The Fleck 5600SXT has many of the tools of a much more expensive water softener. But does it deliver on its promises? Find out in our detailed and unbiased review.
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: 10″ x 54″ tank, 14″ x 17″ x 33″ brine tank (for 48,000 grain model)
Similar model: Iron Pro 2
The Fleck 5600SXT is the most popular and well regarded water softener from the Fleck range. This classic model has stood the test of time, and has recently received an upgrade to its design. Gone is the aging mechanical meter, and now in its place is a 21st century electronic meter. The new meter has all the functionality of the old, but is more accurate and easier to use. Fleck state that in testing these new meters have been seen to run continuously for 27 years! This water softener’s design is so efficient and effective that 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 offer some excellent customer support to ease your mind of any worries that installing a water softener like this may cause you.
The 5600SXT 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 48,000 grain sized model. Anyway, let’s take a look at how effective the Fleck softener is.
The Fleck 5600SXT operates on the principle of ion exchange. 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 is softened and made more manageable.
Water softeners that operate in this way will eventually reach 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 is can be a make or break aspect. This Fleck water softener uses 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
Now, as you may have noticed, most of these settings are time based. This is the area where the Fleck 5600SXT 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 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 to regenerate.
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 15″x 17″x 33″ brine tank. The brine tank is used for cleaning the resin during the regeneration process. This tank is capable of holding 250 lbs. of pelleted salt. This is around 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 5600SXT 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 5600SXT 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 regenerationtime and capacity.
- The more advanced programming options include up to 6independently adjustable cycle times.
Installation & Maintenance
The Fleck 5600SXT comes as standard with:
- 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
The installation can be completed 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, then the system must be programmed to work as you would like it to. This is a also a simple process, but be sure you know the exact hardness of your water. This must be entered so that the monitor can recognize when the regeneration process should take place. Water can be tested in 3 ways:
- Contact your local water company or authority
- A simple water test kit can be purchased on Amazon
- A private laboratory can do a survey for you
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 be defaults. The setup process can be broken down into 5 key steps. They are summarized in the image below.
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 service manual is available here if you’d like to find out some more details.
Pros & 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|
This Fleck water softener is really hard to beat. It has a really effective, high capacity output but remains good value. Fleck have recently upgraded the line to include different sized capacities for every household. This means there’s a Fleck 5600 SXT that’s perfect for your home. This is the water softener that we recommend over the rest. It’s the complete package.
See how this water softener compares to other market leaders in our guide.
Don’t forget to check out our complete guides to water filters too.