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Neglected Autotrol 1550TC Water Softener

 
 
Reply Sun 13 Mar, 2011 03:56 am
I'm new to this so be easy on me. I just moved into a house with an Autotrol 1550 TC softener system. The salt tank is empty with no salt whatsoever. There appears to be a couple inches of brine (or liquid) at the bottom of the tank. I'm not sure how long the tanks' been empty of salt. It might have been a while since all the toilets may have stained with hard watter or something. I was just planning on putting the system on bypass and cleaning out the salt tank and refilling it with new salt. Should I be worry. Is there something else I need to do since I'm not sure how long its been empty? whats the affect of forgetting to add salt over a long period of time.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 12,166 • Replies: 27
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justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2011 07:47 pm
@Email Shmemail,
You'll need a manual... http://www.watervalue.com/documentation/1550_owner_manual.pdf

You'll need to know the water conditions in order to set the softener. You'll need to know how much resin is in the resin tank. That can be determined by knowing the height and diameter of the resin tank. Correct softener settings can be determined once the water conditions, amount of resin in the softener, and the # of people in the house are known.

Clean out the the resin tank and add two bags of salt. Add 5 gallons of water for each cubic foot (fraction) of resin in the resin tank. Wait two hours and do a manual regeneration. Add that same amount of water to the brine tank again, wait two hours, with as little (or no) water use as possible, and do another manual regeneration. That will return the resin to as good a regenerative state as its condition allows.

If there is iron in your water you should use a resin cleaning product like Iron Out or the like.




0 Replies
 
rmh2o
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2011 08:49 am
@Email Shmemail,
In order to set the system for your family you need to know the water chemistry (hardness, iron, etc) and capacity (9x48 tank =30k, 10x44=40k, 10x54= 45k). You can clean the salt tank out (if it is not dirty it is not necessary). Add 5 gallons of water to salt tank when done, fill to top with salt. Redout salt can help in removing iron from resin. 2 manual regenerations in one day are necessary to regain full capacity of resin.
RJ
0 Replies
 
Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2011 03:26 pm
Okay I checked the water hardness..etc
pH - 7.5(safe)
Alkalinity - 240(high)
Chlorine - 0.2(safe)
Hardness - 250(Harder)
Iron - 0(Safe)
Not sure what the number means but its on the harder end. As for the resin level I shined a flashlight through the tank and its about half full. The tank is a typical tank about 41" in height and about 9" diameter. There's only myself, my wife and a baby. When you say clean out the resin tank, did you mean the brine tank. I would prefer not to mess with the resin tank if I dont have to. The Brine Controller is set to 8lbs at the moment and Day 2. I currently have it on bypass right now since a few days a ago.
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2011 06:03 pm
@Email Shmemail,
Yea, I meant clean out the brine tank.

When you're done and everything is working the best salt management is to keep only the amount of salt necessary to cover the water in the brine tank. If you fill the brine tank all the way to the top the extra weight of that much salt contributes to mushing and bridging at the bottom of the brine tank.

Hardness of 250 ppm = 15 gpg which IS hard.

There is a 9x40 mineral tank and should have .75 to 1 cu ft of resin. Most likely it is .75 cu ft of resin if the tank is only half full. Using the 8 lbs the control valve is set for is about right.

Bad news is that the softener is regenerating every second day and that is wasting water and salt which is money. That softener is undersized for your water conditions and family size BUT...

For now, take the softener off bypass and do what I instructed above and let's see if the softener get back to working correctly.

Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2011 11:49 pm
@justalurker,
If Day 2 is too often, should I change it to another? So that tank is too small for just 2 1/2 people? I"m surprise because it was installed in a 3 bedroom house. Or is it just to small for that hard of water? Thanks I'll try it out this weekend and let you know what happens.
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2011 09:27 am
@Email Shmemail,
Undersized softeners are sold all the time because smaller is less expensive and that makes buying a softener an easier pill to swallow.

The size of the tank (volume of resin) should be determined by the water conditions (hardness, iron, manganese, and other things) and water usage (# of people and other things).

If your softener was working and you changed the # of days you'd run out of soft water before the softener regenerates, but you are putting the cart before the horse.

For the third time, do what I posted and let's see if the softener recovers. If it doesn't then the cost effective solution is to get a new ON DEMAND softener that is correctly sized and will operate more efficiently.
0 Replies
 
rmh2o
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:34 am
@Email Shmemail,
At .75 cu ft of resin, your water analysis and # of people, you can set this system to regenerate every 3 days. That will leave enough reserve capacity and still be efficient. You should use about 80#'s of salt per month (not bad for a time clock softener) Make sure it is on the right time of day. It is factory set to regenerate at 2am. If you use Dura Cube or Hardi Cube salt you will avoid salt bridging and related problems. You can fill it to the top with this type salt. This system will be fine for up to 4 people on this water. Granted it is not the most efficient compared to a metered system but it will be fine for your family for now.
RJ
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2011 12:24 pm
@rmh2o,
Yup, 80 lbs of salt per month and the water used regenerating every three days going down the drain... now that's efficiency!

A correctly sized softener would regenerate every 7 days or so using a whopping 6 lbs of salt every regeneration for a total of about 26 lbs of salt per month and only regenerate 4 times in that month... THAT is efficiency.

The first step for the OP is to see if the softener they have will recover. That will cost the OP nothing but a little salt and a little time. If it does then they can continue throwing money and water down the drain or contemplate replacing that old dinosaur with a contemporary and efficient demand initiated softener that will pay for itself in real savings over continuing with the TC model.

Approaches vary in water treatment just like every other subject. Some accept that doing it wrong is OK and some advocate doing it right. I disagree with filling the brine tank all the way to the top and have observed time and time and time again that it is not the best thing to do.
0 Replies
 
ct water
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2011 03:07 pm
@Email Shmemail,
Your unit is a 24,000 grain unit. Set every 3 days (push opposite pins 3/6) and set salt @6lbs. Add 5 gallons of water and put 2 (40lbs) bags of salt in brine. Manually regenerate twice. If your unit is several years old the chlorine in your water may have reduced you resin capacity. To check put a bright light behind the resin tank to see the resin level. Should be 10 to 12 inches from top of valve. If tank is blue or colored you will not be able to see. Steve G
0 Replies
 
Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 12:10 am
So I cleaned out the brine tank and and refilled it with two 50 lbs bags of salt from Costco and filled it with 5 Gal of water like you all recommended. I did notice the water level is above the salt level. Is that right? I thought you should always have salt above the water level. I manually regenerated it once after waiting two hour. I notice the water level is still above the salt level after it was back in service. Again I added another 5 Gallon of water like you said (and it's still above the salt level). I'm going to do my second regenerating in about an hour.
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 12:21 am
@Email Shmemail,
Follow through with the second regeneration. At the end of the second regeneration add enough salt to cover the water and monitor the salt level adding salt as necessary. As often as your softener is regenerating adding salt will be a regular occurrence.

Get some hardness test strips @ WalMart, HD, or maybe a pet store that sells fish.

Test the hardness at intervals until the softener regenerates. With 15 grains hardness you should feel a difference in the water. You should get ZERO hardness all the way until regeneration if the softener is working correctly.
0 Replies
 
Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 04:02 pm
Okay after 2 manual regenerating from last night here are the test results from today after two showers and a few toilet flushes.

pH= same 7.5(safe)
Alkalinity = 180 (previously 240)
Cholrine = 0 (previously0.2)
Hardness = between 50 and 120 (previously 250)

So I guess its doing something. My only concern is that right now I have about a foot of water above the salt. I plan on buying more salt to fill up above the water level (if that's possible) as instructed but should I have that much water in the brine tank? The two 50lb bags of salt takes up about a third of the tank and the water goes up to about half the tank. The water level never went down since i added the 5 gallon twice. Doesn't that seems a bit excessive? I thought the water level was only suppose to be about 6 inches at the BOTTOM.
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 04:28 pm
@Email Shmemail,
"The water level never went down since I added the 5 gallon twice". Do you mean that the level NEVER went down during any stage of the regeneration? The water level should have dropped during the brining stage and then recovered at the end of the regeneration.

If the water level NEVER changed then the softener is not drawing brine or not drawing brine completely and that is why the water is hard.

You could have low water pressure or a clogged drain line or other problems.
Look at item #3 in this diagnostic guide... http://www.softnerparts.com/category/6600.autotrol_service_hints/

You should have already downloaded the manual if you don't have one.
Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 05:05 pm
@justalurker,
I can't say for certain that it never went down during the regeneration process. Since it took about 30mins-1hr (such a waste of water hearing all that water drain out) or so throughout the whole process and I was only checking it periodically. I dont recall what stages I was checked but it never went below the salt line. I did noticed the water in the tank was a bit cloudy after the first regeneration completed. Maybe it did drain and recoved while I wasn't looking. But as of this morning the top water is clear. I did the second regeneratting right before i head off to bed last night so maybe it settled down and the water became clear again.

I dont think it's a water pressure issue as my water pressure in the home is pretty good and I KNOW my drain line is working because I can hear all that water being flushed away into the drain. I was planning on doing the recommended maintenence in the manual next weekend (cleaning out the screen and injector) anyway and see if the injector is clogged or something. Maybe I should watch the brine tank the whole time while its going through the regeneration process.

Who knows I might end up taking the whole thing apart and put it back together when I have the time. I've never worked on a softener before but I'm pretty good at taking things apart and putting it back together (hopefully with no extra pieces).
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2011 05:17 pm
@Email Shmemail,
All the water should disappear during the brining stage.

Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2011 05:40 pm
@justalurker,
I just figured out something. My power went out a few days ago so all of sudden the softener went into regeration at 3pm. I noticed the clock was off and remember about the power outage. This time I stayed and watch the water level. Everything apears to be fine until the brining stage. It was drawing the brine perfectly fine but I notice the water in the air check compartment starts to get lower. It apears that the water isn't drawing fast enough. After about an inch or so of drawing the brine, the floating ball end up closing the valve. So now I know its closing too early (I think). I also notice that there is a restrictor cap on the brine line where it connects to the tube in the brine well. Should I remove this to increase the flow? Is it there for a reason? Maybe to keep the brine tube from slipping off the elbow tube joint.
justalurker
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2011 11:51 pm
@Email Shmemail,
Since the softener was working you are looking more for an air leak in the brine pickup or brine line or a problem with the injector or valves. Autotrol controls do have valve problems.

Rather than you re-engineering the system without the knowledge to do so how about we try an orderly and logical diagnostic sequence?

Look at item #3 in this diagnostic guide... http://www.softnerparts.com/category/6600.autotrol_service_hints/

When you've followed those suggestions let us know what happens.
Email Shmemail
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Mar, 2011 01:04 am
@justalurker,
I wasn't trying to re-engineer the system. I was simply asking if the restricting plug was suppose to be where it is or did someone just put it there and what's the reason for restricting the flow of water into the air check chamber.

Well I know the issue is the
"F. Air check prematurely closing"

And it ask to "F. Check for air leaks on air check, brine tubing, and all connections to brine pick up tube."

How do I go about checking for air leaks? Do I just remove the tube, plug one end and blow in it to see if any air gets through. The manual doesn't exactly tell you how to do the check.
rmh2o
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Mar, 2011 11:33 am
@Email Shmemail,
Test the water through the softener and see if you have soft water now. The flow restrictor in float needs to be there. it sound like it is operating properly now. Test the water to see hardness, should be 0gpg.
RJ
0 Replies
 
 

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