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Old 08-11-2011, 11:35 PM   #1
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Water Softener Questions :)


I inherited a home that has a softener system. The home was completely remodeled in 1989. New everything. When my Grandmother moved back in after the remodel she put the new softener into service. Within one year she decided to go out and turn the bypass valve because she saw her water bill explode. It probably did because I just figured out that she had the machine set to the max and it was constantly running LOL!

Anyways, I am totally new to the design and functions of a softener system like the one here. I have spent the last five days trying to get it to run and the last three days on the internet learning about softeners. This softener was taken out of service in 1990 and has sat ever since.

It is a Fleck 5600 12 day metered control valve. It sits on an 8" X 48" (approx) sized tank. The power supply that is under the house probably burned out years ago so I hooked up the timer motor temporarily with another transformer. There is also a brine tank.... yes, it too had the same water/salt from 1990. I cleaned the brine tank today.

The control valve was totally frozen so I took it apart and the seals and rubbers are wasted. I put it all back together and got the knob to turn a little bit and then I used pliers to turn it. It leaks and is frozen and I am not going to deal with it. I have decided to just replace the valve with a newer 5600sxt digital.

When I removed the valve from the tank today I gently pulled the pvc pipe out too. The cone shaped thing at the bottom was broken. I think it was broken by the people that installed it because Grandma used to complain about how the faucet aerators would clog up with sand and sand in the toilet tank. I didnt realize until today that it was the material inside the mineral tank that was clogging the faucets.

Here's some questions.
Is the material in the mineral tank still good? It didnt stay in service for very long but it was in constant contact with the water.

The material that was inside the cone thing was little black and white stones and little round yellow balls. Is that what "Resin" looks like?

Should I just dump everything in the mineral tank and start over or can I reuse the existing material and just add some more? The stuff is costly and if I can save a buck, I will do it.
I learned that most of the material has to be removed in order to install the pipe correctly and then just add the material and then screw on the new valve.

I am replacing the valve, the pvc pipe that has an upper and lower cone, the power transformer, and the overflow valve in the brine tank. I really need this machine to work because of the buildup in the showers and the dishwasher... I just installed a new one 2 weeks ago. The water ruined the last two dishwashers here. All I really want to do is remedy the hard water.

The house was plumbed correctly.... I know because I helped do it in '89. All outside spigots are untreated water and all inside fixtures are treated.

Some water specs: TDS 570 ppm. Hardness (grains) 19.9. Three people and we use our water sparingly.

I will most likely need a little guidance on the settings but that can wait until I get everything else back in order.

Thank you in advance,
Brad

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Old 08-12-2011, 08:15 AM   #2
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Water Softener Questions :)


You will find that building a softener from parts is a bit like building a car from parts--it costs a lot more than just buying a new car. Given the list of problems I recommend you simply buy a new softener from an internet supplier. It will be less costly and a lot easier. I recommend a unit with a Fleck valve. The 5600 is an excellent valve but you might want to consider the Fleck 2510 or 7000 depending if you want more control on the programming or end up with a larger softener because the 5600 isn't used on more than 2 cubic foot of resin.

You don't mention how many people in the household (or daily water use) but with more than one persion and hardness of 20 grains you should buy a larger softener for better salt and water efficiency. The existing unit is a .75 cubic foot unit.

Ideally the softener should regenerate every 7 days and you want to program it for a salt dose of no more than 6 lbs/cubic foot of resin which would remove 3333 grains/lb of salt. 1 Cubic foot of resin regenerated with 6 lbs gives a capacity of about 19000 grains. Typical water use is 60 gallon/day/person so with hardness of 20 that is 1200 grains per person/day. With a family of 3 that would be 3600 grains per day and a 1 cubic foot unit would regenerate about every 4 days when the reserve is factored in.

I note you are in California and I understand there are efficiency requirements for softeners of at least 4000 grains/lb of salt. To get that you have to reduce salt dose and that drives up the size of the softener to keep regeneration at once/7 days. You could also consider SST-60 resin which is more salt efficient and works better than standard resin at low salt dose.

Here are 3 web sites that sell both a variety of softeners and have very good prices. I have no connection with any of these sites and am providing the addresses for your information.

http://www.ohiopurewaterco.com/shop/customer/home.php

http://www.qualitywaterforless.com/

http://www.discountwatersofteners.com/default.asp

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Old 08-12-2011, 09:04 AM   #3
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Water Softener Questions :)


Thank you for the reply. Im still learning here.

I ran some numbers too and according to your math, my math was very similar. I kinda saw the need for a larger setup

So my next hurdle is to get a bigger mineral tank?

I just looked at my water bill and at the peak of our usage for the last year we were only using 60 gals per day. That also includes watering of the front and back yards too on a constant basis.

Thanks again!

Last edited by Einzee; 08-12-2011 at 09:19 AM. Reason: more information
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:29 AM   #4
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Water Softener Questions :)


With use of 60 gal/day, or less, a 1 cubic foot unit should be fine.

I think you will find it is the same cost, or less, to buy a complete new unit than to separately buy all the items you have identified that need to be replaced.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:23 PM   #5
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Water Softener Questions :)


I thank everyone for their advice. It is your input that drives me to learn more and I love to learn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob999 View Post
I think you will find it is the same cost, or less, to buy a complete new unit than to separately buy all the items you have identified that need to be replaced.
I realize that I know less about softener systems than anyone else in the world. I am learning.
So now Im on a mission to get prices for parts to fix what I have AND the prices for a new system. I say system because a part in the brine tank is broken too. So far, I have a 75% difference in cost between the two options. That 75% = a couple hundred dollars. I am not done with the price search because I know that there is always a better deal somewhere. I will be doing the labor so that is not a factor in the total cost.

I have a question. Is there truly any reason that mandates the complete replacement of what I have instead of fixing it? To my knowledge, I am essentially creating a "new" system. Arent the controls and the media for the tanks basically the "system"?
I appreciate your input on this question and invite others to reply as well. I am only trying to learn about these machines .
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:54 PM   #6
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Water Softener Questions :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Einzee View Post
I have a question. Is there truly any reason that mandates the complete replacement of what I have instead of fixing it? To my knowledge, I am essentially creating a "new" system. Arent the controls and the media for the tanks basically the "system"?
I appreciate your input on this question and invite others to reply as well. I am only trying to learn about these machines .
Nothing mandates complete replacement.

But every component of the system is there for a reason and is necessary. You have characterized yourself as someone who is not familiar with water softening equipment and it is possible you will be in the position of sequentially identifying problems with what you have now and that will result in your spending more money than simply buying a complete system.

I think of the system as being the control, the bypass valve, the tank, the downtube and screen, the resin, the brine tank with safety valve and air check, and the tubing to connect the brine tank and control head.
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:55 PM   #7
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Water Softener Questions :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob999 View Post
You have characterized yourself as someone who is not familiar with water softening equipment and it is possible you will be in the position of sequentially identifying problems with what you have now and that will result in your spending more money than simply buying a complete system.

I see what you mean now. Potential money pit.

Thank you.

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