20 year old softener measures zero grains per gallon, but...

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by needhelp1, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    Dec 7, 2017
    Location:
    Indiana
    Hi, I have a 20 year old house with copper piping. The house has had a working Culligan softener since new. I just verified the softener is working, generating zero GPG water per a Hach 5B test. I am on city water. I am having a growing problem on the hot side of my plumbing, with some slight reduction in flow. It seems I am growing some sort of yellow/white crud in the hot side stop valves, at the connection to the dishwasher and washing machine hoses, etc. I can even see this white/yellow stuff building up on the orifices inside my brass shower valves. The water heater is 2 years old. The dip tube is in perfect shape (just checked). I just removed the hot side stop valve under the master bath sink, as well as the stop valve under the kitchen sink, and found an unreasonable amount of this yellow, granular, corrosion-like looking stuff blocking the valve. In the MBR valve copper pipe where the valve attaches had this crap clogging the pipe about 1/4" deep. Seems to be leaching out of the metal. I soaked these valves in vinegar - they did not fizz. Left them overnight in vinegar, and the valves were pretty darn clean by morning. I have turned off my softener for now - fearing I am over-softening the water (if that is possible). Water heat temp is at 130F. City water has a hardness of 7 GPG. Any ideas??? Thank you all!
     

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  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Have you flushed the bottom of the water heater using the bottom drain port, to determine if there is excessive debris there?
    If the same debris is located there, you may want to pull out the anode rod to check its condition. Anode rods are usually sacrificial so as to corrode and slowly dissolve over time instead of the tank corroding. Perhaps your water conditions are such that the anode rod is breaking down more rapidly than usual and dissolving into the water, then settling in your isolation valves and other plumbing fittings when water is not flowing.

    You could post the link to your city's water analysis report, to establish if there are conditions which might contribute to the problem.
     
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  4. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    I have not pulled the anode rod. I think it is al Aluminum/Zinc rod. I do flush regularly and only see a slight tinge or light red for a a bit when I first open the tap on the heater. Then it runs clear. But I like your idea about the anode rod breaking down fast. Would a softener delivering water that measures zero grains per gallon attack an anode rod aggressively?
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Interesting theory.

    I expect soft water to consume the sacrificial anode faster because there is not going to be a coating of calcium compounds that might cover flaws to an extent.

    An poweed anode would not produce any byproduct as it protects. I think the ones with the electrode that is long like a stock anode would protect better than the stubby ones.

    Expect to need a good sized impact wrench with a 1-1/16 inch impact socket to remove an anode that has been in place for long. A hex socket on a breaker bar probably won't do it, and the breaker bar is more likely to move the full water heater than an impact wrench.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  6. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    Indiana
    Quick question. Would an anode breaking down create this yellow/white debris? It appear to be affecting the brass fittings, growing there, accumulating there, who knows.
     
  7. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Zero grains per gallon is the amount of hardness contained. Hardness is mainly comprised of dissolved Calcium and Magnesium, usually from the water's contact with those minerals in the ground. A salt based softener exchanges those hardness minerals with sodium through a process called ion exchange.

    There are other water qualities such as pH which can influence the water's corrosion qualities. Suggest posting a link to your city's water quality report, so that your water's various qualities can all be considered together.
     
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    It helps not to drain the WH before trying to remove the anode rod. Also, be sure to use a 6-point socket, and as a last resort borrow or rent a torque multiplier (they're pretty pricey, though). Some folks claim you shouldn't use an impact wrench for fear of cracking the glass lining of the WH tank.
     
  9. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    Dec 7, 2017
    Location:
    Indiana
    The city is Fort Wayne, IN. Their published water quality report is terrible. Has no info about mineral content, TDS, etc.
     
  10. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Softened water can break down an anode rod quickly due to the lack of scale formation... a little counter intuitive but it is a common practice in steam boilers to run them with hard water for a few days a year to build up a very thin layer of hardness... free protection. Too thick and it becomes an insulator and efficiency will be diminished. No coating and corrosion can be a little more difficult to control. In my thirty years of working in the water softening industry I have always promoted bypassing the softener for a week once a year to build up this protective layer. It only takes a few days as anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry will know by when the softener goes down, the dishwasher turns a beautiful snow white color inn a day or two max...

    The debris looking stuff in the angle stops is very common. It has been determined to be hardness scale precipitation, dezincification of the angle stop, build up due to the sharp angle of the plumbing and many other potential causes.
     
  11. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    Dec 7, 2017
    Location:
    Indiana
    Dittohead, if my softener is outputting soft water, would this still be hard scale precipitation? The dezinfication could make sense, but these are 20 year old Wolverine brass valves. Aren't they supposed to be good? What is the most likely root cause?
     
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Dezincification can result from a multitude of potential problems including aggressive water, electrolysis, and much more. Old angle stops... 20 years.. I would simply replace them. It is not unreasonable for an angle stop to last 20 years. I generally recommend replacing them every 5-10 years when you change the soft lines to the faucets. I m sure someone will chime in saying theirs lasted for 150 years... I dont care. These are inexpensive components that are easily replaced and will prevent a catastrophic failure that is very common... I have been an outside consultant for legal teams for many years. Angle stops and flex lines are very common causes for major water damage in houses.
     
  13. needhelp1

    needhelp1 New Member

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    Dec 7, 2017
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    Indiana
    I have sent samples of water out for lab analysis and will share the results when I get them back.
     
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