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Thread: Valve cover on water sofener blew apart

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member redseas's Avatar
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    Default Valve cover on water sofener blew apart

    My Performa 440iHV that sits on top the water softener tank blew into two pieces last night, I found it 8 feet away, still plugged in and ticking, and water was shooting straight out of the tank. I've attached a photo of the top half (the bottom half is still connected to the tank of course).

    Any ideas how/why this would happen?
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  2. #2
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    the timers get destroyed because the camshaft is too hard to turn when they go to a refill cycle. This is a known issue with Autotrol and if you contact them or an Autotrol dealer they have the parts to correct the situation.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    To give you an accurate answer I would need a better picture. The Performa valves are excellent and I have only seen a handful of catastrophic field failures with them. My first guess would be a major pressure issue. Most blowout of systems and components happen late at night which in the southern California area is uually due to a substantial increase in water pressure overnight as water consumption drops. A pressure regulator should be installed on most municipal supplied houses regardless of what the pressure reading is during the day. A pressure regulator is very cheap insurance. I would also recommend installing a good quality pressure gauge permanantly attached to the plumbing. I have included a picture of my system for reference. It has pressure gauges before and afterthe unit.Name:  watersystem.jpg
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  4. #4
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Either the retainer pin that holds the two parts together was missing, or it broke due to excessive overnight water pressure.

    If you have city water, the pressure during the night can increase substantially. To solve the problem you can add a pressure regulator valve where the water line enters the house. If you have one I suspect it has broken or was adjusted too high; usually 60 psi would be sufficient. In some cases the valve may be out at the curb.
    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.

  5. #5
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Again, this is a known issue and has a solution. The following in an excerpt from another forum

    Friday, March 7, 2008
    Performa Valves Keep Breaking 440i Timers - Solution is...
    * Problem:
    We have dual tanks for well water with 268/440i controllers. One is for an iron filter, the other a brine tank. We are running into a situation where timers have been destroyed because the camshaft is too hard to turn when they go to a refill cycle. (It took a while, and a couple of timers, to figure this out.) We relieved the pressure on each tank, checked the flappers, and couldn't see a problem. They moved very easily while the pressure was down. Once we got the system up to pressure, though, you really have to shove the refill valves hard to get them to move. (First it was the iron filter, and now the softener valve has the same problem.) Have you ever heard of this?
    * YES!!
    I would think that I need to replace the flapper valves and timers, but is there something else we should look at?
    * Not Flapper Valves, but the Timer and Camshaft.
    We checked for obstructions, and I don't think that's the issue.
    * The issue is the Timer and Camshaft.
    Autotrol has Revised the Timers ( effective January 2008 ) and they have Revised the Camshafts to help prevent this very common problem ( note: it helps, but you still have gears breaking, just not as quickly ).
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  6. #6
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I just noticed it appears all of the lugs (standoffs) are broken and still attached to the top plate. This is a failure probably due to either excessive pressure or overtightening of the 16 screws in the top of the valve. If you turn the plate over, you will see the 16 screws still attached and they are not removable since the lug will simply spin inside plate. I have not done much with Autotrol lately, but I think that top plate is from a 255, not a Performa. I am a little rusty on Autotrols!

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I agree with a high pressure situation and I guess no slip clutch in the motor for when the motor provides too much torque working against a too high water pressure.

    Water pressure is what holds Autotrol's flapper valves closed, well... along with a narrow thin flat strip type spring on each one of the flappers. Or at least they used to have a little spring on each. I haven't looked at Autotrol in 10-15 years.
    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.

  8. #8
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Gary, you would like the new spring plate. It is a single strip of stainless, no more individual springs. I have not been a big fan of Autotrols for many years. They are a great valve, I just prefer the 7000 or WS1. Since those valves came out, the Autotrol has not been a valve I really care about anymore. I still distribute them, but compared to the hundreds of 7000, 5600s, and WS1's, compared to the 4-5 Autrtrols we dsitribute a month...
    Redseas, if you change the valve to a fleck or Clack (if somebody will sell you a clack valve alone), remeber the inlet and outlet are reversed.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member redseas's Avatar
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    The previous poster is correct that all 16 screws are still in the top and are not removable. We're on well water, not city, so I'm guessing it wasn't a pressure issue. From what others have posted, it sounds like one of the camshaft gears got stuck when the timer went into the a refill cycle and it basically pulled the top of the valve away from the bottom half? I've attached an additional photo if that helps.Name:  Zi6_6759.jpg
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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Imagine that LOL
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Tom, I am not an expert on the Autotrols. I have extensive knowledge of them though as I have used them even in heavy commercial applications for over 20 years, back when the plastic was a tranluscent yellow, then yellow, then grey, now black. This is not the common timer/camshaft issue, this is a failed valve body. Does the timer issue also put undue stress on the lugs? I assume it could but I usually see the timer gears or the camshaft timer gear break before any other parts fail.

    Was this valve recently rebuilt? It looks like the flappers are much newer than the system, but without a clearer picture it is hard to tell. How old is the valve? If you overtorque the screws, the lugs can break. Especially if they are reassembled with power tools. Once a couple of the lugs break, it will put additional stress on the remaining lugs causing this type of failure.
    Considering the age of the unit, I would recommend a new one. At minimum you would have to replace the valve assembly and considering you are using a timeclock, updating to a properly sized metered system would be a much better choice.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    That unit has a cover that goes over the valve. Has the cover always been on the unit? I was wondering if maybe UV rays may have weakened the plastic.

  13. #13
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The part that failed was not exposed to UV, I have broken a few of these lugs in the field, almost always out of laziness and using a cordless drill to put the handful of screws to reassemble the valve. When I used to train the technicians on these valves, that was always a big part of the training, no power tools allowed.

  14. #14
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    The camshaft jams and rips the timer head off the valve assembly.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  15. #15
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    The camshaft jams and rips the timer head off the valve assembly.
    I've taken the time to save the pictures and blow them up while cleaning them up and there is no evidence of the motor torquing the shaft to tear the shaft and the timer off the middle module. It would have to break the timer pin too. Plus the first picture shows all the screws were torn out of the middle module along with a few of the flapper valves. So I agree with the OP saying it blew apart.

    I agree with dittohead, the screws probably were over tightened and cracked or stressed some of the bosses and then the water pressure blew things apart.
    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.

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