30th Anniversary of Fleck 5600 Econominder Water Softener Valve
In 1980 Andy Fleckenstein introduced the 5600 valve to the water treatment industry. This iconic valve is still sold today, mostly unchanged from the original design. While it’s far more reliable(average life of 10-12 years) than the rotary valve softeners sold at Sears, Home Depot, Walmart, etc., it is becoming a little outdated.
The Fleck 5600 valve is available in 2 configurations:
1. Time clock control head
2. Metered control head
Water softeners that use time clock control heads are no longer considered a legitimate technology by the Water Quality Association (WQA) as they regenerate unnecessarily which wastes water and salt. These units can be identified by the set of push/pull pins on the face of the unit. These pins determine the days the system will regenerate. Older units actually used screws – the pins were a far more user-friendly concept!
The metered, or on-demand, version of the Fleck 5600 is often referred to as the “Econominder” valve. These control heads have a large dial on the front with numbers indicating gallons of soft water. They also have a cable running out of the back of the head connecting to a large plastic dome. Inside this dome there is a turbine that measures water volume much like a city water meter.
We have repaired and replaced 1000’s of water softeners using these valves over the years. While they were relatively reliable, they are quite inefficient compared to the modern Hellenbrand DMT System and ProMate 6 water softeners that we carry. The digital controls in the DMT and ProMate 6 have replaced the “clunky” mechanical controls and a large number of gears and springs found in the old Fleck Control Heads.
Nonetheless, the Fleck 5600 was a very popular valve in the 1980’s and 90’s, and is still found in many homes today.