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Thread: Water softener question

  1. #1
    DIY Member Alexdc99's Avatar
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    Default Water softener question

    How can I tell when it's time to get my Brine changed in my salt filter. I seem to have to run a manual re-charge ecen though my water usage has not increased. I had the system installed almost 3 years ago to the day.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Brine is the water in the salt tank. So I think you mean resin, in the tank that has the control valve on it. Resin should last longer than 3 years, so it sounds as if the softener isn't sized, setup or operating right.

    What is it doing it shouldn't or what is it not doing it should be dong?

    Does it use salt?

    Do you have soft water sometimes or never?

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates

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    DIY Member Alexdc99's Avatar
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    I have a clorine system to remove most of bad stuff in the water and I use a Culligan Mark 88 to remove the stain in the water. Lately after a recharge maybe like 1 1/2 to 2 day's after my stain starts to come out in the taps and I have to recharge the salt system manual to clear it back up. My usual recharge is every 3 days.

    I think I found maybe what the problem is. I found the manual on the Culligan web site for the softener and it mentioned that maybe a salt bridge has heappened. So I followed the steps in the manual and I have a lot of mush on the bottom. Is this what they call a salt bridge? I thought mush was bad. So I am running a recharge now after cleaning the bottom of the tank and put new salt in. I waited half a day for the salt to disolve. We'll see what happend this time. It uses salt but it seems liek it doesn't use enough and it has been a long time since I have had to put new stuff in.

    Could I ve on the right track?

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Yes, you may be on the right track

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default salt

    A "salt bridge" is a hard dome of salt inside the tank, not mush at the bottom.

  6. #6
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    "I have a clorine system to remove most of bad stuff in the water and I use a Culligan Mark 88 to remove the stain in the water. "

    What kind of "chlorine system"; how is it added and how is it controlled?

    From your reference to "stain", I suspect that you may have iron in your water. The chlorine will cause iron to precipitate to very fine particles and collect in the water softener. After you get enough iron in the softener it gets through the filter (Which is what I think the Culligan Mark 88 is) and you notice it. One ad that I found for "Culligan 88" cartridges was selling 50 micron cartridges, which are pretty good for removing sand but not much else. One of the ads said they are "carbon paper" cartridges, which is probably supposed to remove the chlorine.

    I could be totally wrong on the Culligan 88. Tell us what it is and if it is a filter, how many, what size, and what kind/micron are the cartridges.

    Regenerating the softener results in removing some of the iron from the resin bed, even if it doesn't really need regenerating. You see a reduction in staining because the iron has been removed from the softener. In the meantime, you are probably using more salt than you need to. The evidence of hardness in the water is that it is hard to make soap suds. Oversoftening can make it hard to remove the soap from your hands, and your hands seem to feel a little slippery. Try using those criteria for regenerating.

    If you are getting iron stain out of the faucet, then the filter is not effective because the stain you see is really small particles of oxidized iron. Filters are supposed to remove particles. Look at your filter cartridge (if that is what the Culligan 88 is) and see what is collected on it.

    You might test the theory by putting in the best available pleated or string-wound cartridge and see if it gets plugged up. Try to find something 5, 3, or 1 micron. Don't try the expensive ceramic or membrane cartridge that costs a lot of $ because it will get plugged quickly.

    The "whole house" filters in most houses are too small. The Culligan 88 that I saw is sold as an "RV filter". I would put in nothing less than a 20" Big Blue size, or two of the 20" long standard diameter housings, and get 1 micron or 3 micron cartridges of a reputable brand. You probably have to order them. The following is an example of what is available and others probably have a similar product.
    http://www.harmsco.com/pdf/IP_Calyps...NAL_040904.pdf

    More cartridges actually result in lower cartridge replacement cost because the lower flow per cartridge lets them collect more sediment before the pressure drop increases to point where they must be changed. I will leave the mathematics as an exercise for the readers.

  7. #7
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default water

    You should be able to tell if the water is hard by feeling it with a bar of soap.

    If the salt has bridged, just run some real hot water into the brine tank and help settle it down with a broom handle.

  8. #8
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    You should have added 3-4 gals of water to the birne tank after cleaning it, otherwise there will be no brine for the regeneration; assuming the control is post brine refill. And you'd have to wait at least 2 hours for the water to dissolve salt to make 100% brine for the regeneration. So this first regen is not likely going to show you much if you didn't do those things.

    Mush is due to using pellitized salt. I suggest solar crystal type salt. It totally dissolves; no mush ever and it's hard to get it to bridge.

    Tell us the order of your equipment from the pressure tank toward the fixtures.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates

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    DIY Member Alexdc99's Avatar
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    Ok here goes.

    - pressure tank then clorine injection from a seperate 20 gallon strorage tank. The line gets tee'd off and goes in to two 120 gallon tanks. From there it goes back in to a single line through a blue whole house particulate filter. Then we go in to the first Culligan Mark 88 softner to remove the clorine and iron and stuff, right after that it goes in to another Culligan Mark 88 softner which uses salt to remove the tannis from the water. I live in a forest.

    Before I cleaned out the salt tank there was about a foot of salt in the bottom. The top of the salt was pretty solid, I could grab big chunks of salt. The bottom was a thick mush. I took a broom stick and pushed to the bottom and I got alot of bubbles coming up which makes me think this mush and solid stuff just caused a air gap. I also found the line attach the the black tube on the side of the tank was loose "maybe it was sucking a lot of air" I have noticed the salt lasting alot longer than normal.

    I did add some water to the bottom and just added one back of Culligan salt for now to see how it goes. I did a manual recharge about 6 hours or so after adding the salt.

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    That first 88 is not a softener, right (no salt tank)? If no salt tank, then it is a turbidity filter to remove the rust/dirt and chlorine from the water caused by the chlorination. Otherwise, a softener would load up with rust and the chlorine will damage the resin causing it to turn to mush, causing a great pressure loss.

    The loose brine line fitting allowing the suction of air prevented the softener from getting brine, and the resin wasn't regenerated. Add 3-4 gallons of water to the salt tank, don't pour it down through the salt, wait two hours and do a manual regeneration. That will bring the resin back to full(er) capacity; depending on the volume of resin.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates

  11. #11
    DIY Member Alexdc99's Avatar
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    Your right, the first 88 has no salt and is just used to remove the rust and clorine. I used your method to replace the brine and all seems good now. The water is flowing clean.

    One other question though, while doing all this I have been flushing water before and after the filter and softner and there seems to be a big difference in wtare flow amount. Anything out there that is easy to hookup to get the pressure values. I have test taps before and after the softners, anything I can get to screw on there to test pressure.

    thanks
    Alex

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