A traditional water softener is a type of water softener system that comes with two tanks. The two tanks are one resin tank and one brine tank. The resin tank stores resin beads and this is where water softening takes place. The brine tank contains salt for regeneration.
How does a traditional water softener work?
Traditional water softeners are typically made of two tanks one that holds resin beads called a resin tank and the other one that holds a solution of salt and water called a brine tank. It is also made up of controls, and other parts.
The hard water flows down to a resin tank filled with resin beads.
The negatively charged resin beads attract positively charged ions present in hard water through a process called cation exchange/ion exchange.
Minerals in the hard water remain on the resin beads, and the softened water passes through the tank and is ready for human consumption.
After a period of time, resin beads become coated with minerals, making them not soften hard water as required. When the resin beads are fully covered by hard water minerals, they must be cleaned to operate effectively. This is where the brine solution in the brine tank comes in.
The brine tank is filled with a high concentration brine (salt) solution; the water softener timer automatically runs the brine solution to the resin tank.
The high concentrated brine solution attracts minerals that have coated resin beads, making them clean to soften your water.
The process washes off hard minerals on the beads, carrying them out through a drain pipe.
The process of flushing out coated minerals on the resin beads is called regeneration.
How do you prepare a brine solution?
You add bags of water softener salt to the brine tank and mix them with water.
A traditional water softener is commonly known as a conventional water softener. Since it uses two tanks, it requires space. If you live in a house with limited space, like a condo, you can opt for the compact water softener.
There are different brands of traditional water softeners available on the market. That’s why we have taken the time to review the best traditional water softeners.
Traditional Water softeners comparison table
Best traditional water softeners reviews
Fleck water softener
Fleck is a well-known brand that makes fleck water softener control valves ideal for both residential and commercial.
Fleck valves are one of the brands of Pentair Residential Filtration LLC. That’s why most people also call it Pentair water softener.
Note: fleck does not make water softeners but makes control valves.
The same company Pentair Residential Filtration LLC still manufactures structural mineral tank
Structural tanks are used with fleck control valves.
Pentair has manufactured a number of fleck control valves which include:
- Fleck 5600SXT
- Fleck 7000SXT
- Fleck 9000 SXT
- Fleck 9100 SXT
- Fleck 1500
- Fleck 2510
- Fleck 4650
- Fleck ProFloSXT
- Fleck 5600
- Fleck 6700XTR
- Fleck TwinFloSXT
- Autotrol 255
- Autotrol Performa 263/268
In this article, we will discuss the Fleck water softener.
- Fleck 5600SXT
- Fleck 7000SXT
All fleck control valves are demand metered. The demand metered means the unit has a flow meter that measures water used and regenerates when required.
The Fleck water softener comes with an 8% crosslink resin and a brine tank.
The size of both tanks varies depending on the model’s use and capacity.
When it comes to warranty, all the systems have an outstanding 5-year warranty on the control valve and tank with a 10–year warranty.
The fleck offers SXT digital control. The SXT digital control features
- Backlit LCD display
- 48 hours of internal power back-up –in case of a power outage the system will keep the setting up to 48 hours.
- user-friendly interface
- Touchpad control
- Volatile memory standard—the memory will never allow your system settings to get lost.
The design is easy to set up. It is a set-and-forget system, so you no longer need to worry about setting and reprogramming.
All the fleck systems come with structural tanks that are available in three colors: blue, almond, and black.
The Fleck 5600sxt is built on the 5600 valves. The valve has an outstanding 5-year warranty and has been tested to run continuously for up to 27 years.
In addition, the SXT controller offers some great features such as
- The back-lit LCD display
- The touchpad controls
- There is a 48-hour internal power backup.
This system can treat a maximum flow rate of 16GPM and has a capacity of 64,000 (or 64k) grains, which means it can remove 64,000 grains of hardness.
It comes with an almond polyglass tank comes with a 10-year warranty. The color may vary.
Included in the package is a safety float that prevents overfilling, a round Brine Tank that measures 18″Dx33″ H, and can hold about 300 lbs. of pelleted salt.
The package has detailed installation instructions that allow most homeowners to install the system for themselves.
It is available in different capacities, from 16,000 to 96,000 grains. These different sizes include:
- Fleck 5600 SXT 80,000 Grain – black
- 64k Fleck 5600SXT 64,000 grain (almond)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 48,000 grains (blue)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 40,000 Grains (black)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 40,000 grain (blue)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 40,000 grains (Almond)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 32,000 grains (blue)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 32,000 grains (Almond)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 24,000 grains (blue)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 24,000 grains (black)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 24,000 grains (Almond)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 16,000 grains (blue)
- Fleck 5600 SXT 16,000 grains (black)
Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener Valve Programming
The Fleck 7000SXT is a high flow rate system that is ideal for residential and light commercial purposes.
It offers units in different capacities ranging from 24,000 to 120,000 grains, which include:
- Fleck 7000 SXT (84FL-7000S) Meter 32,000 Grain – 9″ x 48″; 1.0 CF
- Fleck 7000 SXT (94FL-7000S) Meter 48,000 Grain -10 x 54″; 1.5 CF”
- Fleck 7000 SXT (74FL-7000S) Meter 64,000 Grain – 12″ x 52″; 2.0 CF
- Fleck 7000 SXT (94FL-7080S) Meter 80,000 Grain – 13″ x 54″; 2.5 CF (black)
- 96K, Fleck 7000Sxt 96,000 Grain Capacity With 7000 Sxt Metered Valve (abundant flow)
- 110K, Fleck 7000Sxt 110,000 Grain Capacity With 7000 Sxt Metered Valve (abundant flow)
The Genesis water softener is another best brand available when it comes to water softeners.
All Genesis systems have a demand metered control head and come with 10% Crosslink Resin.
The manufacturer of the Genesis system is unknown, but the discount water softener is well known for selling Genesis water softeners. A discount water softener is also known for handling warranty and shipping issues.
The company offers different whole-house water softener models, which include:
Genesis Econosoft provides a variety of capacities, such as 24,000, 3200, 40000, and 48000 grains; it utilizes downflow regeneration. The above is a 48,000-grain capacity system.
When it comes to warranty Genesis Econosoft offers a lifetime warranty on the resin and brine tank and 7 – a years warranty on the control head.
This model offers a warranty lifetime warranty on the resin and brine tank and 10- a years warranty on the control head.
The Discount Water Softeners Premier offers a variety of capacities such as 24,000, 32000, 40000, 48000, 64000, 80,000, and 96000 grains. It uses up-flow regeneration.
This model too has a warranty of lifetime warranty on the resin and brine tank and a 10- years warranty on the control head.
Read more in our Genesis water softener review to learn more about the differences in each model.
Genesis Water Softener Setup and Installation Video-Discount Water Softeners
Pelican advantage series
Pelican water softener is well known as a salt-free water softener, but the company has manufactured a salt-based water softener Pelican Advantage Series PS48.
It uses either salt or potassium to treat hard water.
This system has a large tank size with high capacity resin and a high flow rate.
The Pelican Advantage Series PS48 has 5-Button Programmable Pro Series Electronic Head for quiet and efficient performance.
It operates in three ways, which include backwashing, regeneration, and rinse.
It also features battery power back up to 8 hours.
Tier 1 water softener
This system has a capacity of 48,000 (or 48k) grains, which means it can remove 48,000 grains of hardness.
Tier 1 has a digital meter control valve with an LCD display.
The package includes a 10 x 54-inch mineral tank, a 15 x 34-inch brine tank, a valve with bypass, and an adapter.
How to Program a Tier1 165-150 48,000 Grain Water Softener Valve
More tier 1 series
- Tier1 Advanced Series 48,000 Grain
- Tier1 Essential Series 48,000 Grain (with Ultra-Filtration Hollow Fiber (UF system))
- Tier1 Essential Series 48,000 Grain (with Under Sink Reverse Osmosis+ Glass Water Bottles)
SpringWell Water Softener
The Spring Well Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener is used to remove iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, and hard water minerals.
It can remove up to 8 ppm of hydrogen sulfide, up to 7 ppm iron, and 1 PPM manganese.
The water softener has an electronic metered valve mounted atop the resin tank. The system measures water by the gallon before running a cleaning cycle. The system runs the cleaning cycle once the resin bed reaches its saturation point.
The water filter is a single tank with an air pocket mounted on the top. As the water passes through the air pocket, iron, sulfur, and manganese are oxidized. The Springwell AIO System filter oxidizes iron, sulfur, and manganese.
This system is easy to charge with the use of Bluetooth technology. Adjust your system’s settings such as air draw, backwash cycles, timing, and more in the palm of your hand.
Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck water softener
The Pentair system uses a Fleck 5600SXT Digital on-demand control valve. The valve has a 5-year warranty and features a backlit LCD touchpad that controls a 48-hour internal power backup and a user-friendly interface.
It comes with a black structural mineral tank made of durable poly-glass with a 10-year warranty and a standard square black brine tank that holds about 250 lbs. of salt. The tank includes a safety float to prevent overfilling and the overflow drain acts as an additional backup to avoid water mess.
This model has a 10% Cross-linked resin, valve with bypass, and adapter.
Aquasure water softener
The Aquasure Harmony Series is equipped with Aquatrol Advanced Digital On-Demand Meter Control Head, in and out bypass, resin tank with distributor tube, brine tank with overflow regulator, brine line, drain line, 1″ NPT Male Adapter, and pre-filled premium quality resin.
This model can treat up to 48,000 grains of hardness, perfect for the household size of 2-4 bathrooms and up to 5 people.
The Aquasure Whole House Water Softener allows 3 types of regeneration, which include time-clock delayed control, meter immediate control, and meter delayed control. The control head is customizable to fit any individual’s needs and special applications.
The resin tank is constructed of a high-strength, corrosion-resistant fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank and comes with a 5-year warranty.
The Aquasure Harmony Series is available in different capacities. 32,000 grains are suitable for 1-2 bathrooms and up to 3 people. 48,000 grains are ideal for 3–4 bathrooms and up to 5 people, and 64,000 grains are perfect for a household size of 4-6 bathrooms and up to 7 people.
- Aquasure Water Softener w/Aquatrol Digital Head and 10″ Sediment Dual Purpose Whole House Water Filter (32,000 Grains)
- Aquasure Whole House Water Softener/Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter Bundle (48,000 Grains)
AFWfilter water softener system
The system is best to remove hardness in water using the ion-exchange process.
It uses Fleck 5600sxt Digital on-demand Metered control head with paddlewheel meter.
Metered design measures water usage and regenerates when necessary.
The Fleck 5600SXT digital control valve is easy to use and set up.
Also, the control valve has features such as a backlit LCD, touchpad controls, a 48-hour internal power backup, and a user-friendly interface.
In addition to the Fleck 5600SXT control valve, it has an outstanding 5-year warranty.
This AFWfilters model is a whole house water softener system that has a capacity of 48,000 grains, which makes it suit a home of 3-6 people with around three bathrooms.
The product comes with a durable tank that has a 10-year warranty.
The black brine tank is square and measures 14″ x 34″ and can hold about 250 lbs. of salt.
In addition to the brine tank, it includes a safety float, which prevents overfilling, and an overflow drain that acts as an additional backup to avoid water mess.
The AFW also comes with Black Structural 10×54″.
The package includes a Fleck bypass valve, a 1″ male threaded yoke connection, installation instructions, and 1.5 cubic feet of high capacity resin (8% Crosslink).
The AFWfilters system is available in different sizes and colors.
The colors are blue, black, and almond, which include
Uses Fleck 5600SXT Digital SXT Metered control valve
It comes preloaded with 2.0 cubic ft of High Capacity Resin 8% crosslink in the resin tank for easy installation.
This model includes black USA Pentair mineral and brine tanks with safety float.
Available in almond, blue, or black.
The package includes AFW Filters USB drive instructions, lubricant, sanitizer, and hardness test strips so you can set the unit correctly.
The AFWFilters ironpro2 is a combination of both water softener and iron filter.
This model has a capacity of 64,000 grains and has a fine mesh resin designed for iron removal.
It uses a Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control valve, which is easy to use and has a warranty of 5-years.
It is capable of removing hardness up to 75 GPG, iron up to a 6-8 ppm range, manganese up to 6 ppm, sediment, sand, and rust.
This comes complete with a brine tank, a 1″ Bypass Valve, a 12″ x 48″ structural USA tank, and DIY instructions. The tank color may vary.
The AFWfilters IRONPRO2 is available in different sizes and colors:
- AFWFilters IRONPRO2 32,000 grain black
- AFWFilters IRONPRO2 40,000 grain black
- AFWFilters IRONPRO2 48,000 grain black
- AFWFilters IRONPRO2 64,000 grain black
- AFWFilters IRONPRO2 80,000 grain almond
602abc water softener
Capacity- 48,000 grains
It best fits small homes, apartments, and mobile homes.
The system removes calcium and magnesium ions that cause hard water using an ion exchange process.
This model has a capacity of 48,000 grains and Flows up to 12 GPM making it ideal for household sizes of 2-5 people.
This Complete whole-house water softener system is powered by Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control valve. The valve has an outstanding 5-years warranty.
With the metered control design, the water used is measured, and the system only regenerates when it needs to.
The Fleck 5600sxt digital metered control valve offers added features such as back-lit LCD touchpad controls and 48-hour internal power backup.
The ABCWater system comes with a Black Structural mineral tank, which is a Durable poly-glass tank and is backed with a 10-years warranty.
The Brine tank is black and standard Clack square which measures 15x17x33″ and can hold 250lbs of salt.
The brine tank with a safety float prevents overfilling, and the overflow drain acts as an additional backup to avoid water messes.
It comes preloaded with 1.5 cubic feet of 10% Crosslinked resin.
Preloading the resin helps the consumer avoid additional heavy lifting and the mess that comes along with resin loading.
When it comes to support the company offers technical phone support Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 am to 4 pm Arizona time.
The support also includes iPhone ‘Facetime’ help if you require video for visual assistance
The package includes an installation kit and detailed installation instruction that allows most homeowners to install the system for themselves.
The installation kit contains water hardness test strips, silicone lubricant for ‘o’-rings, and a sanitizer packet to flush your new system.
More 602abcWATER with Fleck 5600SXT
- ABCwaters Pentair 3/4 48,000 10%
- ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt 48,000 Water Softener with UPGRADED 10% Resin + Hardness Test + Install Kit + 2 Stainless Steel Connectors
- ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt 32,000 WATER SOFTENER with 10% High Capacity Resin
- ABCwaters ABCtriplecombo Triple Combo
Dura water softener
The dura whole house water softener system is powered by the Fleck 5600 SXT Metered control valve and has a capacity of 48,000 grains.
This system comes complete with:
- 10 x 54-inch Structural Made in the USA black fiberglass mineral tank
- USA 14 x 34 Brine Tank with safety float
- 1.5 cubic feet standard 8% resin
- Fleck 5600 SXT On-Demand Digital Metered control valve with Upgraded Paddlewheel Meter
- Noryl bypass with a 1-inch male threaded yoke
The ABCwaters 48k-56sxt is a combination of a water softener and iron filter.
It treats a whole house up to 48,000 grains and is controlled by a Fleck 5600Sxt digital metered control valve for efficiency and ease of use.
The valve is backed by a 5-year warranty.
The system is ideal for homes with 2-5 people, and 2-3 baths. It is capable to remove all hardness, iron up to 6-8 ppm range, manganese up to 6 ppm, sediment, sand, and rust.
This complete system includes a bypass valve, DIY instructions, Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control valve, brine tank with safety float and overflow drain, 1 inch Noryl plastic male threaded bypass, and 10 x 54 Black resin tank loaded with 1.5 cubic foot of fine mesh resin.
Also, includes a standard square brine tank that measures 14 x 14 x 34 and can hold about 250 lbs. of salt.
More DuraWater water softener system
- DuraWater water softener with reverse osmosis system
- DuraWater 5600sxt Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis System (32,000 Grain 3/4 Inch Bypass), Black
- DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis System (32,000 Grain 1 Inch Bypass), Black
- DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis (48,000 Grain 1 Inch Bypass) Combo System, Black
- DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis System (48,000 Grain 3/4 Inch Bypass), Black
- DuraWater Fleck 48k water softener, 48, 000 Grain, Almond
- DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis System (64,000 Grain 3/4 Inch Bypass), Black
- DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener Reverse Osmosis System (64,000 Grain 1 Inch Bypass), Black
Best water softener Brands
- Whirlpool water softener
- Water boss water softener
- GE water softener
- Genesis water softener
- Morton water softener
- Kenmore water softener
- Pelican Advantage Series PS48 Salt Water Softener
- Fleck water softener
- Tier 1
- Springwell Water
- Dura water
What to consider when buying a single tank water softener
Read the water softener buyer’s guide
What differentiates one softener from the other is the size. Size is the main feature that you need to check when buying an Ion exchange water softener.
In size, we don’t mean the physical size but the ability to remove hardness without frequent regeneration.
How do you know the right size that handles the demand of your water usage for your household?
Water softeners are sold in different sizes which are measured using the number of grains of hardness known as grains per gallon (GPG).
You calculate the size of the system your family needs by multiplying the number of members present in your household by the gallons used by each person every day. Then the hardness that is present in your water by total family consumption.
An average person uses 80-100 gallons per day.
For instance, If you have five members of the family, you multiply 85X5=425gallons. You consume 425 gallons of water every day.
If your water has a hardness of 10GPG multiply 425X10=4250. So you need the water softener that removes an average of 4250GPM/ hardness per day.
Per week = 425X7=2950×10=29500
Per month= 425X30=12750×10=127,500
Now that you have known how to calculate your water consumption, water softener comes in various capacities from 15000 to 100 000 GPG.
Make sure the hardness you want to remove doesn’t exceed your system capacity so regeneration doesn’t happen more frequently.
So for the case above a family of five people (2950 grains per week), a water softener of 35000 would best fit, or you go up.
Purchasing a unit with a small capacity will be regenerating more often and will cost you more while buying the unit with a high capacity will cost you more when buying the whole unit but will regenerate less frequently saving you money.
- Water usage
Knowing the amount of water that you use per day helps choose the right size of water softener and also helps you know the right amount of salt that is needed for regeneration.
- Regeneration method
Softener regenerates in two ways.
- Demand initiated regeneration (DIR)/Metered
- Timer/scheduled regeneration
Demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) measures water usage over a period and regenerates when needed.
The DIR system is commonly sold because they save a lot of salt and water because they charge when necessary.
The timer regeneration is set or scheduled to regenerate on a specific period. This method is old technology and sometimes can waste a lot of salt because it can regenerate during times you have used a small amount of water.
For instance, when you have traveled for a time, and you have not used water it will still regenerate when the time you have set reaches.
In addition to timer regeneration, you can have short of soft water during the times you have a high usage of water for example when you have visitors.
- Types of minerals it removes
The most common mineral present in your hard water is calcium and manganese, but some water has iron which also needs to be removed.
Make sure your system removes all unwanted minerals from the water.
- Maintenance fee
Find out whether you need a professional or a plumber to install the softener.
Also, pay attention to maintenance costs either annually or monthly.
Certification by certain independents body guarantee the system is good at removing hardness effectively and has passed industry standards.
Such bodies are :
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certifies water treatment products.
- The water industry’s trade organization
- The Water Quality Association certifies equipment.
Warranty on both the control valve and mineral tanks
A good system lasts for 20 years. So on warranty, the control valve should have a guarantee of three years while the mineral tank should have a warranty of 10 years on most brands.
What are other methods for treating hard water?
There are other options for treating hard water but the technology does not soften water or remove hard minerals present in your water but conditions water to stop scales from forming on the water using home appliances.
This alternative does not use salt they use electric pulses or magnetic waves and other useful media.
Such an alternative method for conditioning water includes an electronic water conditioner, magnetic water conditioner, and salt-free water conditioner.
Does the salt-based water system makes your water taste salty
The answer is no.
Salt in the water softener is used to clean over coated resin for them to operate effectively
Is softened water safe for drinking?
Yes, it is safe.
What is the best whole home water softener?
Choosing the best whole home water softener depends on a number of factors such as the number of grains you want to be removed, capacity, maintenance cost, and more.
Make sure the system removes the right number of grains you need.
The following is the list of the best water softener brands
Whirlpool water softener
Water boss water softener
GE water softener
Genesis water softener
Morton water softener
Kenmore water softener
Fleck water softener
How much does water softener installation cost?
Water softener installation costs can be between $800- $3000.
The price varies due to some reasons such as:
Plumbing cost -If your home is well plumbed the cost is less but if the older house with poor plumbed the cost can be high.
Most people prefer hiring plumbing professionals if your house requires some plumbing issues such as soldering, cutting, and joining steel pipes. This can cost more compared to the case you are doing it yourself.
Also, some brands are complicated to install so you need to hire someone to do so.
Most water softener companies pack the main water softener installation kit required during installation but in case your house requires extra plumbing materials the brand will not cater to that.
You can incur extra costs in such incidences where you require extra materials.
What size water softener do I need for my house?
To choose the appropriate size of water softener for your home you need to multiply the number of people by the gallon of water they use each day (on average a person uses 80 gallons of water per day). The number you will get is multiplied by the number of grains of hardness in water. The hardness of water is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) and you can use a test kit or ask municipal your water hardness details.
A family of five people uses 400 gallons of water per day (80×5). Let’s assume your water hardness is 10 GPG you need a system that removes 4000 grains of hardness per day (400×10=4000)
Make sure the hardness you want to remove doesn’t exceed your system capacity so regeneration doesn’t happen more frequently.
Purchasing a unit with a small capacity will be regenerating more often and will cost you more. Buying a unit with high capacity will cost you more than buying the whole unit but will regenerate less frequently saving you money.
Is it ok to drink softened water?
Is water softener worth money?
Yes! Hard water has a major effect on home appliances which can be expensive to repair compared to buying a water softener.
Can I install water softener myself
Most water softeners come with installation instructions that can guide you on how to do it.
Installation requires more plumbing work and takes time so if you are good at doing plumbing work you can do it yourself.
How long will water softener last?
Most brand lasts for 10-20 years.
Do water softeners need a drain?
Yes! To flush out water that is used during regeneration.
Should water softener drain into the septic tank?
Can I use water while the softener is regenerating?
During regeneration time the water that will get into your house appliances is hard or untreated. So it is not recommended to use water because it will have a negative impact on your house appliances.
Does recharge water from water softener affect septic tank?
One main thing that affects the normal operation of the septic tank is overloading and undersized septic tank. How you overload a septic tank is by using excessive clean products.
How to reduce overloading when it comes to a water softener is to choose a water softener that utilizes demand-initiated regeneration.
The water softener that utilizes demand initiated regeneration method regenerates when required and does not use a lot of salt, therefore, will not overload the septic tank or system
Does water softener lower water pressure?
The water softener should not lower water pressure unless it is not installed correctly, has a defective system, or is undersized.
How often should you change water softener resin?
The resin lasts for 20 -25 years. You can only change the resin if the quality of the water has changed.
Do water softener need servicing?
If the system is properly installed and you have chosen the right size, a water softener can operate for years with less servicing. You are only required to check monthly the salt level for regeneration.