Water Softener Resin Bed Clogging With Sediment? - Plumbing - DIY Home Improvement | DIYChatroom

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Old 02-22-2011, 02:51 PM   #1
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Water Softener Resin Bed Clogging with Sediment?

I have been in my current home for 23 years and 6 months ago installed a new Whirpool water softener. This unit is almost identical to the old Kenmore unit as they both have the same control valve which is manufactured by Ecodyne.
After about 4 or 5 weeks, I awoke one morning to discover the water flow to the fixtures was minimal at best. Checked the pressure downstream from the pressure tank (I am on a well) and the pressure was fine. I then checked the flow to with softener bypassed and everything was fine so my conclusion was that the softener was the culprit.
Called Ecodyne and explained my problem. He asked if I have a sediment filter ahead of the softener and I do not. In short, he said that is my problem.
He suggested that I manually advance the softener to the backwash, remove power from the controls and allow it to backwash for about 45 minutes. I did as he instructed and problem solved.
I have yet to install the whole house filter as I am skeptical that this is the problem for the following reasons:

1)I had gone over 22 years without experiencing this problem. It started as soon as I installed the new softener.

2)There are no other symptoms or evidence of excessive sand or silt in the plumbing system.

3)After the first occurrence of this problem, I removed the cap from the nozzle & venture housing and inspected the screen It was “clean as a whistle”.

4)The problem occurs overnight as opposed to building up gradually. In other words, I can brush my teeth before I go to bed and all is fine and the next morning when I get in the shower there is almost no waterflow. If the problem was sediment/sand clogging up the resin bed, why wouldn’t the water flow gradually decline over time as the sediment builds up in the softener.

The softener functions fine otherwise. I have soft water and it cycles through the regeneration cycles properly. It just that every 4 or 5 weeks I find myself having to manually backwash the softener.

The softener controls allows for a short backwash and fast rinse at the beginning of the regeneration cycle for systems with high iron or sediment. I have programmed this into the cycle but it clearly is not solving the problem. My recollection is that this backwash is about ten minutes long.

I hate to go to the time and cost of installing a whole house filter only to discover that it wasn’t the problem.

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:58 PM   #2
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I would check the upper basket on the system, you can find it with in the book that you should have gotten with the unit.
If the upper basket plugs up then water through the unit will be slowed.
It could also be that the new system is a lemon right out of the box.
Try putting the unit in bypass and see how the water flow and pressure is.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:38 AM   #3
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As mentioned in my original post, when I bypass the softener the flow rate is fine.
I am looking at the parts explosion for the softener and I suspect you are referring to what they list as the top distributor. It resembles a "basket" or strainer. They list no component labeled "basket" specifically.
Since the water flow during service is down through the top distributor and then back up through the bottom distributor, isn't it more likely that any blockage would be at the bottom? Obviously, during service, the bottom ditributor is "straining" the resin from the flow and preventing it from being carried up thru the riser tube and out of the softener. At the same time (and place) it would seem that any sediment would be filtered out by the resin) here as well, thereby restricting the flow.
Anything filtered out on the upstream side of the top distributor would have to be so large that some of it would show up in the screen inside the nozzle/venturi assembly. Or, it would prevent the valve from functioning at all. I say this because the openings in the distributor are relatively large, just small enough to prevent resin beads from passing through.
I have no doubt that there is blockage occurring somewhere in the softener. I am just puzzled by the fact that it did not start occurring till I installed the new softener. The old and new units are so much alike that most of the components have the same part numbers. For example, the top distributor is EXACTLY the same between the two units and the control valve is the same.
Like yourself, I have wondered whether I just have a "bad" unit. Perhaps debris got into the resin bed during the manufacturing process or some other issue during production.
I am wondering if others have seen a similar problem with softeners plugging up due to silt/sediment. If it was a common occurrance, I might be inclined to go ahead and install the whole house filter. If the problem persists after that, I then would need to "do battle' with Whirpool since the only conclusion would be that there is a problem with the softener itself.
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