Do I need a new brine valve on Fleck 5600?

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Studly

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I have a water softener with the good ol' Fleck 5600 on it. For a while now, we've been getting salty, foamy water running through our sinks after it regenerates. At times, the brine level in the tank is too high, as well.

I've taken the Fleck apart and checked everything. There was some grit in the injector and I cleaned that out, but we're still getting salty water after regeneration. I checked the drain line and flow control area for the drain line, and none appear to be clogged. (We're on city water and have no pressure problems.)

The only potential problem I can see is the brine valve piston doesn't seem to move up and down easily. I don't see anything clogging that valve and the rubber seals on it seem to be OK. However, in the following manufacturer's video on YouTube (go to the 2 minute mark), they show that you should be able to easily move the white part of the brine piston up and done, away from the bottom cup washer. In fact, the guy does it one handed.


Mine does move all the way up and down but it isn't easy and it takes two hands, one to hold the gray end of the valve and the other to move the white part up and down. It isn't easy to move up and down like it appears on the video ... is that typical? Just wondering if the brine valve piston could be the problem, and if I need a new one?
 
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ditttohead

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Replace it. How old is the valve? If it is over 10 years, you should also replace the seal/spacer kit and the piston assy. Cheap and simple. That valve can last for many decades with simple repairs like this.
 

Studly

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Replace it. How old is the valve? If it is over 10 years, you should also replace the seal/spacer kit and the piston assy. Cheap and simple. That valve can last for many decades with simple repairs like this.

The whole water softener with the Fleck 5600 is only 5 years old. Before I took it apart, we had a repair guy come out and he put in new seals and spacers, but said there wasn't much wear on them. He couldn't find any other problems, but after he replaced that stuff, it still didn't fix the salty water problem.

Regarding the brine valve piston, if it does not open easily, like mine, would that cause salty water to get into our plumbing or would that just cause the brine tank not to fill up? I'm not sure exactly how the brine valve works.
 

Mialynette2003

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With the unit in a service position, disconnect the brine line from the valve. If there is water dripping out, either the brine o ring is at fault or the brine valve.
 

Studly

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With the unit in a service position, disconnect the brine line from the valve. If there is water dripping out, either the brine o ring is at fault or the brine valve.
Thanks for the tips, everyone. Just tried the suggestion above, and no water drips at all ... I guess the brine valve is good.

Anyone have any other tips on how to fix the salty water problem? I've checked all the common things on the Fleck 5600 and not luck finding the problem.
 

Bannerman

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While the brine valve appears to be closing fully, the difficulty you describe in opening it is concerning. The force needed may be placing stress on the timer motor and other components and the brine valve may not be closing as rapidly as it should.

The Pentair video you provided, describes 2 of the issues you're experiencing. It recommended to replace the brine valve. Although you indicated the seals and spacers were already replaced, the brine valve was not mentioned and seems to have not been replaced.
 
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Studly

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Does the water stay salty, or slowly clear up until the next regeneration?
After the softener regenerates, the water is salty only for the first few minutes of running a faucet, then it clears out and we don't have any other problems until the next regeneration.
 

Studly

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While the brine valve appears to be closing fully, the difficulty you describe in opening it is concerning. The force needed may be placing stress on the timer motor and other components and the brine valve may not be closing as rapidly as it should.

The Pentair video you provided, describes 2 of the issues you're experiencing. It recommended to replace the brine valve. Although you indicated the seals and spacers were already replaced, the brine valve was not mentioned and seems to have not been replaced.

Good points. I was wondering about that, but the video mentioned that if your valve was leaking it would cause two of my problems (overfilled brine tank and salty water in the service line). The valve has a lot of pressure pushing it down (closed) so I don't see that it would stay stuck in the open position. If the brine valve was bad and wouldn't open enough, then that would cause not enough water to be put into the brine tank, correct?

Good point on it probably placing stress on the timer motor if the valve is too stiff. I just don't have anything to compare this valve to, and maybe they are all kind of stiff after they've been used for a few years?
 
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Reach4

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At times, the brine level in the tank is too high, as well.
I think that is your leading symptom.

It would be nice if you could somehow inspect the places that the brine valve O-rings seal against.

If you silicone grease lightly on the brine valve seal, does it move more freely?
 

Bannerman

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The brine valve, similar to the connecting rod on the piston, has a grey teflon coating to facilitate smooth operation. Over time, the teflon coating can be compromised which then can impair operation.

If there is higher force required to open the brine valve due to friction, then the valve may also not be closing as fast as it should as it is closed through a set spring force. If closure is delayed, that will permit additional water to flow into the brine tank, more than is needed to create the proper amount of brine. Whatever amount of brine drawn into the resin tank, will normally be rinsed away during the slow rinse portion of the regen cycle. If a substantial amount of additional brine is drawn in, there may not be enough time during slow rinse to thoroughly rinse away all the brine from the resin so you can therefore end-up with salty water initially.
 
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Studly

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It would be nice if you could somehow inspect the places that the brine valve O-rings seal against.

If you silicone grease lightly on the brine valve seal, does it move more freely?

From what I could tell when I had it apart, the O-ring was fine, as was the place it was sealed against. I did put silicone grease on the O-ring when I reinstalled it. It didn't seem to make it move more freely.
 

Studly

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The brine valve, similar to the connecting rod on the piston, has a grey teflon coating to facilitate smooth operation. Over time, the teflon coating can be compromised which then can impair operation.

If there is higher force required to open the brine valve due to friction, then the valve may also not be closing as fast as it should as it is closed through a set spring force. If closure is delayed, that will permit additional water to flow into the brine tank, more than is needed to create the proper amount of brine. Whatever amount of brine drawn into the resin tank, will normally be rinsed away during the slow rinse portion of the regen cycle. If a substantial amount of additional brine is drawn in, there may not be enough time during slow rinse to thoroughly rinse away all the brine from the resin so you can therefore end-up with salty water initially.

Thanks for the helpful explanation. Before I took everything apart and cleaned the grit from the injector, the water level in the brine tank was too high. Then after I inspected everything and cleaned the injector and ran a regeneration, I still got salty water but the brine tank returned to a normal level. But maybe the salty water was because, as you said, there was too much water in the brine tank before I ran the test regeneration.

Now that there is a normal level of water in the brine tank, I think I'll run another test and see what happens. If that doesn't work out, I'll order a new brine valve.
 

Bannerman

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Now that there is a normal level of water in the brine tank, I think I'll run another test and see what happens. If that doesn't work out, I'll order a new brine valve.
Sounds like a good plan.
 

Mialynette2003

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The drain flow control can cause salty water. Make sure it is clear of any debris. By restricting the drain water, the system can not rinse all the salt during a regen.
 

Studly

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The drain flow control can cause salty water. Make sure it is clear of any debris. By restricting the drain water, the system can not rinse all the salt during a regen.

Yeah, I checked that first thinking for sure I'd find something clogging it, but it was clear.
 
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