Please help improve my water softener knowledge.

I was in stitches after the toilet joke, I appreciate the humor.
I have a GE profile model PNSF31Z01 water softener. I had it installed in 1999. It regenerates almost daily and uses several 40 pound bags of salt a month. I have read my owners manual and what I could find for diagnostics (not much). I am attempting to get it to regenerate less frequently (at a normal rate like when it was new, every two to 3 weeks), so that I can spend less time loading it with salt (currently I have to add 40 to 80 pounds weekly). I use less than the average household's amount of water.
This is what I understand so far. . . 10 inch diameter 35 inch tall cylinder A contains plastic resin beads 4 inch diameter 35 inch tall cylinder B contains a float switch Plastic Tank contains both cylinders plus salt. Control head tracks or controls time of day, scheduled time of day for regeneration, total generations since last serviced (resetable to zero). I programmed 14 grains per gallon hardness after having water tested and asking village water department. I unscrewed and carefully cleaned all the venturi parts, being careful to put it back together correctly. I used a shop vac to remove excess water and a light brown calcium looking slag from the bottom of the tank (below this 1 inch of slag was clean white salt) and from the bottom of the float and cylinder B. 1) Before I reload tank with 300 pounds of salt, I'd like to verify that I shouldn't check anything else first. Any suggestions? I did careully unscrew the water flow sensor and check it. This one centimeter by 5 millimeter long circuit chip (connected by 2 wires and a modular plug to the control circuit board) had a rubberized tip that look normal. I gently wiped it with a clean rag and put it back in. I have no idea how this sensor knows how much water has been used. Someone explaining this to me may aid me in diagnosing the problem.
2) If my overall cleaning doesn't slow the regenerations to once every 1500 gallons or about every three weeks, what would you check or replace next? I can manually stop a reneration by pushing a "cancel regeneration" button daily, but that will get old. I see no way to "schedule the regenerations"; they are purely tied to water usage. The control head counts from 000 to 199 for every gallon used (knowledge taught to me on this newsgroup based on one toilet flush caused counter to cycle to 199 twice plus go back to about 60) and starts a regeneration after an undetermined fixed amount of water usage. I will watch my house meter to track water usage between regenerations, but it was about 66 gallons before the cleaning. I am hoping the rapid frequency will be cured by the cleaning, but have no idea if the accumulated calcium slag is the cause of the frequent regenerations. Has anyone else had this experience?
3) I'm guessing during normal operation, village water from my home's water meter flows into cylinder A, where the plastic resin beads trap minerals and calcium and then allow the "softened water" to flow out of cylinder A to the household appliances for use. Am I right?
4) During normal operation, where is it normal for water to be: In the entire tank, or just inside cylinders A and B? Obvously, wherever water gets and touches salt, a brine solution results, so I'm guessing water is normally allowed everywhere inside the entire tank, and then the resulting brine solution is somehow pulled inside cylinder A during regeneration to clean the resin beads, then flushed to the floor drain. I'm guessing the float switch controls how much water is allowed in the tank.
5) Is it normal for the brown calcium slag to accumulate over time at the bottom of the tank and inside cylinder B (float) or is this just since the last regeneration and would another regeneration have cleaned all this out or should calcium only be inside the resin cylinder between regenerations?
6) For future knowledge, how often should I clean the venturi? It made it 6 years before becoming 75% blocked, so I'm guessing every three or 4 years.
The only other major parts are: 7) a position switch which I guess controls which way water is allowed to flow (normal operation vs various stages of regeneration) 8) a valve motor which I'm guessing moves valves open or closed during different stages of the regeneration If I am wrong on this, please correct me.
My goal is to become knowledgable enough to properly service my own water softener.
Thanks in advance, Andy
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start here... amazing how much info is on ebay..
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category 715&item880096904&rd=1
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Man, all that sodium in your diet?
What's your blood pressure?

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HeatMan wrote:

For 94% of the population, salt does not affect blood pressure.
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Hmm, let's do a bit of math to figure out just how much sodium this really adds up to.
Assume total hardness of 10 grains per gallon. Assume that you actually drink about 1/2 gallon of water a day.
5 grains of sodium ions per day, at 0.06479891 grams per grain 0.06479891 * 5 = 0.32399455 grams
For comparison purposes, a single dill pickle has three times the amount of salt.
So, your salt intake has been bumped by a "whopping" 0.3 grams per day. Personally, I'll worry more about the dill pickles in my diet.
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HeatMan wrote:

The Sodium is VERY small amount. Anyhow I don't drink out of tap. Tony
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you might need more fiber in yours...
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Guy,
Remove the sensor from it's place around or in the outlet(?) tube and hang it on the side of the softener. It will still be hooked up but will not sense water flow since it is no longer positioned properly. Your water softener will think you haven't used any water and so won't think the resin needs to be regenerated. Twice a month hit the manual regeneration button. If the water needs more regeneration than every 2 weeks then do the manual regeneration every week. Don't forget to regenerate. If you do forget it takes a while for the hard water in the water heater to go away.
Dave M.

There's a turbine in the outlet(?) tube which spins when water flows. There are 2 magnets on this turbine. Your sensor senses these magnets and sees 2 pulses for every complete turn of the turbine. Thus the number of pulses is an indication of water flow . Water flows is water use and the chip in your softener converts the pulses into gallons of water used.

I think the cleaning was a good thing but won't help your problem. Something is wrong in the chip that calculates water usage. Are you sure that the correct code for your model is entered into the chip? If the code is right then you need to replace the PC board or regenerate manually

Yes

You have a brine tank and a resin tank. Water flows through the resin tank to become soft. Brine flows from the brine tank into the resin tank during the regeneration cycle to regenerate the resin.

Calcium isn't brown. Crud does build up in the brine tank. this crud is mostly impurities in the salt that you use. It is not a problem and should be cleaned out occasionally (every 1-2 years)

Sounds reasonable. I take mine apart every 2 years, clean everything, replace worn out parts.
Dave M.
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Dave, Thank you for the easy to understand answers and especially the straight forward easy solution on the sensor and manual regeneration. I don't intend to try my next idea now as my softener is generally working, especially now that you gave me a cure for the regeneration problem; but if I clean it in a few years, is it reasonable to remove and open the resin tank to manually rinse out the resin cylinder and thoroughly clean the beads, or is this a waste of time and more likely for me to break something in the process. Finally, how long should a softener last with proper care? Thanks again, your help is outstanding. Andy

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Andy,
I've never done what you're proposing and don't know but I think that the regeneration process has fast flushing which does what you're proposing, so I wouldn't open up the tank. I think the resin does fail with age but I've not experienced this as a home owner. My first water softener lasted about 20 yrs before it began suffering from a lot of breakdowns and was replaced. My second softener (very similar to yours) has lasted 5 yrs so far. I clean the venturi annually and disassemble the rotor/valve for cleaning every 2 yrs. Had to replace the rotor seal last time but I'm on a well.
Dave M.
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Dave, This morning when I checked my softener (after cleaning and refilling yesterday with salt), the water level was a few inches above the salt, so the water is within 8 inches of the top of the tank. Is it normal for water to be in the large brine tank when a regeneration is not occurring. It doesn't seem to matter, but if I need to adjust a float or find a clog let me know.
Thanks! Andy

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20 years seems very reasonable. Do I need a manual for the rotor valve work. I assume the seal is rubber or vinyl or plastic?

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