Low Pressure Out of GE Smartwater Softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Phillbo, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    A couple weeks ago I notice a decrease in the water pressure in my house. I checked the pressure at the hose bib out front and the city pressure is 60 PSI.

    Yesterday I determined the problem is my GE Smartwater Softener. When I place it in bypass configuration the pressure in the house returns to normal.

    I've owned the home for 6 years and the softener appeared to be brand new when I bought it so I would assume the unit is 6 years old.

    Any suggestion on where to start to diagnose the issue ? Or should I just replace the unit? I have no clue what the lifespan should be on a softener.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    Alaska
    If you have the book to this unit it will help.

    With the unit in bypass, start a cycle on the unit.
    Once the unit is no longer discharging water to the drain, remove the two clips that hold the valve to the tank.
    Remove the upper basket or screen and clean , replace and replace the two clips and turn the water back on.

    Note, there will be some O rings on and around the basket, DO NOT LOSE THEM.
  3. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

  4. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    So, the screen in the Venturi Assembly is the one that needs to be cleaned ?
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You can but it doesn't decrease water flow to the house. The top basket on the distributor tube, and the one on the bottom of the distributor tube does. You probably have resin beads blocking the slits in them. Especially the top one.
  6. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    Do you know if there are any diagrams on- line that would show the location and how to access those screens? I would not know a 'distributor tube' if you slapped me across the face with one :)

    Or even how to get to it...
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  7. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    Alaska
    Do you have a manual?
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Use the animations at the link I posted. The DT is about an inch across pipe that goes up into the bottom of the control valve. You must take it out of the tank off the DT to see down in your resin tank.
  9. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    I appreciate you posting the animation but I must be missing something. It shows how to clean the venturi, not the screens on the DT.

    I pulled all the plastic covers off last night and took a look .. It appears to me all I need to do is remove the 2 retaining clips from the ring that holds the valve body to the tank, remove the line to the venturi and it should just lift off - correct ?

    Will I need to remove all the resin beads in order to remove, clean and then replace the lower basket ? Do I simply pull the DT straight up to get the lower basket out ?

    Sorry for so many questions, this is all new stuff to me and I don't like to get in too deep without knowing what to expect. I have a tendency to start breaking stuff if I do.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Click View Product Animation. Click Soft Water. Wait until pictures show up. Click Tank System. Process. Green right Arrow.

    Yes, you shut off your water to the house before the softener. Open a faucet and drain the water and close the faucet. Remover the covers from the control valve so you see those clamps. Open the clamps and lift the valve off. Watch you don't drop o-rings etc.. You are looking at a pipe (it's the DT in the center of the top basket) with a piece of plastic (the top basket) down over it with slits in the sides, lift it out and you can see the rest of teh DT and resin down in the tank.

    That plastic part is a top basket and has thin slits in it that are probably full of resin beads rust etc. DO NOT break any of the plastic slits but clean out the slits and reassemble the unit and see if the flow doesn't improve.

    If the slits in the top basket are not blocked, then you take the distributor tube out by grabbing it by hand and pulling it out. And check the bottom basket slits for blockage.

    Getting the DT back in requires a garden hose connected to the top of the DT (a sch 40 PVC 3/4" female fitting with a garden hose x 3/4 male fitting screwed into it and the open end slid down on the DT used to work) to get some water flow down through the DT to push the resin out of the way so the DT can go all the way to the bottom of the tank instead of having resin under it. That requires removing a bunch of water from the resin tank first so that water doesn't over flow the tank into the salt. You can siphon water out with something that will fit down inside the DT. 1/2" PE drain line tubing is good and all hardware stores usually sell it.

    If you are not confident you can do this, call Sears fro service. And next time don't buy a cabinet model softener, buy an industry standard two tank (separate resin and salt tanks) type. They are much easier to work on.
  11. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    Awesome stuff .. Thanks much for the help!!

    One last question and I'll stop :)

    Once I turn off the water and drain the system, can I then remove the bypass valve and set it to bypass and turn the water back on to the house? I plan to remove the bypass valve so I can slide the unit out a bit to get a better angle on it (cabinets over head).
  12. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    Alaska
    With the unit in bypass and pressure inside the unit down , by carfully removing the 2 black locking rings you will be able to pull the unit away from the bypass handle.
  13. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    So, water off, open faucet until drained, close faucet, set to bypass and remove clips and bypass valve, then I can turn the water back on.
  14. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    What you should do is place the unit on bypass, advance the unit into the backwash cycle, collasp the bypass toward the valve head and remove the clips. Pull the unit away from the bypass and remove the clamps holding the head to the base.
  15. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    Alaska
    Either way , but the second is simpler and no turning off of the water to the house or turning off the well.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I learned to always shut off the water and open a faucet to drain because if the by pass valve that hasn't been used in years doesn't by pass you are trying to take the by pass off a pressurized softener and can break the clips and have water going everywhere until you go shut off the water. It's like wearing a seat belt although you are not planning on having an accident.

    Once the control is off the by pass he can turn on the water and see if the by pass leaks and if not leave the water on.
  17. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    If the water was running past the bypass fast enough to maintain pressure, you would hear it running to the drain and you would not be able to get the clip completely off. It can be done either way.
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Actually if water runs fast enough, you have 0 psi (no pressure) because pressure is simply the resistance to water movement.

    With the water shut off there will be no water flow, and as soon as the faucet is opened, just a reduction in pressure and water draining out of the faucet if there are any fixtures higher than it is in the house.

    But yes, it can be done either way with shutting off the water and opening a faucet being the best for an inexperienced DIYer that has never done it before and is nervous about doing it; don't you agree?

    BTW, the clips are between the by pass valve and the control valve. So if you close the by pass valve without shutting off the water or shutting off the water without opening a faucet, the pressure is trapped in the pipes with the clips and the whole softener is under pressure. that's why he would have to put the control valve in backwash, to release the pressure. Does he know how to put it in backwash? I think maybe not since he seems to not have a manual.
  19. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    Guys, thanks a ton for your advice... A buddy of mine with the same unit and a manual walked me through the process of putting the unit into 'backwash' and checking for a low water flow from the drain tube. According to the manual this indicates a plugged upper screen as was suggested here.

    I feel comfortable doing the upper so when I get a chance I plan too...

    Thanks!!
  20. Phillbo

    Phillbo New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Arizona
    Christmas vacation and I had some time to tear into it .. upper screen is as clean as the day it was installed... I assume the lower screen is the problem then.

    What is the life expectancy of one of these units? This one is at least 7 years old. Trying to decide if i should replace or get a pro out to try to clean the bottom screen ?
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
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