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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AGE of PLUMBING MATERIALS & FIXTURES
AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
ANTI SCALD VALVES
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
FAUCETS & CONTROLS, KITCHEN & BATH
FAUCETS, OUTDOOR HOSE BIBBS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LEAD IN DRINKING WATER, HOW to REDUCE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE TRANSMISSION CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
PUMPS USED in BUILDINGS
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, STEAM BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER HEATER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER TANK
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMPS & TANKS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL PUMP
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Water Softener Operating & Maintenance Instructions: here we provide an owner's guide to water softener controls, what they are, what they do, how to set them - for water softener or water conditioner maintenance, including water softener adjustment of the regeneration or backwash cycle frequency and the water softener salt dose.
We explain the salt dose, regen cycle, hardness setting, and brine tank float level adjustment. We also discuss setting the water softener timer or clock.
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Because the hardness and volume of water used both vary from one building to another, a water softener or water conditioner includes controls that allow the installer or building occupants to adjust the system to work properly.
Water conditioner or water softener controls typically include either analog-type dials with pins, buttons, or levers (control at left)( or electronic controls operated by pushbuttons (discussed later in this article at Electronic Water Softener Controls).
The two principal adjustments on any water softener, whether they are done manually by an owner or automagically by water hardness sensors, are listed below, followed by two basic maintenance chores.
Because water conditioners and their controls vary among manufacturers and models, below we discuss several methods for determining and actually making the necessary settings or adjustments on this equipment. And there is a third maintenance task for building owners who have a water conditioner: setting the clock
Guide to Setting the water softener controls: Our photo above shows the standard controls on a water softener, permitting the user to specify the days on which a recharge/backwash cycle will occur, the salt dose, and also the time of day.
Question: Where is the "Clock" on my water softener and how do I set it?
Extremely well written and done !! Thank you. But, i still can not identify my softener system or control clock. It was here when i bought the house. Is there anywhere some pictures identifying different controllers. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bugrubert, you are welcome to send me photos of the equipment and all labels you can find including inside the control cover - use the email address found at the CONTACT link shown at the top, left, and bottom of all of our web pages.
On dial type (non LED or LCD type display) water softeners or conditioners, you may not see a dial that looks like a clock with hands. In the water conditioner control photos below, from left to right,
Watch out: follow the instructions in the right maintenance manual for your own equipment. And in the salt dose table, don't confuse kg of salt (numbers in the table body) with kilograins of water hardness (numbers in table column 1).
Also, remember this setting is adjusting only the salt dose, not the frequency of regeneration cycle.
Another Approach to Water Conditioner Settings for Salt Dose & Regeneration Frequency
If you don't have a manual and can't find instructions for your unit, (and don't want to call a qualified service technician) leave the salt dose alone, then send the softener through a regeneration cycle and measure the hardness of your water again.
Then monitor water hardness on the days between your regen cycle and the next automatic regen cycle, during a period of your best guess at average water quantity use. If your water shows unacceptable hardness before another softener regen, you'll need to increase the frequency of regeneration cycle.
Typical frequencies for manually-set water softener regeneration as a starting point are are once a week, once every 3 or 4 days, every other day, and daily. If you are running the system daily and water is still too hard you may need to increase the salt dose. But don't overdo the salt or you may have salty water - a health and aesthetic issue.
Subjective judgment of water hardness:
It's best to measure the hardness of your water - kits are inexpensive or some services will perform the test at no charge.
If you can't get a lather using shampoo on your head in the shower, either you're bald, or the water is still pretty hard. If your water feels slimy and you have trouble rinsing off soap, your water might be more soft than necessary (though other problems can also cause this symptom).
Water Softener or Water Equipment Adjustment Tip: Most water treatment companies will be glad to send a representative to your building to test water hardness (or other contaminants) and to advise you on the condition and settings of the water treatment equipment you have in place, or to suggest alternatives if you are shopping.
How Often does the Water Softener Need to Run a Backwash & Regeneration or "Recharge" Cycle?
Your water softener manufacturer will provide a Salt Dosage/Frequency Chart along with the softener's installation and maintenance instructions.
A water softener recharge frequency and salt dose example is provided by Culligan:, "If four individuals live in the household, and the water has a total hardness of 18 grains per gallon, the salt dosage per recharge for the water conditioner will be 5 pounds (2.5 kg) and the recharge frequency will be 3 (or every 2 days). Monthly salt usage can be estimated, using these figures, at about 75 pounds (37.5 kg).
IBC in Australia provides this simple formula that can calculate the regeneration cycle for a water softener if you know all of the required parameters:
Number of Days Between Water Softener Regeneration Cycles = N
Maximum capacity of the treatment tank in grams of CaCO3 or NaCL = C
Volume of water passing through the treatment tank per day = Q (Kiloliters per day) or (Gallons per day)
Hardness of the incoming water measured in micrograms/Liter (mg/L) or in PPM = H
N = C / (H x Q)
This should be taken only as a rough calculation - set your backwash frequency to this number of days or less.
Water softener regeneration cycle frequency vs. cycle duration time
Above we discussed the frequency of water softener regeneration cycles: how often the equipment should run through a regeneration cycle.
Frequency of water softner regeneration is not the same question as duration of the regeneration cycle.
See WATER SOFTENER RUNS TOO LONG for a discussion of abnormally-long water softener regeneration cycle time duration.
So What Settings Should I Use on My Water Softener?
How to Set the Water Softener Salt Dose
Question: What salt dose should I use on my water softener?
I have a Autotrol 460i water softer. The water hardness going into my house measures 10. What settings do I need set in order to create water hardness setting out of my faucets to read around 1or 2? - Walter Schwartz
Reply: The salt dose for your water conditioner depends on some variables. Here is an example and a water softener salt dose table for reference
Some water conditioners (water softeners) automagically track water quantity usage and water hardness and adjust themselves without you having to do a thing. But lots of models require a manual adjustment based on water hardness and water quantity used.
The necessary water softener settings depend not just on water hardness but on your brand and model of water softener equipment and how much water you are using. Here are some remarks about setting the salt dose and regen frequency on a water softener:
Most water softener owners manuals include a table of recommended settings. Start there. If you don't have an owner's manual call the manufacturer's tech service and give them the model number and ask for a manual as well as their setting advice.
Here is a copy of the manual for your Autotrol Water Conditioning Control System, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance Manual. On this water conditioner you can specify the time of regeneration (factory is set to 2:00 AM) to be sure it's running at a time when you are not using water in the building. Here are instructions on adjusting the hardness setting for this equipment: [Quoting]
Note: We have tried to translate these mysterious and unclear instructions into understandable English, at Water Softener Control Adjustment Procedure Details so CONTACT us with suggestions.
Like some other advanced water conditioners on the market, the control module for the Autotrol water softener includes a microprocessor that monitors your level of water usage, adjusting the regeneration cycle accordingly.
Complete details about adjusting the water softener salt dose are found in these separate explanations:
Excerpts summarizing water softener salt use are just below.
Water softener brine control or salt dose and regeneration cycle frequency as well as other settings vary depending on the type of water softener control on your machine. But the basic concept remains the same:
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Set the water softener recharge frequency: your water softener's instructions will tell you how often the system should be recharged as a function of your estimated daily water usage in gallons.
Question: How do I set the Water Softener Controls on a Sears Kenmore Electronic Unit?
My water conditioner is a Kenmore model that uses an electronic control rather than dials, levers and pins. How do I set that control?
To set a Kenmore water conditioner electronic control try these basic steps. If these instructions don't match your unit contact us by email with your brand and model number and we'll help you find those instructions. 
As we detail at DETECT HARD WATER, it's easy to see if your water softener is doing anything by using one of several water hardness tests including the strips shown at left. Or you may suspect a problem if you are no longer able to get your shampoo to lather when taking a shower.
If your water softener is not working, see DIAGNOSE WATER SOFTENER PROBLEMS.
Additional water softener diagnosis and repair questions and answers are at WATER SOFTENER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs
Also see Water Softener Bypass Valve for details how to put the water softener temporarily out of service.
Separately at INSTALLATION of WATER SOFTENERS we discuss how this equipment should be installed.
At SALT OR WATER INTO SEPTIC we discuss the importance of using the proper settings that control water softener operation, and performing proper water softener maintenance will assure that the water softener is effective in treating hard water, it will avoid wasting water, and if a private septic system is installed it will significantly reduce the chances that a septic system will be damaged by flooding or by excessive salt due to water softener malfunction.
At REDUCE IMPACT of SOFTENER on SEPTIC we provide suggestions for reducing the impact of water softeners on septic systems. Below we provide the details of how to adjust and maintain a residential or light commercial water softener for proper operation.
Continue reading at SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: how full should I keep the water conditioner salt tank?
How full should I keep my salt tank? - Linda
We fill the salt tank to near the top but not so full that salt falls into the float tube. For details about adjusting the rate at which your water softener actually uses salt, see SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS . Also within that article take a look at How Much Salt to Use in a Water Softener.
Question: Can we Use Water in the House During the Water Softener Regen Cycle?
I have heard that while the recycling is taking place you cannot run your water or take a bath. Is this true, and if so why, Second, about how long should the recycling take place before it completes its cycle - Dan
We should distinguish between can you and should you run water during a water softener regen-cycle. It is absolutely physically possible - so you can. But the water you receive will not be treated by your water conditioner or water softener - as during softener regen cycle the house water supply will "bypass" the softener.
So while I wouldn't hesitate to run some water during a water conditioner regen period, for example to flush a toilet if needed, it's better to avoid running water if you can, especially hot water where a tankless coil or tankless water heater is installed - because the un-treated water will be higher in mineral content and over time, depending on the amount run, you risk clogging up water supply piping.
Bottom line: If you need to take a shower, or run water for other uses during a water softener regen cycle, go ahead. But regular consumption of large volumes of water during the regen cycle are likely to speed up mineral clogging of pipes, especially hot water piping or a tankless coil.
Question: Culligan HE (with aquasensor), 9" model
Hi, I have a Culligan HE (with aquasensor), 9" model (1 cu ft of resin). The board on the control unit does all the calculations for salt dosage and even has default settings for backwash time, brine draw-rinse and fast-rinse times based on the hardness value I input (around 14 GPG in our city). The current (default) settings for backwash, brine draw-rinse and fast-rinse for 14 GPG is 5 min, 62 min, and 5 min, respectively.
I want to ensure that enough time is set to a) backwash to clear the resin bed of any debris without fluidizing the resin and losing media, b) rinse out any excess regenerant solution (fast-rinse) and I am concerned that 5 mins for backwash and 5 min for fast-rinse is not sufficient. Can you recommend a better setting? We are currently set to Proportional Brining and both our flow meter and aqua-sensor can trigger regen. Thanks! - Julie 9/15/12
Julie, forgive me for not understanding, but if you know the water hardness and are using that input and then selecting the manufacturer's recommended settings, I'm unclear why you'd want to make a change - are you using recommended settings but seeing a problem?
Question: Ecowater Softener and Filter system large backwash quantities
I have an Ecowater Softener and Filter system. Both units use an incredible amount of water to backwash. I am on a very undependable well and every gallon counts. Can you collect and use backwash water rather than wasting it? Is the backwash water contaminated or salinated to the point where it could damage crops or flowers? - Ed 10/10/2012
I suspect it's a bad idea and that the salt level will be a bit high for watering plants, but I will research the question and update this Q&A. Meanwhile check your water hardness against the water conditioner regen settings to be sure you ar not wasting water unnecessarily.
Questions & answers or comments about problems with the operation of aerobic septic systems
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