Fleck 5600 Ecominder seems to be less efficient

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shaker281

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Hello and thanks in advance for responses. I have a 12 year old 32000 grain system with a 5600 metered system. I am on city well water with a high degree of hardness. For the first 8-9 years it handled about 1000 gallons before requiring recharge. Then I started running out of soft water before the next regen and lowered to setting over time to around 850 gallons. It appeared to be using the proper amount of salt per cycle and did not have excess water in the brine tank ever. And the flow on discharge appeared normal.

So, I ordered some high efficiency resin and replaced the resin bed. That went fine, and it seemed to improve somewhat. I put in 1.25 cu. ft. resin and it was the same appx. level as originally, if not a little higher. I might have used more like 1.5 cu. ft., I do not fully recall. But, it is not overfull. Now , two years later, I feel like the efficiency has dropped off again. Still I am seeing nothing obviously wrong with the regen cycle or salt uptake. I ran some Iron Out through for good measure, but no apparent change.

I built this system from parts originally (bought online from a reputable company, as a complete kit) and set it up for 28 grains of hardness and adjusted the salt valve from 18 lbs to 9 lbs on installation. I am now at 725 gallons for regen and that seems inefficient to me. I did replace the salt tube intake screen when I replaced the resin bed two years ago. The old one appeared to have disintegrated. Could that have ended up somewhere it shouldn't?
How do I check the brine draw on this model valve?

My thoughts are that:
1. My water hardness has increased substantially?
2. I bought poor quality resin?
3. The ecominder is no longer accurate and I am really using more water than the system is registering (Water usage appears to be average for a family of two)?
4. The Fleck valve needs rebuilding, though it appears to be functional and cycling?

Or nothing is wrong at all?

I did raise the salt setting from 9 to 12 to see if it helped and it did not seem to matter. So, I put it back to 9 lbs. What can I check to see if anything is amiss? Since it is using about 40-60 lbs a month of salt, can I assume that injector and safety float are likely working correctly? The float does not appear to be stuck. Since I get good drain line flow while cycling, I am assuming that is not the issue. I am currently set for around 725 gallons to assure that we do not run out of soft water on days of heavy usage.

How much water should be in the brine tank between regeneration for 9 lbs? For 12 lbs?

Thanks, Steve
 
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Reach4

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What is "high efficiency resin"? You should have bought 10% crosslinked resin.

I wish I could be more helpful on this. Your post was very nicely written.

Have you checked the hardness lately with a Hach 5-B kit?
 

shaker281

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Thank you for the response and compliment!

I believe the resin was sold as "high capacity" water softener resin actually, and labelled C100, though maybe only a marketing thing. I am unsure if it was labelled 10% crosslinked at that time. It looked identical to the brine I removed.

I have considered buying a testing kit, I will look into the Hach 5-B. It would confirm if my water has become harder over time.
 
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Bannerman

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I have a 12 year old 32000 grain system
it handled about 1000 gallons before requiring recharge.
set it up for 28 grains of hardness and adjusted the salt valve from 18 lbs to 9 lbs on installation.
As you state its a 32,000 grain system, that will usually refer to a softener containing 1 cubic foot (1 ft3) of resin. To regenerate 32K grains capacity in 1 ft3 resin, will require 18-20 lbs salt each cycle but since you programmed 9 lbs salt, only ~25,000 grains capacity was actually being regenerated.

25,000 grains / 28 gpg = 892 gallons capacity being restored each cycle, but the Fleck 5600 Capacity dial would need to be further reduced to allow for an amount of Reserve Capacity which will be normally 1-day water consumption. Assuming 2 ppl, each consuming 60 gallons soft water/day, then the appropriate Capacity setting would be 772 gallons or less on the Capacity dial.

A 12 lb salt setting will restore about 28,000 grains capacity, but Hardness Reduction Efficiency will be lower at 2,333 grains per pound. (28,000 / 12 lbs = 2,333 grains per pound).

For the best balance of Efficiency, usable Capacity and soft water quality, the usual recommended setting is 24K grains capacity using an 8 lb salt setting (24,000 / 8 = 3,000 grains/lb)

I put in 1.25 cu. ft. resin and it was the same appx. level as originally, if not a little higher. I might have used more like 1.5 cu. ft., I do not fully recall. But, it is not overfull. Now , two years later, I feel like the efficiency has dropped off again.
A 1 ft3 softener will usually utilize a 9" diameter X 48" H resin tank. The resin and gravel underbed will typically fill 2/3 of the tank height as the empty space above the resin (Freeboard space) is needed for the Backwash cycle as the resin will be expanded, lifted and reclassified to eliminate any debris and broken/underweight resin granules. The resulting expanded space surrounding each resin granule, will then allow the brine more complete contact with the resin during the Brine cycle.

Too much resin will reduce/eliminate the Freeboard space, so the appropriate Backwash flow rate (2.0 GPM for a 9" diameter tank), will be more likely to cause the resin overage to be eliminated to drain when no upper screen is installed. If an upper screen is utilized, it will be more likely to become eventually broken from the resin being repeatedly forced against it during each backwash cycle, so once the upper screen becomes broken, the overfilled resin will then become eliminated to drain.
 

shaker281

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Thank you, lots of good info. I bought a Hach 5-B and as I suspected my hardness is actually higher than the initial 28 that I had 10 years ago. It is 35 grains. I also measured my tank and it is 10" x 44". I double checked my notes from the resin replacement and I added about 1.25 cu ft resin. This is what shipped originally with the unit. I had previously marked the tank before removing the old resin and refilled to about the same level. So, I had some errors of recall in my original post. It is a 40,000 grain system with an 8 lb salt setting. When I filled it with new resin, I was about 70-75% full. There is an upper screen. I can hold a light to the tank and see the resin level

My calculation is now as follows:

40,000 grain peak with 8 lb salt setting putting me at 30,000 efficient.
110 gals per day (from water bill).
110 gals x 35 grains = 3850 total grains per day.
30,000 divided by 3850 (7.8 days).
7.8 days x 110 gals per day = 858 max gallons between regen cycles.
858 minus 150 = 708 gallon setting
I used 150 because wife always manages to pick a day when the softener was almost out, to do all the laundry at once.

It seems The 700 gallon setting I am using is about right. And right in line with your calculations. I am open, of course, to adjustments to the settings.

I appreciate all the help and answers. Thank you.
 

Reach4

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Also be aware of "high hardness compensation". Try putting that term, with quotes, into the search box above.
 

shaker281

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Ok, good to know! A factor of 1.2 appears to apply here. I will monitor and adjust as needed.

So, I did some more calculation and it seems that 8 lbs is recommended for 1 cu ft and 12 lb salt setting for 1.5 cu ft.
As I am at 1.25 cu ft, I come up with 10 lb salt setting. Is this what you very knowledgeable folks would recommend.

I also opened the injector housing and cleaned up the screen and orifices. Note to self: next time turn the bypass valve, unless I need a shower.

My final numbers are:
40,000 x .75 = 30,000 efficient
30,000 / 35 grains = 857 gallons total
857 - 150 = 707

So, I went with 700, which coincidentally was the number I had arrived at through trial and error, simply by lowering the gallons until I was no longer running out of soft water at any time.

So, it appears that the answer to my question was that my hardness had increased substantially over time. But, I learned a lot figuring that out.
 

Bannerman

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Since the resin's total capacity had been depleted, the resin's total capacity should now be regenerated to reduce hardness leakage through the resin bed.

Because 20 lbs salt will be needed to regenerate all 32,000 grains Capacity in 1 ft3 resin, then a 1X regeneration using 25 lbs salt will be needed to regenerate all 40,000 grains Capacity in 1.25 ft3.

Instead of using all 25 lbs for 1 regeneration, suggest adding an additional 2 gallons water to the.3.33 gallons already within the brine tank, wait approx 1-hr to allow additional salt to dissolve, then perform a manual regeneration. Once the 1st regen cycle has concluded, wait ~ 1-hr and perform a 2nd regen. The 2nd regeneration could be initiated just as you are departing for the night. In the morning, you should find your soft water to be softer than you have recently been experiencing.
 

WorthFlorida

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I had a home in High Hill Farms, 1981-1987. It was my first experience with hardwater and was tested at 29 grams of hardness. After a few years the softness was decreasing. It was iron contamination. A couple of regens with iron out took care of the problem. I was using 50 blocks of salt. Algonquin has two wells and the one on the east side had bad iron water that stained. The iron removal plant was built around 1983.You can see it off of Rt62.
Another time my bypass valve O ring dislodged and was mixing hard water with soft water.
 
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