This is in continuation to series of vendor neutral posts I published on various aspects of residential water purification to help home owners who maybe looking for water softener, water management system, RO etc. In particular the topic of "Water leak detection and prevention"

Not sure if anyone of you have heard about Chandler Systems Incorporated - they are one of the leading developers of the water softener control valves and hold several patents in that space. If you do bit of deep research, you will quickly find out that Fleck (Pentair), Clack, Autotrol (Pentair) and Canature are other leading forces in that space. Recently CSI technology division announced Drop Connect technology, a game changing (in my opinion) holistic water management system (including leak detection and auto shutoff) which can be integrated with various components of softeners (softener, carbon filters, iron filters, alternating tanks etc.) So what is a Drop connect technology and why as a home owner looking for a softener I should give a serious consideration for this? 1. Drop technology is a smart holistic water management system that comes integrated with water softening systems (which typically gets installed at point of entry of water into the house). It solves many problems beyond softening water and has many uses. 2. While there are few water softening systems that are wifi based and provide optional / packaged leak detection and remote shutoff option, they do not come anywhere close to what the drop connect technology offers. Why? 3. Drop connect works on its own local network protocol. Meaning even if your home's wifi is down, the system still continues to function and be able to auto shut-off water supply in case any of its sensors detect leak. Why is it important? Let's say you are away from home, most leak detectors that are part of the water softening systems only will alert you via App when home's wifi network is working. This means that if for any reason, there is a leak at home and wifi network is down and you are away from home, you wouldn't be able to receive notifications regarding potential water leak and hence won't open the App to shut-off water supply valve remotely. Also, even if the wifi network is on but you are in a place not able to receive any signals, there is no way for you to know about potential leak at home and act on this. This is where the local communication between the Drop device and sensors using local protocol communication shines as it results in auto shutoff of water supply provided you have set it up that way. Of course, there is a simple way to address this, each time you go out, you could just shut off water supply to home and go. But what if you are home, sleeping and suddenly there is burst of water either in kitchen or in laundry room etc. This is where drop connect comes to rescue. But then, why can't I add my own leak detection technology with sensors (e.g flow by Moen or Phyn etc) and how does this differ? 4. Apart from being able to communicate locally with the sensors and shut off water supply when it detects a leak, it has ability to drain the water in the pipes via the softener drain when it identifies a leak down stream. This means, it will prevent water coming out from the point of failure i.e., after the shut off has happened as it lets water in the pressurized pipes go through the water softener drain as opposed via the point of leak. What else? 5. I know and have seen several home owners who paid huge money to plumbers to create a separate water lines for their yards and house. And some have avoided adding a softener due to the cost involved in doing this. This is where it shines further, Drop connect technology allows you to program (set) the softener control to let water bypass the softener system and directly go through the water lines instead through the softener. All automated via App. What does this mean? Let us say you set your softener control valve to go into bypass mode at 5.00 AM in the morning. You can schedule your sprinkler system or drip systems to water the plants at that time so that they do not receive softened water. All this, without a need of replumbing. Isn't it amazing. 6. Additionally, you get to know the how much water your softener is consuming for backwash (drain) and fine tune to optimize softener for water consumption during backwash process, get notifications about salt levels and get plethora of water usage statistics to be able to optimize water consumption at home or get to know about the water consumption behaviors. 7. You can add up to 32 leak detectors to monitor moisture, notify of leaking pipes, sump, tub overflow, burst pipes, leaking fixtures, water heater leaks, washers etc. 8. Finally, the most important thing is this, it comes all integrated with softener valve and at phenomenal price point. As an example Phyn through Costco or flo by Moen from Amazon you are looking around device cost of $600 -$700 including taxes plus install cost of around $250 - $500 depending on the complexity of the install and they still do not come close to the overall functionality provided by Drop connect nor come integrated with softener systems so that you can manage everything together via one App nor at an affordable price. Due to all of the reasons above, I think, it is good to give it a serious consideration when planning to setup softener.

Thank you for your overwhelming support to series of my posts relating to various aspects of water softener systems. I am penning this in response to some users requesting to understand importance of resin as it relates to water softener and how (if possible) to revive old softeners. I have received at least 3-4 requests in the past one week on this topic and thought, I would share what I know for the benefit of anyone owning a water softener or planning to have one.


Resin is an integral part of the water softening system. Given this, let us try to understand what are they? In simple terms they are spheres typically made of numerous Polystyrene (synthetic hydrocarbon polymer of styrene) strands and wrapped in a crisscross manner allowing water to passthrough the negatively charged (anion) carboxylate which gets attached to positively charged (cation) sodium. The intersection of strands is called a crosslink and a resin contains several number of crosslinks.


As the hardwater (water containing calcium and magnesium) enters into the resin tank, it goes through these beads / spheres / resin and displaces the sodium ion due the their stronger affinity to carboxylate anions than sodium. Over a period of time most of the resin will contain calcium and magnesium ions attached to them and can no more be efficient to attract calcium and magnesium ions entering into the softener via the incoming line.


At this point, the regenerations kicks-in (in some cases manual / preset or in some cases auto depending the softener controller) and salt water (sodium) from brine tank gets pulled into the resin tank and due to their sudden high concentration of sodium, sodium ions temporarily will have high affinity towards the carboxylate anions than calcium / magnesium and displaces the calcium and magnesium ions from them. The displaced calcium and magnesium ions then get discharged via the drain and resin now be ready to again attract the calcium and magnesium ions coming from the water line into the softener.


Given this, it is extremely important to select resin (or softener system) that will last for a while withstanding chlorine impact (gradual degradation of beads due to corrosive effect of chlorine making them ineffective over a period of time), water pressure variations (hydraulic shock) causing resin / beads to break, constant swelling and contraction of resin due to regeneration (osmotic shock) and eventually some of them breaking, natural wear due to resins rubbing against each other constantly and eventually breaking or becoming ineffective and heavy metal contamination (iron) etc.


The percentage of crosslinks in beads / resin will determine the strength of the resin. The higher the percentage of crosslinks, greater the strength and will last longer. Many older system have a crosslink percentage around 8 and new softeners have high efficiency resins at 10%. In a residential setup, 8% and 10% are most common while in some rare cases could be up to 20%. It is expected that 10% resins will last much longer than 8% crosslink resins and in some cases (depending on the nature of incoming water and some factors mentioned above that affect the longevity of resin) could last double the years.


Eventually all resins will give up (unless crosslinks are much higher than 10%) and at some point you will notice the degradation in softener performance i.e., not removing hardness (calcium and magnesium) effectively, discolored water, resin beads appearing in water etc. At this time, it is required to replace the resins in softener and unfortunately, it is a bit tedious process. While the resin itself is not expensive, engaging someone who knows how to do this could be expensive or one has to be handy by themselves. It is not a difficult process if one is handy. There are lots of videos on YouTube on how to do this. While the videos may not be specific to your model, the process is pretty much the same.


It is also a good idea to use resin and iron cleaning liquids on a regular basis to extend the life of the resins. There is no use of using them after it is too late. It has to be from the very beginning but on a regular scheduled basis for the life of the softener.


When buying resin (for replacing) please make sure they are specifically certified for NSF / ANSI 61 (preferably US made) and when choosing a softener make sure it comes with high efficiency resin (10% or higher). If a softener generally lasts about 15 years without needing to change resin, it did pretty well and if you maintain it well from the beginning, the chances are it will last much longer. If you are handy enough and can change the resin when it gives up, you could likely extend the softener life for another 10-15 years. There are few vendors who provide lifetime warranty on resin as well. So do your research before making a selection.


I generally prefer to stay out from making recommendation as I try to provide vendor / brand neutral information. If you want a specific recommendation or consultation specific to your need (vendor, model etc.), the please DM me or reach out to us via https://diypals.com Otherwise, happy to answers any questions that are not vendor specific.

State of California requires homeowner’s only install salt based softeners that meet California salt efficiency standards i.e., ones installed after 2000 and 2002 (has higher efficiency rating than 2000). The reason for this is reduce the impact of the salt (sodium) which produces a lower quality of effluent and its impact on the environment.


Water Quality Association (an independent, highly recognized & respected nonprofit) foundation has published a research study detailing the environment impact of ion-exchange water softeners (salt-based softeners).


http://www.wqa.org/Portals/0/WQRF/ResearchStudy_WaterSoftenersEnvironmentalImpact-ExecSummary.pdf


Bottom line summary of the study: Addition of regeneration wastes that contain large concentrations of excess sodium can, however, be detrimental to solids settling and, therefore, produce a lower quality effluent. Such higher concentrations can be from the operation of a softener in an inefficient manner (</= 1000 gr/lb) in relation to the excessive use of salt for the removal of hardness.


Even before this study was done, California initially in 2000 and 2002 mandated that residents only use salt efficiency certified softeners to address the potential effluent concerns arising due to excess discharge of sodium. Prior to this regulation softeners were very inefficient.


California code related to softeners;


https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=HSC&division=104.&title=&part=12.&chapter=5.&article=1 .


"An appliance installed on or after January 1, 2000, shall be certified by a third party rating organization using industry standards to have a salt efficiency rating of no less than 3,350 grains of hardness removed per pound of salt used in regeneration. An appliance installed on or after January 1, 2002, shall be certified by a third party rating organization using industry standards to have a salt efficiency rating of no less than 4,000 grains of hardness removed per pound of salt used in regeneration."


These regulations ensure, softeners certified per California salt efficiency standards far exceed the recommendation from research study which say efficiency less than (</= 1000 gr/lb) are likely contribute to effluent That said, if the purpose of installing softener is to remove the scales, the only technology that physically removes the calcium and magnesium is Salt based softeners. So, it is totally up to the consumer on which way they would like to go. Ideally most I know would like to go with salt less but cost makes even environmentally conscious consumer to stay off them. The good thing is California has a regulation around salt efficiency.


The proponents of salt-based softeners say that there are environmental benefits of using Salt based softeners and there are studies in support of salt based system which primarily talk about lessened consumption of soap or chemicals to wash clothes or dishes etc., thereby reducing chemical pollution into the sewer / drains, savings on electrical bills etc. So, there is a case to be made on both sides. Given this, it is important when changing softener or installation new salt based softener to always go with softener's that meet California salt efficiency standards or higher. Hope this helps.