Clack WS1 Filling Brine Tank - Can't Figure It Out

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Milanomike

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It's been a while since I've been here as I've not had any problems......that I couldn't fix or figure out related to plumbing!

I installed the water softener about 12 years back, other than a leaking draw line initially it has worked flawlessly. I have a whole house sediment filter feeding a charcoal filter before the water softener for info, maybe this has helped.

Anyhow, the unit just started filling the brine tank with water in the past month or so as I check the tank regularly. Attached photo of my valve.

I have checked the following:

- the draw or brine fill line for a leak, seems good.
- the brine valve on top of the head that the brine feed line connects to, all clear, can blow thru it
- the injector (red one), all clear, no blockage evident
- drain line valve on top the head, all clear, can blow thru it
- float in chamber in brine tanks seems fine
- I can see water going down when in draw mode, but also disconnected line put it in bucket of water to make sure it was sucking/drawing. Seems fine to me.

At some point I will clean out the brine tank, I don't think I have a salt bridge, as the brine draw seems to work.

Looking for help on what else I should check. Yeah, I can throw parts at it, like the spacer stack and 2 pistons, but would like to figure this out first.

Also, no settings have been changed other than to extend the days for recycle as kids moved out and we use less water.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mike
 

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Bannerman

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Does it continue to deliver soft water? If so, that would confirm salt brine is continuing to be drawn from the brine tank and is flowing through the resin media.

A salt bridge would not cause additional water than usual to enter the brine tank, but would soon result in insufficient softening capacity so water hardness would increase substantially before the next subsequent regen cycle. Since a bridge will be suspended above the liquid level, salt will not be consumed and the upper level of salt would not become lower.

Since the items you checked seem to be operating correctly, I anticipate water is entering the brine tank not only during the Brine Fill phase of regeneration, but also some other phase(s) such as during Back Wash, Brine Draw and/or Rapid Rinse. I suspect it's time to replace the seal & spacer stack.

no settings have been changed other than to extend the days for recycle as kids moved out and we use less water.
If the softener is appropriately programmed to regenerate when the programmed capacity has been depleted as determined by the softener's flow meter, then usually there will be no need to change any settings when occupancy changes, except maybe the Reserve Allowance setting.

Programing regeneration to occur based on a specific number of days, will be usually less efficient since a period of time where less water than usual is utilized prior to regeneration, will continue to needlessly regenerate the remaining un-depleted capacity instead of delaying regeneration until the programmed capacity has been depleted.
 

Milanomike

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Bannerman,

Thanks for jumping in, and no, the unit is not delivering soft water.

Based on your description above I do not have a salt bridge. The pellets are not fused together at all, I can push them around easily. I don't have a lot of salt in the tank at the moment as I want to clean it, but there is plenty of salt to make the brine.

My reading has suggested that I may be looking at replacing the spacer stack. I'm not sure how to tell if it needs to be replaced, but maybe these symptoms are it. The replacement looks straightforward from various writeup and videos.

What should I replace, the spacer stack, the regenerative piston and the downflow piston? I assume I have a downflow piston as my drainpipe goes down to the floor drain. Looks like there are 2 o-rings also.

Mike
 

Milanomike

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OK, realized downflow or upflow has to do with whether the brine goes in at the top and flows down or starts at the bottom and flows up. Not sure which I have, seems like downflow is way more common.
 

Reach4

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Are you saying that after regen, the water level continues to rise until the safety float stops the flow?

A downflow softener runs the brine from top to bottom, and upflow runs the brine thru from bottom to top.

Similar?
 

Milanomike

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As best I can tell during the fill cycle (refilling brine tank) the water keeps filling until the safety float triggers the stop.

I checked the tank last night and today and no additional water has come into the tank, so I don't think it is "leaking" during normal, i.e. soft water, usage.

I did see the referenced thread and the regenerating piston, along with the spacer stack and the downflow piston would be replaced if I take this route. I figure if I take it apart, just replace all 3 pieces. I'll also get a new injector though mine seems fine.

Not sure how to verify if I have a downflow setup without taking it apart, but it seems most are downflow.

Mike
 

Reach4

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I don't know the Clack softeners, but I suspect the programming is different for downflow vs upflow.
 

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OK, just checked this AM and it looks like it is leaking water into the brine tank. I checked last evening, noted the water level and this morning it is a bit higher.

Looks like I'll be ordering up the spacer and other bits.
 

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OK, I'm back and either still have a problem or I just haven't figured it out.

I've rebuilt the valve, new spacer stack, brine and regeneration pistons, new o-ring. Task was straightforward. I cleaned the brine tank, got some old caked up salt out of the bottom of the tank, cleaned out any mildew/mold and put it back together.

I added water until I was about 2" above the salt tray (my term) and rehooked up the brine line.

This is a 32000 grain unit and the brine draw is 60 minutes. All was going well until the brine line showed bubbles, it appears that it sucked all of the brine, so I probably made a mistake and added some water. My thinking was fine, when it fills the brine tank it will be at the correct level. Probably not correct on this.

During the fill cycle, it put way too much water back into the brine tank.

Somethings not right here, open to suggestions.
 

Milanomike

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OK, may have figured it out or at least learned something. My brine draw is 60 minutes and I mistakenly assumed it sucked brine for the entire 60 minutes. It appears that it sucks brine for ~20 minutes, then stops sucking and does a slow rinse.

So, looks like I added way too much water. Need to drain it out and start with 3 or so gallons (need to check the actual amount, but think it's so the water is ~2" above the salt tray.

I may figure this out yet.
 

Bannerman

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This is a 32000 grain unit and the brine draw is 60 minutes.
32K grains is the total capacity for 1 cubic foot of resin. Regenerating all 32K each cycle would require 20 lbs salt each cycle, which would be very waste full and inefficient.

To achieve the best balance of salt efficiency, softening capacity and soft water quality, the usual recommendation will be to program the Capacity setting to 24 to cause regeneration to occur when 24,000 grains capacity has been depleted, as that will require only 8 lbs salt each cycle.

Since each gallon of water entering the brine tank will dissolve 3 lbs salt, then to dissolve 8 lbs salt will require 2.67 gallons water.

Because the brine pickup assembly cannot draw out the brine located lower than the pickup opening, a small amount of liquid will continue to always remain at the bottom of the brine tank after the brine has been drawn.

As you have identified, the Brine Draw cycle of regeneration is actually two cycles combined into one setting. While there is sufficient brine in the tank, the ball within the air check valve at the bottom of the brine tank will float, but once the brine level is low, the ball will not float and will come to rest on the brine inlet opening, thereby preventing air from being drawn while the Slow Rinse portion of Brine Draw continues.

A 60-minute setting will be typically the minimum setting as transferring the brine from the brine tank will require approx 25% of the setting time, so the remaining 75% Slow Rinse time is utilized to slowly push the brine through the resin bed, and then to rinse off calcium, magnesium, chloride and excess sodium from off the resin and out to drain.

As you added additional water to the brine tank, since it has already dissolved additional salt, suggest not draining it but instead perform a manual regeneration while you are present. As there is excess brine which will require longer time to draw, suggest pulling the power plug during the brine draw cycle so as to extend the slow rinse cycle to ensure sufficient time to thoroughly rinse the resin. Pulling the plug will prevent the timer from advancing to the following cycle so Slow Rinse can be extended indefinitely, but an additional 30-45 minutes will likely be sufficient to prevent 'salty' tasting water following regeneration as will occur when the Slow Rinse time is insufficient. Restoring power will then allow the timer to continue to complete that cycle and then advance to subsequent cycles to complete the remaining regeneration cycle without further interaction from you.
 
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Milanomike

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Bannerman, thanks for careful reply. Yes, I identified I screwed up on this, thought I had it. The good news is no additional water has entered the brine tank, so the new stack has fixed that.

Will look at the setting for my setup can't recall it at the moment, but do recall to not set it at 32,000 grains.

Good idea on the manual regeneration approach. Will try and get this done today/tomorrow.

Still may need to replace media as its old, but we'll see after I get it set up correctly.

Mike
 

Reach4

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Still may need to replace media as its old, but we'll see after I get it set up correctly.
If city water, I would tend toward replacing media if your testing shows inadequate softening. If well water, tend to treat with Iron Out.
 

Milanomike

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Yes, it is city water. Incoming hardness varies a bit but recent check showed 12 grains of hardness. Will see how much it softens once I get it going.

Replacing the media looks messy....
 

Bannerman

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Municipal water will contain chlorine or chloramines (chlorine + ammonia), either of which will negatively impact the lifespan of any softening resin.

The usual indication of chlorine damaged resin is a reduction in water flow through the resin. While you may not be necessarily notice much flow reduction when water use is low, such as while running 1 shower, a reduction will usually be apparent when attempting to use water from multiple fixtures at the same time, which will improve by bypassing the softener.

While 10% crosslink resin will better tolerate chlorine compared to standard 8% CL or, lower resin, 10% will also be negatively impacted over a longer time period.

A backwashing carbon filtration system before the softener, will remove chlorine as well as the har full bi-products of chlorination and many other contaminants, thereby extending the lifespan of the softening resin.
 

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OK, got it set up, used the 24000 grain recommendation for a regeneration. For me at 12 grains of hardness this is about 2000 gallons, it was set a bit higher previously. We use a lot less water since the kids moved out. I'll see over next few days how the water is, then test for hardness.

This is a Clack EE valve if that matters. There does not seem to be a way to enter the water hardness, need to set it to X number of gallons before regeneration along with a max # of days.

I spent a lot of time studying this some years back but have forgotten a lot of what I learned.

When I installed the softener, I also installed a whole house (4 x 10 size) sediment filter in the main line before the softener. From the sediment filter, it then feeds a whole house (4 x 10) charcoal filter, then heads to the softener. So whatever chlorine is in the water should be all (or mostly) gone before it hits the softener. Memory says I did this to extend life of softener and improve water quality/taste. When all is well the water is nice and tastes good.

I have no apparent or obvious reduction in flow at the shower or when running multiple uses, but I will take note of this.

If it comes to replacing the resin that's still way cheaper than buying a new unit, and unless I have a local guy install, I won't get the Clack valve which I just learned is easy to rebuild.

Will report back.

Thanks for the help with this one.

Mike
 

Milanomike

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OK, I'm getting closer but still not there. Again, Bannerman and Reach4 thanks for staying with me on this problem.

I ended up draining the brine tank only because I needed to be away for a bit. Figured I'd drain the tank and start fresh, I added 4 gallons of water to the tank (just at or slightly above the salt tray in the tank). I added a bag (50 lbs) to about the 1/2 bag I rescued and simply ran a regeneration cycle. Seemed to work well and lo and behold the water is softer than it was as I just showered (need to check hardness).

However, checking to make sure I was home free, after showering I checked the brine tank and geez, its back to too much water in the tank, Its ~5" above the salt tray (salt completely under water). I really thought I had it.

I'm clearly missing something. To review, new stack and the 2 pistons, new injector (red), brine line and drain seem clear, and brine draws like it should, but it puts too much water back in the tank. Maybe a drain issue after all?

I can certainly do the manual regeneration as suggested above but probably not until Monday the earliest, but not sure it would matter.

Need a break from this which is good as tomorrow I've got some stuff going on.
 
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