Water Softener: repair or replace?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Kevin V, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hello. I am new to the forum here.

    I have a dual-tank water softener by Commers (local Minnesota company) from approximately 2005. Last week, the display on the head unit went blank and it stopped running. I'm not certain what model this is, but it looks suspiciously like some Fleck systems that I found online

    I pulled the cover off and noticed the silver piece on the right (motor?) was very warm. The part number is "17837", which from a Google search I assume is a Fleck drive motor. However, the warm motor probably doesn't explain the blank display.

    It worked well until last week. Is a repair attempt reasonable at this point or should I look at replacing the whole setup?

    Thanks!

    Kevin

    Here is a picture:
    upload_2020-9-8_11-25-21.png
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
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  4. GoingQuiet

    GoingQuiet New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2020
    Location:
    Northeast
    When you switch your multimeter to volts and measure the outlet of your power supply (a/c adapter), how many volts d/c are you getting, and what’s that power supply rated for?

    Generally the drive motor and control board/Lcd display should be tolerating of voltage +or- 10% of the rating. From there you could check actual voltage to the control board and wherever else the schematic takes you.

    Its interesting that the drive motor was warm but the display is out. Typically if the motor was seized with a locked rotor it’d be burning hot. Many of those motors only spin at 1 revolution per minute and often have a little clear viewing port where you may look in and watch a shaded point on the rotor pass by if it’s working.
     
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
  6. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I re-checked the motor. It is indeed rather hot. I can only hold it for about 3-4 seconds before I have to remove my fingers. It is a 1 RPM motor (#17837). I pulled it off the gear it was attached to and plugged it in, it spun quickly and erratically and made a clicking noise, certainly spun MUCH faster than 1 RPM, probably 100+ while making a racket. I'm guessing this motor has failed.

    However, that still doesn't explain the blank display.

    Given the 18-year old age of this system, I'm leaning towards just replacing it.

    I called some local companies to get quotes. Culligan offered me a lease-returned Gold series 10" softener for $1,300 installed as their least expensive option. Is that reasonable?

    Note: 4 people in our home, city water hardness is around 12.

    Thanks again for all the help here!

    GoingQuiet -- I wasn't able to get a voltage reading.
    dittohead -- Valve body is brass
     
  7. skyjumper

    skyjumper Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    Location:
    Midwest
    1300 for a used softener is a ripoff. you should be able to get a brand new clack system with a 10x54 tank for about 12oo installed. but with city water and only 12 grains hardness you could get by with a $500 cabinet unit from Menards and be good for 15 years. if you do buy a "real" softener -- that is, one with separate resin tank and brine tank with a professional grade valve like you have, then my advice is get a Clack WS1 valve. you could easily get by with a 10x44 tank. I have a clack valve on a 10x54 tank and it is a fantastic setup. reliable. easy to maintain if needed (which you probably will never have to do), easy to get parts, lots of online support, etc. be thankful you are not dealing with 32gpg hardness, 3ppm iron, and iron bacteria to boot...
     
  8. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Skyjumper,

    Thanks for your help. I just ordered a Clack WS1 with a 10x47 tank from a local dealer. Total install cost (install, haul-away of old system, and sales tax) will be $1,375. Should get installed next week.

    I very much appreciate the help here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  9. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    You will do great with the new valve. Your old valve served you well, and it could have easily been repaired, it is a little risky. Your new Clack system should last you another 18 years!
     
  10. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I was on the fence with the repair vs. replace question. Certainly I could have saved some money repairing my current system, but I am a novice plumber at best and the risk of a water leak (and the associated water damage) in a finished basement pushed me towards a professional installation of a new system.

    Can I get a quick math check?

    I'm getting a 10x47 tank with 1.25 ft3 resin. This has a marketing capacity of 40K grain, but I should program to a more efficient 30K grain using 8 x 1.25 = 10 lbs salt per regen cycle.

    4 people x 75 gallons-per-day x 15 hardness (12 actual + 3 padding) = 4,500 grains for an average daily need. That has my softener running about every six days. I can expect to use about 50 lbs salt per month.

    Any flaws in my logic? Any WS1 settings that I should pay special attention to?

    This is a fantastic forum, not even a hint of politics :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I hate "insert politician here"!!! :) FYI, we are not the NFL or NBA, we don't feel the need to politicize everything, we just enjoy treating water here.


    Your settings sounds perfect, see the chart below, I skipped 1.25 ft3, but it is not that hard to figure out.

    upload_2020-9-15_9-58-41.png
     
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Got space for the more-common 10x54?

    Do you understand that you may not be able to get mail order repair/maintenance parts, such as a seal kit? That may not matter to you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  13. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Considering the price his local dealer is giving him, I am sure his price for parts will be fair as well. (Hopefully)
     
  14. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have plenty of room, but didn't think I needed more capacity. With older teens, our household will drop from 4 people to 2 people over the next couple of years. The dealer suggested no more than 10 days between regeneration cycles, I realize there is mixed advice here on that topic. Once the kids are in college, we will be around 13 days between regeneration cycles. The equipment is already ordered and scheduled to be installed Thursday afternoon, it is probably too late to change my order at this point.

    Tell me more about the "may not be able to get mail order repair/maintenance parts, such as a seal kit?" Not sure I understand that comment.
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    That would imply that the softener will be dealing with iron. In that case, regenerating more frequently has its merits.

    If your softener is dealing with iron, you will have some extra chores (clean the injector and injector screen), and will want to dose the salt with a suitable acid. Some areas of MN have a lot of iron. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesabi_Range Where do you draw the line as to what ppm iron is reasonable to handle with just a softener? There are different opinions.

    Clack does not allow their dealers to sell remotely. I am not sure where they draw the line, and some online/phone sellers may have some gray market or old stock available.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  16. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I emailed the water utility department for my city asking for the amount of iron in our city water. However, the only answer that I received is the water hardness is 12, nothing specific to iron. Several of the neighboring cities post this information online. They vary from 0.1 to 1.3 ppm, so I'm assuming that my city is somewhere in that vague range.
     
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I forgot you were on city water. There is no disadvantage to letting the time between regens to go well above 10 days -- up to 30 days; it's more efficient. With city water, any iron that was in the water when the water leaves the water plant settles out in the pipes on the way. Then every year or two, they flush the "hydrants" to dump that accumulated iron etc.

    You do want 10% crosslinked resin for city water, for sure.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  18. Kevin V

    Kevin V New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Update:

    The new softener is installed, I had a minor typo above, the new tank is 10x47, not 10x44 like I mentioned. I edited my previous posts to correct the information.

    Measured hardness was 15, a bit higher than the 12 mentioned on my city's webpage. The resin listed was "10% Crosslink Aldex".

    Thanks again for the help.
     
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