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    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.

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    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!

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