Water softener - ions worn out?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Maelstrom, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    That is what the plumber guy told my wife today.

    Seems a bit odd of a diagnosis. Have been having problems with the softener, but I thought it was because the H2O wasn't making it into the brine tank.

    I was hoping it was just a valve problem or some build up or something.

    What the heck?
     
  2. chris in va

    chris in va

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    IIRC the beads need cleaning/replacing after a while, but other guys on here can give you a better answer.
     

  3. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    :rofl:


    Yeah, the ion exchange resin may need replacing, but I'm not sure I'd want someone who told me 'the ions wore out' to do it...

    I've seen some really old resin that still worked fine... a 2nd opinion maybe?
     
  4. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    6. Softeners maintenance
    6.1 When does a softener resin need replacement?

    When the water does not become soft enough, one should first consider problems with the salt that is used, or mechanical malfunctions of softener components. When these elements are not the cause of the unsatisfactory water softening, it may be time to replace the softener resin, or perhaps even the entire softener.
    Through experience we know that most softener resins and ion exchanger resins last about twenty to twenty-five years.

    Read more: http://www.lenntech.com/processes/softening/faq/water-softener-faq.htm#ixzz13PQvUonf
     
  5. Jeepnik

    Jeepnik

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    Well, here's one I can answer with aplumb. The ion exchange resin bed has a life span. That span is determined by many factors. However, once it has lost it's efficency, the only choice is to replace it.

    Now does this mean the plumber is telling you the truth. Well, do you trust the plumber? But you can do a test on the brine. But you need a special type of hydrometer to do it. It measures the specific gravity of the brine. For a quick check, when the softener is in the brine phase of regeneration, dip your finger into the effluent going down the drain. There should be an air gap where the water goes into your drain piping. It should taste salty.

    Another down and dirty test is to regenerate the softener twice and see if it then tests soft.

    Most likely though, if your resin bed is over five years old, it's time for a change. Resin is fairly inexpensive. You can usually buy it at your big box hardware store. It's pretty easy to change. There should be on line instructions for you softener model available.

    But if you don't feel confident, call a few other plumbers, or better yet find someone who specializes in home systems, and get a price quote. With the make and model of your softener, they will know how much is needed and should be able to give you a quote over the phone. On the plus side, if a specialist comes out, they usually look over the entire system, and good ones will answer all your questions and if ask, give a quote in writing. By the way, make sure any craftsman you hire is both licensed and bonded.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  6. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    Punny! :rofl:
     
  7. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    Thanks for the responses. It seemed a bit odd to me. The house was built in 1999.


    I thought the brine tank wasn't filling as the salt level didn't seem to be dropping. I manually cycled the unit and it went through all of the stages but I think H20 isn't getting into the brine tank.

    I figured the guy would find a valve or something that was goofed up.

    Ions worn out. Then she told me he said that it was recharging at about half the frequency it should have.

    Ok, well then that is less use of the softener media. I'm no idiot, I have a chemistry minor so I can figure out that the brine is the consumable and that ions don't get "worn out".

    Jeepnik, come to MN and fix my softener! I'll pay you with a night of steak and beer!
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  8. SFCSMITH(RET)

    SFCSMITH(RET)

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    Do you know anyone into reef aquariums? They will own the hydrometer you need to check with.. at least all the guys I know do.
     
  9. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

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    I'd recommend replacing the ions with a nytrillium matrix. It'll will serve as a water softener AND home defense.


    Geordi also mentioned trying to route the power coupling through the matter/anti-matter chamber. Beware of cascade failure, tho.
     
  10. airmotive

    airmotive Tin Kicker

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    Us reef guys use hydrometers that have a pretty narrow operating band and (I would think) a much lower specific gravity than the brine used by a water softener. In other words, a sea water hydrometer probably ain't gonna cut it.
    I could be wrong...in fact, I have a pretty well established reputation in that respect.
     
  11. JimmyN

    JimmyN

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    If the salt level isn't dropping, then it's not using any salt. Even if the resin was worn out you'd still be using the same amount of salt water on each cycle.

    The salt may have formed a hard dome, and is open underneath, that leaves a space under the salt and above the water. When the softener adds water to the brine tank it no longer reaches the salt to dissolve it. Take a dowel rod or broom handle and punch through the salt to break it up so it can drop down into the water. If the salt has formed a hard mass and cavitated underneath, above the water level, you're just running plain water through the resin bed during the regeneration cycle.

    Since you've noticed the salt level isn't dropping I would suspect either the brine tank isn't filling, or the salt has bridged over in the tank so you're getting fresh water instead of brine when it cycles.
     
  12. SFCSMITH(RET)

    SFCSMITH(RET)

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    All the reef guys I know, and I am one of them, use a refractometer, which while not a true "hydrometer" does the same thing, very accurately, and over a very wide range.

    something like this..

    in fact, in my case.. just like that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  13. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    1.21 Gigawatts!!!
     
  14. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    Oooh, cool. I never thought of the dome thing. I'll bash it tonight when I get home.

    I was telling my Dad last night that if the resin was worn out, that wouldn't affect the cycle using salt.

    Thanks!
     
  15. volky

    volky NRA Member Millennium Member

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    Take a seat facing the door.
    Is there a lot of iron in the water? Get something called Iron Out at the local home center, put a few cups in the brine tank and recharge. This will clean the iron off of the resin. Worked for me.
     
  16. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    Thought I would update for those on the edge of their seats. :)

    I took the back off of the softener, there is a hinged doohickey that pushes down on the fill valve for the brine tank as it rotates past.

    You can adjust it for lbs. of salt with a screw. Well it was so loose that it spun when touched. So 3.5 turns of a flathead screwdriver and our problem is solved.

    10 minutes pop the back off and check things. 15 seconds to adjust and tighten the screw. $0.

    He told my wife $1150 for a new unit! What an jerk.
     
  17. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    :whew: I can finally sleep!




    Glad it worked out. :)
     
  18. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

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    Did you perform the litmus configuration?
     
  19. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom MiniCapitalist

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    We haven't gotten to that page yet in the Kama Sutra:supergrin: