Help needed with settings after plumber left system on defaults

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DesertDave

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I've been trying to find the right settings after a home warranty plumber replaced our softener system but left everything at factory default settings. They did not provide a manual, and when I called them for help with the settings they said that all they do is install them. I also do not recall them doing any kind of special initial setup - basically they just installed it, made sure the water worked without leaking, and left. The water has frequently smelled of minerals on and off ever since. The smell is difficult to describe - sometimes salty, sometimes more like dirt or as if it had run through a rocky riverbed, but it still appears clean at the faucet.

So I am trying to find out what settings should actually be used for our softener. It is labeled as an "Ultima High Capacity" system, which seems to just be a rebranded Clack-WS1 control unit with a WaveCyber 1054 tank. Strangely the model number on the label is CLK048-8 which doesn't quite match up with Ultima's marketing information, but it is similar and does look like the image, albeit taller: https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...96fd6ba5d8/1515626320077/Ultima+Clack+BLK.pdf

Based on the labels, it is presumably a 48k grain system with a 10x54 resin tank and 1.5 cu.ft. of resin. We are on city water in Phoenix where the latest water quality report at https://www.phoenix.gov/waterservicessite/documents/wsdprimarywqr.pdf says that the Total Hardness is anywhere between 8.6 - 16.8 for the city, with no listing for manganese and 40 ppb for iron - so only 0.04 ppm. We use an average of 165 gal/day.

It is currently set to 24K ion exchange capacity, 9.0 lbs of salt, and 20 hardness. It is set to "1.0" (as opposed to "1.25" so I assume this means it is compatible with either inlet/outlet size but there is no description on screen), auto gallon capacity, post fill, downflow, normal regeneration time, and normal backwash time.

According to tables 2 & 3 in the Clack manual I found at this site https://www.clearwaterfiltration.com/assets/PDFs/Clack-WS1-Manual-5-Button-Softener.pdf the backwash time is calculated based on grains capacity/lbs salt and also on lbs salt/resin. Assuming capacity means the ion exchange setting, that could suggest it's currently set to either 6 or 8 minutes.

From what I could find on other threads, primarily from Bannerman's comments, it seems I should either set it for 31500 ion capacity with 9lbs of salt or for 36000 ion capacity with 12lbs of salt. But I also found that it can not be set for 31500 exactly as anything over 30k only goes up in full 1k increments. I'm also not sure if I should keep it at 20 hardness or reduce it, or if I should adjust any other settings such as the backwash time.

Lastly, should I first set it to abnormally high settings for 1-2 forced regeneration cycles to fully clean the system since the plumber did not do anything when setting it up, then switch to the recommended settings? Or any other method for some type of proper flush or even sanitization? I've seen some comments about using bleach and I've also seen sanitizing packets advertised online.

Please help if you can. Thank you!
 
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Bannerman

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Most plumbers are not water treatment specialists, so although they maybe able to connect a softener, many will not know how to correctly configure a system.

1.5 ft3 resin will possess 48,000 total grains hardness removal capacity. To regenerate all 48K capacity each cycle would require an inefficient and excessive amount of salt at 30 lbs per cycle. (efficiency = 48,000 / 30 = 1,600 grains per lb)

For the best balance of efficiency, useable capacity and water quality, the usual recommended settings will be 12 lbs salt (=8 lbs/ft3) to regenerate 36,000 grains useable capacity per cycle (36,000 / 12 = 3,000 gr/lb).

A 9 lb (=6 lbs/ft3), 31,500 gr (round down to 31,000 gr) setting, will further increase efficiency to 3,444gr/lb, but with lower soft water quality due to higher hardness leakage through the resin bed. The 31K gr Capacity setting, will also result in more frequent regenerations compared to a 36K capacity setting, thereby resulting in lower regeneration water efficiency when considered over each year of operation.

Many municipal systems, obtain water from multiple sources, with each often possessing a different hardness value. Since you don't know the hardness value usually arriving at your home, either your softener's hardness setting will need to be programmed for the highest possible hardness, or, a hardness test will need to be performed on an actual water sample obtained from your home.

While you could take a water sample to a water treatment specialist to obtain a hardness reading, the most often utilized and recommended hardness test kit for both professionals and DIY'ers is the Hach 5B Total Hardness kit.

If your sample's hardness is lower than the highest possible hardness, to anticipate occasions when hardness maybe higher than usual, recommended to program the softener's hardness setting for 2-3 gpg higher than the test result. For instance, if the sample result is 8.6 (=9) gpg, program the softener for 11-12 gpg hardness.

Because your water is chlorinated, iron and manganese will no longer deplete softening capacity, no further increase to the hardness setting for either is needed.

To ensure any sediment and debris is rinsed out from the resin bed, while also ensuring the resin is fully expanded and reclassified within the tank, the most common Backwash setting is 10-minutes.

Since you are currently utilizing the WS-1 pre-programmed settings, to increase each Backwash duration to 10-minutes, simply choose the 'Backwash Longer Length Softener Cycle' setting shown in table 3. That will also increase the Rapid Rinse duration from 4 to 6-minutes, which in my experience, will be appropriate for that size softener.

Since Brine Fill for the following regeneration cycle is performed as the final stage of each regeneration cycle, if you choose to utilize the 12 lb/36K grain settings, manually pour at least 1-gallon of additional water into the brine well (4" tube within the brine tank) in advance of the next regeneration cycle. This will cause an additional 3 lbs salt to become dissolved in addition to the 9 lbs already dissolved.

If the installer did not manually add water to the brine tank after installation, then any capacity consumed before the first regeneration, will not have been regenerated. If so, suggest performing 2 manual regeneration cycles back-to-back, to regenerate at least some of the capacity that had not been restored, which should reduce any resulting hardness leakage and therefore improve soft water quality. To allow sufficient salt to dissolve for the 2nd cycle, wait about 1 hour after the 1st cycle has fully finished before initiating the 2nd cycle.

The recommended startup procedure is described in the short write-up at the following link: Softener Startup Procedure

While adding 2 tablespoons unscented chlorine bleach to the brine at the bottom of the brine tank prior to an initial regeneration is usually recommended to sanitize the system prior to use, probably not as critical for your system since your incoming water is pre-chlorinated.
 
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DesertDave

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Thank you Bannerman. So it appears that I was on the right track based on some of your other posts, and now I confidently know to either go with the 36k/12lb or 31k/9lb, and to ensure the backwash is long enough. I was unsure because those previous posts had various other factors, such as significantly different hardness levels or average water usage. By the look of it, although I may adjust the hardness setting based on test results, the ideal exchange capacity/salt settings are fairly universal (and definitely not the default 24k/9lb).

I also purchased some water softener sanitizer because I was hesitant about using bleach without confirmation, but now I see it's only two tablespoons recommended anyway. As you said it's municipal water so sanitizing is probably unnecessary, but it's not a bad idea to try. I am hopeful that with a cleaning and the correct settings, it will finally put a stop to the odd mineral smells from the water and will operate as well as the old system did for nearly twenty years.
 
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