Safety Valve Sticking in Closed or Up Position

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Milanomike, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Hi Guys,

    Got what I'd call a standard water softener set up, cation ion exchange column, separate salt tank. Noticed water wasn't as soft as it should be and found that the safety valve in the column in the salt tank was stuck in the up (or closed?) position. I assume in this condtion I won't get brine to the unit. I freed it up by pushing with finger, did a regen and found it was stuck in the up position again. Any thoughts on what could cause this? Water level in salt tank might be too high which pushes the float up or maybe some other issue. Any thougts are appreciated.

    Mike
  2. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Water level rising in the brine tank pushes the float up. It shouldn't stick in the up position so either there is interference, mineral buildup or a defective part causing it to stick in the up position. You should investigate to see if you can determine the reason for sticking.

    The float level might be misadjusted--it should be adjusted to cut off the water supply just before an overflow/spill would occur. If it is adjusted correctly you should confirm there isn't a build up of crud in the bottom of the brine tanke that is elevating the water level. If that doesn't solve the problem there is probably a problem with the softener valve that is allowing to much water into the brine tank. The quantity of water is controlled by a Brine Line Flow Control (BLFC) and the timer. If the BLFC is damaged or missing that could cause the problem. As timer that is not set correctly or not functioning correctly could cause the problem. There could also be a problem with the valve itself--could be the brine valve or could be the main valve. You didn't tell us the valve manufacture so it is difficult to be more specific about what /how to check out the softener valve.
  3. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Bob999,

    Thanks for quick thoughts. This is a Clack WS1 set up, will do some looking to see if there is build up or other problem, but the float has always seemed too high to me (always at/near top of "float range" in column in brine tanke if that makes sense). Anything on the Clack head that can mess me up? Thanks for your help.

    Mike
  4. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    OK went down to look at unit. Safety valve float is at top of allowable travel as described. Water level pushes valve to top of travel, but is well below overflow/spill line. Removed float from column and checked for build up, all is good, perfectly clean. Can blow easily through saftey valve, which closes when at top of allowable movement. Brine, looking down column with trouble light looks clear, not murky, can see to bottom of brine tank, no obvious build up of crud. Pulled line at opposite end on top of Clack head, very simple, but it's clean and clear, can easily blow through it. Is it possible the water level in tank was just too high or should system adjust/keep at desired level. I guess I could simply take out some water until it's at desired level, which I assume would be the center of the allowable travel on the safety valve as a test. Also, got 10" from top of air check gizmo to the bottom of the float at the centerpoint of travel. Thanks again for any tips.

    Mike

    Mike
  5. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Clack valves can be set up to do the brine refill at the end of the regeneration cycle (post fill) or a couple of hours before the regeneration cycle (pre fill). It is a choice in the Installer programming. If your set to prefill there should only be a couple of inches of water in the brine tank most of the time. If set for post fill the amount of brine in the tank between cycles should be the couple of inches plus the amount of brine fill. The brine fill amount programming process depends on the specific Clack electronics you have and the size of the BLFC.

    It sounds as if the valve is not drawing the brine during regeneration--or at least is not drawing as much as it should. You can check that by initiating a manual regeneration as seeing if the brine level is drawn down until the air check stops brine draw.

    If you aren't getting adequate brine draw it could be caused by an air leak--frequently from a loose fitting on the brine line-- or by dirt in the injector in the control head. Suction is created by water flowing through a venturi during brine draw and if the venturi is dirty you will not get brine draw. Also there is a screen in the supply line for the venturi and if that is plugged it will cause problems.
  6. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Bob999,

    Thanks for the feedback will take a look again and see what I can learn. Will report back when I know more.

    Mike
  7. Skip Wolverton

    Skip Wolverton In the Trades

    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    Ocala, Fl
    Sluge can cause water to stay in the brine well which will fill up and shut off the float assembly. Dig down into the salt to insure the water level is the same as in the brine well. If the unit is not drawing brine, the same thing will happen.
  8. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Skip,

    Just to be clear, you mean the water level in the brine tank should be the same as in the well (the ~4"cylindrical tube that contains safety valve) correct? Also, is that the water level with salt in the tank, I would think yes?

    Mike
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes that's what is meant and yes the water depth is dependent on the amount of salt in the tank but... that's not what is wrong.

    Your float is not adjusted correctly.

    It is not used to adjust or set the salt dose water volume in the salt tank, it is a safety float used to shut off the water if the water rises too high due to overfilling of the salt tank because of a water leak into the tank or not sucking all the water out due to an air leak and then adding more water with each regeneration; which is fairly common.

    I say the float is not set right because you have said; ".... got 10" from top of air check gizmo to the bottom of the float at the centerpoint of travel.". And that the float is stuck up after each regeneration.

    Someone read a red tag on the float that said to set it at 10" and obviously your salt dose refill water level is coming up higher than the float setting, or you have a water leak into the tank; raising the water level which is closing the valve, stopping more water from entering the salt tank in the refill position. And that will have caused incomplete regeneration of your resin.

    So to solve your problem of the closed valve, adjust it up to just below the salt tank overflow elbow so the float shuts off the water before it overflows on to the floor but not before the brine refill water volume can.
  10. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    OK, not sure why I didn't realize this earlier, if the safety valve is in the up position the unit can't draw brine, right. The brine tank and safety column water are at the same level, and the system is clean. So, I wasn't sure how much water triggers the float, so I set it so that the top of the float comes to just below the overflow valve in the shut off position (can adjust more if necessary). Obviously, this is way higher than it was so it is good enough for a test. I've initiated a manual re-gen, and can see the brine being sucked up the tube. Will see at the end where I assume it will put some water in the tank to keep enough in there to dissolve the necessary amount of salt. Thanks for the great help here. Will post back with final results.
  11. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    OK, learning lots about water softeners here, more to learn than I thought.

    So, it just completed a regen and it does the brine fill at the end of the cycle. And what it did was add water until the safety valve shut it off (at the new height I set), this clearly isn't correct. So, either it's not sucking enough brine out and then when it goes to refill there's too much, so the safety valve shuts it down, or it's trying to add to much water at the fill stage. I'm guessing it's not sucking enough brine out during the brine stage. I stated earlier that I could see the brine going up the tube, but this was not a solid stream, sort of like a slow draw of the brine, could see bubbles going up the tube to the head unit, is this correct. Thanks again. Mike
  12. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    There should not be bubbles. The bubbles mean there is an air leak and it is reducing the amount of brine drawn.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    How many lbs of salt do you have the control valve set to use per regeneration?

    Sucking air means you have a compression nut loose in the salt tank. There is one where the brine line connects to the top of the 2310 valve and one on the bottom of the 2310 valve where the gray air check "gizmo" goes up into it. Either nut being loose will allow air suction instead of lifting heavy brine. That then leaves more brine in the tank than there should be and the next regen adds more until it gets up to the float.

    Again, what is your salt dose (in lbs)?
  14. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks, can't look until tonight at the earliest, but i've concluded there is a leak. The unit is apparently calling (sucking) for brine during the regen cycle, and trying to suck the brine, but is getting a lot of air. I'm thinking the head unit (Clack) is working OK because of this. How could there not be a leak it's plastic tubing inserted into a plastic valve, but will check carefully and make sure everything is snug (and hopefully won't oversnug). I assume it's standard tubing and I can get new comp fittings if needed at the local home fixit store. I think my salt dose was 9lbs, but would have to check to be sure. Thanks again.

    Mike
  15. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,480
    Location:
    Alaska
    One thing that could be wrong or bad with the brine float assembly is that little rubber seal that is at the base of the float arm. There was some that had a red seal and over a few years would go bad, break , crack,, it would let water into the bring tank but would not pull brine.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You get 3 lbs/gallon of refill water, so 3 gallons for 9 lbs but....

    If you have a 15" x 17" or an 18" round salt tank you get about an inch of water per gallon. That's above the air check height line on the "gizmo" and the check height line is 2" up from the bottom of the "gizmo". Your water level with salt in the tank was/is way higher than the 5-6" above the air check line if you have a salt grid but then if you don't have a grid it wouldn't be much more than say 12"-15"; which with the float just 10" above the top of the air check, the water should be lifting the float.

    So fix the air suction leaks by hand tightening the compression nuts and then with a wrench or pliers, 3/4 ths to 1 full turn more and stop. Do not tighten as tight as you could get them, that deforms the tubing and causes air leaks. You may not be able to get replacement parts for the fittings from anyone other than a water treatment dealer.
  17. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Guys, thanks for all your help. I went down there and disconnected the brine line from the safety valve, blew into the water softener head, no go. This seemed correct, blew into the safety valve and tried it open and closed and found the connection leaked where the tube from the "gizmo" connects to the valve head, bingo. Was hoping it just needed a tighten, but when I disasembled it I could see the compression fittings were pinched and not in the fitting. They both were split in 2, torn and folded over. Had to be that that way from day one or close to it. Hoping I can score some comp fittings at the Depot or equivalent to at least run a test, worst case I call the Culligan guy, they used to be near here. If I've got it, I assume I should remove some water so that my water level with salt would be about 5 - 6 inches above the air check (gizmo). Will post back.
  18. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,480
    Location:
    Alaska
    Photo of what you are talking about?
    I think that you are talking about the 3/8 tube ferrule, you should be able to find that at Home Depot.. if it is a two part deal then you might have to go to a water treatment type company to see if they have what you are looking for.
  19. Milanomike

    Milanomike New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes, they are the 2 part deal, no go at the Depot or Lowes, got new ones coming in mail from water guy up the highway. Ran a test with bad ones, got them to seal so that draw from brine tank was good, only a few bubbles, this was clearly the problem. Will install new compression fittings when the arrive and double check everything.

    Right now water level is higher than Gary suggests (I do have a salt grid/platform) by a few inches due to this mess, so I'll need to get some out to get it to the right level. Any tricks here, siphon won't work. Got some soft water now, will be back on line by end of week.

    I owe you guys a beer. Thanks again. Mike
  20. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,480
    Location:
    Alaska
    Just let it use the extra salt water, it will not hurt any thing and it will help the media with what might have gotten built up with it not working right for awhile.
    The level should return after the next cycle that you send the unit into.
    You might wish to unplug it when it gets to the brine draw part and let it pull out all of the salt water and then plug it back in and let it finish.
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