Getting a water softener going after sitting for a long time

obrionusaFebruary 18, 2012

My culligan mark 59 is going out and my sister has one in her garage she isnt using. She bought it new, had it installed, used it in her house for 3 years and was happy with it. She got married, sold the house and took the softener with her. Her husband already had a softener. Its now been sitting 6 years in a heated garage. She is going to give it to me and was wondering if its worth hooking up. I plugged it in and booted right up. I was thinking of hooking a water hose into it and running it through a cycle first. Would you replace the resin before plumbing it up? Is it even worth messing with? Its an auto-trol 1 cubic foot and she paid about $1,000 installed.

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Free is great if the softener is remotely close to the correct size for your water conditions and water usage. What size is YOUR Mark 59? Has it been doing it's job?

If it is, you'd want to install it and sanitize it and then see if it's working correctly or for under $500 you can get a 1 cu ft industry standard softener with the latest electronics and a warranty delivered to your house and you'd assemble and install it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 10:12AM
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The mark 59 is a .75 cu. ft. I had the water tested after the softener and it was leaving 2 grains of hardness and no iron. My hard water tested at 23 grains 1 ppm iron. The mark 59 timer is going out. I have to tap on the clock regularly to get the clock to start working again. Its just me in the house and girlfriend is there on weekends.
Thanks justalurker! Do you think the resin is still good in the autotrol?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 10:54AM
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If the resin in your sister's Mark was just sitting and never froze then odds are it is good. The softener needs to be sanitized and then run through 2 complete regeneration cycles at maximum salt dose (15 lbs) to get the resin back to full capacity.

You'll need to set your sister's Mark for your water conditions and water use and also start to use Iron Out or a similar product to clean the resin.

Before I bought new resin I'd buy a new Fleck based softener and take advantage of the newer technology and efficiency.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Thats easy enough. Whats the process of sanitizing it? Im guessing you put bleach down the brine and regin it. If so do I do this the same time I regin it at 15#? How many times would you sanitize it?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:09AM
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"The softener needs to be sanitized and then run through 2 complete regeneration cycles at maximum salt dose (15 lbs) to get the resin back to full capacity".

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Before beginning, the softener should be hooked up by bypassed so you don't get bleachy water into your home plumbing.

1) Clean out your brine tank - get rid of everything in it and rinse it out thoroughly.

2) Fill brine tank with about 3 gallons of water.

3) Add 1-2 Tablespoons of bleach - don't go crazy with the bleach or you will destroy your resin.

4) Set the softener to run a regen cycle.

5) When complete, dump the brine tank again and rinse.

6) Add 1 bag of salt and about 3 gallons of water.

7) Since you need a maximum salt dosage, let it sit for 24 hours. Then run a regen cycle. Repeat once more. Don't get impatient. You've lived without softened water for some time - a couple more days to get this right won't hurt.

8) Set your softener's setting appropriately for your water conditions (TBD since we don't have this information yet), place the softener in service and enjoy.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Sanitizing should be done first and add this missing step from Alice's post...

4a) interrupt the regeneration during the brine cycle when all the water has been removed from the brine tank and let the softener soak for 1 or 2 hours then finish the cycle making sure the chlorine is rinsed out

The two back to back regenerations, with waiting for salt to dissolve, should be done AFTER the sanitizing procedure.

And correct this step 6 in Alice's procedure...

6) add 5 gallons of water to make a 15 lb salt dose for 1 cu ft of resin (3 gallons will only make a 9 lb salt dose).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I'm obviously the odd man out in this, but......

Chlorine in any concentration above infinitesimal is very destructive of softening media. If the device is operational mechanically, I would empty out the whole thing, clean/disinfect while empty and reload with fresh resin. I don't see that doing this would be any more difficult than the other procedures suggested. Cost of the resin would be the only nut and I don't see that as a biggy.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Wish I had a dollar for every softener I've sanitized that survived the procedure when done correctly. One to two tablespoons in five gallons of water is a pretty low concentration. Matter of fact... softeners and resin should be sanitized BEFORE being put into service when new and new resin isn't shipped as being biologically safe.

I haven't seen detrimental effects from proper softener sanitizing when new or from having been out of service for a period of time. For a new softener I eliminate the 1-2 hour soak.

One cube of standard no-name, anonymous resin is running about $130. for you maybe no biggy but for me it's $130 not including gravel and it's not biologically safe in the bag.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 4:52PM
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"...when done correctly...."

I can yield to that.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 5:14PM
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If one is on a municipal water system there is little concern regarding biological problems in an installed softener because of the anti-bacterials the water authority adds. That doesn't mean that sanitary procedures should be ignored or omitted when putting a new softener in service.

Those who carbon filter their municipal water at POE or in the softener or who are on wells are always at risk.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:56PM
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This is some really good information. Thank you all so much for your time posting this for me. I dont know how to thank you guys.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 7:20AM
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Update: I ran some water hose from my laundry tub to the softener and performed the sanitize procedure as they described. Then two regen cycles and took the sample to the local water softening guys. They tested both the hard and the soft and the soft had 0 hardness 0 iron. The unsoftened water had 23 parts hardness plus 1 ppm iron. Looks like Im good to go. He said to set the salt usage at about 8 pounds. Does this sound about right on salt dosage? Thanks a million guys!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:47AM
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For most effective resin rejuvenation is to get a large (8-gallon) white bucket and physically dump (I use a siphoning device) the resin into it.

I rebuild many softeners and found that you could put an old unit through a dozen regens and never get it very cleaned out. I emptied one (48,000g) this morning after two backwashes and found two cups of sand in it which backwashing didn't even touch.

Moreover, the water coming out was so cloudy, murky, oily, frothy that you could not see one inch through it. I put a hose into the bucket and flushed and then poured out the water---repeated three times before the water cleared up. The water also stunk quite a bit.

This is typical even when the softener, while in use, doesn't show a lot of cloudiness. The bottoms of the tanks hold a lot unwanted matter.

The resins were reddish but of consistent size and shape (and crunchy between the teeth!).

Then I cupped the resin out into another bucket and found all the sand in the bottom---easy enough to separate manually, but backwashing wouldn't do it.

This is fairly consistent with rebuilds in my area.

I added 6 ounces of bleach and a sprinkling of Iron Magic and stirred and let sit for an hour. I flushed again until water was clear again. This time a more yellowish water came out.

I replaced the resins in the tank and then put it through a normal regeneration. Presto, the best you can do without actually replacing the resins but not what most want to do or take the time (or pay someone else to do).

Also, fill the empty tank back up with water and put a high concentration bleach in it for an hour or two, especially if there is any sliminess in the tank.

Many times I show the customers what is actually coming out of their softener and they are glad I go to this degree to service their unit.

Just simply backwashing, even with high concentrations of salt, bleach, iron out, etc., with help, but I do not believe it is the best you can do.

Next time I will make a video and try to post it.

Andy Christensen

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:33PM
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