Troubleshooting water softener water quality change

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FruitfulPanda

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Trying to figure out what's up with my impression by Water Right water softener. It came with my house 2 years ago, it's an IM-1054 based on the year and specs I am aware of. I've been maintaining it by making sure it had enough salt and getting it serviced yearly. The next appointment is coming soon and I wanted to get some feedback on what might be happening. It may be time to replace the unit based on recent performance.

I had no issues with it until I started using the Morton iron reducing salt. I normally use the plain but the store didn't have any of the plain the last time I stocked up. The other reason I got it was because I got a new well pump and there was a lot of iron bacteria and they shocked the well to control it, so I thought using the iron reducing salt would be a good play to clean up the state of things inside. I've used it before but never had the side effect where it turns the water dark, especially right after regeneration, varying from a dark brown to a light yellow.

I thought I addressed it by adding several minutes to the rinse time but I noticed the water coming out of the tap today had a yellow tinge even though regeneration was nearly 2 days ago. It takes awhile for the new water to make it into the system as there is a radon bubbler after the water softener. I made sure the water was running clear from just the softener prior to allowing the radon bubbler to fill which seemed to work in the past.

I had read (likely in this forum, I've lurked for awhile) that yellow could be explained as the citric acid left over from the iron reducing salt. However if it was merely this it wouldn't be an issue over 100 softened gallons later.

Thoughts? Shall I replace the media or the entire unit? The servicer told me at the last appointment where I had been using some of the iron reducing salt, but mixed with the plain as well that it didn't make much difference, not that it could actively harm anything. Hoping i didn't speed the decline of the system but if that's the case and I have to start fresh because of my mistakes/the system's age I'll do it right this time.

Thanks in advance all. Advice appreciated!
 

Bannerman

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Does the soft water directly following regeneration taste salty?

From your description, it sounds as though the SlowRinse setting maybe insufficient. Slow Rinse is often combined with Brine Draw which will usually together total 60-minutes duration or longer.

List each of the current settings programmed as well as the softener's total capacity. If total capacity is unknown, measure the resin tank dimensions to permit total capacity to be estimated. From the model number, I suspect the resin tank will be 10" diameter X 54" tall which will then contain 1.5 ft3 resin with a total softening capacity of 48,000 grains.

Post also your most recent lab test report for your raw well water.

A quality water softener that is appropriately programmed will usually operate reliably for many years without supervision other than salt fills. Why has yearly service been necessary?
 

Reach4

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First, check to make sure the softener was not left in bypass by mistake. Usually, if fully in bypass, you can't get a regen to happen. Do you maybe have a 3-valve bypass?

I don't know that softener, but I agree that checking to make sure all of the brine is drawn in about the first 25% of the cycle takes place.

You may not have a cartridge filter before your softener, and the injector screen or injector could have gotten clogged.
 

Skyjumper

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did this start right after the well was shocked? how long did they flush the well? have you checked the water pre-softener (outside spigot). if the well guys weren't there all day then no way they flushed the well adequately and you probably still have bleach in it. it took me a week to completely flush it all out when I shocked mine. yes it quickly clears up, but then after it sits a while it turns yellowish again. just keep flushing it periodically it will clear out. however, your softener is probably clogged with the crud that gets discharged when you shock a well - so it probably needs a thorough cleaning, and that is likely part of this.

99% sure the morton salt has nothing to do with this. not nearly enough citirc acid in it. in fact you will need much stronger cleaners to get rid of the gunk inside.
 

FruitfulPanda

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Does the soft water directly following regeneration taste salty?

From your description, it sounds as though the SlowRinse setting maybe insufficient. Slow Rinse is often combined with Brine Draw which will usually together total 60-minutes duration or longer.

List each of the current settings programmed as well as the softener's total capacity. If total capacity is unknown, measure the resin tank dimensions to permit total capacity to be estimated. From the model number, I suspect the resin tank will be 10" diameter X 54" tall which will then contain 1.5 ft3 resin with a total softening capacity of 48,000 grains.

Post also your most recent lab test report for your raw well water.

A quality water softener that is appropriately programmed will usually operate reliably for many years without supervision other than salt fills. Why has yearly service been necessary?

I haven't tasted the water directly following regeneration so I can't comment. I'm not familiar with/don't have SlowRinse. The cycle timing by default is 9:53 Brine Refill, 240:00 Softening, 8:00 Backwash, 90:00 Brine & Rinse, 4 Rapid Rinse.

It seems like Rapid Rinse had already been extended at installation time as it was at 8 minutes and I extended it to 10 to see if the additional time would sort things out.

Your calculation is correct if I were to increase the salt usage. Per the display the salt usage is set at 15 lbs giving it a capacity of 44,400 per the specs, confirmed by the display (Never adjusted this figure, specs report if 21 lbs is used it would be 48,000).

I actually don't have a raw test but I have a test after the water softener, a 5 micron sediment prefilter, and the radon bubbler, attached. Regarding hardness I tested with strips myself and got 150 mg/L and confirmed that post softening it came down to 30 mg/L as specified in the display.

rGxd4oV.jpeg


Regarding the yearly service, I'm new at this and was just following the recommendation stickers attached to the unit. The radon bubbler is serviced by the same company and also says to service annually.
 

FruitfulPanda

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First, check to make sure the softener was not left in bypass by mistake. Usually, if fully in bypass, you can't get a regen to happen. Do you maybe have a 3-valve bypass?

I don't know that softener, but I agree that checking to make sure all of the brine is drawn in about the first 25% of the cycle takes place.

You may not have a cartridge filter before your softener, and the injector screen or injector could have gotten clogged.

It definitely isn't a bypass issue. I'm familiar with the basic operation of the unit. I can't speak to whether the previous owners had it in bypass for an extended period and kept up on the salt though but I certainly have for the past 2 years.

I'll confirm brine draw next time. There is no filter that I am aware of and an issue with that will be discovered by the technician very soon.
 

FruitfulPanda

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did this start right after the well was shocked? how long did they flush the well? have you checked the water pre-softener (outside spigot). if the well guys weren't there all day then no way they flushed the well adequately and you probably still have bleach in it. it took me a week to completely flush it all out when I shocked mine. yes it quickly clears up, but then after it sits a while it turns yellowish again. just keep flushing it periodically it will clear out. however, your softener is probably clogged with the crud that gets discharged when you shock a well - so it probably needs a thorough cleaning, and that is likely part of this.

99% sure the morton salt has nothing to do with this. not nearly enough citirc acid in it. in fact you will need much stronger cleaners to get rid of the gunk inside.

This didn't start right after shocking. That was done in November. They poured the tablets down and then ran the new pump just directly onto the ground before connecting it. Can't remember how long but I made sure to follow the directions to have the softener in bypass for 24 hours because the bleach could damage the media. I flushed it extensively before turning it on. I was unable to smell bleach per the instructions (even at the beginning) Used a pool chlorine test to secondarily confirm prior to resuming service.

I don't actually have anything pre-softener unfortunately but if I bypass the softener and the other things the water is much lighter than it is if it goes through the softener.

This issue hasn't seemed to recur fortunately. I drained the radon bubbler tank and then ran probably 10 gallons through the softener and it cleared up quite a bit. Also replaced the 5 micron prefilter before the radon bubbler and I haven't noticed a color to the water since doing that.

Thanks for clearing it up that it's not the salt. Perhaps already existing gunk in the softener is to blame.
 

Reach4

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90:00 Brine & Rinse
The first part of that is brine draw, and the remainder is slow rinse. Water moves slowly (laminar flow ideally) through the tank and removes the residual salt.
 

FruitfulPanda

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The first part of that is brine draw, and the remainder is slow rinse. Water moves slowly (laminar flow ideally) through the tank and removes the residual salt.

Oh yes, obviously. I now see Bannerman said they are sometimes combined. I suppose because 60 minutes was mentioned I just assumed 90 in my case would surely be enough and looked elsewhere for an answer.
 

Reach4

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Oh yes, obviously. I now see Bannerman said they are sometimes combined. I suppose because 60 minutes was mentioned I just assumed 90 in my case would surely be enough and looked elsewhere for an answer.
If you time the actual draw time, you can change your setting to 3.5 to 4 x times that number. Usually 60 is the minimum people use. So if your brine is drawn is 12 ... 17 minutes, you might change your 90 to 60.
 

Bannerman

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Are you able to adjust the Capacity and Salt settings independent of each other?

The chart linked below, indicates the regenerated Capacity using various quantities of salt. Your unit contains 1.5 ft3 of resin which you will see on the chart will normally require 30 lbs salt to regenerate all 48,000 grains Capacity, 21 lbs salt would be insufficient.

To regenerate 44,000 grains Capacity currently programmed will require 22.5 lbs salt per cycle (15 lbs per ft3 of resin), not 15 lbs total.

https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/resin-chart-jpg.68704/

Are there any labels or specifications on the valve or within the manual that detail other info? I anticipate the Injector flow rate will be specified somewhere. The Injector will determine the flow rate for Brine Draw and Slow Rinse. While 90-minutes Brine Draw/Slow Rinse is longer than many softeners are programmed for, without knowing the flow rate for the injector, we can't determine if 90-minutes is correct, too long or possibly too short.

You said 'default' settings. Are these actually programmed in your unit or only specified in the manual?

9:53 minutes - Brine (tank) Refill ; Brine Fill First - Time setting likely controlled by Salt setting
240 minutes Softening ; 4 hour delay to allow salt to dissolve prior to remaining regeneration cycle. 90-minutes is usually more than sufficient
8:00 minutes Backwash ; To eliminate debris and expand the spaces between resin granules for better saturation of salt brine. Increase setting to 10-minutes
90:00 minutes Brine & Rinse ; Brine Draw and Slow Rinse. Appropriate time setting conditional on injector
4:00 minutes Rapid Rinse ; To re-compact the expanded resin bed - OK

Suggest reducing the Capacity setting to 36,000 which will require only 12 lbs salt total.

The large quantity of Iron measured in the softened water suggests the resin maybe fouled with iron deposits. Suggest cleaning the resin with an acid cleaning solution such as Super Iron Out or citric acid. Initiate manual regeneration and advance controller directly to BackWash. Mix strong solution using 2-gallons warm water in bucket and add solution to brine tank when the Brine Draw cycle begins. Once the warm solution has been transferred to the resin tank, unplug electrical power and bypass softener to allow resin extended time to soak in cleaner. After 1-1.5 hrs, un- bypass and restore power to allow softener to complete remaining regen cycle. Initiate a second manual regeneration and allow to run uninterrupted until completed.

Suggest to obtain a lab test of the raw well water. Without knowing the accurate amount of hardness, iron and manganese and other conditions prior to treatment, we can't determine if other treatment methods will be required or the appropriate hardness setting to be programmed.
 
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FruitfulPanda

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Thank you for responding again Bannerman, this is great information.

I am able to adjust capacity and salt independently. I was basing my reporting on the manual I found online where the relevant part is here:

MODEL IM-1054 Capacity (Grains/Lbs. NaCI)
Maximum: 48,800 @ 21.0
Medium: 44,400 @ 15.0
Minimum: 35,400 @ 9.0

Manual footnote: All Impression water softeners are pre-factory set at medium salting.

So I was thinking the 44,400 at 15 lbs was adequate. Note that it has a day override of 8 programmed in, so it tends to only get down to 700 or sometimes 600 gallons remaining before a regeneration will happen (Immediately after regeneration, it ends up at 1466), so I'm not actually using the full capacity. Perhaps that is the disconnect/I shouldn't be using a day override at all? The manual says the default was 12. Not aware of why/when it was changed to 8 but I didn't do it. Occupancy is 2.

I was not able to find a flow rate for the injector. The manual mentions a peak flor water and continuous flow rate of 14.3 GPM/15 PSI and 5 GPM/3.8 PSI respectively. Nothing on the unit itself aside from PSI and temperature requirements.

By default settings I am referring to the manual. The only change I personally made was increasing the Rapid Rinse time, but it seemed to have already been upped to 8 minutes at some point. Interesting that the 4 hours for softening of the salt is so much longer than should be required. Again that's the default in the manual though, open to changing it.

Is there any benefit to reducing capacity and salt as you've suggested versus just letting the day override do that in effect (If I understand it correctly)?

Thanks for the info on using an iron remover as well. It is something I had heard of but I was unclear on the process. Note that that test is 2.5 years old at this point and part of the iron content could have been improper maintenance, such as running without salt/bypassing. Definitely could use a newer test. I understand the need to know the raw hardness but I thought anything not being treated for would still be present, i.e. if I did have significant iron/manganese or anything else. The manual says the maximum iron is 1 PPM so perhaps it has been overwhelmed with iron.
 

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Although the various Capacities you specify are within range for 1.5 ft3 resin, the salt amounts stated are appropriate for only 1 ft3. I suspect the softener manufacterer may have confused salt lbs/ft3 for salt lbs total when pre-programming the controller for 1.5 ft3 units.

While a softener may be utilized to remove iron, because 1 ppm iron is equivalent to 85.5 ppm hardness (5 grains/gallon) capacity, a softener is not an efficient iron removal method. For this reason, a softener is not usually used for iron removal unless the iron amount is low. Because 1.8 mg/L (= 1.8 ppm) iron continues to remain after the softener, leads to the question, how much iron is in the raw water?

As 17.1 mg/L is equivalent to 1 grain per gallon hardness, assuming your 150 mgL/ppm test strip result is accurate, that will be 9 gpg (8.77) actual hardness. You have not specified the hardness setting so I calculated the current setting likely to be almost 30 gpg which could be that high to compensate for up to almost 4 ppm iron.

With considerable iron, the regeneration frequency may need to be more frequent, possibly as much as every 3 days. Until a lab test is obtained, recommend reducing the capacity & salt setting, and perform the resin cleaning and additional regeneration recommended earlier, The settings should be reviewed and possibly modified again after the test results are obtained.
 
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Skyjumper

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your water test is from 2018, but you said you didn't notice any water problems until recently? with 1.8ppm iron in the finished water the entire time? please clarify when the problem first appeared. something doesn't add up.
 

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oh - if your finished water really has been at 1.8pm Fe for 2+ years then your resin is completely fouled and needs to be replaced. or better yet, get a new softener. no amount of resin cleaners in the world will clear that thing up.
 

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Although the various Capacities you specify are within range for 1.5 ft3 resin, the salt amounts stated are appropriate for only 1 ft3. I suspect the softener manufacterer may have confused salt lbs/ft3 for salt lbs total when pre-programming the controller for 1.5 ft3 units.

While a softener may be utilized to remove iron, because 1 ppm iron is equivalent to 85.5 ppm hardness (5 grains/gallon) capacity, a softener is not an efficient iron removal method. For this reason, a softener is not usually used for iron removal unless the iron amount is low. Because 1.8 ppm (= 1.8 ppm) iron continues to remain after the softener, leads to the question, how much iron is in the raw water?

As 17.1 mg/L is equivalent to 1 grain per gallon hardness, assuming your 150 mgL/ppm test strip result is accurate, that will be 9 gpg (8.77) actual hardness. You have not specified the hardness setting so I calculated the current setting likely to be almost 30 gpg which could be that high to compensate for up to almost 4 ppm iron.

With considerable iron, the regeneration frequency may need to be more frequent, possibly as much as every 3 days. Until a lab test is obtained, recommend reducing the capacity & salt setting, and perform the resin cleaning and additional regeneration recommended earlier, The settings should be reviewed and possibly modified again after the test results are obtained.

Thanks for the detailed info. Good to know. I'll get a raw test done, can probably have the technician add it as part of the upcoming visit. I did include above that the hardness is at 30, but I mistakenly said mg/L instead of gpg. The manual says the default is 20 and since iron contributes to hardness I'm assuming that's the reason for the increase.
 

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oh - if your finished water really has been at 1.8pm Fe for 2+ years then your resin is completely fouled and needs to be replaced. or better yet, get a new softener. no amount of resin cleaners in the world will clear that thing up.

I theorized in another reply that maybe it was so high due to lack of softener upkeep. Additionally I'm pretty sure they weren't as good about replacing the 5 micron filter because there was one set aside that had been wiped down as if it was going to be reused again, and when we moved in the filter was extremely dark with iron, so the test had been a sample collected that passed through that. Point being, perhaps the iron ppm was inflated for one or both of those reasons.

I understand a new softener might be on the table and I'm open to that. It can't have been too badly damaged though as at the servicing roughly a year ago nothing was mentioned about the media being overly fouled, to replace it or the entire softener.

One thing that changed as of that servicing is it was suggested to close the sediment prefilter about halfway so the radon bubbler doesn't pull water faster than the water softener can work/at least give it more time for the water to be treated. It had previously been open all the way and pulling at I believe 6.5 gpm per the display, now does between 2.5 and 3 gpm.
 

Skyjumper

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...so the test had been a sample collected that passed through that. Point being, perhaps the iron ppm was inflated for one or both of those reasons.

I understand a new softener might be on the table and I'm open to that. It can't have been too badly damaged though as at the servicing roughly a year ago nothing was mentioned about the media being overly fouled, to replace it or the entire softener..

ok, but it still went through the softener, and the softener passed 1.8ppm, and from what I gather you haven't done any softener cleaning since? correct? I mean, aside from just recently using morton rust salt, which is like using baby shampoo to clean up the exxon valdez spill.

just get a new softener, and use resin cleaners from day 1, with every regeneration. but you do need a raw water test too. if you've been reading this forum you know I'm the world's biggest clack fanboy so I won't repeat the benefits of Clack systems here. but get a clack...
 

FruitfulPanda

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ok, but it still went through the softener, and the softener passed 1.8ppm, and from what I gather you haven't done any softener cleaning since? correct? I mean, aside from just recently using morton rust salt, which is like using baby shampoo to clean up the exxon valdez spill.

just get a new softener, and use resin cleaners from day 1, with every regeneration. but you do need a raw water test too. if you've been reading this forum you know I'm the world's biggest clack fanboy so I won't repeat the benefits of Clack systems here. but get a clack...

Point taken on the iron. Solid analogy. I haven't done any cleaning but I assumed the servicing appointments cleaned it or at least checked to see if cleaning or replacement of the resin/softener was needed. All I have from the last visit is a generic invoice that doesn't go into that level of detail. I'll ask a lot of questions at this next appointment.

I haven't heard of resin cleaners before, just the use of iron out or similar that Bannerman mentioned. I'll look into those in preparation for resin/softener replacement. Thank you.
 

Bannerman

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Resin or softener replacement may not be required as hardness removal with only <10 ppm hardness in the softened water is reasonable. After resin cleaning, I anticipate the remaining hardness amount will likely be lower but below 17.1 ppm hardness is considered sufficiently soft for residential applications.

A Hach 5B Total Hardness Test Kit is recommended for periodic testing of both the raw water and softened. The 5B will report hardness as GPG which is usually sufficient but they also offer other kits for measuring ppm if necessary. These test do not replace the necessity or a comprehensive lab test.

If you don't already have a preferred lab, National Labs offer a Standard Well package which is will be appropriate.
http://watercheck.myshopify.com/?aff=5
 
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