Old, unused Water Softener

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New Member
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New Mexico
Good evening, all!

I live in a pretty bad place--water-wise--and have been living with/using town water up in the realm of 60+ grains per gallon. I purchased a house about a year ago that has a water softener out back (in a self-contained unit in the back yard). It has been set to bypass for the year that I have had the house, and I haven't touched the thing since last week--mostly just living with the hard water and relying on the internal filter in my fridge for drinking water.

My softener is an old United Standard Hydro Quad, and the mechanism seems to work fine.

I had a plumber come out, and of course they wanted to replace the whole system. However, after turning the softener on from bypass, the hardness dropped to the mid teens gpg. The water coming from my tap turned a pretty nasty brown though... That level of hardness seems promising to me though considering I haven't touched the salt tank in a year and I have no idea how long prior to my purchase it had been left off.

Is there anything I can do to remedy the softener myself? I assume a thorough flush will get rid of the "brown," but I do want to make sure that I am not introducing nasty bacteria/unhealthy (but soft) water into my home. Anything I can add to the system to break down contaminants or disinfect?

I honestly have no idea what I'm doing looking at it. The plumbers seemed to be feeding me scare tactics though... Any help y'all can lend me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!


Active Member
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New Mexico, USA
DIYer here, first thought is wondering if your back yard system is freeze protected, even if you are in extreme southern NM? But two suggestions right off: if you don't have the softener's user manual, go online and download one. Second, get your raw water tested by a good lab, because the pros at this forum can't do much to help if you can't furnish specifics, especially if you say you have "town" water at 60+ gpg. FYI, I'm in the south central mountains with well water hardness exceeding 100 gpg, and a softener is an absolute must for life of the plumbing. Good luck.


Clinical Trail on a Cancer Drug Started 1/31/24. ☹
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Orlando, Florida
That brown water is probably iron/rust. The water softener resin has one short coming, Iron molecules stick to the resin thus slowing or eliminating the ion exchange for dissolved calcium and magnesium. You may not seem to have iron in your water, usually after several years of use the clear water iron will reduce the effectiveness of the water softener.

Sold at hardware stores you need to get Iron Out or any product that will remove the iron. First clean the brine tank. It might be loaded with sand. Rock salt is dirty, if the previous owner used salt pellets, they're much cleaner. Most will contain iron remover.

After cleaning the brine tank, let the water softener fill the tank or with a hose. Dump a box of an iron remover and let it do a regeneration cycle. When completed, open a bath tub cold water valve or outside spigot and run it until the water gets clearer. It may take two or three regenerates of iron remover. Do not run the hot water side as you'll fill the WH it with dirty water.

When the water looks clear, run all taps to flush the house plumbing and water heater. It may be time to replace the resin but it's not that easy. The plumber recommended a replace is correct. Time and cost to regen and any parts in the valving parts may not be available. A new one will go in pretty fast and it will work 100% right off the get go. You'll get a warranty and service/ parts support.
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