Water Softener newbie question


Hi. My wife & I just bought a house a couple months ago, in which the previous owner had installed a water softener. I assume its working correctly -- as the dishes don't have spots and at first the water felt a bit "slimy." But, then we figured that's just because we were used to hard water all these years. Now, we like feel of the water.
The gentleman before us lived by himself. He had the setting as follows:
Hardness: 25. (Available range is 1-150, default is 20)
Regen day: 14 (Available is range is 1-28 days) The manual says this is the MAXIMUM number of days between regenerations. So, I assume it could do it sooner than every 14 days, if it detected it was necessary? Is this correct? He had it at 14 days for himself, so maybe I should move it to 7 days since there are two of us?
Regen time: 2am ... although I could have sworn I saw it doing the regen one time in the afternoon. So, I guess this goes back to my previous question ... will it regen automatically if it feels its necessary to do BEFORE the setting you have programmed in?
I have left the setting as he had them and everything "seems" ok, but I'm wondering if maybe I should adjust something for our situation? Also, I noticed the other day that the salt tank was finally getting low (to where I could see water on the bottom), So, I just dumped in a bag of salt that he had left behind for the tank. Was this ok to do or should I have done it during regeneration?
Finally, is there any additional maintenance I should be doing with this thing? The manual (which stinks) mentions something about sanitizing with bleach and allow the system to complete the regeneration cycle. What about cleaning the salt tank itself?
Sorry for all the questions, but the manual that came with this is horrible and this is my first experience with a water softener. Thank you!
-Jim
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Ask your neighbors and do what they do. They've already figured it out!
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As far as maintenance goes on softeners I am familiar with, you have two items to yearly clean. The injector/venturi and a filter. Both are within the softeners valve body.
Never overfill the brine tank with salt, and it is best to use pellets instead of crystals.
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On Aug 10, 11:18 am, snipped-for-privacy@luckymail.com wrote:

Answers based on the water softner I have.
Maximum setting is per your description, the Max time between regens is 14 days per the setting you have. The water softner should regen based on the amount of water you use. Forcing regen at 14 days just means that a regen will occur after 14 days even if one is not required. I would not move it up to 7 days, I would actually turn off the forced regen and let it do it as needed based on water usage. Extra regen mean wasted water.
The regen should take place at 2 AM on the morning after it detects it needs to perform one. For example; at 9:00 AM on Thursday you have used enough water to require a regen, it will not run until 2 AM Friday morning.
Salt can be added at any time. It is better to only have one or two feet of salt in at a time. FIlling the tank to the brim could cause problems later as salt bridges can form. A salt bridge is when the salt at the bottom dissolves and the she solid salt above stays there forming a bridge. When a bridge forms the softener will not properly regenerate because no salt is available to make the brine due to the bridge.
Maintenance consists of a periodic cleaning of the venturi assembly. The procedure should be outlined in your manual or on a label in the inside cover of your softener. If the procedures are not there then google it or repost and I can send you a procedure based on my softener. The bleach sanitization procedure is only done during the initial installation. You should not have to repeat it.
The hardness number is based on how hard your water is and will determine how often your unit regens. Normally you get the number from a water test or from your water provider. Personally I set the number to the mid point and wait a week or two and see how soft the water is. If it is soft I move it down a bit, if it is hard I move it up. I do this until I find the right setting. Easiest way to gauge water softness is while showering. Once you get used to soft water it is real apparent when something is not working right.
Have Fun
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In article
snipped-for-privacy@luckymail.com wrote:

Welcome to the world of soft water. You'll never go back.

Possibly, depending on the unit. Mine has a flow meter. When the girls were home, the device called for a regeneration every other day. Now I believe it is several days longer although I am rarely up at 2 AM to check.

If you always have soft water (slimy/can't rinse the soap off feeling), I wouldn't mess with the setting.
You should keep track of the salt it uses. That will reveal much. You may even be able to INCREASE the interval between regenerations.

The mechanical timer on my unit is occasionally "off" due to a power outage.

That depends on the model you have. Fancier, higher-priced models detect usage. Many cheaper ones do not.

Only if you run out of soft water. Once you get completely used to it, you'll know if hard water returns. That will indicate that you are either out of salt or that the unit needs to regenerate more often.

It doesn't matter when salt is added. It's the liquid brine at the bottom of the tank that does the magic.

I have done virtually NO maintenance on my killer Culligan unit and even go so far as to completely FILL the tank with (Morton blue bag) "solar" salt crystals (not pellets), both discouraged by another poster, and haven't had a problem in years (1991?).
--
:)
JR

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Fan,
There should be a clock ot timer on your softener. This goes awry when there is a power outage. If yiou want the softener to regenerate at 2:00 I'd check to be sure the clock is correct.
Dave M.
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On Aug 10, 12:18 pm, snipped-for-privacy@luckymail.com wrote:

There is a formula used to program a control valve, it is not in the consumer manual. Visit
www.qualitywaterassociates.com and you'll find it on the sizing page.
The best regeneration schedule is once every 7-9 days. Going longer usually reduces the salt efficiency and can shorten the life of the resin.
I suggest solar crystal salt because it is always the least expensive and causes the fewest if any salt related problems with a softener.
I do not suggest annual maintenance of the control valve because you can cause problems if you aren't real careful or otherwise. Wait until you notice a problem like too much water in teh salt tank, then clean the injector and injector screen and make sure all brine line fittings are not allowing air to be sucked in the brining position of a regeneration. And if you use pellet type salt, clean the salt tank.
Gary Slusser Quality Water Associates
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On Mon, 11 Aug 2008 11:08:29 -0700 (PDT), Gary Slusser

The only problem with crystals, even solar salt is dirt. Many years of using Solar Salt will leave a dirt bed at the bottom of the brine tank that will plug the filter.
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On Aug 11, 12:45 pm, snipped-for-privacy@mucks.net wrote:

But there is no "filter" to block and a good softener has a brine well and the brine pick up tube is in it and salt or dirt doesn't get into the brine well or the pick up.
Pellets lose their shape when they get wet and the grains of salt fall to the bottom of the tank and then dry out in the 100 saturated water that is not able to be sucked out. That becomes mass of rock hard material and as it builds up, the water goes up into the pellets higher and higher making more rock hard stuff in the bottom of the tank.
So the choice is many years with solar or just a few with pellets.
Gary Slusser Quality Water Associates
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On Mon, 11 Aug 2008 23:01:59 -0700 (PDT), Gary Slusser

There is a pick up tube filter/strainer at the bottom of my brine tank that can plug if surrounded by dirt.

It will only become rock hard if you overfill. Try to keep just on bag of salt in the tank at a time.

My previous use Solar Salt is specifically what caused problems with my softener.
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On Aug 10, 1:18 pm, snipped-for-privacy@luckymail.com wrote:

Depends on how much water you use. If the water always seems soft, then no need to adjust. If it seems sometimes you run out of softening and the water gets hard, then you may need to regenerate more often. The hardness level setting probably determines how much salt it uses for each regeneration.

Again the answer is depends, some units will detect that, but many cheaper/older units go strictly by the timer. Regens in the afternoon - The timer may be screwed up due to a past power outage or some such -- take a look and see if you can tell what time it thinks it is right now. You might just need to set it to the right time.

Nope, you did just what you are supposed to do.

There may be some sort of maintenance that you should do, but I gotta tell ya, the ten years I lived with a softener, I did zero maintenance and nothing bad happened. And the unit was already several years old when I started.

The only other thing to think about is what kind of salt do you need. Probably just keep using whatever was there (did you keep the bag?). In my area, the water had iron in it as well as hardness minerals, and I had to use the salt with iron-out additive. Otherwise the clothes would get stained in the washing machine -- not good. Depends on the water in your area.
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All softeners have a means to set a salt dose in lbs. per regeneration; either in the salt tank or in the programming of the control valve.
That (salt dose) in a given cubic foot volume and type of resin gives you the K of capacity. Then the volume of water to be treated * the hardness in gpg dictates how much of the regenerated capacity is used between regenerations and that establishes the number of days or gallons between regenerations.
Gary Slusser Quality Water Associates
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I just want to thank everybody for the great responses. You gave me a lot of good info to go on. From the info you've all provided, I think I'm going to employ the old "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" philosophy. The water in the house looks and feels good (well, after we had gotten used to that slimy feeling from all the years of having hard water). As someone said, I should notice if the water ever goes back to being hard. And so far, I haven't noticed any change back. So, I'm leaving the settings at 14 days regen and "25" for the hardness level. Also, I will only fill the salt pellets when I notice it getting pretty low (never to the top). I did keep the bag so I will try to get that same brand (again, if it ain't broken...). Its good to know I don't have to flush the whole system with bleach (I' going to assume that was done when it was first installed). As far as other maintenance, I'll play it by ear. I'm not much of a handyman, but there is a phone number on the unit of the place who installed it. Maybe I can call them and ask. I would have called them to come out & give me a rundown on some of these questions I had, but it probably would have cost me $100+ just to have somebody knock at my door. I had a feeling this group would know all about these things ... so thanks again! Greatly appreciated!
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