Water softener Controller Bangs/Sloshes when well Shuts off

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by davidnoss, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. davidnoss

    davidnoss New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    My new water treatment system has been in for several weeks and was working great. Then, about three weeks in, there is a hammering/sloshing sound coming from the very top of the blue tank near or in the controller head. This first started happening when the well pump shut off. Then the past day, it hammers when the nearby laundry sink faucet is shut off and a nearby toilet--again, the location of the noise is identical, just not as severe as when the well shuts off.

    It's not the pipes hammering, if you put your ear up to it, you can actually hear it coming from inside the conditioner tank at the top, or inside the controller itself.

    Here is a video on YouTube where you can see the system and hear the sound.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy2Wa-eh5Vg

    Note: Since the video was made, the intensity of the reaction kept getting worst. I installed a check valve and pressure gauge between the pressure tank and the conditioner and it made the problem more bearable for the time being. I'll make a new video so you can hear/see the problem as it now exists.

    Curious why it was fine for the first three weeks and then started up from nowhere.

    The well has a 30/50 switch on it and the system/house is 18 years old. Not sure what the actual cut-in and cutout pressures are. I have 2 gauges installed (one on the well and the new one I installed between the tank and the conditioner), but they differ by 3-4 pounds and I have no idea which is correct. One shows cut-in around 25 (new Simmons Gauge) and the other at 28. I need to drain the tank and check the charge pressure.

    Many thanks for any assistance.

    P.S. We sent the video to the support guy at the manufacturer of the water softener (masterwater.com):

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It sounds as if you have air in the resin tank or you wouldn't hear "sloshing".

    Obviously the problem started about 3 weeks after the softener was installed and very probably that had nothing to do with the cause of the problem. And as you see, adding check valves etc. isn't going to fix the cause.

    Getting the correct air pressure in the pressure tank is an excellent idea.

    I tend to mostly agree with the guy you don't believe but I wouldn't just go replacing a check/foot valve without troubleshooting to make sure it was bad first.

    Before I read what he said, I was going toward the cause of air in the resin tank caused by a leaking check valve in a submersible pump or a leaking foot valve with a jet pump, or a leak due to a hole in the water line/drop pipe in the well probably above the water level in the well. Or... your air check not working and that allows air into the resin tank but, I see the black ball in your air check is on the bottom where it should be to stop the suction of any air during slow rinse/brine draw... unless it isn't supposed to be down when the unit is in Service. Or you are using pre refill or variable brining and that's why it is down now (no water in the clear part). I guess in your opinion I would be wrong about anything to do with the well so...

    How about you list what you think could cause the air in the resin tank and we'll discuss those things. And don't tell me/us you have no idea or you wouldn't have posted here or...we won't have anything to talk about other than your hating to think it is something serious in the well. :eek:
  3. davidnoss

    davidnoss New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    Well, perhaps I should have said, "I don't UNDERSTAND his conclusion" rather than I don't "agree." I didn't understand/believe I would offend anyone.

    Assuming the check valve on the submersible pump is bad, what would be a reasonable/average/typical cost to have someone come out and repair that?
  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Before you rush off into that, you need to do a few tests.

    Turn on water until the pump kicks on and shut off the water. Watching the gauge at the outlet of the pressure tank go up and stop moving. The stop should simply stop increasing, not jerking around or falling a few lbs until it stops.

    Then watch the gauge for 30 minutes and see if there is any reduction in pressure. If there is a decrease in pressure, it means there is a leak somewhere.

    Now the leak could be on either side of the gauge up to the new check valve you installed so, shut off the water in the main line on the outlet side of the pressure tank and continue to watch the pressure gauge for another 30 minutes. If there is no reduction in pressure, the leak is on the well side of the system.

    If there is no leak, then the problem cured itself (like dirt in the check valve that flushed out) or the problem is not in the well side of things.

    Before you do any of the above, check the air pressure in the pressure tank is set 1 lb less than the turn the pump off setting on the pressure switch. For a 30/50 setting, that is 29 psi WITH NO WATER in the tank.

    Let us know what you find with the air pressure and watching the gauge etc..
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  5. davidnoss

    davidnoss New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    The well guy just left (a very nice and competent man). The well and check valves are fine.

    He noticed the original installer had put a T in the 1" PVC feed from the well BEFORE the pressure tank to feed the house instead of coming off of the opposite side of the T pipe that fits on the bottom of the pressure tank (look at my video to see what I mean). He said that isn't the normal way things are done. He agreed to re-plumb it so the house is now fed off of the T on the pressure tank so that the tank acts as a buffer from the shock when the well shuts off. Problem gone.

    He also upped the pressure from 30/50 to 40/60 and charged the tank to the proper value.

    $216 and I'm happy as a lark.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't like pressure tanks plumbed that way either and changed more than a few but...
    The tank was plumbed that way for how long and I doubt it was the cause of the problem but time will tell.

    What did he say the sloshing was caused by?

    Did he check/set the pressure tank precharge air pressure?
  7. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,813
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Congrats on the fix, and the price is great! I highly recommend setting the system to a 40/60. I am not sure of the reasoning of 30/50, maybe one of the experienced well guys can give us the pros and cons of these 2 two common settings. The obvious wear and tear increase as pressure increases, as well as the slightly higher energy consumption, but is there more to it than those factors?
  8. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,125
    Location:
    Maine
    I suspect that when the tee was pipe in before the tank that air was getting into the resin tank due to a leak somewhere between the tee and the well. Getting rid of the tee forces the air into the pressure tank and not the softener. The hammer problem probably won't come back but I think you have an air leak in the well line.

    Sincerely, your pal; Cartoonyguy

    Ditto; The pressure switch is kind of a preference thing although around here most shallow well pumps are set up with either a 20/40 or a 30/50 because as pumps wear they are unable to produce higher pressures. We generally use a 40/60 on a submersible.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  9. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    My little Gould J5 system came preset to 30/50, and I suspected it would not handle much more with only a 1/2 hp motor on it. I upped the spring pressure and now it's a 32/52, but I didn't want to go much higher. Then again, maybe it's unimportant, cuz that particular motor is rated for continuous use...
  10. davidnoss

    davidnoss New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    The system purrs like a kitten now, so it must have been the original plumbing. I even removed the hammer arrestor, which pretty much didn't do anything anyway. The system was always noisy when it shut off due to vibration. Not sure why it took 3 weeks for the sloshing to become apparent.

    Not sure if the well driller or the plumber plumbed the system that way originally.

    I suspect the resin tank was acting much like a pressure tank. When the pump shut off, the pressure acceleration stopped and the pressure in the resin tank reversed and created a ping pong effect in the system. Now that the storage tank and resin tank directly oppose one another, there is equilibrium. Sounds like a pretty cool explanation anyway :)

    He did set the pressure tank precharge air pressure after changing the switch to 40/60.

    He also clued me in that the original well driller used threaded Sched 80 PVC for the casing--the only guy in the county to do so.
  11. davidnoss

    davidnoss New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Maryland
    Here is the way the system is plumbed now. I put the softener and water heater in (heater was in a different location before). We decided we didn't want to mess with the removing the T from the 1" PVC feed, so we left it in and broke the copper T to an elbow which just feeds the outside hydrants (outside is unconditioned water). Then the bottom of the storage tank feeds into the main loop. So, there are basically 2 circuits in the house -- conditioned and unconditioned water.

    DSCN0215.jpg
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