Surely you’ve heard of Pentair. I mean, LBJ was president when Pentair began. Enter Fleck by Pentair. Fleck is a Pentair contributing partner and its popular 5600SXT water softener system might be the water softener for you. I’ll help you decide for sure.
As an industry expert with over 20 years of experience in the water treatment industry, I’ve consulted user testimonials, existing customers, and industry experts, and I even tested the system myself.
This review provides you with an in-depth analysis of the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT Series water softener, its features, and its benefits. After reading this review, you’ll know if this water softener is right for you.
It’s important to know that Fleck doesn’t make complete water softeners. They manufacture the 5600SXT control valve, which is then sold to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), like Pentair, who then assemble the softener and ship the system to dealers and customers across the country.
As I said before, though, Pentair is a brand you can trust. The Pentair Fleck 5600SXT is a well-priced and dependable water softener ideal for families with moderate water hardness who don’t need all the bells and whistles of modern, tech-laden home appliances.
- The backlit LCD display is easy to set up and monitor, making the system accessible for users of all levels.
- Metered regeneration based on water usage cuts down on high water bills associated with old-fashioned water softeners — this is standard among new water softeners.
- Comes in different grain capacities, so it is applicable to households of a variety of sizes.
- A 15-year warranty adds peace of mind.
- The 10% crosslink resin lasts longer and produces better results than 8% crosslink or standard resin.
- An overflow prevention safety float protects your home from floods in case of a malfunction in your water softener or plumbing system — also pretty standard these days.
- It’s a basic system, lacking convenient features like remote connectivity or vacation mode.
- Available grain capacities don’t exceed 64,000, so this model isn’t suitable for extremely large homes or those with very hard water.
- No sediment pre-filter is installed within the system, so chlorine and iron may damage the system over time, including the components and the resin bed.
Who Is the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT For?
The Pentair Fleck 5600 SXT is simple to set up and maintain thanks to a user-friendly digital control head with quick and straightforward programming. This system, though, may not be what you’re looking for. Let’s explore.
The 5600SXT is for you if…
- You’re juggling a hectic schedule; efficient metering and low-maintenance design make this water softener ideal for those who want soft water without constant tinkering.
- You have mild to moderately hard water.
- You want a water softener that wears the Pentair name.
- You already have a whole-house water filtration system installed in your home.
Keep looking for the ideal water softener if…
- You are a techie and prefer a system that integrates with your home automation system or smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
- You want a water softener with a more generous warranty period (such as a lifetime warranty).
- You rent an apartment, and you’re tight on space and can’t accommodate a bulky unit.
- You have very hard water.
- You need a sediment filter to protect your water softener from other contaminants in your water.
Pentair Fleck 5600SXT: Features Breakdown
The Pentair Fleck 5600SXT Series Water Softener’s integration of the digital control head and the multiple grain capacities make it a versatile and user-friendly option. Here are some other key features you’ll find in the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT:
The Pentair Fleck 5600SXT Series Water Softener offers a range of grain capacities (24,000–64,000), providing users with the flexibility to select a model that precisely aligns with their household’s water consumption — provided you don’t have very hard water, which the Fleck system cannot accommodate.
A poorly sized water softener might struggle to keep up with the demand, leading to less effective water softening and more frequent regeneration cycles, which equals wasted water and faster salt depletion.
Crosslinked high-capacity resin
At the core of the Pentair 5600SXT’s resin tank lies a crucial component: the 10% crosslinked resin that is more resilient to the effects of chlorine in city water than standard resin.
The 10% crosslinked structure enhances the durability and resilience of the resin beads, allowing them to withstand the rigors of the water softening process over an extended period. This resilience translates into a longer lifespan for the resin, contributing to the overall longevity and efficiency of the water softener.
You benefit from this by enjoying consistently softened water without the need for frequent resin replacements, reducing maintenance costs and ensuring reliable performance over time.
Moreover, the 10% crosslinked resin ensures efficient ion exchange, maximizing the removal of calcium and magnesium ions that cause water hardness. The result is water that not only feels softer on the skin but also prevents the negative effects of hard water on appliances and plumbing systems.
Fleck 5600SXT control valve
The Fleck 5600SXT control valve is the technological powerhouse of this salt-based water softener, offering a suite of features that elevate user convenience and system efficiency. With four modes of operation, users can tailor the water softening process to their specific needs, optimizing regeneration cycles and conserving resources.
The built-in, upgraded paddle-wheel meter monitors the actual water usage of the system, which can help save on salt and water expenses. The meter also measures how much water passes through the system, which can help determine when it’s time to regenerate the system.
The large LCD display is another standout feature of the control valve, providing users with intuitive control and real-time monitoring of the system’s status. Paired with a substantial 48 hours of internal power backup, this ensures that even during power outages, the control valve keeps working.
The compact turbine meter, combined with the double backwash capability, maximizes the cleaning of the resin tank during regeneration, extending the lifespan of the resin beads and ensuring consistently high water softening performance.
Meter-demand regeneration process
Unlike time-based regeneration systems that initiate regeneration cycles on a fixed schedule, the meter-demand regeneration process in this Fleck water softener system operates based on actual water usage.
This innovative approach ensures the water softener regenerates only when necessary, responding dynamically to the specific needs of the household. The benefits to the user are two-fold: optimized performance and resource savings.
Installation and maintenance
If you have basic plumbing skills and are well acquainted with DIY plumbing projects, the installation process is straightforward, and you can install this system yourself without the need for professional assistance.
The system comes with a printed Fleck service manual and a start-up guide. All necessary accessories, including the backwash control valve, bypass valve, pipe connector kit, drain line connector, black brine tank, and media funnel are included.
While doable for DIY enthusiasts, installation might pose a challenge for those unfamiliar with plumbing systems. I highly advise that you seek professional assistance to avoid any maintenance issues caused by poor installation. Also, if you live in a rented apartment, you may need to consider a more compact solution because this water softener takes up a lot of space.
Maintenance of the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT water softener is also easy. The system requires regular salt refills, which is simple to do. The frequency of salt refills will depend on your water usage and the grain capacity of the system. The system also requires periodic cleaning and maintenance — just follow the instructions in the manual.
This Fleck salt-based water softener includes a brine-line safety float that prevents overflows in the brine tank. When the brine tank reaches a predetermined level, the safety float rises, signaling the system to halt the brine draw.
This prevents potential spills, safeguarding the surrounding area from damage due to brine overflow. You won’t have to worry about dealing with messy spills or protecting your storage space from potential water damage.
The manufacturer offers a robust 10-year warranty on the tanks, reflecting Pentair’s commitment to the longevity and structural integrity of these essential components. This coverage ensures users are protected against defects in materials and workmanship for an extended period.
Additionally, the Fleck 5600SXT control valve, the technological heart of the system, is covered by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty is comprehensive, addressing potential issues that may arise during the specified coverage period.
However, it’s essential for you to review the warranty documentation carefully, as certain conditions and limitations may apply. Typically, warranties do not cover damage caused by improper installation, neglect, or misuse. Regular maintenance, as outlined in the product documentation, is often a prerequisite to maintaining warranty coverage.
While this warranty might sound adequate for most people, some competing brands offer lifetime warranties for their systems, which goes a long way toward winning the trust of their customers.
What I Like About the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
As an expert reviewer, I have extensively tested the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT Series Water Softener and can confidently say that it is a reliable and efficient water softening solution.
One of the things I like about this system is its digital metered control valve. It optimizes regeneration cycles based on actual water usage, resulting in significant resource savings. Don’t even waste your time with water softeners you can’t set to regenerate when you want or need it to instead of automatically.
The ease of installation is another notable advantage. As someone who enjoys hands-on projects, the DIY-friendly design and included accessories made the setup process straightforward.
Overall, the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT Series Water Softener does what it says on paper and delivers everything you expect out of soft water, including overall improved water quality, increased plumbing and water-using appliance life-span, and enhanced detergent effectiveness.
What You Might Not Like About the 5600SXT
While my experience with the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s really nothing to write home about. Does it work well? Yes. But it just doesn’t have any exciting features that help it integrate into a home.
There’s no internet capability, so you can’t operate it away from home. And there’s no additional filtration, not even internally to protect the system from corrosion.
Another major drawback is that there are a lot of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that assemble water softeners under this brand. This can prove confusing to customers who might be looking for systems with specific specifications or features. They’re not all Pentair.
Another consideration is the system’s size, which could be a constraint for those with limited space.
Despite having five grain capacities to choose from, this salt-based water softener is not applicable in areas with extremely high water hardness. If you live in such a place, look for a system with higher grain capacity or invest in a softener/filter combination system.
While the Fleck 5600SXT is quite effective at removing calcium and magnesium minerals from hard water, there are much better options available for the same price with more embedded features. I’ve listed three alternative water softeners below.
Before I started this research and review journey, I had to produce a list of steps to follow as a guide during the entire process. (If you’ve ever conducted complicated research, you know how important it is to have a plan.) These include the following seven steps:
Step 1: A list of Fleck water softeners
First, I needed to find all water softeners under the Fleck brand name. This meant hours of sifting through manufacturer websites and online retail stores. This is when I realized there’s no such thing as a Fleck water softener.
As I mentioned above, Fleck water softeners are sold by different manufacturers who assemble different parts around the Fleck 5600SXT control head. Some of these manufacturers include AFW Filters, US Water Systems, and Pentair.
Step 2: Product analysis
Next, I needed a strategy to help me navigate my research. This necessitated inquiring about the Fleck water softener’s features as well as water softeners in general. Here are some of the questions I had in mind:
- Does the Fleck 5600SXT include safety features that prevent the brine tank from overflowing?
- Is the Fleck water softener installed easily by someone with basic plumbing skills?
- Will the Fleck water softener prevent and remove scale buildup in a water heater, washing machine, or dishwasher?
- How does the Fleck 5600SXT compare to other water softeners within its price range?
- Does ion exchange technology affect drinking water quality?
- How often should you monitor the salt level in a Fleck softener?
- What type of regeneration cycle does the Fleck softener use?
- How many gallons of hard water can the Fleck system soften in a day?
- What is the difference between salt-based softeners and salt-free softeners?
- Does the Fleck system monitor ongoing water usage during peak hours?
- Does this water softener include any smart features, like Wi-Fi connectivity?
- Does the Fleck water softener come with a sediment pre-filter?
- What do other Fleck 5600SXT reviews have to say?
Step 3: Online reviews
The third step was to go through customer reviews for the Fleck 5600XST water softener. Of course, analyzing consumer opinions is critical if you want to know how a product performs in the market — but it’s always important to remain skeptical of online reviews.
I spent several days analyzing reviews submitted by customers on manufacturer websites, Consumer Reports, Reddit, YouTube, and online retail outlets, noting both positive as well as negative comments, particularly those that appeared to be repeated by several users.
Step 4: Speaking with real customers
It’s well known that some manufacturers and retailers use fake reviews to drive up sales, so I needed to find a way to talk to actual customers about their experiences with the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT.
The only sure way was a questionnaire survey. So, I developed an online questionnaire that I posted on Reddit, X (formerly twitter), and Instagram and asked people to share their experience with this particular system.
I also consulted water treatment dealers, certified plumbers, and some of my colleagues in the industry to widen my scope of research. After a week, I had collected enough feedback for this review.
Step 5: Interview with the manufacturer
For this step, I called Pentair’s customer service department and pressed them for clarification concerning some of the unfavorable online feedback directed at its water softeners. I also reached out for details about returns and warranties. Their customer care representative was incredibly calm and addressed all my questions. Pentair are pros.
Step 6: Test drives
This was the most important aspect of the research. If I was going to be honest in my review, I needed to have personal experience with this water softener. As a result, I purchased this system and tried it for a few weeks, observing the system’s regeneration cycle, the quality of soft water generated, and salt consumption, and I played with its settings a bunch too.
Step 7: Ratings
After rigorously testing the system for four weeks, I had all the data I needed to sit down and write this review. But first, I needed to organize this data on a spreadsheet based on the following factors:
- Grain capacity
- Resin quality
- Regeneration technology
- Warranty coverage
- Ease of installation and maintenance
- Performance and efficiency
- Water tests before and after softening
- Control head technology and usability
Having extensively tested and experienced its features, the Fleck 5600SXT delivers, with its efficient digital metering, user-friendly interface, and high-quality 10% crosslinked resin, ensuring optimal water softening tailored to household needs.
The range of grain capacities provides versatility, catering to both small and moderately large families. The control valve’s advanced features, such as the meter-demand regeneration process and comprehensive LCD display, contribute to resource savings and ease of use.
The safety float and solid warranty coverage add layers of reliability, affirming the product’s durability and the manufacturer’s confidence.
However, issues such as a complicated ecosystem surrounding the brand name, a large physical footprint, limited warranty coverage, and the lack of smart connectivity features are worth considering before making a purchase.
If you prefer a more customizable water softening solution at the same price point as the Pentair Fleck 5600SXT water softener, check out the three alternatives below.
Alternatives to the Fleck 5600SXT
The following salt-based systems present ultimately better value compared to the Fleck 5600SXT water softener.
SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener
The SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener utilizes a proprietary media instead of traditional ion-exchange resin. This design contributes to longer resin life and reduced maintenance needs. While the Fleck 5600SXT is a reliable option, the SpringWell system’s unique approach may be superior for those who prioritize minimal maintenance and extended equipment life.
What truly sets the SpringWell apart, though, is its lifetime warranty. Long after you’re gone, your family will still have a warranty on this water softener.
US Water Systems Matrixx Smart Metered Water Softener
The US Water Systems Matrixx Smart Metered Water Softener stands out with its smart technology, offering real-time monitoring and control through a smartphone app or web interface. This advanced feature provides users with unprecedented convenience and customization options.
For individuals who value cutting-edge technology and remote-control capabilities, the Matrixx Smart Metered system may be considered superior to the Fleck 5600SXT.
SoftPro Elite Water Softener
The SoftPro Elite Water Softener is recognized for its precision brining system, ensuring optimal salt usage and minimizing waste. It also features a turbine meter for precise measurement, contributing to efficient water softening.
For users who prioritize maximum effectiveness in the water softening process, particularly in terms of resource efficiency, the SoftPro Elite may be a better alternative.
Certainly, you’ll find a collection of insightful reviews that we have carefully gathered for your examination.