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Old 08-14-2009, 08:45 PM   #1
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Musty water from water softener


A bit of a story here, so bare with me:

Bought a house built in 1984. I do not know how old the softener is though. We started getting musty water from all house fixtures. I was not sure that the softener had been cycling, so the softener was my first culprit (city water was checked and is not the issue). I bypassed the softener and the musty smell/taste went away. I disabled the bypass and manually cycled the softener and ended up with salt water (brine) at each fixture. I enabled the bypass again and began to disassemble the softener valve (Fleck 5600 Econominder). I thought at least the timer was bad, but it turns out it is fine. I found no real issues with any of the parts (Brine valve, valve assembly, drain). There was a small amount of residue buildup on some parts as we do have very hard water here, but seemingly nothing that would disrupt functionality. I then manually cycled the softener twice and ended up with salt water at the fixtures again. After a weekday of light use (two persons - showers, etc), the salt water seems to be gone and as of today after work has been replaced with.....wait for it....musty water. Thoughts please??
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:06 AM   #2
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Musty water from water softener


If you use water during a regeneration, you may get salty water or not but, you should mix a 1/3 cup of nonscented bleach in a gallon or two of water, pour it into the water in the salt tank, not down through the salt, and do a manual regeneration. That will sanitize the softener and should get rid of the musty smell.

Do not mix bleach with Iron out etc..
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Old 08-15-2009, 11:29 AM   #3
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Musty water from water softener


Thanks Gary. When you say "not through the salt", do you mean I should remove all the salt from the tank first?
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Musty water from water softener


Move the salt off to the side if possible, or take some out until you can, then pour it into the water.
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Old 08-18-2009, 03:45 PM   #5
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Musty water from water softener


I got the same softener as you and have a musty taste. I'll try the 1/3 cup clorine trick and see if it helps. I've seen somewhere that the resin needs replaced every so often, (maybe I read it on the sofener site) although I've not done that yet. Anyone else heard of having to replace resin in resin tank? bjr
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:48 AM   #6
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Musty water from water softener


Yes but, resin usually doesn't go bad unless you have a lot of chlorine, like over 1.5 ppm of Free chlorine in the water for years. Then the resin will be mushy instead of hard.

Musty odor is not due to bad/mushy resin.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:30 PM   #7
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Musty water from water softener


Added bleach through the brine tank and cycled a couple of times yesterday. I wanted to make sure the chlorine was out of the system. I think I will cycle again because it seems apparent to me that the system is not getting fully rinsed out. Had the salty water again after the cycling and water was not in use during the cycle since no one was home (ice maker, heater could have pulled a little water I suppose). This morning's showers were musty again.

I read too that the resin can wear out over time. Is there a way to gain access to check for mushy-ness? I tried removing my valve from the tank a couple of times, but wasn't sure how hard to crank on it. It should screw off, yes?

Even if they are not mushy, I am afraid that the system may have sat unused for long enough that bad things began to grow inside the tank, especially with our hot summers here in Phoenix. If that happened and standard cycling is not able to clean out the resin, it seems the resin would need to be replaced (or separated apart and cleaned well).
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:05 PM   #8
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Musty water from water softener


Was reading the IRB thread too as it has a few related subjects (Dealing with iron bacteria stricken water softener, advice?), but I don't think IRB plays a factor in my issue being on city water and all.
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:49 AM   #9
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Musty water from water softener


Set the softener to regen overnight last night. No salty water this morning, which was good, but the must was still there.

Last edited by tranders; 08-20-2009 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:10 PM   #10
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Musty water from water softener


You should have done the chlorination and no more and then used the water to see if the musty was gone. Had you needed to do the extra cycles, I would have told you to do them.

You could have IRB even if... you are on city water.
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Old 08-22-2009, 12:21 AM   #11
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Musty water from water softener


I did follow the instructions. Not too interested in drinking bleach water! And I may have put a little too much in, so couldn't take the risk and what do the extra cycles hurt? Will try some Iron Out I guess. Would still like to get the valve assembly off just to get a look at the resin (curiousity if nothing else).
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Old 08-22-2009, 01:58 PM   #12
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Musty water from water softener


Quote:
Originally Posted by tranders View Post
I did follow the instructions.
Actually you did not follow the directions.

Here they are again; ... mix a 1/3 cup of nonscented bleach in a gallon or two of water, pour it into the water in the salt tank, not down through the salt, and do a manual regeneration. That will sanitize the softener and should get rid of the musty smell.

Do not mix bleach with Iron out etc..
***************

Quote:
Originally Posted by tranders View Post
Not too interested in drinking bleach water! And I may have put a little too much in, so couldn't take the risk and what do the extra cycles hurt?
Your assumption that you would be drinking bleach water is incorrect. And why did you NOT follow the 1/3 cup directions and use MORE!!

CHLORINE damages RESIN!!

The valve went through a backwash and then a final rinse before getting back to service; but you didn't know that, but I did but...

THINK, one you don't know what to do, two, not following directions will get you what?, three, becasue you don't know what to do, you can only assume and mostly incorrectly, if you THINK about it.

You are looking to get rid of a musty odor, why would you have to drink the "bleach water" to see if it smelled musty!! SMELL IT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tranders View Post
Will try some Iron Out I guess. Would still like to get the valve assembly off just to get a look at the resin (curiousity if nothing else).
Iron Out etc. won't kill bacteria or odors.

You want to check the resin, go for it, you unscrew the control valve out of the tank. Even if you assume it's too hard to do 'cuz ya might break something like you already said IIRC. Trust me unless you beat on it, you won't break anything.

When you take the valve off, beware of pulling the distributor tube up any and that later when screwing the valve back into the tank you break the bottom basket causing your gravel if any and resin to get out into your plumbing as soon as you turn the water back on and run any water in the anywhere in the house. That shouldn't sound like something you'd want t ohappen...

If you aren't going to follow directions as if the thing will blow up in your face, don't expect me to tell you what and how to do anything more. So if you want more help, follow the sanitizing directions and SMELL the water for musty after flushing the stagnant water out of the plumbing and see if it does or not. And if it does if it gets stronger as you use water.

ps. the distributor tube with your brand of control valve, can not stick up out of the tank more than 1.25".
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Last edited by Gary Slusser; 08-22-2009 at 02:03 PM. Reason: added the PS.
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:14 AM   #13
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Musty water from water softener


I have the same musty smell problem from my water softener that was installed two months ago. Should I also try the bleach to sanitize the water softner?
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:25 PM   #14
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Musty water from water softener


It's do that, live with the musty smell or, by pass the softener If that gets rid of the odor. I'd by pass the softener first and run a few gallons of water to see if the odor goes away, because the odor may not be from the softener.
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:59 PM   #15
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Musty water from water softener


Quote:
Originally Posted by rar View Post
I have the same musty smell problem from my water softener that was installed two months ago. Should I also try the bleach to sanitize the water softner?
Is the smell in both the Hot and Cold? or just in one?
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