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Old 08-22-2011, 06:42 PM   #1
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Hi all - long time reader first time poster.

Quick background.. I'm very much a DIY'er and am competent enough to do pretty much any repair job, from homes to cars to appliances. Somehow the finer points of water softeners have managed to escape me over the years.

I purchased the house I'm in two years ago, and it has a Culligan Water Softener in it. It worked quite well for the first couple years, but recently it apparently just stopped using salt. I was used to putting a bag or two of salt in every month, and a couple months ago I noticed it didn't need any. I thought it was odd... then about a month later I checked again and sure enough... salt was still at the same level (full.)

Simultaneous to this, my shower stall doors and sinks started getting hard water marks on them. My water isn't too terrible here, but it's definitely hard enough to notice the difference when the softener isn't working.

Anyway, the softener is a Culligan and the book that I have that was in the house says it's either a Medallist 8" or a Medallist Plus 30, 45 or 60. There are no definitive markings on the unit to tell me which one it is (at least none that I know of) so I'm just going by the 4 models that this instruction book has listed. The book says "copyright 2004" so I assume that's when the softener was installed.

Anyway, here are 3 pics of the softener, and I'm wondering if anyone can help me get started on what to check? I really don't know much about the terminology or how a softener really even works... I assume some water gets pumped onto the salt, filters through the salt then gets sucked back up a hose and put into the main tank with the valves and controller on it, and waits there to get used by the plumbing system. That sound about right?

Here are the pics, any advice is appreciated:

Front View of the system


Top down of the nozzles/valve area


View of the inside of the controller


So far I've only tried powering down the electronic controller and I've also hit the "reset/regen" function. When I do that it seems to make all kinds of noise like it's doing the normal softening function (whatever a regen does) but no salt ever seems to get used and the water is obviously still not softened.

Hopefully you forgive my extreme ignorance about softeners.. never had to worry about one until now, but I'm learning quick!

Thank you.

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Old 08-22-2011, 07:09 PM   #2
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


If in the cleaning cycle there is water going to the drain in the first part of the cleaning or regen , then the idea that the drain is plugged is removed from why there is no brine draw.
The failure of the system to draw brine when it should could because the injector is plugged, that is under the silver plate that has the three screws(photo number 2)
put the system into bypass,, red end in and blue end out ..
if that is clear then there is the possibility that the piston under the white egg looking cam is not moving or the o rings on it are no longer good and not letting the unit draw when it should draw.

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Old 08-22-2011, 07:16 PM   #3
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


@Akpsdvan: thank you kindly for a response! I think you might have thrown out one or two terms that are beyond my current level of understanding. Is the "cleaning cycle" something I should be starting myself, or something that happens on its own? When you say "draw brine" is that the water that's in the bottom of the salt reservoir I take it?

Also, when I put the system into bypass (currently blue is in and red is out) do I then start a regen cycle or cleaning cycle I take it? What should happen when I do that? ie - what am I checking or watching or doing when I put the system in bypass?

Thank you again for a reply.
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Terms
Cleaning cycle=regen
Draw brine= pulling the brine water out of the brine tank
Bypass= no new water going through the softener valve or tank

Putting the unit in bypass and then starting a cycle keeps one from taking a shower with cold water.. depressure the unit, remove the screws .. there will be some water come out, but it will keep one from flooding the area with water.
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:49 PM   #5
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Of the two tanks, which one is the brine tank? What is the other tank called?
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:02 PM   #6
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Brine tank=salt tank
Media tank=one with resin and control on top
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:09 PM   #7
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Ok cool... I just ran a regen and water does indeed come out of the drain. I guess I'll put it into bypass mode next and take that silver lid off and see if I notice anything odd.
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:21 PM   #8
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Well I turned the bypass on and took the lid off the injector... here's a pic:



Everything looked fine, but then again I don't really know what I'm looking for. I hit regen and again it seems to function fine, and water seems to be going through the tube to the brine tank. Actually that's one question I have.... how does water get to the bring tank and then back to the media tank? There's only one tube... does the cycle send water over to the brine tank at first, then later sucks it back up through and back into the media tank or something?

Once again, as far as I can tell everything *appears* to be functioning ok, the water just isn't soft. There an easy way to tell just how hard or soft the water is?
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Old 08-24-2011, 05:04 AM   #9
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Anyone else want to take a crack at this? Softener that otherwise appears to be working fine, but water just isn't soft?
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:32 AM   #10
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You are correct, every thing in the photo looked good..
That said , the control will move the main piston to a spot that will send water to the drain at about 2-3gpm... then it will pull the brine water from the salt tank into the media tank and re charge the resin and then a rapid rinse and salt tank refill.
So if you are getting water going to the salt tank second there is most likely an o ring that is either missing or broken on the brine piston and also there is likely a seal on the main piston that is not right.
While this link is for the Fleck 1500 it does have the lay out on the different parts of the regen cycle and what takes place at each stop of the cycle and what the water is doing or going.
Page 33 shows what the brine is doing ... it is the same as yours.
http://www.pentairwatertreatment.com...Fleck+1500.htm
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:23 AM   #11
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Akpsdvan View Post
You are correct, every thing in the photo looked good..
That said , the control will move the main piston to a spot that will send water to the drain at about 2-3gpm... then it will pull the brine water from the salt tank into the media tank and re charge the resin and then a rapid rinse and salt tank refill.
So if you are getting water going to the salt tank second there is most likely an o ring that is either missing or broken on the brine piston and also there is likely a seal on the main piston that is not right.
While this link is for the Fleck 1500 it does have the lay out on the different parts of the regen cycle and what takes place at each stop of the cycle and what the water is doing or going.
Page 33 shows what the brine is doing ... it is the same as yours.
http://www.pentairwatertreatment.com...Fleck+1500.htm
Cool, thanks for the diagram. Yeah I guess at this point I just don't know enough to actually know what else to check. If o-rings and seals aren't good, I'm not sure how to check it or if I should just call the Culligan guy.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:08 PM   #12
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


Are you getting water into the brine tank when you run a regen? Mine did something similar to what you are getting and the issue was the tube in the brine tank that the media tank sucks the salty water through was plugged.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msaeger View Post
Are you getting water into the brine tank when you run a regen? Mine did something similar to what you are getting and the issue was the tube in the brine tank that the media tank sucks the salty water through was plugged.
Good question... I guess it's hard to tell. I thought water was going through because I saw water draining during the regen, and I assumed that was coming from somewhere. Can I just take the hose off and see if water starts spitting out during a regen or something? The hose going from the media to the brine tank is clear, but the water is just as clear, so it's pretty much impossible to tell exactly what is happening at any given time.

Last edited by Perm; 08-24-2011 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:44 PM   #14
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


You can undo the white nut that is at the end of the black line there at the brine tank or the salt tank, when the system should be pulling brine one's finger will get sucked into the open end of the tube if you put your finger there, if water comes out .. then there is a problem with either the brine piston and or the main piston.
Water should only go to the salt tank in the brine refill and rapid rinse of the culligan valve.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:33 PM   #15
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Culligan water softener not working (pics)


I have a Culligan softener identical to Perm except for the electronics board, installed in 2005, "Gold Series" 9 inch. Like Perm, my salt usage has stopped and I am no longer getting soft water.

I followed the pointers given in this thread, and found:
- Injector was covered in black silt (originates from my sulphurous water) but didn't appear to be blocked. Cleaning it makes no difference.
- Water appears to be going down the drain in all phases of the regen cycle. But because the drain is permanently plumbed in, I can't see the water but can hear it. The rate doesn't seem to be very high.
- Water tries to go into the brine tank when brine should be being withdrawn. Because of the float valve in the brine tank, water doesn't actually flow, but there is pressure. And it's clear water, not brine.
- Water also tries to go into the brine tank on the last (refill) cycle, as it should.
- The sequence motor seems to be moving the valves OK.

Do these observations indicate one of the valves has a problem, and if so which one? Is there any other observations I can take to further narrow it down?

Thanks for any thoughts.

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