Water softener not working properly


  #1  
Old 06-13-07, 01:38 AM
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Water softener not working properly

Hello. This is my first post. I am having trouble with my water softener - Whirlpool WHES40. I installed it 23 months ago. I have well water, hardness 45grains, iron between .5 and 2ppm.

After 4 months of excellent performance, my first problem came when the collar that attaches the valve to the tank inexplicably came apart, spraying water in my basement. Luckily I was home at the time. Whirlpool sent a repair guy out who fixed it and made some "adjustment" to the float assembly.

Immediately after that repair, the unit was only partially softening (27 hardness and iron staining), and was not filling before regenerating. Whirlpool sent a different repair guy who fixed a washer that was allowing hard water to mix with the softened water and undid the previous float adjustment that was causing the float to stick. The repair guy suggested I used Iron Out regularly to clean the resin, which I have done so ever since.

After this repair I was still getting hard water (10 hardness), so the same repair guy came out and installed a double washer.

Not long after that, the unit inexplicably began to regenerate every other day and was again not filling all of the way. The same repair guy came out and replaced the circuit board.

Later, I noticed that I didn't get the "silky" feeling of soft water anymore, but was not getting iron stains. I had the water tested and it was coming out at 3-5 hardness. The same repair guy came out and replaced the entire valve assembly. He tested the water immediately after regenerating and it was less that 1ppm hardness.

Things seemed OK until again the unit began to regenerate every other day and was again not filling all of the way. This time, when I talked to customer service, I said the unit was obviously a lemon and wanted a replacement. The refused, saying it had been too long (the unit was about 20 months old by then), but they would send a replacement circuit board that I could install myself. They sent it and I installed it.

It seemed to work OK for awhile but now again I do not get the "silky feel" to the water. I checked the unit and it is not filling enough to properly soften. It was filling up to the "4", but now is only filling to the "2" mark on its own. I have found that, in order to get a proper regen, I have to manually add more water until it is filled at least to the "3" mark. When I do this, the water is fine.

Any ideas as to what may be going on, specifically why it is not filling enough to soften properly? The unit is on a surge protector, so I can't believe the board could be damaged again. Nozzle and venturi are all clear. It seemes to brine and backwash fine.

Given all the problems, I am at the point where I feel I need to demand a replacement from Whirlpool or sue in small claims court, which I know how to do, but is time consuming, no guarantee of winning, and requires several days off of work to complete.

Thanks for your help.
 
  #2  
Old 06-13-07, 11:43 AM
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I am not fully familiar with your Whirlpool unit but has a Kenmore unit which uses the same internals made by Ecowater. The amount water to dissolve the salt is determined by the flowwheel that measures gallons used and hardness of water you have set. The computer determines how much water to use for regeneration based on the water already used. You can fool the computer by increasing your water hardness setting a little higher. Also, you may want to check and see if you have a 'setting for California' that reduces the amount of regeneration to meet CA environmental rules. Since you are on your second circuit board, I assume that your electronics is working good.
 
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Old 06-13-07, 11:50 PM
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Thanks Gusman. Just to point out, I'm actually on my third circuit board. I am going to look into a new softener with a Fleck valve and make Whirlpool an offer they can't refuse
 
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Old 06-14-07, 08:39 AM
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Just out of curiosity, what was your decision to buy the Whirlpool unit in the first place? Most people buy those because either they were not interested in quality as much as low initial price, or they just didn't take the time to educate themselves on various water treatment options.

Regardless, the price that you paid, you can continue to have it fixed for the next five years or more to justify the purchase price. When I recommend quality equipment and people retort saying, "I could buy three Kenmores for that...etc" I usually respond by saying "true, unfortunately that may be the case and how smart would that be?

Your case is very common and at 45 grains and up to 2 parts iron, that disposable softener has actually worked longer then I would have guessed. I would not count on small claims due to the time and hassle involved and chances are, you would not win. Didn't you read the fine print of the very limited (short) warranty?

Now, going with a generic valve, you may solve some of your problems but may not be your best choice. Go with a quality piece of equipment if you are serious about tackling your water issues. Not sure what offer you could make with Whirlpool...they have LOTS of experience with your type of case and have ways of avoiding legal hassles.

These softeners are produced at the absolute lowest prices in order to win the bidding process so they can be placed in big box stores aimed at two types of customers; those who know little about water treatment equipment or those who don't care. And sometimes both.

Just get rid of it and do you and your family right.
Andy Christensen, CWS
 
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Old 06-26-07, 08:25 PM
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The little Whirlpool that couldn't

That is a MAJOR operating challenge for a small system like the whirlpool or any other "big box" system.

With that much iron and harness, you're going to need adequate bed depth and resin volume to ensure complete ion exchange.

For example, if you consume 400 gallons of water per day in the home, you're going to exhaust a compensated 20 - 24,000 grains of capacity per day, depending on iron levels and that doesn't even consider other metallic ions that will be exchanged !

Factor in the low-dosage brining practices incorporated into these systems and you have a recipe for disaster, which will manifest with symptoms like hardness leakage, iron breakthrough, capacity loss, resin fouling etc... even if it's funtioning mechanically, which it evidently isn't.

I think that Andy is correct in calling this a disposable system. They work OK on relatively low hardness levels ( <10gpg ), but as soon as you give them more challenging water they tend to suffer inconsistencies and premature failure.

The service departments of many of our dealers are constantly removing eco systems like whirlpool to replace with something built specifically for the water quality challenges in the area - even young systems like yours.

Try to find a local water specialist who can do some more detailed testing for you ensuring that you take as much as possible into account, such as TDS, metallic ions, sodium, H2S and even your static/dynamic water pressure.

I know it's rather glib to say, but I would consider the purchase price of the little Whirlpool as your "cost of education" in water treatment technology.
 
 

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