# How to set Autotrol 460i demand controller

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#### Parasound

##### New Member
I'm just a non-plumber homeowner and I'm trying to understand how to set my water softener.

According to our city water department our water is a blend of aquifer and City water. Hardness from the city plant is 15.5 grains per gallon and from the aquifer hardness is 9.8 gpg. So to guestimate the hardness coming to our house I added the two numbers and divided by 2 to get 12.65.

When I check hardness with Hach SofChek test strips it shows between 1.5 and 3 gpg, or more. I have tried different settings for the Autotrol 460i demand controller hardness setting anywhere from 17 to 24.

-multiply iron in ppm by 4
-Multiply manganese in ppm by 6
-add 2 gpg for any inefficiencies
So, add those altogether, 12.65 + 6 + 3+ 2 = 23.62, so I set the hardness setting at 23-24.

When I test the water with test strips typically it reads between 1.5 and 3 gpg, but the last time was significantly higher but I can't remember what it was at the time.

I have the hardness setting at 23 now.
I have the capacity setting at 24. - (I have no idea if this is right, it was set here when it was installed ~ 20 years ago)

If I decrease the capacity setting to less than 24 will it regenerate more often? Should I increase the hardness setting?

How do I get it to regenerate more often?

Maybe our water softener is too old to maintain water softness at 0 gpg? It is probably ~ 20 years old, and maybe the resin has passed it's useful lifetime?

It is just my wife and I who live in our house and use the water, so we probably don't use a lot of water.
TIA

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#### Reach4

##### Well-Known Member
Get the Hach 5-B test. Much better than strips.

City water for 20 years? Replace the resin with new 10% crosslinked resin.

The amount of gallons the softener expect to count is Capacity/Hardness. Then deduct the reserve.

#### Old

##### Member
What size is the mineral tank? What is the salt setting? (Small dial on the side of the valve).

If you have a chlorinated water supply it is likely the resin is worn out. The disc valves are also likely worn and possibly not sealing properly. Replacing the resin and disc valves would be a good thing to do.

#### Parasound

##### New Member
What size is the mineral tank? What is the salt setting? (Small dial on the side of the valve).

If you have a chlorinated water supply it is likely the resin is worn out. The disc valves are also likely worn and possibly not sealing properly. Replacing the resin and disc valves would be a good thing to do.

The resin is in a tank that is ~ 35" tall, with a diameter ~ 10". (mineral tank?)
It is mounted inside the salt tank which is 22" x 13" and 35" tall.
I see a small dial on the side of the controller with a range of 3 to 19. A little arrow on the dial is pointing to 8.

We are in a city ~ 200k, and our water is chlorinated.
I had something repaired a couple years ago, it might have been the disc valves but I don't remember for sure.

--How much resin is typically inside a tank that size?
--Is my salt setting correct?
--Would it help to do a one time only increasing the salt setting with one regeneration to blast it cleaner? (then lower it back where it was).
--Is my 'capacity' setting correct at '24'? Would it help to decrease it to regenerate more often?
--What does the 'capacity' setting mean?
--Is my 'hardness' setting correct at '23'?

I hadn't used any cleaning products like "RES CARE" in ~ 18 years since it was new. But in the last couple of years I started putting 1/2 cup of "RES CARE" in the Brine Well at least once a month to maybe help clean out the resin.
--I was hoping "RES CARE" might rejuvenate the resin? Maybe it's too little, too late?

I was hoping I wouldn't have to replace the resin. But I have considered it, but I think I would have to hire that done if I could find someone to do that. It seems they would rather sell you a new softener than fix something.

Sorry for all the questions. I just want to understand a little more how it works. Thanks.

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#### Parasound

##### New Member
Get the Hach 5-B test. Much better than strips.

City water for 20 years? Replace the resin with new 10% crosslinked resin.

The amount of gallons the softener expect to count is Capacity/Hardness. Then deduct the reserve.

Thanks for the 5B kit suggestion.

Could you explain in a little more detail,
"The amount of gallons the softener expect to count is Capacity/Hardness. Then deduct the reserve"

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#### Reach4

##### Well-Known Member
10x35 would usually contain 1 cubic ft of resin. Your resin is probably badly degraded by the chlorine/chloramine over the 20 years.

More detail: When the controller wants to calculate the amount of gallons that each regen should be able to handle, it divides Capacity by hardness and gets a number of gallons. However since the softener does not normally regenerate immediately, there will be some reserve, such as 120 gallons. So For example, if C=20,000 and H=20, then the softener figures 1000 gallons. But given the reserve, the number used is 880 gallons. Each night at 2 am, the softener checks whether 880 gallons have been used already. If so I regenerates.
But if only 879 have been used, it checks again the next night. It is the reserve that takes care of that last day of softening.

I don't remember how the reserve gets calculated on 460i. It might ask the number of people, or you might be asked for a safety factor such as 12%. Or maybe there is some setting where you enter 120 gallons.

#### Parasound

##### New Member
10x35 would usually contain 1 cubic ft of resin. Your resin is probably badly degraded by the chlorine/chloramine over the 20 years.

More detail: When the controller wants to calculate the amount of gallons that each regen should be able to handle, it divides Capacity by hardness and gets a number of gallons. However since the softener does not normally regenerate immediately, there will be some reserve, such as 120 gallons. So For example, if C=20,000 and H=20, then the softener figures 1000 gallons. But given the reserve, the number used is 880 gallons. Each night at 2 am, the softener checks whether 880 gallons have been used already. If so I regenerates.
But if only 879 have been used, it checks again the next night. It is the reserve that takes care of that last day of softening.

I don't remember how the reserve gets calculated on 460i. It might ask the number of people, or you might be asked for a safety factor such as 12%. Or maybe there is some setting where you enter 120 gallons.

Thanks

#### Parasound

##### New Member
10x35 would usually contain 1 cubic ft of resin. Your resin is probably badly degraded by the chlorine/chloramine over the 20 years.

More detail: When the controller wants to calculate the amount of gallons that each regen should be able to handle, it divides Capacity by hardness and gets a number of gallons. However since the softener does not normally regenerate immediately, there will be some reserve, such as 120 gallons. So For example, if C=20,000 and H=20, then the softener figures 1000 gallons. But given the reserve, the number used is 880 gallons. Each night at 2 am, the softener checks whether 880 gallons have been used already. If so I regenerates.
But if only 879 have been used, it checks again the next night. It is the reserve that takes care of that last day of softening.

I don't remember how the reserve gets calculated on 460i. It might ask the number of people, or you might be asked for a safety factor such as 12%. Or maybe there is some setting where you enter 120 gallons.

The resin is in a round tank that is ~ 35" tall, with a diameter ~ 10". (mineral tank?)
It is mounted inside a rectangular salt tank which is 22" x 13" and 35" tall.
I see a small dial on the side of the controller with a range of 3 to 19. A little arrow on the dial is pointing to 8.

We are in a city ~ 200k, and our water is chlorinated.
I had something repaired a couple years ago, it might have been the disc valves but I don't remember for sure.

Sorry for repeating my questions, but I didn't see these answered.
--Is my salt setting correct?
--Would it help to do a one time only increasing the salt setting with one regeneration to blast it cleaner? (then lower it back where it was set at).
--Is my 'capacity' setting correct at '24'? Would it help to decrease it to regenerate more often?
--Is my 'hardness' setting correct at '23'?

I hadn't used any cleaning products like "RES CARE" ever. That is until the last couple of years I started putting 1/2 cup of "RES CARE" in the Brine Well at least once a month to maybe help clean out the resin.

--I was hoping "RES CARE" might rejuvenate the resin? Maybe it's too little, too late?

I was hoping I wouldn't have to replace the resin. I have considered it, I think I would have to hire that done, if I could find someone to replace it.
It seems they would rather sell you a new softener than fix something.

#### Bannerman

##### Well-Known Member
Continuous chlorine exposure has a damaging effect on resin over time. How rapidly resin will degrade will be conditional on various factors including the amount of chlorine and the quality of the resin. High quality standard resin that is exposed to typical chlorine levels in municipal water, will often require replacement within 10-15 years, whereas cheap imported resin may require replacement after only 6 months to 3-5 years. After >20 years, I fully expect your resin will require replacement.

1 cubic foot of resin commonly has the capacity to remove 32,000 grains of hardness, but 20 lbs salt would be required to regenerate that amount of capacity each cycle. To increase salt efficiency yet continue to provide high quality soft water, the usual recommendation is to regenerate when 24,000 grains (24K capacity setting) has been consumed as only 8 lbs salt will be required to regenerate that capacity.

The type of iron that is most common in well water is Ferrous iron, which is clear and is totally dissolved in the water. Ferrous iron if not removed before a softener, will require additional resin capacity so the softener's hardness setting must be increased appropriately to compensate. This also applies to manganese.

The chlorine added by your municipality, will cause the ferrous iron and ferrous manganese to be oxidized, changing them to a Ferric state which is solid (rust and sludge) that will usually precipitate out from the water before it arrives at your home. If there is any remaining solids in the water, they maybe easily filtered out using a standard sediment filter. Ferric iron/manganese will not consume resin capacity so no additional hardness compensation will be required.

It is advisable to test the hardness of the water that is arriving to your home. Depending on your home's proximity to each of the city's various water sources, your water maybe higher or lower than average. If hardness is higher than what the softener is programmed for, then the programmed capacity will be depleted more rapidly than the softener has calculated and, the capacity that is to be regenerated will be less than the capacity that was consumed.

Since test strips are typically inaccurate, the usual recommended test method is the Hach 5B Total Hardness Test kit which maybe used for testing the level of hardness in both the Raw incoming water and the softened water.

#### Reach4

##### Well-Known Member
Cabinet type softeners are often not repaired, but are swapped out like you do with a TV today. So if you got 20 years, and want to keep that same general type, consider swapping for new. I have a friend who uses that type, and figures to swap maybe every 10 years. Swapping resin is more work than somebody might expect.

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