Using salt but not softening

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tokun

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I have a year old Fleck 5600XT. A few days ago I noticed that it wasn’t softening the water and I discovered that the brine tank had a salt bridge. I broke it up and filled it with more salt. Now it is able to draw salt from the brine tank, but it isn’t actually softening the water. I’ve ran a regeneration cycle three times and it has gone through roughly 100lbs of salt without softening the water whatsoever. Any ideas on what the issue could be?
 

Reach4

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100 lbs of salt is incredibly high for 3 regenerations. Exaggerating?

There is troubleshooting you can do. During a regen, the brine should appear at the drain line maybe 10 minutes into the BD cycle. Appearing too soon is one indicator of a problem.

The likelihood of a this flaw appearing in the 5600* softeners is lower than for some, because there is only one common diameter of distributor tube. But it could potentially happen, but no sense going into that unless you can confirm the symptom.
 
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tokun

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100 lbs of salt is incredibly high for 3 regenerations. Exaggerating?

There is troubleshooting you can do. During a regen, the brine should appear at the drain line maybe 10 minutes into the BD cycle. Appearing too soon is one indicator of a problem.
I double checked and I was probably off by around half a bag (20 lbs). So about 80 lbs. I’m not sure if this is the norm for three regenerations or not because my partner is the one who refills the brine tank. I will check with him later about it. We live in an area with around 350ppm of hardness, so it is probably higher than normal.

I just checked and it seems to be drawing brine through the drain line immediately after beginning the BD cycle. Do you know what kind of issue this could indicate?
 

Reach4

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I just checked and it seems to be drawing brine through the drain line immediately after beginning the BD cycle. Do you know what kind of issue this could indicate?
To know if it is brine yet or just water, you have to either taste it, or use a cheap TDS meter. The salt in brine would not be subtle.

350 ppm of hardness is 19 grains. Not unusually hard.
 
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tokun

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To know if it is brine yet or just water, you have to either taste it, or use a cheap TDS meter. The salt in brine would not be subtle.

350 ppm of hardness is 19 grains. Not unusually hard.
I have an old, probably very inaccurate TDS meter. It gives a lower TDS reading than what the water’s hardness is, so I’m assuming the number is wrong but it might still be useful to compare numbers. My tap water comes up as 250 ppm. Two minutes into the BD cycle the waste water was 350 ppm. Six minutes in it was 650ppm.
 

Reach4

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I have not really tried this, but I would expect a longer time to rise. Somebody who has tried this may add some info for us.

650 seems low. What does it peak at, if you noted? That could indeed be the TDS meter battery or something making the calibration not meaningful.

If you have 350 ppm of hardness, your TDS should be more than 350.
 

Bannerman

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If the O ring that is to seal the connection of the riser tube to the control valve within the media tank is missing or damaged, hard water entering at the top of the media tank can flow directly to the outlet connection without flowing down through the resin where softening will take place.

The easiest test without removing the control valve is to disconnect the drain line close to or at the control valve. Advance the controller to Brine Draw and taste the drain flow to determine how quickly it becomes salty. If the O ring is missing/damaged, the drain flow will taste salty almost immediately whereas when the O ring is sealing properly, it will take several minutes for the brine to flow down through the resin and backup the riseer tube to the drain line.
 
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Charlie Bosco

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I'm certainly no expert here but hanging out on this site has made me feel empowered.. Id simply taste the backwash.. If it tastes salty, then it shows you are getting brine. The Salt Bridge tells me you ran it without salt for a while and the Resin is totally rendered with crap that a simple salt rinse cannot remove. I'd run some ResCare through it a few times in a row. That stuff is pure magic! Its super cheap online. I keep a Rescare reservoir with a continuous drip.
 

tokun

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Thanks for all the responses. It tastes salty at around 6 minutes into the BD cycle. Is this too soon?
 

tokun

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I'm certainly no expert here but hanging out on this site has made me feel empowered.. Id simply taste the backwash.. If it tastes salty, then it shows you are getting brine. The Salt Bridge tells me you ran it without salt for a while and the Resin is totally rendered with crap that a simple salt rinse cannot remove. I'd run some ResCare through it a few times in a row. That stuff is pure magic! Its super cheap online. I keep a Rescare reservoir with a continuous drip.
I don’t have a sediment filter ahead of it yet so that might be the problem. I’ll try a resin wash and see if that helps.
 

tokun

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The water in my shower was salty for around 10 minutes. I’m not sure if this is a symptom of the issue with the softener or just because I ended the BD cycle and skipped the rest of it.
 
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Charlie Bosco

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I don’t have a sediment filter ahead of it yet so that might be the problem. I’ll try a resin wash and see if that helps.
My unit did not have much of a sediment filter in front of it either.. A crappy GE filter cartridge. I have since added a Katalox filter ( for Sulfur) in front of my system. Since it filters to about 3 microns. That's all I need.. My Katalox Backwashes nightly..
 

Charlie Bosco

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The water in my shower was salty for around 10 minutes. I’m not sure if this is a symptom of the issue with the softener or just because I ended the BD cycle and skipped the rest of it.
Sounds like you never got to the rinse due to interrupting the full cycle.
 

Reach4

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Thanks for all the responses. It tastes salty at around 6 minutes into the BD cycle. Is this too soon?
I have not done it, but I think it is in the very reasonable range. I would expect the TDS meter to overrange, but you pointed out that yours is very old. Those batteries are not replaceable, are they?
 

ditttohead

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For starters, you need a real water softener test kit if you want to DIY. Hach 5B is the most common. You mentioned the water got salty to drain 6 minutes in... what size tank/what injector do you have? Put the system into the brine draw cycle, the water must not be salty to drain within the first couple of minutes. Many other tests, but until you have a test kit we are going to be throwing spitballs.
 

mario41052

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Hi, I have a FM-1200 also called Fleck.
I have verified all the steps and the flow looks all good. It draw the salt, it refill the brine. It rinse, etc..
I attached a very nice step by step graphic i have on my manual.

I don’t know the story of my softener, so once all the steps have been verified, I have proceeded running some iron out but still the water is hard (in and out has same hardness).

I then proceeded replacing the resin but still same problem.

I still have to verify if the by-pass is separating properly.

This o-ring caught my attention because i don’t remember to have seen it and i’m not even sure where it should be. I can’t visualize the position from the drawing.
I imagine it is the o-ring 11.

I have the 1” distributor tube with both upper and lower basket.

Low water piston.

Can you help to understand the position of this o-ring?

Am I missing something else?

i have seen that with a few hundreds bucks i may just replace this softener but would be a shame since even so has 25+ years, it looks still has a lot to give!

thanks

2F8A74C6-FBC5-4C56-B3E6-2FBD6BBDB59B.jpeg
E32E388E-67EA-4022-B79C-9CF765A8C400.jpeg






If the O ring that is to seal the connection of the riser tube to the control valve within the media tank is missing or damaged, hard water entering at the top of the media tank can flow directly to the outlet connection without flowing down through the resin where softening will take place.

The easiest test without removing the control valve is to disconnect the drain line close to or at the control valve. Advance the controller to Brine Draw and taste the drain flow to determine how quickly it becomes salty. If the O ring is missing/damaged, the drain flow will taste salty almost immediately whereas when the O ring is sealing properly, it will take several minutes for the brine to flow down through the resin and backup the riseer tube to the drain line.
 
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mario41052

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I couldn’t resist, I had to disassemble the head in order to look for that o-ring #11.
I did find it and it is in good condition.
The bypass is good, properly separate the two flows in and out.

I’m totally lost, not sure to what else to check.

Does my ppm meter sucks?

The softener didn’t have the gravel, so i didn’t put gravel as well when i changed the resin. any concerns?


7622C747-0D27-4882-A50B-679FC1907091.jpeg
0A2DBDEB-35FF-4A3C-AB9B-8772CBF1E9FD.jpeg
5A515199-D76D-4DEC-B7D9-B6C17A3CB3D4.jpeg



Hi, I have a FM-1200 also called Fleck.
I have verified all the steps and the flow looks all good. It draw the salt, it refill the brine. It rinse, etc..
I attached a very nice step by step graphic i have on my manual.

I don’t know the story of my softener, so once all the steps have been verified, I have proceeded running some iron out but still the water is hard (in and out has same hardness).

I then proceeded replacing the resin but still same problem.

I still have to verify if the by-pass is separating properly.

This o-ring caught my attention because i don’t remember to have seen it and i’m not even sure where it should be. I can’t visualize the position from the drawing.
I imagine it is the o-ring 11.

I have the 1” distributor tube with both upper and lower basket.

Low water piston.

Can you help to understand the position of this o-ring?

Am I missing something else?

i have seen that with a few hundreds bucks i may just replace this softener but would be a shame since even so has 25+ years, it looks still has a lot to give!

thanks

View attachment 80053View attachment 80054
 

Bannerman

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I see a TDS meter in one of your photos. Is this the method you are using to test for hardness?

Measuring TDS (total dissolved solids) does not measure hardness.

A water softener functions by a process of ion exchange. Since Calcium and Magnesium minerals dissolved in the water are the most common cause of hard water, a softener will remove those ions and will replace them with sodium ions. As such, softening will not reduce TDS.

The appropriate method to determine water hardness is to utilize a total hardness test kit such as a Hach 5B.
 
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mario41052

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thanks! I have one on the way.

I see a TDS meter in one of your photos. Is this the method you are using to test for hardness?

Measuring TDS (total dissolved solids) does not measure hardness.

A water softener functions by a process of ion exchange. Since Calcium and Magnesium minerals dissolved in the water are the most common cause of hard water, a softener will remove those ions and will replace them with sodium ions. As such, softening will not reduce TDS.

The appropriate method to determine water hardness is to utilize a total hardness test kit such as a Hach 5B.
 

Reach4

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Does my ppm meter sucks?
Maybe. Depends what you were measuring. If that was brine in the tank, then yes -- brine would over-range the meter. If water with maybe a little residue, then probably not.
The softener didn’t have the gravel, so i didn’t put gravel as well when i changed the resin. any concerns?
Having gravel is better, but a lot of softeners omit it to save weight. It spreads out the flow at the bottom.

Usually a softener will increase TDS a bit, and the others have pointed out, is not a measure of softness.
 
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