Brand new Softener was working great not it's not. Any ideas

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by jasper7821, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    I had a ton of help for everyone here last time when I couldn't get my new softener working and it ended up being the venture cap wasn't screwed on tight and I guess there was no suction so nothing was happening during regeneration.

    The water feels hard again and I bought a Hanna digital pH meter and last night it was 2.7 and this morning after regeneration it read 3.2.
    Why would it be higher after regeneration?

    Don't know if this means anything or not, but when I unscrewed the venturi cap to see if that had anything to do with it I heard air releasing when I unscrewed the cap. Is this normal?

    Please help if possible, thanks
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Are you referring to the Hanna Hardness meter? You say it is a pH meter, this would not be an indicator of hardness at all, and the numbers you are stating would make for some very nasty water.

    Honestly, use a Hach 5B test kit.

    Check out the link, are you using the Hanna tester with the chart? http://www.hannainst.com/manuals/manHI_98202.pdf

    A standard Hach 5B is much simpler, more accurate, and does not need calibration.


    What softener? What size? How hard is your water? What does your system feed? How many people in the house? Does it feed irrigation? What is the raw water hardness? More information is needed to answer your question.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  3. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Sorry, I meant a pNa tester. The water feels pretty hard now. I bought that tester on Amazon thinking it would give me a really quick easy reading.
    The softener is a GE GXSF39E 39,000 grain. The water before the softener with the Hanna meter says 2.7 and after the softener was saying the exact same thing. The after regeneration last night this morning it now says 3.2.
    The system feeds the entire house except the front yard. Both front and back yard is on a drip system, not much of anything to water in the whole yard. (no grass, grass is a luxury in Arizona)
    Only 2 people in the house and one shower a day for each of us. 10 minutes for her and 5 for me. Both showers use 2.5gpm.
    It was working fine then last week I noticed it wasn't as hard with the soapy feeling. Went out of town for the weekend and did a regeneration last night thinking my morning shower would be nice and soft.
  4. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Honestly, considering the equipment, I would not venture to guess. Most service companies wont touch that system. Once they touch it, all the problems become thier problem.
    You need to get a real test kit and determine the actual raw water hardness so you can program it correctly. Without a real test kit to tell us what the actual hardness is, it is not programmable. Order the Hach 5B. Simple, cheap, accurate, reliable.
  5. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thanks, I tested it with strips when I installed it a few weeks ago and it was about the same as the Hanna meter is reading now which is 2.7 on the raw water. After I did the regeneration last night because I didn't feel soft water anymore and the Hanna gauge said 2.7 I'd think this morning I'd have soft water but I don't. So I think something isn't working correctly.
    It's programmed correctly but even if it wasn't wouldn't doing a regeneration make the water soft again. I have the salt level entered correctly and the hardness by the city's website hardness table.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    What does 2.7 mean? (see below) A softener test strip is not a proper way to test either. It will only give you a range, not an accurate reading. The city water report should be very accurate, and they should give you the range that the hardness varies seasonally. My water ranges from 16-19 GPG hardness seasonally so I set my system to 19 GPG. What does your report show the hardness range to be?

    For your softener, the standard troubleshooting applies. Does it draw brine during regeneration? Is the water salty to the drain within the first minute of brine draw? Is their any restriction in the drain line? Do you have at least 30 PSI water pressure? Is the drain line going up? Etc. I have only attempted to work on that model softener a few times, and would never do it again. Once I touched it, a few months later when it started leaking, or didnt work again... it was my problem. Maybe someone in this forum has worked on these more than me.

    From the Hanna instruction guide

    GENERAL INFORMATION
    The pNa tester utilizes a sodium ion-selective
    electrode to determine the activity of free sodium
    in solution (pNa = -log aNa).
    In dilute solutions, the activity coefficient is nearly
    1 and in such solutions pNa is a good indicator
    of the sodium ion concentration. The relationship
    between the pNa scale and the g/L Na+ scale is
    explained in the chart below.
    A double junction reference is used to ensure a
    highly stable reading. If you suspect that the
    calibration has drifted, you can recalibrate the
    meter by using a solution of known concentration.
    Adjust the reading with the calibration trimmer.
    HOW TO USE THE CHART
    • Locate the pNa reading on the horizontal axis
    of the chart.
    • Move vertically upwards to intersect with the
    45º line.
    • Move horizontally and read the g/L Na value.
    E.g. pNa = 1.4
    g/L = 0.9

    Not quite sure how sodium selective probes would determine hardness. I will call a friend at hanna later this week to see if he can educate me on this tester.
  7. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Sorry, I meant the city water is 15 gpg and I bumped it up a few for Iron so I have the softener set to 18 gpg.
    Also, since I didn't want to pay more to have the backyard plumbed for raw water I have the whole house using the softener and using Potassium, Hopefully that Hanna gauge gives the same results as salt.
    The Amazon seller said it didn't matter if you used salt or potassium the gauge would read the same.
    I did all the troubleshooting a few weeks ago when i got it going and nothing has changed.
    last time it was the venturi cap wasn't screwed on tight. I thought the venturi might be the same issue because when I unscrewed it I heard air pressure release but maybe it's supposed to do that. My drain line goes up to the ceiling to the laundry room drain but it's lower that the 8ft that the manual says not to go over. There's no restrictions anywhere in the drain and it flows good.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The meter is looking for sodium and you aren't using softener salt (sodium chloride), you are using potassium chloride. So your meter is telling you nothing that you need to know to be able to determine if your water softener is working or how well.

    Also, you should be adding 3-4 gpg of hardness for each ppm of iron.
  9. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    729
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    You said one of the driper hoses is on soft water. It may not be registering on the softener and the capacity is being used up.
  10. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    My irrigation has been shut off for a week so no water being used there.
    Last night I tested everything again and watched the entire cycle and everything is working perfectly but the water still doesn't seem soft. I don't get it, it's going through all the cycles and doeing what's it's supposed to.
    My Hanna pNa meter shows 3.3 BUT I guess that reads sodium and I'm using potassium. Returning it and getting the Hatch 5B.
    The soap just doesn't seem to lather up like it did a few weeks ago.
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    The hach 5B will serve you well for a long time. I would recommend replacing i every few years since it does have a shelf life, but I know guys who have been using the same kit for 5 years, and they are still accurate.

    Let us know what you find.

    Thanks!~
  12. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Great, thank you very much. I wish i would have gotten that instead of the Hanna gauge in the first place.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If your softener has been using less than 15 lbs of softener salt per cuft of resin per regeneration, you get the maximum K of capacity of 30K per regeneration. It is a very rare softener that is programmed that way.

    Most are programmed to use much less salt than 15 lbs/cuft of resin so.. you don't get the maximum K of capacity meaning not all the resin is regenerated, just the amount of capacity you use based on the hardness and number of people using water on a daily basis. IF you have used more capacity than the softener has been programmed for, yuo get hard water through the softener.

    Example... you have a 1 cuft (32K as they are called although you don't get more than 30K/cuft) and it is programmed for 6 lbs of salt per cuft which regenerates 20K, leaving 10K of the original K of capacity still in the resin/softener.

    So some day you use more than 20K of capacity by say 3K. Only 20K is regenerated the next regen, leaving 7K.

    Now do that overuse a number of times (like your drip irrigation) and you use up the 'extra' K of new resin capacity and then your 6 lbs can't regenerate the 20K the softener uses between regenerations based on metered gallons, and you get hard water through the softener and start looking for why that is.... and find nothing wrong with the softener's operation.

    To cure that situation you need to change the salt dose to 15lbs and do 2 manual regenerations one right after the other with no water use during or between the two so you regenerate all the resin back to 30K/cuft. Then change the salt dose back to the 6lbs or whatever is was originally and don't run irrigation water through the softener anymore.

    You use potassium chloride and should increase the salt dose by 12-30% to equal the capacity that that much less sodium chloride would require for the same K of capacity. Or, my suggestion is to switch to salt and save some money over buying expensive potassium chloride.
  14. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Holy Cow Gary, thank you so very much for the explanation but I'm only a month new to water softeners and don't understand most of what you said. Sorry to be a dumb%$#. Is there a softener for dummies book?
    I'm using potassium since the softener goes to the backyard to water plants that are not on the drip system. The drip has been off for a week so no water has been used for it.
    The only setting I have on the softener are are the salt level and hardness.
    The tank level gauge goes from 1-8 and it was at 6.5 before the regeneration and that's what I had the salt level programmed at and my hardness per the city's website is 12 and I bumped it up to 19 for Iron but the Tucson water test results didn't have the word "Iron" in it but I raised the level just for the heck of it in case there's some Iron in the water.

    It's a 32k grain softener and it did it's brine cycle for almost an hour last night and the total process took about 2hrs. Don't know if that tells anything.

    Here's what the softener specs say
    Rated capacity 15,300 gains with 3lbs of salt, 32,800 grains with 9.6lbs of salt, and 39,100 grains with 16.1lbs of salt
    Rated efficiency 5,100 grains/lb @ 3lbs of salt
    Amount of high capacity resin 52.5/1.01
    I have no idea what that means.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You need to reread what I posted and compare it to the specs of your softener that you posted about the capacity at whatever salt dose.

    Then stop using softened water for irrigation. BTW, too much chloride kills vegetation.
  16. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thanks, I used potassium because the plumbing company that gave me a quote when I wanted to install a water softener wanted an extra $400 to plumb the back yard separately so softened water with salt wouldn't be used on the hose bib. They said to just use potassium and it's actually better for the plants to have softened water with potassium rather then raw water.
    I wish I would have been more educated about softeners when I fist wanted to get one.
  17. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    How much chloride does a softener add to the water? :)

    The backyard should have been bypassed, and still should be. Potassium is extremely expensive compared to NACL, and it has several other problems that have been discussed at length here in this forum. Do a quick search, you will find several of my posts that go into detail about the problems with potassium chloride.
  18. jasper7821

    jasper7821 New Member

    Messages:
    39
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thank you very much for the reply. First off I finally got a hold of the water department about Iron and it's not listed on the test results because there's no Iron in Tucson's water so I'll set the softener back to 12gpg.

    My home was built in 2003 and there was no loop installed when built so I had to have the home plumbed for the softener and didn't want to pay the extra expense of bypassing the backyard hose bib so I just used potassium on the plumbers suggestion.

    I'm so new to softeners that I just did what the plumber said i should do. I know the potassium is 4 times the price of sodium and when the potassium runs out in a few months (per the meter on the softener) then I will probably have the backyard hose bib re-plummed for raw water.
    Is an easy and less expensive way to do that is to just put a T on the front hose bib and run a line along the front/side/back outside walls of the house and tap into the backyard hose bid ?
    If that'll work I could just do that myself but it will have that unpfrofessional look unless I trench and run a line underground along side the walls.
  19. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,480
    Location:
    Alaska
    Depending on the bypass that is with the softener it might be easier to put the softener into bypass do the yard and then 5 minutes before you are done with the yard put the softener back into service.... no other line needed.
    All that is needed would be a check list of things to do when doing the yard.
  20. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,811
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I would not recommend using the bypass on the unit he has. It is not considered the most durable one available. It is certainly not a Fleck or Clack bypass to say the least. The few times I serviced them, the bypass had to be rebuilt.

    I would recommend budgeting to do it right sometime in the near future. Running your own pipe above ground as you stated would not be a good idea. Definetly a job for a qualified plumber.
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