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Thread: home water softeners

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    no-mas's Avatar
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    home water softeners

    Anybody have much knowledge about water softeners? I know how they work in principle - I'm curious whether the resin beads where the ion exchange takes place wear out or lose their effectiveness over time.

    About a year ago, I noticed that I was getting hard water throughout the house, and ultimately determined I had a salt bridge in the salt tank. I emptied the salt well, broke up the bridge, and haven't had that problem since, however since that time, The water softener stops producing soft water before regenerating. At first, I'd get hard water for about a day before it regenerated, then 2, etc... I've increased the "hardness setting" on the softener so it regenerates more frequently, which has helped, but not all the way. The water company tells me I have 20 grains of hardness in the tap water, and I've set the softener up to 30... This morning, I showered with hard water. I pressed the "regenerate" button so it regenerates tonite, and we'll have soft water tomorrow, but I'm looking for a definitive fix. Is the resin bad and should I replace the whole thing, or is there something else I should try? What is the service life of a water softener?
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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    Re: home water softeners

    Yes, the resin can wear out over time and does need to be replaced. It becomes dirty and 'clogs' and/or the beads break down. Also, you have to figure not just the hardness but also the iron and manganese in your water since they will impact the output of your softener. Sometimes you need to chemically clean the resin and it brings it back.
    Has the water usage in your household increased? If it has then your current softener might be undersized.
    Is your valve a timer or an on demand unit? If it is an on demand unit then the water usage meter might not be functioning properly or might need cleaning. Is enough water going into your brine tank and is the brine valve working properly? Not enough brine will affect softener operation. Most valves have a setting for the amount of salt that is dissolved for each brining and standard softener resin wil use about 2-3 gallons of water per cubic foot of resin for each brining. Some units also provide low salt usage and high salt usage settings so this is not set in stone.

    In other words, there are a lot of things that could cause the softener not to function properly. I would suggest calling out someone to service it to make sure it is operating correctly. Changing the resin is not that hard and you can get a cubic foot of resin for about $100. You do need to know the cubic footage of your current unit. Some softeners use pea gravel at the bottom (much like a sand filter) btw.

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    no-mas's Avatar
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    Re: home water softeners

    Good points all. Thanks, Evan
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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