I have no idea what's going on with my piping.

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by amateurplumber1, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Ordered and received my softener, asked my buddy to come be an extra hand while I hook it up (he knows more about plumbing than me since I don't really know much at all :p), and he tells me that this bypass (i'm actually going to cut off the the valves (they're not threaded) and use the pipes to connect to the included bypass) isn't set up to soften all my water, just a few select faucets. Taking a look at it, i realize that i (still) have no idea what this bypass is actually doing. Not sure if he's right, so I figured I'd ask here.

    I tried to take some pictures and a video so people could see what I have going on and maybe help me. I really would like to do this myself, and know that, while I'm not nearly the most qualified person, i am capable of doing this, and want to do it, but until I figure this out I'm gonna be at a standstill. I may call a plumber to help me trace the lines, but would really hate to spend anymore money than I already have on this "project." If I go that route I'm going to be out a decent chunk of money and it'll take me a bit to save up for that. :/

    Here is the album of pictures I took of the area: album. Here is a video: video.

    If anyone could point me in the right direction, that would be amazing! Thanks in advance.
  2. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    If you turn the center gate valve off, any water that is still running is not going though the softener.
  3. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    I meant, what part of our water is that bypass attached to? Doesnt seems like its on the main line. I dunno.
  4. Smooky

    Smooky Member

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    As stated above you should be able to close the center valve and then determine what faucets are serviced by the pipes at the by-pass. You could turn it off and see if the water runs at the kitchen sink, bath room faucets, outside faucets etc, etc.
  5. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    That is a solid idea. Maybe I shouldve thought of that in the first place. I feel like an idiot lol...

    Thanks guys!
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Are you sure about that? Looks to me like if you turn it off, any water flowing has to go through the softener. That's why they call it a "bypass" valve. With the softener yet to be installed, though, turning it off will turn off the water that will go through the softener when it's installed.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  7. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    Right now the left and right gate valves are closed and the center valve is open (I persume). If the center is closed, water will be shut off to where ever it is going. Any water flowing is not going though that bypass so it will not flow through the softener. The actual "bypass" is the cross over pipe so if it were hooked to a softener with the outside valves closed and the cross over valve open, the unit would be on "bypass".
  8. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Ok, so i closed the middle valve, and tested a bunch of faucets. Nothing seems to be happening. If closing that valve does stop water to those faucets, how long would it take to notice reduced/no flow? I thought it was pretty fast. Which means, this bypass isnt doing much at all lol.
  9. JohnnyO

    JohnnyO New Member

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    It is hard to tell from your photos or the video where the main water from the city connects into the copper in the room with the bypass valves. I'm starting to think that those three valves may NOT have been set up as a water softener connection.

    I'd recommend getting out a piece of paper and sketching out your water pipes, at least from the point where the main feed enters your house to the point where it starts to be distributed to to other rooms or floors. If you forget about the three valves, and instead ask yourself, "where can I insert something that will get to -all- of my water using devices (except, perhaps outdoor faucets)? where would that be in your drawings? Where would it be in your house? That is where you would need to insert the water softener.

    You may also want to tap off a separate line ahead of the softener to feed the kitchen sink (either as the sole cold water feed to the kitchen, or ideally, as a separate line to a separate faucet in the sink).

    In my basement, for instance, the main water pipe enters the room through the floor. The first three items in line are: a shut-off valve, a pressure reducing valve, the city water meter, then another shutoff valve. After that, I have a tee, with one arm going to non-softened outlets (outdoor faucets, kitchen sink, ice cube maker) and the other arm going to the water softener (with its own bypass valve) then to the rest of the house.

    John
  10. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Thanks for the informative post JohnnyO!

    I will try doing that. It's a little messy up there but if I get in the crawl space I think i could do it.

    I'm beginning to think this may be beyond me. Not so much the learning how to solder thing, but finding the right place to do it and bypassing the outside lines and ripping apart the walls freaks me out. It might just be a ton of work. It's gonna suck forking out a few hundred dollars or more to a plumber, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. I'll probably just take my mind off it for a while, haha.

    What could that bypass valve be for? It turned off nothing!
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    It says "water softener hookup" all over it, but it may have been an afterthought, hooked into the main system after the house was built. In any case, you'll save yourself a lot of money by crawling wherever you have to crawl and making a good drawing of your plumbing. Any decent plumber will want that information, and if he has to crawl to find it, he'll be crawling at $100/hr or so.

    One thought: if you turn open either of the two "other" valves, does water come out? Can't tell from the pictures if they're capped off or open, ready to be plumbed out further. If no water comes out, this "softener loop" may be valved off upstream. Turn off the bypass valve, and see if water comes out either of the other two valves (or both).

    Also, if you turned off the valve and it did in fact control any downstream water, you'd notice the reduction in flow almost immediately at a downstream fixture.
  12. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Hmm...makes sense, thanks Mikey. Can't remember if when we tested it yesterday, we closed the middle valve before we opened the others. I'm almost 100% we did, though. In any case, when we opened either of the other valves water did indeed come out, under pressure.

    Though, I am positive that when I closed all the valves (well, the other two were already closed :p), I couldnt figure out which faucets were affected. Cold and hot water worked, and even the outside faucets worked (i tried the kitchen sink, the first floor and basement bathrooms, the basement shower, the laundry room, and an outside faucet.
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Very curious. All I can guess is whoever hooked this up screwed up or was fiendishly clever. I love a good puzzle; looking forward to hearing what you find.
  14. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    If you close the center valve, one of the other valves should have no water coming out after you depressurerize and drain the pipes. This would be the soft water side of the system.
  15. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Haha, don't worry, I will (eventually) get to the bottom of this! Just seems crazy to me. What other reason would there be for a bypass?!

    The way it's setup is still confusing to me. When I think of a proper setup, I think of the main line, then a line coming up (or down, or whatever direction you want) to the softener, then a bypass, then another line coming up (or down, or whatever direction you want) away from the softener, and then the main line again.

    Question: even if I was using the softeners bypass, I would still have to have a bypass in the main line so that the hard and soft water don't mix, right?
  16. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    Location:
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    You showed a pic of the mainline correct? Turn it off and drain all the water from your plumbing. Open all 3 gate valve to insure there is no water then close all of them. Open the main and then open the gate valve to the left. If there is water but no pressure, the crossover gate valve is not holding. Close and open the valve to the right. If you have no water, that is not a proper bypass for a softener. If you have water under pressure, check all faucets to see which have water under pressure.
  17. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    No. In the usual installation, the water comes into the house from the source -- city or well. Then there is often a tee to allow unconditioned water to be routed to hose bibs and other fixtures not requiring conditioned water. Then would come the softener bypass, then on to the fixtures requiring conditioned water. Draw a picture; it will make sense.
  18. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    Here's a pic:

    http://imgur.com/QwjDo36

    Pink is the softeners bypass, blue is the softener, red is pipes, black is mainline. Where the arrow is pointing...if there's no bypass valve there, wouldnt the incoming hard water mix with the softened water thats coming out of the softener?
  19. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Correct, but usually there's no pipe there at all, if you're going to depend wholely on the softener bypass -- the incoming water goes directly to the softener bypass inlet port, and the outlet port goes directly to the supply line to the house. If you want to be able to remove the softener entirely, or not use a softener bypass, then plumb in the 3 valves to create your own bypass. I suppose you could put a valve in there where your picture's arrow is pointing, to blend softened and unsoftened water, perhaps, but it doesn't make much sense.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  20. amateurplumber1

    amateurplumber1 Member

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    A simple yet concise explanation from Mikey yet again! Thanks sir. Lets say you have that center pipe missing like you said most people do when they use a softener bypass...what happens if the softener messes up and you have to repair it? Do you just repair it where it's at and the softener bypass stays there?
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