off by a grand plus if he's ripped off online instead of locally. And there are a hell of a lot more crooked local dealers than there are online dealers because the online dealer can't survive a bad rep like local dealers do.

    BTW, I have seen many times more complaints about local dealers than the few complaints about online dealers, so how about showing us where you see complaints about online dealers.
    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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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    LOL, your threats of giving out my personal information are pathetic.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Yeah that's what I thought, nothing but gossip.

    My offer is a promise.

    BTW, since you say fewer parts in a control valve is a good thing, and the Clack WS-1 has many fewer parts than any Fleck valve, why do you propose Fleck over Clack?
    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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