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Thread: ABC's of how a water softener system works-

  1. #1

    Default ABC's of how a water softener system works-

    About 5 or 6 years ago we moved into a house that had an older water softerener system. It's located in a closet in the basement bathroom. I imagine it is original to the house which is about 30 years old.
    It has a big square plastic tank that you put softener salt in, and a round cylinder with a valve and timer. It "regenerates" about every 6 evenings. Just me and my wife in the house if that makes a difference.

    Anyways, I'm always forgetting to top up the salt, so one time a couple years ago I topped it up, and water from that tank started running all over the bathroom floor. I thought I cracked the tank, but it was just coming out an overflow. I called my plumber and he adjusted the water level, but told me the unit is old, can't be serviced and should be replaced. That was a couple years ago and it's been working fine- except for creeping water level when I let the salt get too low- but I suppose I will eventually have to get a new one.

    Before I start researching new units I thought I better get the $2 tour on what these actually do, how they work etc. plus any tips or advice you can offer.

    Thanks,
    BJ

  2. #2
    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Have a photo of the unit by chance?

    Sounds like the injector is pluged.. if the injector is pluged it will not pull the salt water out of the salt tank for the reg or cleaning of the media in the other tank..

    Like the cars of today with Fuel injection... if the injectors are not working right not so good mpg...

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    In addition to a blocked injector, there could be a blockage of the injector throat if any and the injector screen filter or the drain line or the drain line flow control or loose brine line connections allowing it to suck air instead of salt water. The drain line could be frozen or blocked at the end by ice. There could be an internal leak in the control valve or a leaking brine valve allowing water to go into the salt tank when it shouldn't be.

    BJ, softeners remove hardness and iron from your water if you have them in your water. But what do you mean by how do they work?
    Last edited by Gary Slusser; 03-25-2010 at 09:46 AM.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  4. #4

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    Actually, the unit seems to function fine for the most part. We get nice soft water. Maybe a couple time a year I have to scoop a little water out of the tank so it doesn't overflow.

    How they work- as in, the water comes from the main supply and goes? through that cylinder? gets stored in the water heater? Where does the salt come into play? I'm clueless here.
    Will try and post a pic in a few days. Not home right now.

    Thanks
    BJ

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    On the back side of the control, the valve on top of the media tank there could be an areo that show in and out... some have the in line on the right while others have the in on the left...
    Find the incoming water line and follow it and it will show you the flow of water.
    When the unit is in service the water comes into the unit and down through the softener resin and hardness and iron is exchanged for soft water. After X number of gallons it needs to recharge. When the unit cleans or recharges it first backwashes... water down through the tube that runs to the bottom of the tank and up lifting the resin to flush it out... then the brine and slow rinse.. this is the recharge of the resin so that it can go X gallons again. Then there is the rapid rinse or packing rinse it will pack the bed so that the water has to come in contact with the resin for treatment. Then there is the brine refill so that there is a salt brine ready for the next cleaning cycle.

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    So, it is in constant use? All household water goes through the softener? I always thought that the regen was the softening stage and soft water was stored in the water heater. I knew that didn't make sense. So, the regen is just the system cleaning stage?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJ James View Post
    So, it is in constant use? All household water goes through the softener? I always thought that the regen was the softening stage and soft water was stored in the water heater. I knew that didn't make sense. So, the regen is just the system cleaning stage?
    Yes in constant use... like the battery for you car or truck running the lights , radio... when volts drop the altenator kicks in to charge the battery...
    The softener when fully charged can have X number of gallons before it is going to need to recharge or clean...
    One example could be that the system is 1.o cubic of resin with 8lbs of salt would give a capacity of 24,000 grains.. if your water had a total hardness of 24 that would mean the system could have 1000 gallons pass before it is needing a recharge...

    Yes to the final question... regen is a system cleaning stage..

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    And the rubber tube that empties to the floor drain is the backwashed water and resin?

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Yes , much like the washer drain... when the unit cleans it is going to use water to do so and need a place to put that so called waste water..
    When the washer dumps the soapy water it uses that drain, then refills with rise water and drains it out the drain line.

    Now some times there is a line that runs from the brine tank to the floor drain incase of over filling the brine tank..

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJ James View Post
    And the rubber tube that empties to the floor drain is the backwashed water and resin?
    No, no resin gets out the tank, it is kept in the tank and the regeneration removes the hardness, iron etc. that was collected on the resin beads. The salt water brine releases those things from the resin beads and they are flushed to drain. If you lose resin your capacity is reduced and you'll start getting hard water through the softener.

    Try this visual animation.
    http://www.kenmorewater.com/website/...eshooting.html
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  11. #11

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    Thanks guys.
    BJ

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    No Problemo.....
    Glad to help to the understanding ...

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