When or Why to replace your softening resins.
First let me say that is has been my experience that the resins in your water softener will usually out last the control valve. Examination of resin tanks over 20 years old found the resins to still be capable of the ion exchange ( which is the process by which your water is softened ). Some depletion of the amount of resin occurred in some of the systems over 20 years old. And modern day resin has improved slightly, but replacement is not needed as often as some would lead you to believe.
* How much resins should be in the tank?
Tanks 44" and taller normally are only 55% - 60% full when new.
Some shorter tanks ( 40" and shorter ) may be as much as 80% full ( Note - the valve head must have an upper distributor screen or "basket" installed to use this higher percentage of resins ).
* When should you replace your resins?
1. The number one reason to replace your resins is because they have been damaged by years of exposure to chlorinated "city" water. After about 10 years ( can be much sooner, or a bit later ) the resins "swell" and then they break down. They become so fragmented the "fines" collecting at the bottom distributor start to restrict the water pressure through the resin tank. This is generally how you "know" you need new resins. On some systems the fragments ( "Fines" ) will start coming into the house and clogging faucet screens.
If resin fragments have been getting into your house, then you will also need to replace the Bottom Distributor ( use our PN MD1236 listed below ).
Your Resins look like this ( color many vary ) >
2. When the resin bed has become contaminated by a noticeable and usually visible amount of algae growth ( This problem is common in tanks installed outside ).
3. When the resin tank has a large amount of fine sand in it. This sometimes happens on well water. It is always recommended to have a sediment prefilter installed in the water line before your water softener. This fine sand in the resin bed will cause you to have very poor water pressure. The only way to solve the problem is to dump ( or suck ) out all the resins and sand. Replacing with new resins is a whole lot easier than trying to sift the sand out of your old resin.
4. When a resin tank has been sitting unused for months or years, and a strong odor is detected from the resins. You can try cleaning with a weak chlorine solution, but odds are you will need to dump the resins, bleach out the tank ( with a strong chlorine solution ) and start with fresh new resins.
5. Resins "fouled" by Iron and Organics can usually be cleaned by adding a heavy dose of resin cleaner ( such as ResUp, Iron Out, Citric Acid, or Bleach ). Of course replacing with new works every time.
How To Replace Your Resins
1. Turn off water, unplug control valve from electric outlet, disconnect control valve from water lines, drain line, and brine line.
2. Unscrew control valve ( may require two people ).
3. Remove control valve and distributor tube ( the two normally can be separated at the control valve ).
4. Now the fun part. Depending on your situation ( size and location of your tank ), you need to either dump the water and resins out OR use suction to remove them.
** When it's not possible to lay the tank down, and dump, a shop vacuum is the next best way to remove the resins from the tank.
The resins are a non-toxic plastic and can be throw away or spread out in your lawn or flower bed. If you live in an area that has some "law" about disposal, please don't break the law. I am currently unaware of any restrictions, but now a days the local governments are getting "creative" in passing laws to "protect" the public.
5. You can clean the inside of the tank with chlorine ( bleach ) if you feel it needs it. If you need to scrub the inside of the tank, use a clean toilet bowl brush with piece of pipe to extend the handle.
And if you are going to be replacing your Bottom Distributor and center pipe, this would be the time to do it ( when the tank is empty ).
6. The next step is to pour in the new resins. A funnel is needed.
A second person to help the resins "flow" into the tank is always nice to have, but one person can do it by themselves ( slowly ). If your resin tank's diameter is over 12", it is recommended that you pour a 4-6 inch layer of fine gravel ( 1/8" x 1/4" ) into the tank before the resins. On tanks 12" or less in diameter, the gravel under bedding is usually an unneeded option. If gravel under bedding is used, you must have the distributor tube in the tank before you start filling with gravel. Be sure you cover the top opening of your distributor tube to prevent any gravel or resins from getting inside. A plastic sandwich bag and rubber band works well.
* To be more specific ( as this step has been confusing to some customers ):
* Normally easiest to FILL tank first ( before inserting your Riser Pipe ), using the main opening at top of tank, and a large Funnel.
And with just RESIN ( no gravel ) being added to the tank, you can leave the center Riser / Distributor Pipe out while filling. Then add a few gallons of water ( with hose or bucket or other container ) until the resin is completely covered in water ( 50 - 60 % of tank height normally ). And then you should be able to push the Distributor Pipe down through the new Resin to the bottom of the tank. Then mount / screw on the control Valve. Only when you have Gravel being added first, is it necessary to have the Distributor Pipe inside before filling. And in those cases, you would cover the top of pipe opening, and carefully pour around the pipe ( with large Funnel ) to fill the Tank with "Media". Then you can mount / screw on the Valve, without adding any water ( manually with hose or bucket ).
NOTE: We do not recommend gravel for residential water softeners with tank diameter's under 13 inches.
Why Not Gravel?
7. And lastly, you are going to do the steps 3,2,1 in reverse.
8. Once reassembled you should backwash your new resins for 10 minutes using your control valve ( All control valves have some way to manually advance the valve to backwash ). You can allow the valve to run a complete regeneration cycle, but it is not needed. The resins come fully charged.
9. With the control valve in the normal "service" position, run the water in the home for a few minutes to clear the lines of any "trapped" air.
10. - You're Done -
How Much Resins To Use