What's Up with the High Salt Efficiency Setting?


Old 01-13-05, 03:08 PM
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Question What's Up with the High Salt Efficiency Setting?

Wish I had seen this forum before I replaced our 1996 Kenmore with a similar unit. Now I'll know enough to buy a Clack in about eight more years. . . .

Please help me understand what I'm missing about this "High Salt Efficiency" (>4000 grains/lb salt) setting I have. As I understand it, it gives up capacity in order to have smaller, more frequent, and less costly regens in terms of both water and salt usage. It seems like a no-brainer. So why aren't all softeners "High Efficiency"? Is it because manufacturers couldn't make mammoth capacity claims? Are the savings less than claimed? Do more frequent regens shorten the softener's life? Is there a water quality tradeoff as well? Something I'm missing?

Basically, why shouldn't I flip the HE switch? If it matters, our two kids will be fleeing the nest over the next three years, so at 42,000 grains, we'll have plenty of capacity. My hardness results are right on top of the water company's published 20 gpg. We've had problems with clear and red iron in the past, but the company claims recent treatment improvements "substantially eliminate" soluble iron (they recommend zero adjustment for iron). Even so, I've seen the occasional breakthrough, they flush lines once or twice annually, and my whole house filter could be used as a compass needle at every changeout, it has so much iron. So more frequent regens because of iron don't sound bad. Also, our water billing is steeply progressive based on usage and we kick into the second tier every spring when we fill the pool.

Finally, the old manual basically promised me heartache, doom and bad breath if I used the "iron-out" type salts with the resin. This time around, the manual says iron removing softener salt is ok if you need it. Is that a good idea in my situation? Are the iron softener salts safe and effective, and are they preferable to hitting it with a slug of the vile cleaner every six months?

Congrats on a well moderated, informative forum with no signs of axes being ground. I'd appreciate any insights you can offer.
Old 01-13-05, 08:57 PM
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The salt dose is adjustable on all softeners. The lower the dose in a given volume of resin gets a higher grains per lb of salt used efficiency. The lower the salt dose the more frequent the softener has to regenerate IF... the softner wasn't sized (correctly) to use that dose. Thereby that softener will use more water, wear out the resin faster due to friction wear and can actually use more salt than a correctly sized softener. And all that has nothing to do wit hthe SFR (softener flow rating) which if exceeded means the softener can't remove all the hardness. So IMO, it's marketing hype but look up "softener sizing chart" and read up on SFR.

IMO a correctly sized softener won't regenerate more or less frequently than roughly once per week unless every 3-4 days due to iron content. So if your kids leave, you'd want to reprogram for the two of you and regenerate about once per week. Going longer than say 7-10 days can damage resin due to sediment that can't be backwashed out of the resin bed.

All resin can use Iron Out etc. type cleaners but some softeners may not be capable of it's use if the materials they are made of can't stand up to it.

If I'm right and you bought from a big box store... don't bet on that 8 years. Plan on more like 3-6.

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Doug Aleshire, Super Moderator 2

Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 05:09 PM.

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