problems with new water softener -- is this for a DIY-er or the experts?

Hello,
About a month ago, a new water softener was installed in our home. We were told that we would need a new bag of salt about once every three to six months. As it turns out, we've gone through about one bag per week. Also, the water feels really oily. Yes, soft water does that - but this water feels much oilier than the water at our friends' homes or local businesses, many of which use water softeners. It actually feels dirty, and the dirty feeling remains on our hands until we rinse in nonsoftened water.
Is there a quick adjustment I can do? Or is this a job for the experts?
Thank you!
Ted Shoemaker
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not sure if this is your problem but that is a common complaint of water softeners. But I'd have the installer come back out and check the o-rings and adjustments. I wouldn't DIY.
Does the water taste salty?
od
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sounds like your water is waaaaaaay softer than you want it -- and softer than it needs to be. Every water softener I've ever seen has some mechanism for adjusting the amount of salt used per cycle (and hence the softness of the water).

Undoubtedly there is an adjustment. The owner's manual will tell you how to do this. If you didn't get an owner's manual, complain to the installer, or search online.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Apr 30, 2:39 pm, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

It is a common misconception that the salt actually "softens" the water, it doesnt. Salt is merely used as a brine to clean the filter. The number of "plastic beads" in the filter is the only determiner of how soft the water comes out. The installer should have sized the filter tank based on the chemistry of the water as measured with hardness test, He probably oversized to filter too much so the water is coming out "extra" soft.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Actually, you're the one with the misconceptions. Salt is the source of the sodium that's used to soften the water. Here, educate yourself: http://home.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm

*Maybe* he oversized the unit. Much more likely, he set the softness setting too high, and a simple adjustment will take care of the problem.
See the owners manual.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote in wrote:

"Hardness" is the amount of calcium (mostly, magnesium also contributes) in the water. The gadget is a cation exchanger, which takes away the calcium in exchange for sodium. The salt solution (brine) is used to regenerate the cation exchanger once it has yielded all the sodium in exchange for the calcium taken out of the water.
I have a derelict softener in my basement that came with the house when we bought it. Same problem as OP - the water was feeling slimy. We cut out the softener from the water circuit, and almost all is fine. Our Jersey water is potable, but to me it stinks and tastes foul. Brita filters are used for drinking water.
I need more "soap" to wash myself here than in places with softer water than our Jersey water. Because the calcium in the water "occupies" some of the "soap" and renders it unusable. This is more noticeable with real soap (sodium palmitate or stearate) than with synthetic detergents.
--
Best regards
Han
email address is invalid
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It could be backwashing too often using up salt so fast. But even if you set it to backwash less frequently the water will still be just as "oily", as the salt has nothing to do with the actual softening process. The salt is used to break the ionic bond the filter has on the extracted minerals, making the filter "clean" again for the next cycle. If anything it could be that your filter is a little oversized for your hardness and it is filtering it more than you would like it to and making it more "oily".
You will probably have to just get used to the level of softness, but you may be able to use less salt by slowing down the backwash interval.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Incorrect. The softer the water, the more slippery it feels. If you want it less slippery, make it less soft.
The frequency with which the softener refreshes is supposed to depend on the amount of water used. The degree of softness is adjusted by changing the amount of salt used each time it refreshes -- not the frequency of refreshing.

Also incorrect. Water softeners work by replacing calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water with sodium ions; the source of the sodium is -- you guessed it -- the salt you put in the brine tank. The purpose of the backwash is to refresh the resin bed with sodium.

Most likely, it's just set to make the water too soft, and can easily be adjusted to make it the way he wants it.

What he really needs to do is reduce the salt consumption setting. His owners manual will describe how to do this.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote in wrote:

Sorry, Doug, didn't read this post before replying to the previous one!
--
Best regards
Han
email address is invalid
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:35:55 -0700 (PDT), Ted Shoemaker

You sure left out a lot of information.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ted Shoemaker wrote:

Hi, What brand softener? How many time you regenerate per week? How hard is your water?
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Let me guess, it is either a Echo, or a Kinnetico.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:35:55 -0700 (PDT), Ted Shoemaker
is this for a DIY-er or the experts?:

How often is the softener set to "regenerate". What is the timer setting?
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ted Shoemaker wrote:

1. One bag of salt every 3-6 months is silly...if that is all that was actually used your water wouldn't need softening to begin with. Salesman hype...
2. One bag a week is silly too...if you actually needed that much I doubt the water would flow (be in a liquid form) let alone be potable. << hyperbole alert
3. Your regeneration is set too high (that's what uses salt). Call the vendor and tell him to fix it. You could do it yourself by reading the manual but he's the one that messed up.
4. The water isn't oily, it is basic. All basic substances feel slick. Softeners exchange ions between the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) in the water and sodium on the "beads"...so that you get Na2Co3 (sodium carbonate) in the water which makes the water feel slick. The calcium remains on the beads and dimishes there effectiveness which is why...
...when all the sodium is gone, you have to replenish it by regnerating via salt (NaCl). That produces sodium and CaCl2(calcium chloride). The calcium chloride is flushed out with the regeneration water, the sodium remains so the beads can once again soften.
dadiOH
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

So far no one has got it right...
Water is either hard or soft. In residential that means 0 gpg is soft or 1 or more gpg is hard. The goal is consistent 0 gpg soft water after the softener. A softener allowing more than 1 gpg through it is not working right.
Sodium form resin, negative charged sites on the resin beads, is used to remove calcium and magnesium which makes up hardness, ferrous iron, manganese, lead, radium, copper etc. etc.. They are positive charged ions.
For each of them, two sodium ions are released into the water stream. All chlorides in sodium chloride (salt) is flushed to drain. All excess sodium is also. You get 30K of regenerated capacity per ft3 of regular mesh resin and that requires 15 lbs of salt per ft3.
You never run a softener out of capacity before regenerating it so there is always some capacity remaining when it regenerates, like your gas tank when you refuel the car. The optimal schedule is once every 7-9 days.
Every softener in the world has an adjustable K of capacity. It depends on how much and what type of resin, and THEN the lbs of salt used per regeneration. Regular and fine mesh and SST-60 are the three types of resin. Usually no one actually needs anything but regular mesh unless they have high iron (say 4-5 ppm or more )and then SST-60 is the better choice. Fine mesh resin has a much higher pressure loss than the other two. At 15 lbs per ft3 you get 30K of capacity, at 9 lbs/cuft you get 24K, at 6 lbs you get 20K and so forth. Divide the K by the lbs and you get the salt efficiency; just like figuring fuel mileage, gallons into miles = mpg, grains into capacity = grains/lb of salt.
I sell many softeners across the US and many use as little as 3-10 lbs on average every 8 days. So a 40-50 lb bag every month or two is not unusual; it's my norm. In other cases, 15lb every 4 days for a family of 4 with 40 gpg hardness and 4 ppm of iron in OH the other day. My record hardness is 136 gpg in PA.
The amount of sodium added is, 7.85 mg/l per grain/gallon. I.E. 20 gpg * 7.85=157 mg per roughly a quart of softened water. Slightly more than the sodium found in a slice of white bread or an 8 oz glass of 2% milk.
All softeners can us potassium chloride but, if you are using a salt setting of 6 lb/regeneration or lower, you need to increase the salt dose lbs from 12% to 27 percent higher. And potassium chloride costs 3-4 times more for the same size bag.
There is another part of correctly sizing a softener and it is the constant SFR (service flow rate) gpm. It is dictated by the volume of resin in the tank. Every time the SFR gpm is exceeded, the softener can not remove all the hardness because the water is going through the resin too fast for the ion exchange to occur. Anyone can learn all about at the link below.
http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm
Gary Slusser Quality Water Associates
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Is "gpg" grains per gallon? If it is how do I convert gpg into parts per million? -- I don't understand why they make gourmet cat foods. I have known many cats in my life and none of them were gourmets. They were all gourmands!
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

There are 17.1 ppm or mg/l in one gpg (grain per gallon).
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.