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Old 01-24-2010, 06:37 PM   #1
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Would anyone have any links on troubleshooting a water softener?

I'm looking for even the basics to look for to identify what's wrong.
I have a 5 year old Culligan Medalist that doesn't seem to regen any more. It's gotten what seems to be progressively worse. I put in some Rust Out as per the directions and regen'd three times to no avail. There's no salt bridgine. I cleaned out the works at some point in the past but that didn't do that much as I recall, and I didn't find anything definitive. The water is not very hard but there is a little iron. I've been using the paper strips to test the water, so I know for sure when it's not working. I'm don't know what to look for, what to disconnect and check to see if the flushing, backwash, etc is working.

Anyway, any link that could help me in self-diagnosing would be great.

Thanks.

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Old 01-27-2010, 01:56 AM   #2
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


You don't mention it doing something it shouldn't or not doing something it should, so what's to fix? If it regenerates automatically and uses salt about the only things I can think of is that your water is harder than it used to be or you are using more water than you used to, or the resin is 'bad'.

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Old 01-27-2010, 08:11 AM   #3
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


I was looking for a general troubleshooting procedure.
The Culligan man was kind enough to give me a tip over the phone: clean the venturi. He told me where it was located. It was indeed clogged with iron.
Those are the kind of tips I was looking for.

I do believe I said it wasn't regen'ing.
Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:19 PM   #4
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


I work on these little guys all the time you said itsnot going through the regen cycle ... are you sure or is it going through and not working ?? There are severall stages in a normal regen ..1st bachwash 2nd brine draw 3rdrinse and refill then back to service. and you have a flow meter that tells it how many gallons of H20 have gone through the unit . If you pull the cove off it exposes the guts and you put it into to a manual regen you should see the main cam rotate and put the unit into a backwash mode ( lots of water going down the drain line about 5-12 gpm depending on set up ) for about 10-15 min depending on set up then the brine draw stage is next stage only a gallon or 2 of flow through the drain line but if you unscrew the nut connecting the balck line connecting the softner to the salt pot there should be suction there in not you either have something else in the venturi ( eductor nozzle is the real name ) , did not clean it good enough or have a broken piston assmbley ) . Check these things and I will recheck the board in a day or 2 good luck . If all cycles are good it is possible you fowled the bed / resin but lets start easy .

the little hole in the venturi needs to be very clean , and there is a flow restrictor in the connection point between the drain elbow and the control head, the brine float sometimes gets stuck too push down on the floats pole until you break the suction ( hit it lightley with something like the back of a screw driver ) . Is it going through salt when you regen it ?? what size tank 9" or 12" diameter ??
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:31 PM   #5
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Thanks for the detailed response.
When I said it wasn't regen'ing, I meant that the water was still hard after going through a 'regen' cycle.
I did watch it during the regen cycle and it seemed to go through all those phases, although I wasn't able to verify the brine uptake.
It did test soft when I came home yesterday, before I cleared the eductor nozzle. This was after about 4-5 regen cycles. It does seem to use some salt, but very little. I ran some rust out through it again last night in another regen. I'm hoping this cycle lasts awhile. And that it bounces back quick on a future manual regen, or the auto regen keeps it soft.
A peak at the controller reveals these settings:

sltp 10 (salt dosage in pounds)
buu 10 (backwash time in minutes)
br 71 (brine draw/slow rinse time in minutes)
capg 110 (gallons to regeneration/10)

According to paper test strips, my water is at 7 grains/gallon.

I'm going to have to read up some more figuring out the proper settings.
I tried halving the capg setting - it used to be 220, which is what one Culligan man told me a while ago was a reasonable setting.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:00 PM   #6
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Quote:
Originally Posted by VelvetFoot View Post
I was looking for a general troubleshooting procedure.
The Culligan man was kind enough to give me a tip over the phone: clean the venturi. He told me where it was located. It was indeed clogged with iron.
Those are the kind of tips I was looking for.

I do believe I said it wasn't regen'ing.
Thanks for your help.
There is no "general troubleshooting procedure".

I could have run through about 3 dozen things for you to look for but it would have been a waste of time and effort for like 90% of those things that didn't apply to your problem which now sounds as if it wasn't sucking brine water during the regenerations that it was doing automatically; although you said it wasn't.

BTW, there are about 4-5 other causes of it not sucking brine water than just a blocked injector.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:29 PM   #7
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


I'm sure softener manufacturers put fault diagnosis trees together similar to other industries.
There has to be a logical progression to diagnosing problems.
I was originally asking if someone could point me to links that would help in that regard.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Quote:
Originally Posted by VelvetFoot View Post
I'm sure softener manufacturers put fault diagnosis trees together similar to other industries.
There has to be a logical progression to diagnosing problems.
I was originally asking if someone could point me to links that would help in that regard.

Thing is that Culligans stuff is proprietary, they are very tight lipped with their service information and would much prefer that you contact a registered Culligan dealer. That said, there a quite a few Culligan or Ex Culligan service guys around that may be able to steer you in the right direction should you have problems with the unit.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:37 PM   #9
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Yeah, the local Culligan outfit has some good guys, but still, I think I was lucky.
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Old 01-28-2010, 02:53 AM   #10
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Quote:
Originally Posted by VelvetFoot View Post
I'm sure softener manufacturers put fault diagnosis trees together similar to other industries.
There has to be a logical progression to diagnosing problems.
I was originally asking if someone could point me to links that would help in that regard.
A fault diagnosis tree huh... Since you have a national brand softener from the world's best known name in water softeners, hows come ya don't have one or can't find one online and want someone to post a link to one? As if there is a web site that has Culligan troubleshooting on "not regen'ing"....

You are right about a logical progression to diagnosing problems though, but stating your problem as "not regen'ing" is misleading to say the least.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:51 AM   #11
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


The GUYS are correct there are is at least 1 ex Culligan guy on the board I wont metion his name but I think he is online right NOW . Gary is correct again ( I like the way works ) we i mean they never had any tree diagnosis literature that I was aware of .I / they just trained the tech's in operation and principal, and as far as Culligans equip. being propritary mostly correct but the SM 30, 60 , 90 were Fleck unit swith Culligan stickers if I am correct ( awesome units ) . As far as all the power heads I have all the paper work on them and very little fault diag write up.
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:05 AM   #12
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Thanks ab.

I'll learn more about the unit as time goes on.
The test strips are green now, so I'll forget everything I learned 'til the next time, I suppose.

PS: Does SM = SoftMinder?

Last edited by VelvetFoot; 01-29-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:40 PM   #13
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Does SM = SoftMinder?
It sure does . Which means you have a metered unit The turbine is also a area of some common problems fine silt will sometimes jam the turbine, my personal feeling is the silt is of a metalic nature most likley iron because it usually collects around the mangets in the turbines . You should be able to blow through the port and watch is spin and free wheel for a few seconds and the light on the control board should be blinking when the meter is spinning. If all else fails sell the house and move south .
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Old 01-30-2010, 10:37 AM   #14
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


Thanks-the meter seems to be working because the gals to regen is getting lower.

I'm sitting here watching the softener (fun) going through one more manual regen (I wanted to get the Iron Out smell out of the tank). I've noticed that it is way quieter on the slow brine rinse than before I cleaned the nozzle. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I can see a small stream going into the drain and the brine level seems to be going down (naturally I didn't mark the original level).

Thanks.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:54 AM   #15
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How to troubleshoot a water softener?


If you have the smell of Iron Out in your water you have an inadequate backwash or rinse problem with the softener.

If you mean the salt tank has the smell, so what, it doesn't get into your water and that means you have some IO in the salt and it will be used as the unit regenerates.

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