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About to undertake - water softener

Basil

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A major Water Softener overhaul.

Our Kinetico Water Softener, which is close to 20 years old, recently stopped using salt and we noticed the water not being as soft as it once was. Of course I did the routine stuff and cleaned out the brine tank and the brine suction nozzle, but to no avail.

At this point I had to see what else might be going on. With the help of a lot of informative YouTube videos, I decided it was time to remove and disassemble the head unit for inspection. The head on this softener is in 5 parts (or levels) as they call them; level 1 is on the very top and level 5 on the bottom. None of the usual suspected areas within the head were bad, nor any nozzles clogged, but I discover that one of the big valves on level 4 was broken (this is a picture of a level 4 assembly, but this is not my level 4). (Picture of my damaged valve seen in second picture).

Example of a good level 4 unit
s-l1600.jpg


Here is a picture of the broken valve:
IMG_0848 Large.jpeg


Also, you will notice a smaller valve slightly left of the center of the level 4 assembly. That "control valve" on mine was slightly damaged also so I decided I'll replace that as well. Fortunately, newer models than mine have a better-engineered control valve which is interchangeable with mine, so I ordered the upgraded version. I also decided to order a couple of little "float valve balls" for the unit just because.

In addition to repairing the heard unit, I have also decided to replace the resin in the two tanks. From my research, in the best of circumstances that resin is good for around 15 years. Our softener is a few years older than that so it's definitely time for a change.

The cost for all the parts, gaskets, the resin and a special funnel for adding the new resin was around $300. The resin alone was nearly $180 with tax and shipping. Keeping fingers crossed that I'm able to return the unit to fully functioning status. The alternative - replacing the softener with a newer equivalent, would be a couple thousand dollars at least. I bought a water hardness test kit and will test the hardness before and a few days after the repair.
 
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DrEntropy

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Good that you can get parts! πŸ‘
 
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Basil

Basil

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Well sheets! I had all the repairs done, had replaced all of the resin in the two tanks and had everything hooked up and ready to try it out. But, as Roseanne Rosannadanna always said - "it's always something!"

As I was pushing the plunger of the softener bypass valve to bring the softens online, the danged plunger valve on the thing broke and water started gushing out of the valve! Of course this is a large brass valve assembly with a plastic plunger (I wish the plunger were brass) that is no longer made. However, I have lucked out and found the correct plastic plunger, advertised as "new," on EBay. Just placed the order (turns out it was from the same vendor that I bought a replacement control valve for the head unit on the softener). Fortunately the broken plunger still holds water (doesn't leak) as long as I have it in the "bypass" position. Sigh....looks like a few more days before I can put the softener back online and hope that it works!

IMG_0851 Large.jpeg
 

Gliderman8

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Sorry for your pain. I wrestled with my water softener a couple of years ago. Replaced all sorts of parts, O-rings and the timer motor. In the end I was able to find a whole new head. Installed the new head and it’s been fine ever since.
Hope yours doesn’t leak until the new valve arrives. Maybe make a crude water alarm…. Just in case.
 
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Basil

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UPDATE: I got the bypass valve plunger replaced and was able to bring the softener back on line. That's the good news. The bad news is that, instead of not using any salt, the softener was using excess salt. Basically it was stuck in the Brine / Rinse cycle and ended up using 40 lbs of salt overnight. Also, no soft water. I pulled the head once again and inspected it, but could not determine any issues. At the very tip of the head is where the gear train and metering wheel is, but messing with that stuff I felt was above my pay grade.

I was able to locate a retired Kinetic repairman who now rebuilds these heads to earn extra income in retirement. After asking a few questions, I decided at this point, I might as well risk spending a couple hundred more and send it to him for a rebuilt. In addition to replacing any damaged or worn parts in the gear train / metering components, he also installed all new gaskets and rubber grommets.

Fast forward to yesterday and I received the head back from the guy. After installation and bringing it back on line, I manually put it in brine / rinse mode for both tanks and it didn't stay in this mode - it went through the brine/ rinse cycle and went into "service" mode as it should. So far so good! Now, after running it manually through the brine / rinse cycles for both tanks as second time, I waited until today t o check the hardness (I have "Verify" water hardness test strips.

With the softener out of the circuit, my water was testing around 10-to-12 grains per gallon, which is somewhere between "hard" and "very hard" on the test strip scale. (herd to get exact, but this is estimate based on the color of the test pad. Earlier today, after having the softener on line for 24 hours, I tested the cold tap water and the color was dead on the "0 gpg" reading. So our water hardness is now near 0 grains per gallon! Woo hoo! With the new resin in the tanks and a newly rebuilt head, I'm hoping that I won't be dealing with softener issues for a very long time! Yes, I spent close to $500 in parts and repairs, but if it lasts another 20 years it will have been well worth it. Just out of curiosity, I called our local Kinetico dealer and asked what a new twin tank system, similar to the one we currently have, would cost. Glad I was sitting down - a new softener would have cost me, with tax, over $4100!! Yikes!!! Man am I a happy camper that my softener is working like new again with a fraction of that cost!
 

Gliderman8

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Does your water softener regenerate based on Time or Gallons used?
 

Gliderman8

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Gallons used. Completely operated by water flow.
That's how mine works as well. The head on my unit went out a couple of years ago. Bought a new timing motor and some gears but it never worked right. I ended up buying a used head on eBay and it has worked flawlessly for about the last 4-5 years.
 

John Turney

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Reminds me of when my parents lived in Buellton, CA, with very hard water. There was a cartoon in the paper where a big drop of water came out of the shower head and knocked the bather unconscious. The caption was: "Now That's Hard Water!"
 
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