Today, we discuss the Fleck 5600 SXT whole house water softener and offer you a full review and buying guide. We take a close look at how it works and see if it offers value for money. Moreover, we will discuss some things you should know before you buy a water softener, answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding hard water and the softening process and offer you our verdict regarding this product.
We all know the Fleck brand has a great reputation but why?
Fleck 5600 SXT Whole House Water Softener Review
Introduction: What You Should Know about the Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener
The Fleck 5600 SXT is the most popular and well-regarded water softener from the Fleck range. It is also one of the best water softeners on the market today, featuring impressive tech specs, features, and customer reviews.
This classic model has stood the test of time and has recently received an upgrade to its design. Gone is the aging mechanical meter! Now, in its place, we have a 21st-century electronic meter. The new meter has all the functionality of the old but is more accurate and easier to use. Fleck states that in testing these new meters run continuously for 27 years! This water softener’s design is so efficient and effective than a simple meter upgrade was all that was needed to improve on an already impressive unit.
This water softener may lack the $3000 price tag of many popular water softeners, but it certainly doesn’t lack any of the quality. It is highly efficient at its job and will soften the hardest water in even the largest homes. Fleck also offers some excellent customer support to ease your mind of any worries that installing a water softener like this may cause you.
Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Main Tech Specs and Key Features
Find below a short list highlighting the main tech specs, features, and key aspects you should know about the Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener to make an educated purchase!
- Cost: $$$
- Capacity: 16,00 – 64,000 grains
- Resin: 1.5 ft.³
- Suitable Size Home: Small to very large (depending on model capacity)
- Suitable Water: Medium to very hard
- Water Flow Rate: Up to 20 gallons per minute
- Regeneration: Meter based
- Warranty: Yes, 10 years for tanks, 5 years for valves
- Size: 14″ x 14″x 34″ brine tank able to hold 250 lbs. of salt (for the 64,000 grain model)
- Similar model: Iron Pro 2
What Else Should You Know about the Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener?
The Fleck 5600 is now available in a range of sizes, to suit the water softening needs of any household. Grain capacities of 16,000, 24,000, 32,000, 40,000, 48,000, and 64,000 are now available. For the purpose of this review, we will concentrate on the 64,000 grain-sized model. Anyway, let’s take a look at how effective the Fleck water softener is.
The Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Overall Performance
The Fleck 5600 has a range that operates on the principle of ion exchange. If you remember our guide on the best water softeners and water conditioners on the market, you know that ion exchange is the main technology employed in traditional salt-based water softeners.
This means that the undesirable minerals that harm your appliances and make your water hard (eg. calcium and magnesium) are “traded” for harmless sodium ions. By removing the calcium and magnesium particles, the water becomes more soft and manageable.
The Fleck 5600 water softeners that operate in this way will eventually reach their full capacity and need to regenerate or cleanse themselves of the unwanted ions. While a water softener is regenerating, it is unusable and that means no soft water for your house. Therefore, the way in which it does this can be a make or break aspect. Fleck water softeners use a meter based regeneration system. It has 4 modes of operation:
- Immediate meter regeneration
- Delayed meter regeneration
- Delayed time clock regeneration
- Day of week regeneration
Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Time-Based Settings
Now, as you may have noticed, most of these settings are time-based. This is the area where the Fleck 5600 SXT loses out to systems that cost thousands of dollars more. The very expensive systems have more sophisticated electronics and regenerate automatically at the optimum time. This isn’t a huge drawback though, as after a few weeks of operation you should have a pretty good understanding of the time it takes to reach its full capacity in your household. The second setting would be my preferred choice, where you can make it regenerate when it reaches a certain level of capacity. For example, once it’s 90% full it can be set.
The Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Resin Capacity and Flow Rate
It has a resin capacity of 1.5 ft.³. This is the amount of material that is available to perform the ion trade. When this resin capacity is all used up then the regeneration process will need to start. A capacity like this is sizeable and would suit a family of four comfortably, but could stretch as high as 6 people.
This Fleck water softener has a 14″ x 14″x 34″ brine tank. The brine tank cleans the resin during the regeneration process. This tank is capable of holding 250 lbs. of pelleted softener salt. This is around 4 bags of salt.
To put that in perspective, the average family of four will use about 1 bag of salt a month. You will need to add more salt as needed. The tank also includes a safety float to make sure the tank never comes close to overfilling. There is an additional overflow drain to prevent any mess and keep your mind at ease.
The water flow rate of the Fleck 5600 SXT can reach up to 20 gallons per minute. This would be sufficient for most households, and I can only imagine something like a hotel needing any more.
The Fleck 5600 SXT has a digital monitor. The backlit LCD display has 3 buttons and an intuitive interface. The monitor has reserve power to deal with blackouts, and will also back up any settings you store on it. Some of its helpful modes and settings include:
- The volume of soft water remaining
- Regeneration steps and cycle time remaining
- A service and self-diagnostics indicator
- Quick and easy setup of the regeneration time and capacity
- The more advanced programming options include up to 6 independently adjustable cycle times
The Main Properties, Features, and Tech Specs of the Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener
One of our favorite features of the Fleck 5600 SXT Waster Softener is its simple navigability.
The Upgraded Paddle Wheel Meter significantly improves water dispersion. As a 64,000-grain water softener, it will require about one bag of salt per month to function well. This is standard use for a household of four. The manufacturer provides you with a wide variety of choices. An informative display screen provides you with easy-access touchpad controls for your unit. This makes set up a breeze from start to finish.
You can always count on the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener to do its job. Water softening is accomplished through the removal of magnesium and low levels of iron. Remember, the purpose of this unit is not to remove iron or sulfur. It is simply meant to soften your water. If you want to remove these substances, you will need to install an air injection system before you install the softener.
Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener Set Contents
You will soon discover that one of the primary advantages of the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener set is the pre-loaded resin. You will not need to load it for yourself the first time. The flow meter is another key component. Use it to measure the water that you have used.
Did you know that the flow meter self-regenerates? This method helps you to save salt and reduce waste. However, it does come with a downside. The softener’s resin is only measured at eight percent. In regards to this softener’s installation, you can expect an exclusive service from the manufacturer including a video by email with a full installation guide.
What You Can Expect When You Purchase the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
Order your Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener with peace of mind. It comes with a ten-year product warranty on the tanks and a five-year valve warranty. Customer support is excellent; you can always depend on professional service. You can also expect to receive consistent regeneration of the resin. Below, we have compiled a shortlist of the pros and cons of the product.
Pros of the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
- Long warranty (10 years for the tanks and 5 years for the valves)
- Dependable customer service
- Metered control head
- Pre-loaded resin
- Large grain capacity (the unit ranges from 16,000 to 64,000)
Cons of the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
- The resin is only 8%; most water softening products have at least 10% resin
- It only removes a low level of iron
- Sulfur is not removed
- The 64,000-grain model is expensive
Is the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener Right for You?
The Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener is best suited for families of up to six members with three standard bathrooms or less.
If you are seeking a set it and forget it type of system, you will find this model particularly convenient. Since it features a meter-based regeneration, the system will replenish automatically based upon your water usage. It is not a good fit for small households. You could do with something less bulky with a lower energy usage rating.
Take a look at our guide on the best water softeners on the market to pick a product that might go better with your home when it comes to size and energy consumption. We are sure you will find the best product for your needs. Do not disregard electronic water descalers either or softening systems working with Template Assisted Crystallization. Both electronic and TAC softening systems are modern and ecologically friendlier alternatives to traditional salt-based water softeners.
On the other hand, if you have a very large household with more than three bathrooms or you know your family has a high water usage, you will want to size up. Consider the Fleck 7000 water softener. For those on sodium-restricted diets, keep in mind that your water will have higher levels of salt in it. Consult with your health professional to see if this is the right fit for you.
If you have a sizeable home and high water usage but you do not want the added sodium problem, we recommend you take a look at the Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter + Salt-Free Water Softener. Aquasana makes one of the most performing and appraised top whole house water filters on the market, and the Rhino is a flagship product when it comes to both clean and soft water. The system mixes water filtration with salt-free water conditioning, so you should take it into consideration.
Back to our Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener review, we assume you know already that over 85% of homes in the United States have a hard water problem. The majority of them solve it with a salt-based water softener. Make sure that the room and its facilities are equipped for it to run properly.
Do you have a drain and a power outlet nearby? Check all the boxes before you make your purchase.
The Fleck 5600 SXT Whole House Water Softener Installation & Maintenance
The Fleck 5600 SXT 64,000 comes as standard together with the following elements:
- Fleck 5600 SXT valve with digital controls
- Fiberglass resin tank
- Bypass valve
- Plumbing yoke terminating in 3/4″ threaded plastic ports
- Brine tank
- Brine tank safety float
- Top basket (to prevent a loss of resin)
- Brine line
You can complete the installation without the aid of a plumber, and can easily be done in an afternoon. There’s a comprehensive video below, which details the task step by step. Tools you might need are a screwdriver, Teflon tape, a wrench, and Teflon paste.
Once the hardware has been set up and installed in a perfect place, program the system to work as you would like it to. This is also a simple process, but be sure you know the exact hardness of your water. Enter this so that the monitor can recognize when the regeneration process should take place. You can test the water in 3 ways:
- Contact your local water company or authority
- You can buy a simple water test kit on Amazon
- A private laboratory can do a survey for you
Maintenance-wise, this water softener doesn’t need much attention.
The resin tank maintains itself after you have programmed it when to regenerate. The brine tank needs minimal care and simply needs to be topped up with salt (potassium or sodium chloride) when the levels are getting low. As mentioned previously, the brine tank will hold about 4 bags of salt, and a family of four would use around 1 bag a month.
The video above shows the steps you must take to program your control valve. Again it is quite straight forward and most settings you select will default. The setup process involves 5 key steps summarized in the image below.
The service manual is available here if you’d like to find out some more details.
The Fleck 5600 SXT Whole House Water Softener Pros and Cons
As we said before when we reviewed the best water softeners on the market, it is hard to beat the Fleck 5600 SXT. Before we offer you the pros and cons of this unit, let’s resume its most important specifications!
- The Fleck 5600 SXT is an on-demand digital metered water softener with 64,000-grain capacity and Black USA Pentair mineral and brine tanks.
- It features 2.0 cubic ft of high capacity resin that is preloaded in the tank.
- The ultra-efficient digital on-demand water softener valve saving on salt and water is one of its best and most important highlights.
- The system includes a 1-inch Noryl threaded plastic bypass compatible with standard plumbing and flex lines.
- The system ship pre-loaded with resin in the brine tank for an easier installation.
- Another great tech spec is the built-in capacitor that keeps the memory up to 48 hours so you don’t lose any programming in case you lose power.
Now, let’s continue our Fleck 5600 SXT water softener review by listing the product’s main pros and cons!
|Highly effective||Programming the electronic valve could be difficult for some|
|Most of the features of a model 5x the price|
|Great customer service|
|Comes in a range of sizes|
Before we wrap up this guide and offer you our verdict on the Fleck 5600 SXT water softener, let’s discuss some issues regarding hard water, softening technologies, water softeners in general, and some of the most important questions to ask before you buy any water softener!
Hard Water and Water Softening FAQs
For those of you who don’t know what ‘hard water’ actually means, it contains more minerals than normal water does, particularly calcium and magnesium. These minerals contain positively charged ions. Because of their presence, other ions easily dissolve in hard water (e.g. this is why soap does not dissolve much in hard water). For many industrial regions (e.g. drinking water preparation for breweries and sodas), the hardness of the water is actually very important, so you should regularly test your water hardness for both residential and commercial use.
What is Water Softening?
Water softening is a method that removes the ions which make the water hard. In most cases, calcium and magnesium are minerals that make water hard. Iron ions may be removed during the process but they are more difficult to get rid of completely. The best way to reduce your hard water is to connect your water softener directly to your water supply.
Water softeners are applied to reduce clogged pipes and help soap dissolve more easily in water. Water softening can prevent the negative effects of limescale on household appliances and plumbing units due to hard water and its effects (e.g. lime and scale buildup). After all, buildup in your pipes can increase the cost of domestic water heating by fifteen to twenty percent. Not only does water softening expand the lifespan of your household appliances but it also improves the working lifespan of solar heating systems such as water-based applications and air conditioning units.
How Do Water Softeners Work?
We have discussed this before, but a reminder never hurt anyone. As ion exchange elements, the purpose of water softeners is to remove positively charged ions. They primarily remove magnesium (Mg2+) ions and calcium (Ca2+) ions (aka ‘hardness minerals’). As we previously mentioned, they are sometimes designed to remove iron too.
For instance, the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener operates automatically. There are also models that operate semi-automatically and manually. Each type is rated on the number of hardness it can remove before regeneration.
Water softeners collect minerals in its conditioning tank and flush them away to drain them. When an ion exchanger is used for the purpose of water softening, it replaces calcium and magnesium in the water with other ions (e.g. sodium and potassium).
These exchanger ions are added to the reservoir as potassium and sodium salts. Good water softeners last for many years. The type of maintenance you perform and how often you keep up with the maintenance affects the longevity of your water softener.
What Do Softening Salts Do?
There are three types of salt that are sold for application in a water softener. They include rock salt, solar salt, and evaporated salt.
- Rock salt occurs naturally and is obtained from underground salt deposits by mining methods. Since it is a natural product, it contains between 98-99% sodium chloride and has a water insolubility level of 0.5-1.5%.
- Solar salt is also a natural product but it is obtained through the evaporation of seawater and contains around 85% sodium chloride. Its water insolubility level is less than 0.03%. The crystals are usually solid in form and sold in pellets.
- Evaporated salt is obtained through the mining of underground salt deposits. The moisture is evaporated with energy from natural gas or coal. This form of salt contains between 99.6 and 99.99% sodium chloride.
What Type of Salt Should I Use in My Water Softener?
You may not have known this but rock salt contains a lot of matter that is not water-soluble. As a result, the reservoirs have to be cleaned much more often than they normally would. However, rock salt is cheaper than evaporated salt and solar salt (minus your time and energy, of course).
As you may have noticed, solar salt contains more insoluble matter than evaporated salt does. When you make a decision about how much salt to use, remember to think about how often your softener will need a clean-out, the design, if the salt usage is low, and if you can rotate products.
If your salt usage is high, insoluble salt will build up faster than if you used solar salt. In addition, the reservoir will require more frequent cleaning.
Can I Mix Different Types of Salt in My Water Softener?
Generally speaking, it is not harmful to mix salts in a salt water softener. However, there are types of water softeners that are specifically designed. When you use alternative products, these softeners will not function well. We do not recommend mixing evaporated salt with rock salt, as this could clog the water softening reservoir. It is best to let your unit go empty from salt before attempting to add another type.
Salt is added to the reservoir during regeneration. The more often a water softener is regenerated, the more often you have to add salt. A good rule of thumb is to check it at least once per month. In order to guarantee satisfactory soft water production, keep the salt level half-full at all times.
Why Doesn’t Water Become Softer When Salt is Added?
Before salt begins to work as a water softener, it needs to have time in the reservoir. After all, salt dissolves slowly. When regeneration begins immediately after salt is added to the reservoir, it may not work properly. When the water softening takes place, it could indicate a malfunction or problem with the salt application.
What Are Typical Water Softening Costs?
How much does water softener cost?
Consider that some water softeners are more efficient than others are. Consequently, their prices will differ. Time-operated and water-meter-operated softeners are available for purchase. Meter-controlled units produce the softest water to salt ratio. While some softeners work on electricity, some recent water softeners use water power.
The cost of a water softener greatly depends on what type of energy it uses. When hard water is used heavily, the costs of soft water rises. Although they are expensive, the costs of water softeners are far outweighed by the benefits of savings that it obtains.
Do water-producing companies always produce softened water? Hard water problems occur most often when water is heated. Hard water doesn’t cause that many problems with water supplying companies, particularly when cold water runs through pipes.
Is Softened Water Safe to Drink?
Softened water contains all of the natural minerals that you need. It is only deprived of calcium and magnesium contents. Some sodium is added during the water softening process. Most softened water is safe to drink; we advise drinking water with 300 mg/L of sodium or less. In areas with a high concentration of hardened water, you cannot use it for the preparation of baby milk formulas.
Salt cannot enter drinking water through water softening installations. The purpose of saltwater in a water softener is to regenerate resin beds and draw out minerals that make water hard. Less than three percent of sodium intake is from softened drinking water. A person consumes an average of two to three teaspoons of salt per day.
Does Softening Water Deprive it of Essential Minerals?
No. Water softening only deprives water of the minerals that cause it to be hard (e.g. calcium, iron, and magnesium).
When Do You Need to Replace Water Softener Resin?
If your water is not becoming soft enough, consider what type of salt you are using, if you have mechanical problems and your softener components. If these elements are not impeding water softening, it could be time to replace the water softener resin or even your entire water softening system. Most water softening and ion exchange resins last between twenty to twenty-five years.
Does a Water Softener Brine Tank Need to Be Cleaned?
Generally speaking, you do not clean out a brine tank. The only time you would need to is when the salt product in use is in a high concentration of water-insoluble matter or there is a malfunction.
What is Mushing?
If you use loosely-compacted crystals in resin, they may form crystals similar to table salt and create a thick mass. This phenomenon, called mushing, often interrupts brine production. Brine production is the primary element to refresh resin beads in a water softener. Without brine production, water softeners cannot produce soft water. According to the Water Quality Association, a properly-placed septic tank cannot be damaged by brine.
Can You Use a Water Softener with Lead Pipes?
Lead pipe systems will have to be replaced before softened water flows through them. While using lead pipes in hard water areas may not cause a problem, it is highly advisable to replace them anyways. When softened water runs through lead pipes, it may pick up the lead.
Is it Possible to Bring Your Water Softener When You Move?
One of the most common questions we are asked is if you can bring a water softener along when you move. The answer is yes. You can bring water softeners with you when you move.
Just keep in mind that you will have to pay for installation again as well as fitting connections.
To do this, close off the inlet and outlet valves of the water softener and open the bypass valve. This allows hard water to flow out of the storage tank and your household tap water reservoir.
After that, disconnect the softener, move it to its new location, and store it there until you are ready to move.
Should You Discharge Water Softener Waste in Your Garden?
No. Brine changes osmotic pressure that plants depend on for their water needs. Avoid direct discharge of sodium or potassium chloride brine in your garden whenever possible.
Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Review: Bottom Line
Fleck water softeners are really hard to beat. The Fleck 5600 SXT reviews really well when it comes to efficiency, ease of use, and reliability. Furthermore, Fleck has recently upgraded the line to include different sized capacities for every household. This is the water softener that we recommend over the rest. It’s the complete package.
- Fleck 5600 SXT On-Demand Digital Metered Water Softener
- 64,000 Grain 2.0 cubic ft of High Capacity Resin Pre Loaded in the…
- Black USA Pentair mineral and brine tanks. Ultra-efficient digital on…
See how this water softener compares to other market leaders in our guide on the best water softeners. Don’t forget to check out our complete guides to water filters too for more information on how water filters and how to choose the best water filtration and softening systems on the market!
Don’t forget to come back for more information on water purification and conditioning guides! You can always count on us to give you the latest information on the best products on the market for your home!