Boogers in my Kinetico Softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by dorth, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I had to replace a "flex" line leading out of my water heater because it sprung a leak. I had to turn off my well pump and drain the lines to repair it. When the water was turned back on there was the normal (in my experience) flow of moderately cruddy water which flowed through the lines, and unfortunately, also through my Kinetico 2-tank (+ salt tank) Model 60 water softener.

    In hindsight, I should have switched the valve to bypass the softener when the water was turned back on. (In hindsight, I also shouldn't have let my father-in-law "fix it" - but that's a whole 'nuther story, and will probably take years of counseling to get over.) The symptom I'm now having is that the softener seems to be "stuck" in part of the recharge mode where water is flowing through an output tube to a drain and never stops. Tonight I put a Phillips head screwdriver and was able to cycle it through various stages of the recycle and stop the flow of water. I'll obviously keep an eye on it over the course of the next few days to see if it gets "stuck" again.

    So where do "boogers" come into this? Glad you asked. While looking through the top of the clear gear mechanism, I noticed a couple of bubbles and also some stray boogers floating around in one of the larger bubbles. I attached a picture which best captured the moment.

    So my questions are:

    1. Are these boogers likely gumming up the gears and causing the water softener to get "stuck"?

    2. Can I de-pressurize the system and undo all the hex screws and clean it out on my own? Should I? Aside from my skills at picking a father-in-law, I'm somewhat handy.

    3. Has any of this semi-dirty water harmed the softener? Do I need to "clean it out"? Any idea what this would entail?

    Thanks very much for any thoughts or suggestion you might have. Father-in-law is a done deal, but I might consider replacing the softener if it fails in a similar manner. :)

    Dave O

    Attached Files:

  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't understand why the dirty water, shutting a pump off and turning it back on after draining some water from a water heater or the water line to it shouldn't cause dirty water. Are you sure you don't have a leaking check or foot valve in the well?

    It would explain the stuff in the control valve and it running ir backwash, because a leak would cause a siphon and suck water backwards through the softener.

    I'm sure you can take your water powered valve apart, I'm not sure you can get it back together without problems but, taking it apart without knowing what is wrong with it if anything, probably isn't a great idea. And if you're not one of those feminized American males you put a piece of duct tape over that bubble so she who you love and admire and must obey doesn't see the boogers you'll probably forget all about it in a few days, or a week. ;)
  3. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    In both homes I've owned with wells, turning off the well pump and draining the lines would cause discolored water (slightly brownish) to flow for a bit when the lines were recharged. I always assumed it was caused by the water running backwards through the pipes and knocking crud off in the process. I've never notices actual bits of flotsam in the stream, but it seemed like a plausible reason for the aforementioned boogers.

    Not sure at all, nor exactly sure how to check this out, but I can do a bit of digging and post back.

    I should have clarified that I didn't foresee any problems in me taking it apart either. :) But I'm not exactly looking for things to keep me busy, so if this is unlikely the problem, then I think I'll pass on the exercise.

    I was thinking you were going to give me some advice on how to deal with my father-in-law here. It was showing promise!

    SWMBO does not venture into the pump room. so I can save on the duct tape. And provided the water softener doesn't get stuck in recharge mode again, I'll forget all about it as well.

    Thanks for the speedy post and advice. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    Dave O
  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I have nothing for you on a father in law... but I have felt the pain. You can check for a leak by shutting off the water past the pressure tank and watching the pressure gauge for like 10 minutes. If the pressure holds you don't have a leak from the tank back to the foot or check valve in the well. If it leaks off you have a leak.
  5. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    When we go away on a trip I always turn off the water system while we are gone. I heard the number one claim on house insurance is from water damage from broken lines in the house while people are gone. I think washer lines, but I'm not sure. When I return and turn the system back on it always puts out really nasty colored water for a while. I just run the cold water until it clears.

    I clean my kinetico controller myself when it needs it. I buy bulk citric acid and take apart the controller and let it soak in the acid for 24 hours. Reassemble and use. I think the biggest problem is the valve stems get gunked up and the valves can't open and close entirely. Cleaning the unit fixes the problem. When I put it back into service I run the back flush a couple of times and everything works as new.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    What I'm against is that there is no public information on parts breakdown or troubleshooting and the lying Kinetico salespeople putting all other equipment down, and the corporation web site does the same.

    I'm also against PMs which can't help anyone else (IF they help the poster is questionable) but...

    Turning a well pump off, even if then you drain the pressure tank, will not and should not cause continued discolored water unless water runs back into the well because of a leak OR, the air pressure in the pressure tank is incorrect to the point that the tank is not all but emptying each pump cycle and thereby allowing rust/dirt to build up in the tank and then it flushes out all the build up when the water is turned on. Even then the discolored water should be gone in a short time.

    Yes, just yesterday again I sold a softener with a Clack WS-1 control valve (he loved the computer history and diagnostics and questioned Kinetico's nonelectric hype when everything in his house and vehicles has computers...) to a guy that had a problem with his Kinetico and the one'n only local Kinetico dealer and his prices.

    I do that quit often because their Kinetico has quit, it is not a simple fix and the dealer refuses to tell them what to look for or sell them parts to do it themselves and the dealer wants a very high price for service and any parts.

    Their customer gets upset, says NO WAY and goes online, reads a lot of posts and there I are! just a phone call away. Some want a twin tank, but agree they didn't need the one they have had for years but it sounded go when the salesman sold them on it 10+ years ago.
  7. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I spent some time on the phone with a generous list member and will post some pictures and my (admittedly meager) understanding of how things work in the next day or so.

    The good news is that my water softener appears to be cycling through correctly now. I did not dis-assemble the valve mechanism, but I did pull the brine tank float mechanism and verified its operation.

    Part of my problem was simply that I didn't understand what was supposed to happen during the two regeneration cycles and no idea how long the whole thing was supposed to last (45-60 minutes). Now that I have some understanding of the process, I think I'm confident that the system is working correctly.

    I do think my bypass valve may not be working 100%, however. Even with the system bypassed, I was getting pressurized water through the brine tank tube. So I think it is not completely bypassing the system. Additionally, it leaks out of the top of the valve when I move it from position to position.

    Many thanks for all the information and replies. I'll post some pictures soon to hopefully "pass it along".

    Dave O
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Kinetico allows full line pressure on the brine line and float while it is in the service position.

    So a leaking by pass valve would allow water into the salt tank if you pushed down on the float or removed the float from the water in the salt tank.
  9. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    Everything goes in the citric acid
  10. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    This aligns well with the diagnosis that the "Bypass" valve (which removes the water softener from the loop) is not completely diverting all water from the softener. In other words, even in the "Bypass" position, water *is* flowing into the softer system.

    When in "Bypass" mode, I disconnected the brine line and water was flowing slowly out. Putting my finger over the tube outlet indicated that there was pressure and it wasn't simply draining by gravity. I left it filling a small bucket while I cleaned the valve mechanism and it probably drained about 2 quarts in 10 minutes.

    Attached is a picture of the main bypass valve which I believe is leaking when in the bypass position. Probably not a huge deal and I believe completely unrelated to any problems I've been having (with the softener or my father-in-law). I'd be happy to rebuild it if parts were readily available. :)

    Dave O

    Attached Files:

  11. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    On mine I found that I had to go beyond 90° with the switch and all the way until it stopped against a stop. At first I thought it might be too far but it wasn't
  12. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I was talked through some aspects of my Kinetico Model 60 water softener by a very helpful and generous list member. I'm going to try and summarize what I learned and also include some pictures. Any errors are due to my misunderstanding of what was explained, so please direct any criticism towards me.

    We started by looking at the valves and gearing on the top of one of the softener cylinders (as opposed to the brine or salt tank.) The possible positions are "BRINE RINSE", "BACKWASH", and then the very small empty areas between them which I'll call "SERVICE" - meaning that water is being softened - i.e. "normal operation".

    [I'm limited to only five images in a post, so look above in the original post for a picture of the top valve I'm referencing here.)

    There are two identical labels for these three positions - one for each of the two softening cylinders. There is a small black "dot" (visible in this picture at the 7 o'clock position) which indicates where the cycle is. In this case, it's in SERVICE. You can see the plastic Philips slot in the top of the meter. By pushing down with a screwdriver, you can manually advance the cycle. I moved it to BRINE RINSE.

    At this point, I believe it should start drawing brine solution from the brine tank, so this line should have vacuum in it if you disconnect it. Mine didn't - in fact, it was under pressure for some reason. That lead us to dissemble the brine tank valve, but we'll get to that in a minute. Anyway, I believe this should fill one of the softener cylinders with brine solution and may also cause a slow flow (1/3 gpm) out the drain line (otherwise the brine solution wouldn't have anywhere to go).

    During the BACKWASH cycle, water should be flowing out of the cylinder to the plastic drain line at a rate of about 1-1.5 gpm. If yours isn't doing this, you may not be in the correct portion of the cycle, or you may have a valve issue.

    The small black tube to the BRINE RINSE tank is bi-directional. During BRINE RINSE, it pulls brine solution. Any other time, it will provide pressurized water which will fill your brine tank to a certain level which is set by a float valvel. This valve mechanism is at the bottom of the brine tank and will stop the flow of water into the brine tank when the float reaches the "full" position. It didn't appear that water was flowing into the brine tank (very difficult to tell since it's at the bottom of a long black tube), so we stated by checking this valve.

    Turn the Bypass valve to "Bypass". Now remove the top of the Brine Tank and pull the cap off the top of 4" diameter black tube. If you look down the tube you'll be able to see the top of the float.

    [​IMG]

    Find a spot to disconnect the small black tube and carefully pull the valve assembly up. There will be an overflow outlet about half way up the larger black tube which will be in the way - just carefully jiggle the floats (there will be at least two) past it. Here is what the float assembly looks like when removed.

    [​IMG]

    You'll find that the float assembly will be able to move up and down very slighly (like 3/8" or so). When it's in the "UP" position, water will not be able to flow into the brine tank. If you remove the black tube (careful, there is a small plastic ball inside that will easily go down an open drain. I left my drain open as an example of what NOT to do)

    [​IMG]

    you'll see that the upper float has a magnetic collar which will cause another magnet inside the valve to raise or lower, thus allowing (or denying) a small plastic ball to seal the tube. I made sure all of these were operating smoothly and reassembled everything. Below is an attempted closeup view of the small blocking magnet and plastic ball.

    [​IMG]

    After placing the softener water valve back in the service position, I advanced the cycle to BRINE RINSE (actually, it's best just to listen for when water starts flowing through brine tube as the small black dot isn't very accurate) and then left it alone for an hour (it should take 45-60 minutes). When I came back, it had advanced all the way through the BRINE RINSE and BACKWASH cycle and was back in a SERVICE state. I then advanced it to the next BRINE RINSE (for the other tank) and did the same. It advanced completely through that cycle as well.

    So it appears to not be sticking in the BRINE RINSE cycle anymore. I don't know exactly what the problem was, but it appears to be fixed for now.

    Again, my thanks to a generous list member for talking me through these diagnostics!

    Dave O

    Attached Files:

  13. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    That makes two of us who are against Kinetico for all the reasons Gary mentioned and for the fact that myself and many like me won't even attempt to work on them. No parts available and when you have to put an in-line filter in front of a water softener, I stay away from them. Not to mention they are extremely over hyped and priced.

    bob...
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    And seeing that brine pickup tube and float system, a prospective customer might want to think twice about buying a Kinetico softener.

    Check out the simplicity of a real safety brine system. And it costs about a 1/3rd of the Kinetico.

    Attached Files:

  15. dorth

    dorth New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I assume the new assembly is backwards compatible with my model, correct? (Mine is a "Model 60") I'll give a call to the nearest dealer and see how much the part costs and if they're willing to sell me just the part.

    Shoot, only 20 years old? 'tis but a baby still! :)

    Dave O
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