Water tastes really salty and is foamy after our Fleck softener regenerates


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Old 01-12-15, 07:40 AM
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Water tastes really salty and is foamy after our Fleck softener regenerates

I have a water softener with a Fleck meter on it and it's just over 4 years old. Worked fine for all these years, but now on the mornings after it runs, the water coming out of the tap is all salty and foamy. Not just a little salty tasting, really salty tasting.

We had a repairman out who specializes in Fleck softeners and he couldn't find anything wrong, except he replaced the O-shaped gaskets (I think there were four of them) that are just below the meter. He said one was worn a bit, and that is the only thing he could find wrong.

When we called him back after that didn't fix the problem, he said there's nothing more he could do because he couldn't find anything wrong with it.

I also checked the drain hose and could blow air through it, so I don't believe that is plugged, although I suppose it could be only partially plugged.

Does anyone have ideas on what else could be wrong with this softener and what else I should check?
 

Last edited by Studly; 01-12-15 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 01-12-15, 07:55 AM
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Old 01-12-15, 08:23 AM
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Let us start with which Fleck system do you have?
Do you have the book for the system?

If you don't know the type of Fleck valve how about a Photo?

Water level in the salt tank?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 08:50 AM
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I can't find a model number on the meter, but here is a photo of the Fleck meter.

Water level is about a foot from the bottom.

Also, a correction from my original post: The water softener is just over 4 years old.

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Old 01-12-15, 09:03 AM
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The good old 5600 here is a link to a manual for it.
http://www.pentairaqua.com/Files/Kno...0106-rev-j.pdf
When the water is salty, is there also a lot of air in the water or the sound of water going into water in the top part of the system? the tank just under the 5600 control head?

Depending on salt setting for the system the 12 inches might be a little high.
What size of tank and Quality of water?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 10:10 AM
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When the water is salty, yes, it's also really foamy. Not sure if there is the sound of water in the top part of the system ... will have to run down to the basement and check next time it happens.

I don't see any specs in the manual for how big the brine tank is, but it is round and measures 34" tall and 18" in diameter.

Not sure what to say for quality of the water ... usually it's fine. We're on city water and have no iron. Hardness of the city water is 18gpg.

Thanks for your help and the link to the manual!
 
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Old 01-12-15, 10:20 AM
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Standard Brine tank, round.

Media tank is that tank under the 5600,,, diameter and height?

On the back of the 5600 is a plate and some have the salt setting that might still be in play,, other wise take that plate off and inside is a white shoe that is marking the salt lbs for the regen...

3lbs of salt per gallon of water.
with your 18" tank and salt there should be one gallon per 3 inches.
12" with salt should be 12lbs of salt ,... check that setting on the back of the power head and find out what it is set at.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 12:07 PM
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Just looked up the specs in the sales literature: The media tank is 48" tall, diameter is 9". It's also got 1.18 cubic feet of resin.

On the back of the meter, there is a white sticker that says "salt setting = 9 lbs." Does that sound right?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 01:19 PM
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The salt setting for the amount of resin sounds about right.

It would be a good idea to check the white shoe to make sure that it is at the 9lbs setting.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 02:25 PM
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Yup, just pulled that back cover off and the white-shoe setting shows 9 also.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 04:50 PM
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That is good.
Now to go through a few items to find out where the extra water is coming from.

Is there any kind of pressure gauge on the water line?
You said that it is city water so the pressure should be above 40psi.

Is it a plastic float assembly in the salt tank or brass?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 05:39 PM
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So is there too much water in the brine tank, from what you can tell?

No pressure gauge on our water line. But we are in a pretty big suburb and haven't ever had problems or noticable variances in water pressure.

I don't see a float anywhere. Do you mean the air check valve? That's what it's called in the parts diagram. It shows a float in the models that have an iron filter, but my model doesn't have that.

I believe it is all plastic where the air check valve is in the salt tank. I can't see much below the cloudy water, but when I take the cap off the wide plastic tube with the plastic elbow on top, then it's thinner plastic tube that goes down into the water to where the air check valve is.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 06:03 PM
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A photo of what is in use in the 3-4" brine well?
What color is the sticker on the injector housing ? blue, black ?

If the salty taste just started then it is possible that there is some thing holding the brine piston on the valve open longer than it should be, when the shoe lets go it should spring up and stop water but if there is some thing stuck in there water could continue to the salt tank and the float assembly is acting as it should and stopping the water but only after more has been added to the tank but before it over flows onto the floor or down the drain.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 07:15 PM
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or the brine piston is worn and letting water through when it shouldn't and over-filling your brine tank.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 07:43 PM
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Could be, or that the piston is sticky and not closing like it should.

One thing to check is the power of the brine draw... if it sucks like no tomorrow then the piston could be the reason.

It is a step by step of ruling out items that can lead to extra water in the salt tank.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 08:04 AM
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To get everything out of the brine well and take a photo, I have to remove the plastic elbow on top. It has orange horse-shoe shaped plastic clips on it (see photo). Do you know how it comes apart once I take the clips off? I don't want to force it and break it. Name:  brine tube.jpg
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I found a white sticker near the back of the meter that said Injector on it and it says "Injector, Drain Flow 2 GPM." Is that the correct sticker you were looking for?

Thanks again for guiding me through all this, Akpsdvan!
 
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Old 01-13-15, 08:11 AM
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To check the brine draw, do I just set it to manually regenerate and then wait for the brine draw cycle? Or is there a quicker way?
 
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Old 01-13-15, 09:43 AM
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To remove the brine line where if first goes into the elbow. Remove red clip, push in 3/8 tube and hold the ring that the red clip was holding out in and then pull 3/8 tube out.

To find out how the brine draw is doing one can rotate the wheel on the front of the power head, the one with the open window that is at the 9 or where it says in service... turn that clock wise till brine draw rinse is showing and see how the draw is at the end of the 3/8 tube.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 10:29 AM
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Thanks for the tips. I still can't get that elbow disconnected from the tube. Tried removing the clip, pushing in the tube and then pulling it out. But it won't come detached.

How forceful can I be in pulling it out? Can I use a pliers to get a grip on the tube and pull (i'm guessing not because it may damage the tube) or use a flathead screwdriver to pry the plastic at the end of the tube out of the elbow?
 
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Old 01-13-15, 10:41 AM
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Did you remove the red clip?

While you are holding in the ring you are also pulling the tubing out.

Also look up sharkbite fittings... they are the same idea as the elbow for your brine float assembly.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 01:18 PM
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Ok, thanks for explaining. Yes, I've used sharkbite fittings before, so that made sense and I was able to remove the tube from the elbow.

Here's the photo of what is inside of the brine well.

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Let me know if I should do anything with this, otherwise I'll put it back and test to see how it draws in the brine.

Thanks!
 
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Old 01-13-15, 01:44 PM
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There is no safety back up in the brine well .... the pick up tube is a loner..
I would be going on the brine piston up on the valve not closing like it should or that there is something on the rubber seat of the brine piston that is letting extra water into the salt tank.
In the area of the red circle is a label that shows the flow to the brine tank.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 02:41 PM
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Is checking that piston something a DIYer can do or is it pretty complicated?

Last week, we had a repairman here who had it apart and replaced 4 round black rubber gaskets/seals and said he couldn't find anything that needed cleaning. Would it be likely that when replacing those gaskets that he checked around that piston for those things you mentioned?
 
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Old 01-13-15, 03:12 PM
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If you down loaded the manual then you should be able to check the piston.
There are two ways to check the piston , one with the power head removed from the top of the valve and the other with it on and removing the injector/drain housing from the valve body.

One thing to check with the salt tank part of the 3/8 line open would be to push down the brine piston with a flat screw driver and let water go to the salt tank for a few seconds and then let go and see how fast it pops up and if it stops the water quick or slow.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 06:23 PM
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An update: I tested the brine rinse, and it doesn't seem to be sucking the brine water at all out of the tank. I disconnected the elbow again while testing the brine rinse and can't feel hardly any suction from the 3/8" tube, although up by the meter it sounds like it's trying hard to pull the brine -- but sounds like there is air in there.

Could this be causing the problem or does it mean I didn't reattach the 3/8 inch tube to the elbow good enough?
 
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Old 01-13-15, 06:59 PM
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An update to my last post. For a while there wasn't any suction, but maybe it just took a while to get the air out of the line. Anyway, it eventually ended up sucking all the brine water out, and then up by the meter it was sounding like it was pulling the water smoothly and more quietly.

I'm also checking the water ... would it be during or after the brine rinse that the problem likely occurs? Haven't noticed any salty water yet, but it's not yet done with everything.

Edit: Ok the cycle is completed through the brine rinse and the other rinses and refilling. Oddly enough we never had salty water during it. And the water level in the brine tank is lower than it was before it started. It's probably 6-8 inches deep. I'll monitor it to see if it goes up in the meantime.
 

Last edited by Studly; 01-13-15 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 01-14-15, 08:11 AM
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I checked today, after testing the brine rinse yesterday, and the water level in the brine tank is still lower than it was. It's at 8" deep.

Also, I think I discovered why the water level was so high previously. My wife said when she called the repair guy from last week to let him know he didn't fix it because we were still getting salty water, he told her to manually run the extra rapid rinse cycle on the softener a couple days ago. So I'm guessing after rinsing, it then added the extra water to the brine tank.

Knowing that there is no extra water in the salt tank now, and knowing that when I ran the brine rinse yesterday and there was no salty taste in our water, does that change the theory that the piston could be to blame?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 10:06 AM
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The brine piston most likely was part of the reason but more on the lines of some thing getting hung up around the base seal and letting some extra water in to the salt tank but has now cleared.
Have seen that happen before, a resin bead gets the injector area for some reason and then clears later.
You know have a better under standing of the system and how it works so that when there is a challenge you can deal with it ... and when some thing needs replacing you should be able to do so on your own.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 12:06 PM
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Thanks for all your help and guiding me through everything. Yes, I know much more about the WS now than before.

Just to double check, is the only way we can get salty water in the water lines if we are also getting extra water in the salt tank?

Also, I've read mixed things on whether doing something like flushing a toilet while the WS is regenerating can let salt into the water lines. That would only be if something else is going wrong in the softener, correct? Normally, using water while it's regenerating would not cause extra salt to go into the water lines, right?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 02:54 PM
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More brine than the rinse time of both slow and fast can clear out.
If the brine cycle is 60 minutes then the brine needs to be done with in the first 20 minutes.
If the pressure feeding the system drops below 20psi that can lead to salty water.
Slower than normal brine draw can lead to salty water.

When the system is working like it should the chance of salty water if water is used while the system is cleaning is 0 to none.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 07:54 AM
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Just to update an older thread ... well I thought the water softener fixed itself because it went through many regenerations without us tasting salty water. But to throw a twist into this, it's now happening again ... maybe after one of every four regenerations we can taste salty water, which is also quite foamy when we taste the salt.

Since the problem is now sporadic, does that give any clues as to what the culprit is?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 10:34 AM
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Is this on a well or city water?
How many people in the house?

What else is going on the day before the salty water taste?
If it is a well then the well could be running low? or the pressure tank has some challenges, if there is the pressure tank what kind of switch? 20/40 or 30/50 or even the 40/60?

The once every 2 months can be a challenge to figure out.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 10:52 AM
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Thanks for your help again, Akpsdvan! We're on city water and we've never had any problems with water pressure.

One thing I realized is that a while ago, when using the bathroom sink in the middle of the night when the softener was regenerating, there was no water coming out when we turned it on and 10 seconds later or so, it would finally come out. This happened a few times when using the water while it was regenerating. Could that be a clue as to what's going on with this Fleck-meter softener?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 11:19 AM
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And then the next morning or later that morning after the use of the bathroom the salty water shows up?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 01:30 PM
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Guess I'm not sure if we noticed a salty taste the next morning. This happened a 4 months ago or so and I don't notice it often ... I think it happened before we noticed the salty taste in the water. But we have kids and then may have used the water the next morning before we did, and not noticed if it was salty or not.

I'm guessing we shouldn't lose water pressure temporarily while the softener is regenerating, right?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 01:37 PM
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There might be a little lose of water pressure while the backwash or rapid rinse are going but not that much with the city water pressure.
Are there times that the city really loads the water with chlorine?
Is there a pressure difference if you put the system in bypass over in service?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 01:43 PM
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No, don't notice a difference with chlorine being stronger. We're in a newer suburb and haven't ever had water problems coming from the city. I'll have to test the bypass mode.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 01:49 PM
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Chlorine will break down the resin over time, 4 years might be a bit quick but if the levels are high then the break down will happen faster.
The broken resin beads can get stuck in the injector area and over fill salt tank, as they will float up and away from the rest of the resin bed.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 02:48 PM
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Thanks for the tips. Is there an easy way for me to check the resin beads to see if they are breaking down?
 
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Old 02-15-15, 03:10 PM
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Short of removing the control head and pulling a sample of the resin, no.
If one can run the backwash through some thing like a sock filter that might show some of the broken beads if there are some.

Are there signs that there has been high levels of water in the salt tank?
 
 

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