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Question DetailsAsked on 6/27/2017

why does my water softner take the salt but after it kicks in water is still hard

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1 Answer


Of course there are different designs, and units with different kinds of treatment modules, but generally with a normal most common simple ion-exhange unit. Here is a link to a simple explanation of how the system works:

Possible issues with your system that I see:

1) if electric timer on unit (almost always is these days) make sure it is getting power and is actually counting down to the next backflush cycle and not stuck - or if non-electric that the timer was wound back up to accomodate the desired cycle time

2) check if the unit has an automatic backflush timer set (per manual and after checking water hardness coming out) to backflush the media (usually a resin) - because without that backflushing the minerals you are trying to remove with the system release the salt on the resin and saturate the resin and from then on they just flow through the system intact. The backflush cycle (commonly from daily to weekly at night depending on your water hardness) supearsaturates the resin with salt brine solution which releases most of the contaminants and flushes the undesireable hardness-causing minerals (which the resin media has trapped) out of the system to the sewer, with the brine solution replacing the salt on the resin ready for use again.

3) check outcoming water hardness - it may be the timer is set for too long an interval betwqeen flushes so it produces soft water for awhile but then gets saturated and you get hard water until the next backflush cycle

4) make sure the bypass valve (manual or automatic) on the unit is not sticking or left partly or fully open - if it sticks or is open on bypass you are getting raw water doing an end-run around the unit without it going through the resin absorption process - perhaps (if you have manual backflushing) it got left open last backflush cycle or at last maintenance or resin changeout.

5) resin may be worn out - it does not last forever, so it may be unable to do the ion exchange process. Certain contaminants and silt/clay block the resin from doing its job - and there are different resins for different hardness-causing minerals but generally all are there in some concentration, so while the resin may be working well to remove the primary problem causing mineral, others will eventuyally block up the resin surface and keep it from working, so thent he resin needs replacing.

6) sometimes excessive contaminants (mineral, algae, oils, etc) degreade the resin quite quickly so have to be pre-treated to remove them. Ditto to pH - if your pH is outside the effective operating range of the unit (a rare event) or your incoming water is salty it can degrade the performance ofthe resin and mandate a pre-treatment. Ditto in rare cases where the resin starts growing algae or bacterial growth or such - in which case it may need replacement or a chlorination unit put in line "ahead" of it to kill the bacteria or algae. Sometimes the ambient temperature of the unit can promote this problem - like in some waters I have built a protective cabinet around the unit to shield it from direct sunlight and that was enough to solve algal or bacterial growth - in other cases they had to be moved inside the conditioned space to reduce the operating heat.

If you are unable to find an operating issue with it, then Water Treatment is your Search the List category to find an expert to assess the issue.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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