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Verdict: The Fleck 5600SXT is widely considered a gold standard of the water softener industry. It’s a best-seller and a top recommendation of most industry experts, including our staff here at Water Filter Data. It comes with a digital control valve for ease of use, an impressive warranty, and the support of one of the most trusted brands in the industry.
If you’ve read other Fleck 5600SXT reviews you already know that this is one of the most highly regarded water softeners on the market. The powerful Fleck 5600 water softener will help soften even the hardest water. It’s easy to use and and (relatively) easy to install, although folks with no plumbing experience may want to get help with installation.
If you’re in the market for a water softener, keep reading this Fleck 5600SXT review to learn more about this popular model.
- Costs less than similar models
- Offers a lengthy warranty on both valves and tanks
- Adequate capacity for up to 5+ people
- Capable of softening even very hard water sources
- Whole-house capacity using single central unit
- Very high flow rate of up to 20 gallons per minute
- Well regarded brand you can trust
- Model has been upgraded to a digital, electronic design
- Offers various capacities/sizes for different size homes
- Automatic regeneration using advanced digital control valve
- Minimal maintenance required
- Digital valve has reserve power to preserve settings in power outages
- Very affordable and great value
- Installation may be difficult if you’ve never done it
- Instruction manual could be more detailed
Fleck 5600SXT Review: At a Glance
The Fleck 5600SXT is a salt-based, 48,000 grain capacity system. It’s the perfect size for medium to large homes, and hard to very hard water. There are also different sized units available to suit different home sizes.
Salt-based units like this one use resin beads to soften the hard water in your home, while salt helps clean the resin beads and replace harmful mineral deposits with harmless sodium. This is the industry standard practice for effective water softening.
Fleck actually makes several different models of this unit, ranging from 16,000 grains to 64,000. This review will focus on the popular 48,000 grain model. Besides the capacity, the units are all the same.
The Fleck 5600 water softener was designed as a maintenance-free system. The system itself is controlled by setting the information into the digital display. Once you’ve set everything to your liking, there’s no more work to be done. You will occasionally have to replace salt pellets, as they are needed, but otherwise, you can set it and forget it.
As other Fleck 5600SXT reviews have pointed out, this system isn’t small. In fact, it’s somewhat on the larger end. If you live in a smaller home, you’ll want to seek out one of the smaller, lower capacity units.
How Does It Work?
The Fleck 5600SXT is a salt-based water softener. It operates by running your tap water through a tank system filled with resin beads and ordinary salt. A separate brine tank is used to “regenerate” the resin beads once they reach capacity.
Water softeners like this one operate using the principle of ion exchange. Essentially, ions of “hard” minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron are replaced with ions of “soft”, harmless minerals – sodium, in this case. This process is explained in detail here.
This process greatly reduces the levels of hard minerals in your water. It does increase sodium levels in your water, however, so if you’re on a salt-restricted diet, you’ll want to consider the increased sodium in your drinking water. It’s possible to use potassium instead of salt, but it’s far more expensive, and may present its own health concerns. There are some salt-free water softeners, as well, but they are typically not as powerful as salt-based models.
Do note that water softeners are different than water conditioners. They are also not water filters, so they won’t remove contaminants, chlorine, etc. Many people like to combine a water softener with a good whole-house water filter.
Fleck 5600SXT Specs
- 48,000 grains (models available from 16,000 to 64,000 grains)
- 1.5 cubic feet of resin
- 10″ x 54″ tank
- 14″ x 17″ x 33″ brine tank
- Suitable for small to medium homes
- Suitable for medium to very hard water sources
- Flow rate of up to 20 gallons per minute
- Meter-based automatic regeneration
- 10 year warranty on tank; 5 year on valve components
For more information, see the full spec sheet here (PDF).
Fleck 5600SXT Price & Value
The The Fleck 5600 cost is quite reasonable, usually at $550 to $700. Prices fluctuate, but even at the higher end this unit presents a great value.
You cannot buy this unit directly from Fleck, as they don’t have a consumer facing storefront or website. In fact, Fleck technically only manufactures the digital valve head, while the tank components are made by other companies.
Operation & Day to Day Use
The Fleck 5600SXT is very easy to use once its set up. Everything comes down to the digital meter, pictured above. On this meter, you can:
- Check volume of soft water remaining
- Check regeneration steps and remaining cycle time
- Check service and self diagnostics indicator for any issues
- Setup automatic regeneration schedules
- Choose from 6 independently adjustable cycle times
The video below shows how to program the Fleck control valve:
The digital meter on this unit is really what makes it such a good water softener. It’s easy to program and once it’s set up, there is very little effort needed on your end. You can set the meter to automatically regenerate on a certain day of the week, or after a certain period of time.
Beyond checking the meter once in a while, really ALL you need to do on this unit is to top off the salt supply every once in a while. The amount of salt you use will depend on your household size and water consumption, but generally speaking you can expect to need about 1 bag (50-75lb) of salt per month.
That’s it! Once the unit is installed, it will provide softened water to your entire household. All you need to do is top off the salt – and enjoy your fresh, softened water!
Fleck 5600SXT Installation
The Fleck 5600SXT comes partially assembled. You will need to install it and some parts will need to be adjusted to fit your home setup. Depending on your knowledge of water softeners and plumbing, this installation will likely take around two to four hours.
The Fleck comes with an installation manual, although we found it to be a bit confusing. The video shown above does a good job of showing the basic installation process. If you buy from Quality Water Treatment Company or another authorized retailer, you should be able to call them up and ask questions during the installation process, if need be.
If you have NO plumbing experience, you may want to ask a friend for help. Or, consider hiring a professional. It will likely cost between $200 and $500 to get a water softener installed – but, you’ll have the piece of mind to know that it’s been done correctly.
After you’ve physically installed the water softener you will need to program it. How you program it will ultimately depend on how much salt you want to use. If you program the machine at top capacity it will go through much more salt. You can program it instead to maximize the efficiency of the salt, but that lowers the capacity. Once you’ve made the decision about how much salt you want to use, programming your unit is as easy as hitting a few buttons.
Fleck 5600SXT Maintenance
This unit is designed to be fairly hands-off. The digital meter runs the regeneration cycle automatically. You can choose from immediate meter regeneration (on-demand), delayed meter regeneration, delayed time clock regeneration at a specific time, or automatic regeneration on a specific day of the week.
The beauty of the Fleck is that once it’s set up, maintenance is very hands-off. Literally all you’ll need to do is add a bag of salt once in a while.
It will require about 1 bag of salt per month for a family of four. This is in-line with industry standards, and water softener salt is very affordable.
If something goes wrong with your unit, you can reference the full user manuals online as PDFs. See here for the digital meter user manual, and here for the manual of the full unit. If you ever lose track of your physical copy, access these PDFs to find the information you need.
Fleck Water Softener Review: Performance
When it comes to performance, the Fleck 5600SXT is a top of the line water softener. It works as advertised and will soften even the hardest water.
It offers a high flow rate of up to 20 gallons per minute. This is more than adequate for most households, and means that you can be running the shower, the sink and the dishwasher all at the same time without even coming close to overworking the Fleck.
It has a resin capacity of 1.5 ft³ and a grain count of 48,000. This refers to the volume of resin beads that are used for the mineral ion exchange. This capacity is adequate for a household of 3-5 people. It’s also capable of softening medium to very hard water, which is based on water hardness scale deposit measurements.
Overall, we found this unit to perform very well. Once the installation was complete, operation was completely automatic. We noted significantly reduced water hardness levels throughout the house, and performance was steady when we re-tested months later. That said, it should be noted that we tested this unit in an area with moderately hard water, so we can’t directly comment on the performance when dealing with very hard water.
Fleck 5600SXT Reviews from Real Customers
You’ve read our Fleck 5600SXT review – but what about the opinions of other people like you? What does the average person think of the performance, value and ease of use of this unit?
Generally speaking, Fleck 5600 reviews are very positive. As of the time of this writing, the unit had a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. Perhaps more impressively, over 90% of people gave it a 4 or 5 star rating!
Other retailers show similar reviews. ABC Water, an authorized retailer of Fleck products, shows a 4.8 out of 5 star rating.
Most reviewers commented positively on the value, performance and ease of use of the unit. On the negative side, some mentioned difficulty with initial installation, and a few people mentioned leaks (which are likely to have stemmed from improper installation. If you don’t have some plumbing experience, we recommend hiring someone to help install the unit.
Fleck 5600SXT Review: Conclusion
The Fleck 5600SXT water softener is a top quality unit, and well worth the money. When installed correctly, this machine does everything it promises and more. Fleck water softener is a name you can trust and the 5600SXT softens your water with very little work required on your end. This is one of those machines that you can set and forget about for months. In short, if you have hard water, this is a must-have purchase.
Ph.D. graduate working as a water quality consultant for many government agencies helping them find solutions to the ever-growing problem of polluted water. Loves a good coffee!