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Thread: routine maintenance, is cleaning of softener resin advisable?

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    DIY Senior Member lifespeed's Avatar
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    Default routine maintenance, is cleaning of softener resin advisable?

    Is it advisable to occasionally put some chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) into the brine before a regeneration to clean and disinfect the resin? This would be in the context of non-chlorinated water, in my case behind a granulated carbon filter.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Chlorine is very bad for resin so no.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Quote Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post
    Is it advisable to occasionally put some chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) into the brine before a regeneration to clean and disinfect the resin? This would be in the context of non-chlorinated water, in my case behind a granulated carbon filter.
    I agree with Tom that chlorine is not good for resins due to its chemical compound and the resins reaction to contact with it. Resins will swell with chlorine. Eventually, they will become 'mushy' and start to deteriorate needing replacement due to lack of effectiveness.

    However, a sanitization of resin by placing an adequate amount of unscented bleach in the brine tank may be the better of two evils--the other being bacterial colonization and any accompanying odors.

    The key differences in having a softener on chlorinated city water and that of a very occasional sanitization is duration and concentration. On city water, the resins are in constant contact with lower levels (0.2 - 0.6ppm) over a very long period of time---years. This long-term saturation (service, brining, backwash and idle time) will cause resin to lose their effectiveness. There will be virtually no chance of bacterial growth so sanitization is never needed.

    With sanitization on well-water applications, the resins come into contact with much higher levels of chlorine but for a very short time and only during the brining stages, after which it will thoroughly rinsed away leaving the resin chlorine free. There will be a given, much lesser, amount of chlorine remaining in the brine tank to be applied during the next brining stage. This short time of chlorination, done sparingly, will not have a greatly negative effect on the resins and certainly not as much as that on city water services without carbon pre-filtration. Its benefits may greatly outweigh the detriments if done properly and only when needed.

    Resins are actually very tough and can withstand a great deal of punishment.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post
    Is it advisable to occasionally put some chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) into the brine before a regeneration to clean and disinfect the resin? This would be in the context of non-chlorinated water, in my case behind a granulated carbon filter.
    Only if there is proof that sanitizing/disinfecting the softener is needed.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    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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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    This is a great topic that has not been researched enough in our industry as you can see by the different opinions by several very knowledgable people. Most manufacturers now recommend an intial sanitization procedure upon system start-up. After that it seems to be left to the dealers to make the call. If you water has a know issue with bacteria, sanitizing occassionally is highly recommended so as to control the problem. On supplies that do not have any bacteria, or chlorinated supplies, less frequent sanitizing is recommended. The frequency has not really been well defined. I recommend annual cleaning of the brine tank, and sanitinzing the resin at that time. I have pulled resin out of systems that have been installed for many years on non chlorinated supplies that showed no bacterial growth under standard testing. I have also opened tanks on city supplies with consistent chlorine that had the entire top portion inside the tank filled with a mossy like growth in under 2 years. It was so thick the top screen would not flow water and the tank had to be disposed of, it was not reasonably cleaneable.

    So... great topic, excellent question, and great answers. As an industry, this should be one of the questions we look to setting better and more comprehensive standards on.

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    DIY Senior Member F6Hawk's Avatar
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    Grrrr, was typing a response, and the power went out. Hate that!

    My unit came with instructions to chlorinate before first use. I don't recall the amount, and it's not in the default 7000SXT manual, so I will have to try and find it tonight.

    I am by no means a resin expert, but I can't see where an occasional sanitizing will hurt anything, provided one uses an appropriate amount of sodium hypochlorite. I think too often, people get pour-crazy with the bleach and go way over the appropriate amount. What is that amount, ye ask? Well, for food processing equipment 200 ppm can be used, provided you allow the utensil to dry before use. (200 ppm is about 1 TBS of 5.25% bleach per gallon of water) For food prep areas, and utensils, 50~100 ppm is recommended. So I would say it would be prudent to stay at or below 200 ppm on an annual sanitizing run, and IF you are on non-chlorinated water), you should be ok. (NOTE: This is MY opinion, and I am in no way a professional, but I DID stay at a Holiday Inn recently)

    Also, I have read that levels of 1.0 ppm of free chlorine can reduce the life of the resin by half (10 years vs. 20 years). Link: http://www.chemaqua.com/downloads/cases/CATB4-014.pdf

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The correlation between resin life and chlorine is well known and documented by the resin mannufacturers. It seems fairly consistent that it is cumulative damage. Sanitizing with chlorine annually is far less damaging than continually sanitizing with a city chlorine level of 1 PPM. Overdosing the chlorine (if a little is good, a lot is better) is never advised.

    Sanitizing upon start up is advised beacuase of the contaminants that can be introduced during assembly, manufacturing, etc are considerable greater than once the system is sealed.

    Good topic, the link is a simple explanation of this issue. The pros and cons of dechlorinating resin should be considered. My personal preferance is to dechlorinate prior to the resin to extend its life considerabley, and to sanitize the resin and other equipment annually. The cost of dechlorinating can greatly exceed the cost of replacing the resin every 5-10 years but the benefits of not drinking, or breathing in chlorine and other contaminants that Carbon remove far outweigh the potential problems. Removing oxidizing agents from the water which gets atomized and steamed in the shower, then gets breathed into the lungs... it is probably a good thing to remove it.

    I do not begrudge the idea of simply removing the chlorine from the shower with a simple shower filter and from the drinking water with an RO or carbon filter, this is also a great way to correct this problem.

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    DIY Senior Member lifespeed's Avatar
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    So I guess the question would be what concentration to use and how often? Annually sounds pretty reasonable. I'm not sure about the concentration to use, however. It seems a pretty low concentration is used in municipal supplies.

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    DIY Senior Member F6Hawk's Avatar
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    And therein lies the rub... what concentration, and how much contact time? At 200 ppm, dishes are recommended for 1 minute of contact time. I'd warrant that 10-30 ppm during the brine draw cycle would be sufficient once or twice per year. But am I willing to sacrifice MY softener to science? Nope!

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Only if there is proof that sanitizing/disinfecting the softener is needed.
    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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    DIY Junior Member 240sxguy's Avatar
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    Wow, this site is awesome! I am going to post in here because this is exactly what I would like to do. I am on a well with a fleck softener that just plain isn't softening. It goes through all cycles and I put a new resin bed in about 4 years ago. We have Iron Bacteria for sure. I thought I would need to replace the resin again but it seems maybe I can just run a cycle with some chlorine bleach. I have never done it before.

    I am going to clean the brine tank with bleach. It's out of salt right now and the water has the iron bacteria film starting. Seems like a good time for a scrub with some bleach water. There appears to be 5-7 gallons of water in my brine tank typically. Do I just add a cup or so of bleach and run through a regular cycle?

    Thanks!

    Evan

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Bleach is not the answer to iron fouling. While bleach can kill the bacteria, I doubt it would clean the resin very well.

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    DIY Junior Member 240sxguy's Avatar
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    Well, I figured killing the bacteria would be the place to start. Maybe not. I was told by the water softener people that the iron bacteria is actually what fouls up the works. However, they may have been wrong or maybe I misunderstood.

    Thanks

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    IRB etc. creates a slimy coating on things including resin beads.

    Although you don't have to clean the salt tank, and if you do there's a high possibility there will be something wrong and it won't allow suction of heavy brine water out of it until you figure out what it wrong... after you clean the salt tank, add 3-4 gallons of water before you add the salt (watch the water doesn't over flow onto the floor as you add the salt) and wait two hours or more for the water you added to dissolve whatever salt it can.

    Then mix 1 cup (liquid measure) of non scented regular bleach in a gallon of water and pour it into the water in the salt tank and do a manual regeneration. DO NOT MIX iron out etc.. and bleach. If you have salt with IO capsules in it, empty that salt and use regular salt.

    Watch for the backwash position to finish and the slow rinse/brine draw cycle position to start sucking brine out of the brine tank. Time 10 minutes and unplug the control valve and shut off the water going into the softener or put it in by pass, Time 30 minutes and then plug the unit in and turn on the water and let the softener finish the regeneration on its own. That usually gets rid of IRB in the average size residential softener but you may want to repeat the process just after the first time or do it the next day.

    Of course that doesn't do anything to prevent new IRB that comes in from the well as you use water.
    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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    DIY Junior Member 240sxguy's Avatar
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    Thanks Gary, I know that the cleanout of IRB is only of temporary help. It's not really a problem honestly except for the softener. Pardon my ignorance but I just wanted to clarify; My softener is empty right now (no salt) should I add salt then do the bleach? Or should I do the bleach thing then add salt?

    Thank you sir!

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