Autotrol 460i problem

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by rudyjr, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    I have an approximately eight year old 64000 grain softener that has started acting up. We are on a private well and I periodically clean the injector and screen as a preventative measure. Starting last week my wife complained that the water was "kind of hard". I suspected that as in the past the injector and or screen was probably partiallly obstructed. I cleaned both parts and manually regenerated the unit. The water was still only partially soft. I checked both parts again and added some iron out to the brine tank. I regenerated the unit again and observed its operation. It did draw the water from the brine tank and refill but the water remained unchanged, what I would consider as only semi soft. ( i have been unable to find test strips, so sorry for this description) This unit was initially installed on our old well which failed after about five years ago. We had a new deeper well drilled and the unit performed quite well. I have been told that the problem could be fouled resin, or hard water leakage past the valve discs. Is there any way to troubel shoot this problem or should I just change both out and hope for the best? Thanks, Jim
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,837
    Location:
    Ontario California
    http://www.amazon.com/Hach-5B-Hardness-1453-00-Grains/sim/B0051V5580/2
    Before we start, it is almost impossible to properly help you without accurate information. Buy this test kit, it is the industry standard. It will accurately tell you how hard the water is. Do you have iron or manganese in the water? If so, you need to get an accurate test for that as well.

    Your resin may be bad and fouled with iron or other contaminants, resin does have a limited life expectancy and the exchange sites can become permanently fouled so capacity will be lower than expected. Cleaning can help, but that has a very limited affectivness.

    Hard water leakage past the discs is common, but usually in chlrinated water supplies after 8+ years, on a well, the discs usually last significatntly longer, but they can definetly wear out.

    Hope this helps
  3. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,175
    Location:
    Maine
    So I think what he is saying is that he had a new well drilled and the old softener is connected to it. There is a pretty good chance that the water conditions of the drilled well are substantially different than the old dug well. In any case a water test is required at this point and I'm a bit concerned that cleaning the resin with iron out and manual regen's didn't seem to work which is a red flag. either the resin is really badly fouled or the new water conditions are past the current systems settings parameters or sizing. Anyhooooooooo toddle on down to Lowes and get you some test strips and test for iron too.
  4. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    My Lowes has nothing in the way of test strips and neither does Home Depot. My old well was very high iron content and I think that it was what was hard on my softener . The new well is by far better water although I do not remember what the exact number is. I think I am going to have a couple of water conditioning companies take a look and give me a free water analysis to get a starting point.
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Before you do that, mix a 1/2 cup of Iron Out or Super IO to 2-3 gallons of water and pour that into the salt tank brine well if you have one, or down along the side of the salt if not. Wait two hours and do another manual regeneration.

    Don't over fill the salt tank that salt water overflows on the floor.

    When the backwash starts and gets a full flow to drain (it takes maybe a minute), unplug the control valve and let it run for 15-20 minutes and then plug it back in. When that is finished it will go into slow rinse/brine draw (sucks salt brine out of the salt tank), time 10-12 minutes and unplug the control valve for 20 minutes and then plug it in and let the regeneration finish on its own. Then see how the water feels.
  6. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Thanks Gary that is a heck of an idea as it should give the IO time to work. I will give this a try when I get some time later this week. Thanks, Jim
  7. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Well I couldn't wait until later in the week so late last night I tried what Gary suggested with the iron out and unplugging the control valve. The water was softer today than it has been in a week, but I would say it is still somewhat hard. The lady from Culligan came by and tested my water the results are 25gpg at the outside tap and 2 gpg at the kitchen sink. The iron is 2.5 ppm at the outside and 1ppm at the sink, ph is normal. Culligan lady looked at my equipment and tried to sell the wife a package of stuff to clean the resin for $10.00 or said they would install a new system. I still am inclined to think that I would be able to change out the resin and resolve this issue. Found an internet dealer that has the 2 cu ft of hi cap nelson resin, the valve discs, a new injector and screen cap assy for around $240 delivered, seems like a worthy gamble to try to make it right. Any thoughts?
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  8. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,175
    Location:
    Maine
    Boy, this is a tough call because essentially, after trying Gary's trick, which BTW is a good one at that it leaves a few possibilities. The resin may be toast, the resin may still be mucked up, the softener settings may be wrong or the softener is mal-functioning. I hate to see you buy all new equipment if what you have can be sorted out. So lets start off with making sure the softener is properly sized for the load. It would take a whole lot of typing to lead you through the progression of testing that you really need to do to determine what's going on. I'm going to suggest that you find someone local to check your equipment out. Even if your resin is pooched, if the valve is in good shape you can always change resin.

    Hang on, I just reread your OP and you have a 64,000K unit. How many people in the house? You know what, try Gary's trick again and see what you get. Let the iron out sit in there a little longer this time, say another hour and then back to back it.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  9. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Presently there are four people but there was five members in the household. This unit has performed flawlessly for the last eight years so I don't believe there is anything with the settings that need looked at. I have watched this thing go through all five steps repeatedly and don't believe it is an issue with the control. I am inclined to think that I am going to just take the gamble and order the parts to go through this unit and see what happens.
  10. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,175
    Location:
    Maine
    I guess I'm not inclined to talk you out of it but I would try cleaning the resin one more time 1st. What have you got to loose?
    If your resin is toast, 8 years is a pretty short time unless iron fouled the crap out of it. Have you ever done the Iron Out thing before? I'm guessing probably not and 2.5ppm is high enough to foul the bed so try cleaning it again and see what you get.
  11. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I doubt your resin is bad, especially if you have never used a resin cleaner before.

    Without knowing your salt dose setting, and having not known the volume of resin, the 2-3 gallons of added water to the salt tank... I don't know how much water you added, so repeat my "trick", adding 3 gallons and make sure no one uses water while doing my "trick".
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2012
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,837
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Tom, why would anyone want to know the hardness level of a soft water system or the raw incoming water, what help would that be? :)
  13. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,837
    Location:
    Ontario California
    The collection of notable quotes grows.

    Anyone wanting to DIY water treatment needs to own some basic tools, and the most important tool is a simple, inexpensive test kit. Just like a guy wanting to know if his RO is working, I cant answer any questions if they will not invest in a $10 TDS tester. For softeners, a softness test kit needs to be purchased and used. I dont understand the contreversy here. The "it doesnt feel as soft as it should" test kit tends to be a little inaccurate. And since water conditions can change, these changes are easily discovered with a test kit. Considering the comment that "wells dont need to be tested" was said in a serious way, I guess this should not surprise me.

    How about a sticky for this forum, "How to use a softener test kit and why..." Or is that anti DIY?

    And, you just stated that they dont need a test kit nor do they need to test, but then stated the test results showed... huh??? Why are you so opposed to a homeowner owning the right tools to do the job, especially if they want to be a DIY'r?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    To the homeowner that has had a softener for many years, as in this case and on two different wells, that "feel" is accurate in their opinion, no matter what you think, desire or moan about.

    As to "wells don't need to be tested"... is that in context to a softener? I don't think so, so show us what it is in relation to.
  15. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Gary, Thanks for all of your help I think you understood what I was asking for from the start. I came here looking for some direction to take with troubleshooting this and everything you said has made sense. I have a fairly good mechanical background and have wrenched and built things my whole life. I saw where this was going with the with the water hardness questions from some early on but I had never had a the hardness of the new well tested five years ago so I figured why not know what it is. (Again, after thirty + years on a well you can tell the difference between hard and semi soft water) You are spot on in the statement about how few things can cause the iron and hardness leakage that I have. My old well was on its last legs and extremely hard and filled with iron when it gave up. I could probably work with cleaning up the resin but I figure what you had me do shows me pretty decisively what is wrong. Thanks again, Jim
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  16. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Also thanks to everyone else who offered some advice on how to proceed without trying to make this seem more complex than it actually is. This site could be a real help to many that have limited experience dealing with this issue, but the childish personal attacks and other remarks make it more trouble than it is worth.
  17. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    Jim, even though you say your settings have worked for years, would you mind sharing them with the group? No harm in making sure your system is performing as it should, with as little salt as possible, I say. And I am not familiar with your unit, so can you tell me if it regenerates based on days (timer), or on water usage (meter). Thanks, and good luck with getting it fixed!

    Oh, and while I am asking for details, how often did/does your system regenerate?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I'd do the process again as described for the second time above.

    Then go to the Click Here link in my signature and figure out what capacity you need to program for based on the compensated hardness using 25 gpg and 2.5 ppm of iron; using 60gals/person/day and figure a 24 hr reserve. You need to do that if reusing your present resin or with new resin.

    Although you may have already ordered the new resin... Your problem has been caused by insufficient resin cleaning and possibly incorrect salt dose and K of capacity settings in the control valve and, in your case, the resin can not be fully cleaned or regenerated by doing my "trick" thing as Steve calls it, only once; you need to do it twice fully clean and regenerate all the resin.
  19. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    USA
    Actually, if the resin is pretty dirty and suffering years of hard use and collection of those infamous 'invisible dirts', regenerating twice is little advantage over doing it only once. I have backwashed and regened resin tanks numerous times without really fully cleaning the resins. I then takes the tank and empty them into a couple of 8-gallon paint drums and find an incredible mess of dirty/murky water, scoops of mud and unpleasant odors. The resins are usually stained and discolored. I inspect them for breakage and other blemishes.

    I put a garden hose in the drums and fill and swirl with water; drain and repeat and repeatuntil the water runs clear. Sometimes it takes a few times but other times it may be five or more times. All this after I have manually regened it a couple of times...so simply regenerating it a 'second time' and calling that a 'fully cleaned resin bed' is not very accurate and may indicate inexperience with resin cleaning. Customers really appreciate the extra effort and are always amazed at how 'dirty' their water equipment really is. Often at that point, the customer may opt out to just replace resins instead of 'cleaning' them. Their cost is more but the value is more clearly presented. Win-win.

    Dirty water in the brine tank is a good indicator of the resin condition.
  20. rudyjr

    rudyjr New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    central ohio
    Gary, Thanks again I did it again last night and the water is better today than it has been for weeks. I am still going to pull this thing out and go through it when the resin and other parts arrive. As I have said many times before the old well was producing water that was really bad toward the end of its life and the softener was set at 50 gpg hardness. I will check your link when I go to set everything back up. Thanks, Jim
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