Q. What is a water softener?
A. A water softener is a special filter that uses a process called ion-exchange to remove water hardness, also know as CaCO3, from your water. As the water passes through the softener, univalent sodium or potassium ions on the softening resin exchange with divalent calcium and magnesium ions in the water, eliminating water hardness. Eventually the media in the softener (called softening resin) has exchanged all of its sodium or potassium ions, at which point it will no longer be able to remove any more water hardness. This is why the system regenerates. During this process the system runs a brine solution (water and either sodium or potassium chloride) backwards through the softening resin. This concentrated solution forces the trapped calcium and magnesium ions off the resin and down the drain, replacing them with the sodium or potassium ions needed for softening. With the Fleck control heads, this process is automatic, and only as needed!
Q. What does the grain capacity mean?
A. Water hardness is usually measured in grains per gallon (GPG). (Some places use parts per million [ppm] or milligrams per liter [mg/L]. To convert your ppm or mg/L to GPG simply divide by 17.1 [Example - 200 ppm or mg/L is equal to 200 / 17.1 = 11.7 GPG]) The grain capacity of a system is how many grains of hardness your system can remove before it needs regenerated. A 32,000 grain or 32k water softener will remove 32,000 grains of water hardness. From that you can determine how many gallons of water you can go through between regenerations. If you have a 32k softener and your water is 15 GPG hard, you can go through 32,000/15=2,133 gallons of water before your softener is exhausted and needs regenerated.
Q. What size system do I need?
A. There are 2 main factors in determining the size you need: water usage and water hardness. Here is a general guideline on sizing your system: 32k system - 1-2 people, average water use and low hardness (under 15 GPG) 48k system - 3-5 people with average water use or moderate hardness (15-45 GPG) 64k system - 5-7 people with average water use or high hardness (45-65 GPG) Service Flow Rate is the maximum amount of water, in gallons per minute (GPM) that a given system can effectively treat. Always size a system based on water usage first, a system undersized for your water usage may not always filter effectively and will wear out faster.
Q. Are there systems that don't use salt?
A. Yes, we carry a high quality salt free water conditioner that eliminates hard water problems. Our Scale Sentry system utilizes a specialized media called Filtersorb to provide the same benefits a standard softener offers without the use of salt. In addition, beneficial minerals are left in the water and existing scale is removed as well! In our experience our systems outperform other salt free units, including the "magnetic" and electric systems that are widely available.
Q. Should I be concerned about the salt a water softener puts in my water?
A. No. The amount of salt put into your water by a water softener is minimal. In fact, in most cases it is low enough that water ran through a softener is still considered "low-sodium" by the FDA. If you want to avoid adding additional sodium to the water all our water softeners can be used with potassium chloride instead of the traditional sodium chloride. If you want to safe drinking water, our drinking water RO systems can turn your ordinary household water into bottled quality drinking water.
Q. What are the differences in the Fleck models 5600, 5600SXT and 7000 control heads?
A. The Fleck 5600 is your basic mechanical control valve. It does it's job in the most cost effective way possible. It is a metered head so it measures how much water you go through and regenerates based water usage. Due to the mechanical limitations on the head it can only be set to 2,100 gallons, at that point it has to regenerate, so some efficiency can be lost depending on the system size and your water hardness. This head is ideal if you are looking for the lowest cost option. The Fleck 5600SXT works similar to the standard 5600 but uses a digital interface instead of a mechanical one. This makes setup easier, and with the digital control it can be set to go through up to 9,999 gallons of water between regenerations. The 5600SXT can be more efficient that the 5600 because of this, especially in larger homes with lower hardness levels. The other advantage the 5600SXT has is adjustable regeneration cycles, while in most cases these settings won't need to be adjusted, with the 5600SXT the option is there should you ever need it. The Fleck 7000 uses controls similar to the 5600SXT, so it is also in that it is a digital head with backlit LCD display, can be set up to 9,999 gallons, and has adjustable regeneration cycles. The 7000 control is designed as a high flow head, capable of flow rates up to 35 GPM, as compared to the 20 GPM of the 5600 & 5600SXT models, so it offers minimal flow reduction in larger homes. Finally, it is a modular design, simply remove the retaining screw and the head slides apart, making any required maintenance or cleaning a breeze!
Q. What kind of maintenance does this system require?
A. The only regular maintenance a water softener requires is adding salt to the brine tank, and occasionally cleaning the brine tank.