Questions: Packed Bed, Upflow Regeneration


Old 10-18-09, 07:38 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Milton, Ontario
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Questions: Packed Bed, Upflow Regeneration

I need to replace my old, broken down water softener. Based on all of the fantastic information here and other forums, my approach has changed dramatically and I'm seriously considering a DIY option.

However, after all my reading and all my conversations with local and conglomerate reps some questions remain. It can sometimes be hard to make sense of the FUD. Thanks in advance for helping me out.

The details:
- City water hardness around 20 g/g, apparently fluctuates from 17-22 according to local reps. City average document says 21.9.
- Details on all other water measurements found here under Milton Well Based column
- Chlorine content has been going up lately based on taste, I'd like to address that for cooking and drinking.
- Family of four, two adults and two girls 4 and 6 years old (ie water usage likely below average now but will increase steadily over the next 15 years).

Where my head is right now:
- Likely going to get a Clack WS-1 based system. I have a local dealer (somewhat pricey) and one internet based option (aquatell) that I've found so far here in Canada.
- Both Clack dealers have taken the approach that tanks and media are all pretty much the same, the valve is the big variable.

But that is in conflict with alot of what I've read and been told, which is where the questions come in:
- It would appear that getting a higher-efficiency resin like Purolite SST60 does actually make a difference. My primary interest here would be lowering total operating cost by lowering salt and water consumption. Is it generally worth the extra $?
- It would appear that every dealer I've talked to has proposed a machine of different capacity. Based on my own research I was thinking something in the 40k range, but have been proposed machines anywhere from 25-35k. My guess is that they're trying to appear competitive pricewise, but am I oversizing my unit? Does using SST60 resin change the requirement there (ie more efficient resin means smaller resin bed is called for)/
- At least one dealer suggested that their unit uses even less salt and water by doing upflow regeneration and only recharging the resin that needs recharging. Does this really provide a noticeable increase in efficiency (ie long term cost)? I've read that this requires a packed bed, but can't get much information on what that is or how I would create a packed bed. In both the upflow regeneration and packed bed case, is this something I could (or even should) accomplish with a DIY Clack based system and if so how?
- I'd like to add some carbon to the bed in order to remove the chlorine taste. Most dealers said that the carbon would eventually lose effectiveness and require replacement. One dealer said that they use Centaur carbon which works differently (chemical conversion vs absorption) and lasts much longer (he actually said lifetime warranty). Is this true?
- How much carbon should I add to the resin tank for my scenario?

Alot of questions I know, hopefully I've provided enough information to help with providing the answers.

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Old 10-18-09, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: PA
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I will provide some information about some of your questions.

1. A carbon filter is used to remove chlorine. You can go with point of use filters--generally replaceable 2.5" x 10" to filter only the drinking water. Alternatively you can go with a whole house filter--typically a backwashed granular activated carbon (GAC) filter. The point of use filter can be purchased for less than $100 on the internet in the US. Whole house filters start at around $500 and go up depending on size. You might also consider adding KDF 55 to a whole house filter to extend the life of the carbon. I would strongly recommend that you do not mix carbon and softener resin in the same unit. Carbon must be periodically replaced as its capacity is used up. A separate unit is very desirable.

2. SST-60 resin does provide improved performance--slightly higher capacity for a given quantity of salt and slightly reduced regeneration water requirements--but you have to know how to set the unit up to get the savings. It is generally accepted that the savings don't economically pay for the increased cost where you are not dealing with substantial iron.

3. Clack makes a good head. As to sizing the tank--if you assume 60 gpd per person at 22 grains that is 5280 grains per day assuming a regeneration every 7 days (a recommended frequency) then you will need 37k capacity plus a reserve. Softeners most efficiently us salt when regenerated at 4 or 5 lbs of salt per cubic foot. So a 2.5 cubic foot unit would provide the the needed capacity at an economical regeneration rate. Such a unit can be purchased from internet suppliers in the US for about $750 delivered.
Old 10-19-09, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Akron Ohio
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Bob999 is all over this so I'll just add to what he said:

No carbon has an infinite life so any dealer who told you it would last a lifetime is lying to you. True centaur does last longer but it too will need to be changed. Mixing the carbon and resin is not advisable.

I often install inline carbon cartridge filters after softeners for both sulfide and chlorine removal and have very good luck with it. If you are just removing chlorine you should get at least 4 months per filter (depending on size and type) so if you are planning a DIY install do the math and see whats makes the most sense to you. You are gonna pay for the carbon whether you use it slowly in cartridge form or have to re-bed a carbon unit in 3-5 years. You should be able to get a chlorine test result from the city so you know exactly what levels of chlorine you're dealing with. My only advice is make sure you get a large enough cartridge filter as many of them reduce/restrict flow pretty severely. If you think you want to try a cartridge just post here and I will be happy to go into further detail.

The resin issue was covered detailed enough by Bob999. Hard to justify the the additional cost unless you are also dealing with iron removal.
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