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Old 07-14-2017, 10:01 AM   #1
dtbingle
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Default Water Softener and Filter Advice

Just moved into a house that's on a community well and previous owners had a Culligan water softener and basic whole house filter (I think HDX 5 micron sediment filter). Setup below:



The sticker on the Culligan units says 2005, so it's 12 years old. The brine tank looks absolutely disgusting, so it's assumed that the only thing ever done was add salt as needed. Water overall isn't bad, but definitely a bit of rust when purging main line pre-filter. Questions:

1) Brine tank seems simple to remove and clean, however, is there anything in the resin tank that should be replaced/cleaned periodically? How long does resin last before needing to be changed?
2) How long do these units typically last before needing to be replaced?
3) The two lines going to outside faucets are unfiltered. I'm wary of washing cars with containing iron/rust sediment as it's already a battle to keep rust away with road salt in winter. Is this a concern? How do people address this?
4) What would be a recommended "upgrade" for current water softener and filter set up?

-Water has a little taste of it being well water that I would like to address
-It also leaves white marks when drying, but guessing this is due to no salt in brine tank (don't want to refill before cleaning)
5) I like the idea of a RO system for kitchen sink and fridge water lines, however, I don't like the need for a separate faucet on the sink from the RO tank. Is there a way to get similar quality of water and have it plumbed to normal kitchen faucet?
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:45 AM   #2
gungatim
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

outside is unfiltered for watering plants/lawn. I plumbed a separate soft filtered line in my garage just for washing cars.

if it's culligan, you are likely renting it and they should do any maintenance. add up the cost of rental and salt delivery and you can buy your own unit in 6 mths...unless the convenience/worry factor is important to you.

I don't know if you can plumb the RO unit straight to the faucet or not, probably can, but I just run the separate faucet. no big deal really, only use that faucet for cooking or coffee, which is maybe once or twice a day. you will go through filters pretty quick if you run the entire kitchen on it, you don't need it for washing hands/dishes, etc.

do yourself a favor and send a water sample in to your county or pretty much any water softener place and they will run the analysis for free and you will know what you are REALLY dealing with...

I am on 20 yrs. on my softener, I did replace the seals in the head 17 yrs. ago though. easy to do and cheap as well.

hope that helps.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:57 AM   #3
Sluggo0018
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

I'm not an expert on these systems, but have one in my house that was recently replaced due to leakage from a crack in the resin tank. I have city water that is fairly hard. The tech that replaced it suggested that the resin does have a limited life span, but did not offer a specific time frame. Mine was in service for over 15 years and was still working fairly well. I do notice that the water is softer with the new unit, and there are no gaps with the soft water like there was with the old system. Plus the salt tank is a lot bigger on the new unit. You can replace the resin, but the new models have better control heads, more accurate water usage meters, and are more efficient. Since my resin tank was cracked, it made more sense for my to replace the entire system.

I have one hose bib connected to the softened water for car washing. It does make a difference with water spots. It is simple to plumb the hose bib piping from one side of the softener to the other. I don't feel that the iron in the wash water is a corrosion issue for the car. Softeners mostly remove calcium, which result in the white rings you notice when dry. I don't beilive that they are specifically designed for iron removal, although they may provide limited effectiveness with iron.

I also have a whole house sediment filter that I don't change as often as I should.

The brine tank is simple to remove and clean.

If it were my system, I would clean the brine tank, add a single bag of softener salt and activate the system. You may get lucky and find that the system works fine. If it doesn't work at all, you can use the salt in the replacement system.

Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:01 AM   #4
Firebrick43
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Culligans are ok systems, looks like yours is just a timer model?

As far as resin life, it really depends on usage, how hard your water really is, and how well the brine and flush cycle is set up

The unit can be rebuilt fairly easily DIY (and resin recharged) and probably is due. Mine is a few years newer and I had to replace the valve cartridge aleady last year. Mine is the electronic model but they share the same valve/motor as the dumb timer models. Warning, many culligan dealers won't sell parts to the public as they want to service it. Mine does however. Resin is available from several sources. Be careful as I have heard several people say that culligan resin tank rings (where the valve body mounts) can be cracked upon disassembly as things are usually struck and require persuasion to get apart.

If replacement is your plan I would purchase a fleck 5600. These are really good units, probably the most common valves, and have the metered recharging but it's mechanical as opposed to a computer. They are available online for half the cost of a culligan and a quarter of the cost of a kenetico. Dual switching resin tanks are available from them as well.
I have put several in for family members and they have performed very well. One replaced a kenetico and has performed just as well.

Put a cartridge filter on your hose bib, don't hook it up to you softener. It will help with spotting but there is some salt in softened water, and chlorides are the worst thing to put on your car. If you did you would have to use an RO system to remove the sodium chloride. Also watering plants over time can kill them with salt. The rust(and minerals) in hard water won't promote more rust, just causes water spotting.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:58 AM   #5
rattle_snake
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

You can test the effectiveness/function of your softener system by measuring hardness. Any pool supply has kits or you can take a sample. Even (some) home depots has test strips for free.
If the brine tank is empty, the system should not be doing anything as the resin can't trap any more calcium carbonate.
1. Measure hardness in this state.
2. Clean brine tank and put a bag of salt in
3. run a regen cycle
4 Measure hardness again. Did it change?

This is a very good forum for water softener systems;
https://terrylove.com/forums/index.p...nd-answers.22/
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:02 PM   #6
steveo1o9
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Not sure if it works or if it is just snake oil but I ran a bottle of resin conditioner through my 12 year old softener when I purchased my house last year. Remember you are not actually drinking the water that runs through the brine tank so it doesn't have to be spotless, but a good idea to scrub it out if you can.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:39 PM   #7
ripperd
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo1o9 View Post
Not sure if it works or if it is just snake oil but I ran a bottle of resin conditioner through my 12 year old softener when I purchased my house last year. Remember you are not actually drinking the water that runs through the brine tank so it doesn't have to be spotless, but a good idea to scrub it out if you can.
Yes... You kind of are. It gets rinsed through the resin, and the backflush dumps it out the drain. But it still touches the resin and resin tank where your drinking water then go through later...
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:45 PM   #8
TractorJeff
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

A water well sample should be sent in and tested for "Safe to Drink" as a condition of Sale. Request it be tested for hardness while they have it. As far as iron, there are "Iron Curtains" that reduce/eliminate Iron in water. My water has so much iron in it that I change my whole house filter every 30 to 35 days. If not the water will start to stink. As far as a single RO faucet, I don't believe you can get and under sink type of system that will flow out of a regular faucet? Mine is a 1 gallon pressure tank under the sink. Get a bottle of "Iron Out" and pour that into the salt tank water when you regen the first time. The dust from it will burn your nose so it is pretty potent! Regen at least once if not twice on that, then pour salt into the tank and regen a 3rd time. This should clean any lack of usage contaminants out of the resin!
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:57 PM   #9
steveo1o9
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by ripperd View Post
Yes... You kind of are. It gets rinsed through the resin, and the backflush dumps it out the drain. But it still touches the resin and resin tank where your drinking water then go through later...
I understand this... If the tank has sludge and mold then absolutely clean it out, but it doesn't necessarily need to be scrubbed with bleach weekly. Think of the bulk salt you dump in there and how sanitary that is... full of impurities and stacked on a pallet and left wherever is convenient (sometimes outside). I struggle to find bags without rips most of the time....
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:18 PM   #10
kbs2244
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

You are trying to solve problems you do not have yet.
Just live there a while and see what, if anything, you need to do.

If it bothers you, take the brine tank out to the driveway and hose it out.
There will be some very salty muck best sent to the landfill.
They were probably using raw salt, the blocks or treated crystals will be cleaner.

IMHO: RO is oversold and problematic with copper plumbing systems.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:27 PM   #11
dtbingle
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by gungatim View Post
if it's culligan, you are likely renting it and they should do any maintenance. add up the cost of rental and salt delivery and you can buy your own unit in 6 mths...unless the convenience/worry factor is important to you.

I don't know if you can plumb the RO unit straight to the faucet or not, probably can, but I just run the separate faucet. no big deal really, only use that faucet for cooking or coffee, which is maybe once or twice a day. you will go through filters pretty quick if you run the entire kitchen on it, you don't need it for washing hands/dishes, etc.
Well the previous owners left all of the manuals and didn't mention anything about a rental when showing us the system. If it is, I guess a Culligan guy will be showing up at some point to reclaim it haha.

Fair enough! Separate faucet it is. What RO system do you use and would you recommend it or another one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firebrick43 View Post
Culligans are ok systems, looks like yours is just a timer model?

The unit can be rebuilt fairly easily DIY (and resin recharged) and probably is due. Mine is a few years newer and I had to replace the valve cartridge aleady last year. Mine is the electronic model but they share the same valve/motor as the dumb timer models. Warning, many culligan dealers won't sell parts to the public as they want to service it. Mine does however. Resin is available from several sources. Be careful as I have heard several people say that culligan resin tank rings (where the valve body mounts) can be cracked upon disassembly as things are usually struck and require persuasion to get apart.

If replacement is your plan I would purchase a fleck 5600. These are really good units, probably the most common valves, and have the metered recharging but it's mechanical as opposed to a computer. They are available online for half the cost of a culligan and a quarter of the cost of a kenetico. Dual switching resin tanks are available from them as well.
I have put several in for family members and they have performed very well. One replaced a kenetico and has performed just as well.

Put a cartridge filter on your hose bib, don't hook it up to you softener. It will help with spotting but there is some salt in softened water, and chlorides are the worst thing to put on your car. If you did you would have to use an RO system to remove the sodium chloride. Also watering plants over time can kill them with salt. The rust(and minerals) in hard water won't promote more rust, just causes water spotting.
I have no idea if it's just a timer model...still trying to figure this thing out. Maybe will have to read the manual! This filter setup for outdoor faucets makes sense. So basically just plumb in like a GE whole house water filter to the outside faucet lines and call it a day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rattle_snake View Post
You can test the effectiveness/function of your softener system by measuring hardness. Any pool supply has kits or you can take a sample. Even (some) home depots has test strips for free.
If the brine tank is empty, the system should not be doing anything as the resin can't trap any more calcium carbonate.
1. Measure hardness in this state.
2. Clean brine tank and put a bag of salt in
3. run a regen cycle
4 Measure hardness again. Did it change?

This is a very good forum for water softener systems;
https://terrylove.com/forums/index.p...nd-answers.22/
Thanks! Great advice. Yeah the brine tank is completely empty and who knows for how long. Didn't know they sold hardness kits - looks like $10 at HD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kbs2244 View Post
IMHO: RO is oversold and problematic with copper plumbing systems.
Why are they problematic with copper plumbing?
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:17 AM   #12
gungatim
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

for the sink faucet, I don't use RO, I have an eSpring unit, uv light kills the bacteria and the patented carbon filter is the best out there. not cheap by any means but the best there is.

for the softener, I do dump some resin cleaner in once a year and occasionally some bleach if the brine tank gets grungy.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:30 AM   #13
artrem
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

We have a softener system as well. Here's my understanding of the resin issue: The resin is a crosslinked porous polymeric material which provides the sites where sodium ions sit, and are exchanged with calcium. The brine wash removes the entrapped calcium, replacing it with more sodium. So the effectiveness of the resin depends on the integrity of those pores.

If you have chlorinated water, chlorine will over time, oxidize the resin crosslinks, turning the porous resin into mush, which no longer does the ion exchange and can increase backpressure. This is a slow process and there are formulas to estimate resin life based on average chlorine content. Typically, with about 1 ppm of chlorine the resin is predicted to last about 5 - 7 years. A carbon filter placed in front of the resin bed will remove the chlorine and protect the resin bed from this degradation.

I don't know about other factors that determine resin life but that's what I know about typical city water. The carbon filter eventually needs to be recharged but I think that's more on the order of 10+ years.

Regardless, you might want to get Culligan in and evaluate your system.
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Old 07-15-2017, 10:51 AM   #14
ard
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by gungatim View Post
for the sink faucet, I don't use RO, I have an eSpring unit, uv light kills the bacteria and the patented carbon filter is the best out there. not cheap by any means but the best there is.

for the softener, I do dump some resin cleaner in once a year and occasionally some bleach if the brine tank gets grungy.
The AMWAY Multi Level Marketing eSpring Unit??????

HAHAHAHAHA

"Best there is"? I'm sure. Don't bother defending it OR doing any research - the Internet is filled with reviews from people selling it (but failing to disclose) mixed in with thos calling out the high priced rip off.

I've always bought generic filters, generic softener components, and generic RO systems/components. Fleck valves on the softener. Buying brand name stuff just means you will pay more. And you will pay more for filters and replacement parts....
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:03 PM   #15
bbrz
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

RO water is extremely aggressive to metals, plastic tube is required on the outlet side.
Think about this, the spot free rinse at some car washes is RO water.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:12 PM   #16
ard
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbrz View Post
RO water is extremely aggressive to metals, plastic tube is required on the outlet side.
Think about this, the spot free rinse at some car washes is RO water.
Right. So when the water evaporates there is no residual minerals to leave spots.

You are not suggesting that RO spot free rinses might damage cars, are you? The water is gone long before any electrolysis/breakdown can occur

I do RO rinses on my dark car. I wash with softened water, but after it is all rinsed of soap a final pass with RO to rinse the residual softened water off...
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:40 PM   #17
ripperd
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by artrem View Post
We have a softener system as well. Here's my understanding of the resin issue: The resin is a crosslinked porous polymeric material which provides the sites where sodium ions sit, and are exchanged with calcium. The brine wash removes the entrapped calcium, replacing it with more sodium. So the effectiveness of the resin depends on the integrity of those pores.

If you have chlorinated water, chlorine will over time, oxidize the resin crosslinks, turning the porous resin into mush, which no longer does the ion exchange and can increase backpressure. This is a slow process and there are formulas to estimate resin life based on average chlorine content. Typically, with about 1 ppm of chlorine the resin is predicted to last about 5 - 7 years. A carbon filter placed in front of the resin bed will remove the chlorine and protect the resin bed from this degradation.

I don't know about other factors that determine resin life but that's what I know about typical city water. The carbon filter eventually needs to be recharged but I think that's more on the order of 10+ years.

Regardless, you might want to get Culligan in and evaluate your system.
I did a valve rebuild and resin replacement myself on my fleck 5600 based softener and it came back to life. Wasn't too expenaive either, especially compared to a new unit.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:46 PM   #18
bbrz
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

You got it, ard, and no I am not saying damage from spot free rinse happens. maybe.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:57 PM   #19
bbrz
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

For those of you that use filters, with softeners. Every time water passes through a device,
volume drops. (GPM). One filter reduces the GPM greatly, so I always installed two in parallel before the softener, with a tee and gauge on the inlet and outlet side. The pressure drop shows when filter changes need to be done. No guess work.
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:57 PM   #20
kbs2244
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Default Re: Water Softener and Filter Advice

RO water reacts with impurities in the copper pipes.

The town my FL condo is in went to whole system RO.

Ever since the plumbing contractors have been doing whole house re-piping with PEX.
It starts as a 'weeping" wet spot on a pipe, but can graduate to a pin hole under pressure.
I have done 2 patches at my place with PEX and am on a waiting list.

There is nothing wrong with the copper piping.
The pipes meet all specs and were fine for 30 years.

One contractor old me that, for some reason, it happens on horizontal pipes more often.
Both of mine were in the middle of long horizontal runs.

Last edited by kbs2244; 07-15-2017 at 04:00 PM.
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