A water softener is common component of homes across the United States because of the presence of particles such as calcium and magnesium that become dissolved in water as it travels through the Earth. These ions occur naturally in the soil and are present in varying amounts with the highest levels located in the Midwest and the lowest toward the Coasts. While most water collection and treatment facilities are required to remove potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens, governmental agencies rarely have laws that mandate the removal of hardness causing ions since they pose little threat to human health. In most situations, the homeowner is responsible for taking steps to alleviate the aggravating effects that hard water can have in the home and often must purchase and install a softening system.
Some of the most common and frustrating problems that occur for homeowners who suffer from hard water include decreased lather and effectiveness of soaps and laundry detergents, damaged and even discolored clothing, clogged pipes, damaged appliances, lime scale accumulation on pots and bathroom fixtures, soap scum on the skin that causes itching and irritation, and staining of porcelain sinks and even bathtubs. Although minor amounts of dissolved molecules may go unnoticed, areas that have moderate to high concentrations of calcium and magnesium tend to cause many problems for homeowners. These areas usually have municipal water suppliers that are able to provide details about local water hardness and well-respected professional installers who can perform a water test and setup the equipment.
When selecting a softening product from those that are currently available on the market, most people will need to decide between a salt-based system and a salt-free alternative. The difference between the two is that a product that uses salt is able to completely remove most of the hardness causing ions from the water before it enters the home and is consumed; whereas, an alternative product that does not use salt will typically claim that it can alter the calcium and magnesium ions so that they are no longer able to precipitate out of the water and cause problems. While alternative systems do have less impact on the environment and on septic systems, they are nowhere near as effective and might not provide the kind of results that the homeowner is hoping for when the hardness level is moderate or high.
Given the benefits of salt-based softeners, it is no surprise that these types of products are popular with those who work in the industry. In fact, most professional installers will recommend this type of system when local regulations do not restrict their use. One of the largest and most experienced companies in the sector is called Fleck and they have been manufacturing and distributing two tank salt-based water softeners for over 50 years. The company’s solid track record and consistent support over the years has made them one of the most trusted and successful businesses in the industry. Models such as the 5600, 5600 SXT, and 7000 SXT are some of the most widely used Fleck water softeners in the US.
The main differences between these products are the way in which regeneration cycles are initiated and the overall flow capacity. Each of the systems has a tank that contains a resin bed that is designed to pull ions out of the water and that must be washed with a concentrated salt solution on a regular basis. This process is known as regeneration and it keeps the Fleck water softener working properly over a many years. The basic 5600 model has a manual dial that can be turned in order to set a specific time each day when the regeneration cycle will occur. Although this type of product works fine, it is not the best when it comes to conserving salt and electricity. More advanced systems such as the 5600 SXT and 7000 SXT may provide the option of allowing the softener to determine when a regeneration cycle will occur due to the volume of water that has passed through the system.
Although it is possible for some skilled homeowners to purchase and install their own softeners, most manufacturers recommend hiring a certified professional who specializes in water softener installation and who has been trained to provide ongoing service and support. The incorrect installation and maintenance of a Fleck product by a homeowner could void the manufacturer’s warranty and result in financial loss. This is true for several other brands as well and it is usually a good idea to go ahead and just hire an approved professional. Those who would like to learn more about hard water and who want to read through several water softener reviews before making a purchase are encouraged to visit this website.