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Thread: Water softner flowing backwards.

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member chachie's Avatar
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    Default Water softner flowing backwards.

    I have a clack ws-1 type water softener. Had the water softener installed at a different time from the rest of my plumbing and my Geothermal unit.

    My geothermal is open loop aka pump and dump.

    With Geo turned off and no one using water in the house, everything is fine. When the Geothermal system kicks on and no other source of water is being used, I'm getting a small amount of usage on my clack water softener. It is approximately about .5 gallons a minute WHILE the geo is on. When the Geo is off, there is no water usage.

    So....Some how my geothermal unit is leeching a small amount of water through my water softener. At this time, neither the plumber/geo, or the water softener people are owning up to any problem. I'm hoping that some how there is a bad seal in the water softener that is allowing a reverse flow of water through the softener. Does anyone have an idea and what I might do to fix this?

    Thanks

    Chachie

  2. #2
    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    Back flow/check valve on the in coming side of the softener so that the water can only go one way through the media.
    Now this is only an idea if there is truly a back flow through the softener.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member chachie's Avatar
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    That was my first thought...to add a check valve in front of the inlet to the water softener. But I couldn't find anyone else who had to add a check valve in front of their water softener, which leads me to believe there is a bigger issue. I have scoured the internet trying to find something on this problem I have, and was surprised there is nothing out there.

    Does anyone have an idea what would cause a clack valve to allow a reverse flow of water? Or if that isn't the case, why the meter runs when no soften water is used, but when the geothermal unit(which is in front of the inlet) runs and the water pump cycles?
    Last edited by chachie; 10-28-2012 at 11:02 PM. Reason: clarity

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    In the Trades Akpsdvan's Avatar
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    I was just working on a system that has a water line tee out in the drive way with two pressure tanks and of the tanks has the well control and the pressure switch.
    There is now a back flow check valve between the pressure tank and the softener in each house, as each house's pressure tank feeds the other house and to keep the water from flowing back even a little through the softener there is the back flow check valve.

    This set up is working great.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member chachie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I guess I will be installing a back flow check valve between the inlet and the geo. The geothermal is stealing about 800 gallons a day from my water softener, it would seem that if this was normal and a check valve should be part of the installation process I would of read about it somewhere. But I can't find anyone else having this problem.

    Cheers!

  6. #6
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    My guess (and it's only a guess) is that while the geo is running the pump pressure is fluctuating up and down causing water to move back and forth across the meter. For it to do that, there has to be some room for expansion on the soft side, perhaps an expansion tank for the hot water or lots of PEX lines.

    Monitor the pressure while the geo is running to see if it is fluctuating.

    If you put in a checkvalve then you need to have an expansion tank after it.

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chachie View Post
    That was my first thought...to add a check valve in front of the inlet to the water softener. But I couldn't find anyone else who had to add a check valve in front of their water softener, which leads me to believe there is a bigger issue. I have scoured the internet trying to find something on this problem I have, and was surprised there is nothing out there.

    Does anyone have an idea what would cause a clack valve to allow a reverse flow of water? Or if that isn't the case, why the meter runs when no soften water is used, but when the geothermal unit(which is in front of the inlet) runs and the water pump cycles?
    Five gpm is not a small amount. And if I'm right, a backflow through the softener is not going to add to the gallons used. BTW, a backflow that causes a vacuum can bust the resin tank real easy.

    All control valves will allow backflow.

    I think you have a plumbing problem past the softener that is allowing geo water flow through the softener/house out to the well or wherever it goes. I had a softener service call on a softener I didn't sell or install with that problem many years ago and found the problem after the geo and softener guys said all was fine with their side of things. It was a 'cross connection' between the geo and potable water systems which was expensive and difficult to fix.

    I doubt you have a large enough expansion tank etc. to provide a 5 gpm flow against an open discharge geo pump.

    If you shut off the inlet side of the Clack by pass valve you shut off water to, through and past the softener. You might want to do that for a few seconds while the geo is running and see if the metered flow stops and then open it. I wouldn't close it for more than a few seconds if your geo doesn't have a pressure switch to turn off its pump or you could over pressurize and bust things.

    If closing the inlet by pass valve stops the metered flow through the softener, the cross connection is somewhere past the softener.
    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
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    I doubt you have a large enough expansion tank etc. to provide a 5 gpm flow against an open discharge geo pump.
    I very much doubt that 5 gallons is all moving in the one direction. More than likely a much smaller amount is moving back and forth repeatedly as the pressure fluctuates.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I agree with LLigetfa, I would start with a check valve to try to stop the water fluctuating. The turbine inside the WS1 is highly sensitive to any water flow and will indicate flow regardless of flow direction. Dont forget about thermal expansion if you install a check valve.

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    I very much doubt that 5 gallons is all moving in the one direction. More than likely a much smaller amount is moving back and forth repeatedly as the pressure fluctuates.
    I don't know what you base that on but most open loop geo systems that I've seen move 5 gpm + and are open discharge (hence open loop); next to no pressure builds up while the pump discharges the water down the well to below the water level.

    The pump isn't constantly turning on and off during the heat cycle run like a short cycling well pump does. And especially every minute which you are saying his has to be doing. And if it did, the pump wouldn't last long.

    I didn't see the latest reply until after posting the above. I see now it is point 5 gpm.
    Last edited by Gary Slusser; 10-29-2012 at 09:21 PM.
    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
    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    Five gpm is not a small amount. And if I'm right, a backflow through the softener is not going to add to the gallons used. BTW, a backflow that causes a vacuum can bust the resin tank real easy.
    .
    Where did you come up with 5 GPM? And if the Clack unit registers the flow (forward or backwards), why would it not add to the gallons used?

  12. #12
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    That is why an electronic softener can be plumbed in backwards for years without anyone noticing. The majority of electronic meters are not senitive to a water flows direction, just flow. The mechanical meters (5600 Econominder) will not work when plumbed in backwards. Not sure where he is going with this other than to try to bring up his post count.

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