Water Softener Problems - runs, but doesnt work

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by rschmitty, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. rschmitty

    rschmitty New Member

    We recently moved into a new home (our first) and are experiencing living with a well and softener for the first time, so sorry if I don't know the terminology correctly yet.

    When we moved in, the toilets were stained yellow/brown, the dishwasher had a white powdery coating all over the inside, the shower stall has gradually turned brown/orangish and worst of all my wifes blonde hair is starting to turn orange :eek: (not a happy camper!) I scrubbed out the dishwasher with CLR and same with the toilets. Dishwasher seems to be holding up fine, but toilets start to get a stain after a week or 2

    We had a plumber come out on 1/6 to diagnose, but it is now the 24th and hasnt returned any of my phone calls, so I'm looking to see if this is something I can do on my own or gather enough imformation to have someone else fix this.

    From the septic report: Well drilled 2002 is 185 feet deep, more than 38 feet of protective clay above the aquifer. The well is 5 inches in diameter with plastic casing and a submersible pump, property screened vented and 12" above grade. They did not run a hardness/iron test

    The previous owners had the following test:
    November 2005 Routine Test
    Sampling Point: Kitchen Tap
    Hardness result: 52, detec limit: 30, unit: mg/L
    Iron result: 0.1, detec limit: 0.1, unit mg/L

    And when the plumber we hired to take a look came out:
    January 2009 local plumber notes:
    untreated (before softener) 1-ppm Iron, 18-gr hard
    treated (after softener) 0.8-ppm Iron, 18-gr hard

    He said the head is operating properly, hardness set to 30 and regens daily, salt is being used to no effect (no clumping found, he said not to fill it up so high though in the future), and found media in the water heater

    The water pressure was set to 40/75, he said normal is 40/60 and the high pressure might have 'blown out' the media in the softener.

    On the back of the head of the softener it says "Pressure 20-125" so I'm not sure that 75 psi could really blow out the media as he said or not.

    At the time of service, he could not get the head off of the unit to look inside the softener tank (the one that you dont put salt pellets into)

    I couldnt find what the model number is, but the manual says "WaterLover's Series 1" Metered Control" and here are some pictures with any numbers I could find on it


    Brine tank

    Softener Head

    If there is any other information I can provide or try to search for, let me know

    Thanks for any guidance/help

  2. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    If he found media in the water heater, then the machine lost some of its resin, which would reduce its capacity. Did he check to make sure it was drawing brine? If it lost media then it should be determined why and also the amount lost should be replenished. Did he set the pressure back to 40/60? There is a guy here named Gary Slusser that specializes with that valve and i'm sure he will give you some good info on it.


  3. rschmitty

    rschmitty New Member

    I don't recall if he did or not. He did not say to me that it wasn't drawing brine..but obviously doesnt mean he checked. Not sure if this is related or not, but after he left a while later my wife went to get a drink and took a big gulp of salt water. We ran all the faucets for about 10min and the salt taste didnt come back (and hasnt since)

    Is there a test I can do to verify this is drawing brine?

    When someone says media, is that the same thing as resin or is 1 a subset of the other?

    He did reset to 40/60 (the guage reads ~64 when it stops pressurizing)

    Thanks for the manual link!

    The valve that connects downward to the tank is really stuck on there, looks like some buildup or something. He could not get the head off to check the tank. I havent tried my self, but incase I fail too, any tricks to loosen up the head?
  4. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    If you had salty water then the machine is drawing brine, he probably ran the unit through a cycle manually and didn't rinse the brine out. I'm not familiar with those valves but it looks familiar to a fleck set up but the piston is horizontal than vertical. Anyway, to remove the head it looks like there are two union type fittings that need to be removed. Put the machine on by pass and then place it in regeneration mode to relieve the pressure. Then undo the union female fittings, remove the drain line by un threading the the female fitting that connects the line to the head. Next grab the neck of the head and turn it counter clockwise. It should loosen up. When you get it un threaded be careful when lifting it off the head so you don't pull the distributor up with it.

    Until Gary pops in and helps you, that is the best i can tell you.


  5. rschmitty

    rschmitty New Member

    unit is operating in the correct direction. waiting on a second pair of hands to help try to get head off still

    I took some pictures from unscrewing a sink faucet and letting some water out at high speed from the bottom of the tank. I had thought 'media' was round balls, but this looks flakey to me. Could I even be losing resin? Also the plumber seemed alarmed that I was at 40/75 for my water pressure but the system is rated up to 125 psi...


  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You have a Clack WS-1 control valve on what looks like a 1.0 cuft foot softener. That's probably too small for yuor water quality, family size and peak demand gpm of the house.

    You should not have your water pressure above say 65 psi. High psi, like 65, means the water flow's velocity through the softener is too fast for the ion exchange and you run the risk of causing water hammer which is capable of causing damage to the softener and other appliances and plumbing and fixtures. It may have broken the distributor tune inside the resin tank. I think you have resin getting out of it. I don't agree wit the prefilter you have in front of the softener, that will rob flow and pressure from the softener and that will cause the resin to fail which I think it probably has. The flat pieces in your pictures may be flaking off the inside of the resin tank, control valve and plumbing.

    Any odor to this water and if so, hot cold or both?

    You won't get the control off the tank without the distributor tube being pulled up off the bottom of the tank, and then you have to put it back by laying the tank down or you run the risk of breaking the bottom basket and dumping all your resin into the plumbing.

    The water in the salt tank has been very high, it could be going that high every regeneration and if it is the salt dose is probably not set correctly.

    I think the programming is probably not set right.

    Who did you buy the unit from?
  7. rschmitty

    rschmitty New Member

    No idea who installed it, no name or contact was left on the unit or in any paperwork that came with the house. House was built 2001 so I'd imagine this unit was in shortly after.

    Well I finally was able to get the head off with a friends help and a few good hits. I couldnt see any resin at all down inside.

    Called a different plumber who was able to bring out some resin and fill it back up. He drained the tank and just very trace ammouts of resin here and there but really it was just water. He shortened the turbulator by a few inches so it was 10 inches total from the top, and installed an upper basket to also prevent resin from being siphoned out. He said shortening the turb will cause some loss of capacity but the factory recommends 10inches.

    It was actually a 1.25 tank, he thought 1.0 too but the 1.0 resin bag didnt fill it up. Does that sound too small still? After resin and reprogramming (they had jacked it up to daily regen and set at 40 hardness) he tested the water and it was down to 1. Its now set to 1000 gallons or 7 days for a regen, he said the unit could be extended to a longer regen like 12 or 14 days but with the high hardness he didnt recommend it

    I'm no good with smells, but after my wife's first shower she said it no longer has an odor (I was like what odor?? I didnt know we had a smell) I'll ask if she smelled it prior to the fix with cold water too. edit: She said it smelled like sulfur and a metal iron/copper smell before. What does the smell indicate?

    Should I just remove the prefilter, it's extruded carbon, not sure what it does exactly other than cost money for filters :)
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You need to fire the plumber, he doesn't know softeners. Water treatment dealers do.

    There are very very few softeners that have the resin tank filled with resin, and yours is not one of them. There should be a freeboard space above the resin, so your tank, probably a 9" x 48" tank, should have empty space of like 15-18.

    A Turbulator is a distributor tube that goes from up inside the bottom of the control valve to the bottom of the resin tank. You can not use gravel underbed with a Turbulator tube. Your distributor tube, Turbulator on regular has to be cut off flush with the top of the tank +/- 1/2" with your control valve (Clack WS-1). So he should not have cut anything off a Turbulator or regular dist. tube.

    The top basket will keep the resin in the tank mostly but, 'fines' and broken bead pieces can usually get through them, so you may still get resin in your plumbing IF your softener is connected backwards. Otherwise where did all your old resin go, the only place is out the drain line during backwash BUT, then you wouldn't have it in your plumbing. See the problem here?

    Also, your softener, like most, does not remove or reduce H2S gas (rotten egg or sulfur smell).

    Here's a picture of a Turbulator distributor tube.

    Attached Files:

  9. UVBoy

    UVBoy Previous member

    Iron & Water Softeners

    As has been stated already - you have a Clack WS1 valve. This is a top notch valve and has the ability to do a great job softening your water.

    To ensure your water softener is working properly you want to force a regeneration cycle and watch what happens. Follow these steps:

    Press and hold the Regen button for three seconds. You should here the motor working. The motor should "whirr" for a couple of seconds. Listen for any grinding, stuttering, or other strange sounds. By the way, after pressing and holding the regen button you should see "Backwash" on the screen. Next, press the Regen button again and the motor will run again taking you to the Brine stage. You'll want to see if the level in the brine tank is going down during this stage and you'll also want to make sure water is going to drain at this point. Press Regen again and you should now see Backwash again on the screen. Press Regen again and you'll be at the Rinse stage. Press Regen again and you'll be on the Fill stage. Make sure at this point that water is being added to the brine tank.

    Assuming this is all working properly, and that you're resin is in good shape, you need to consider that a softener will only remove "clear water iron". If your water comes out of the tap clear, and then turns orange after a while, a softener (with properly functioning resin) should take care of it. But, if the water comes out of the tap already orange, you'll need a dedicated iron filter.

    A professional and current water test is the first step here, aside from determining that your water softener is functional.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2009
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