Water Softener system works fine, what should I do?

About 10 years ago I had a Osmonics water softener system installed. I’ve done absolutely no maintenance on the system so I guess I need to ask what should I do to keep it running? It consists of a brine tank, a series 255 valve/440 control on a smaller blue tank (which you cannot see through) and a bigger yellow tank (tube like structure) with a series 163 control system. When I put a flashlight on the yellow tank I can see some kind of resin on the bottom and it probably was once full, but is now 90% empty.

What resin do I use to refill the yellow tank. It has a screw off small cap built in the top so adding looks simple enough to do. Do I add anything to the blue tank? If so how do I remove the 255 series valve+control? What’s the best/easiest way to disinfect the brine tank and inside of the other tanks? What’s should I do with the system if I go on vacation? Thanks for your help


Answer: Ken, You have a water softener and pH neutralizer. The water softener (255/44o control) should be downstream of the pH neutralizer ( tank with the 163/440 control and dome hole plug).

First, maintenance on the 255/440 softener control. Every year you should perform routine maintenance to keep the unit in functioning condition. To do this, first by-pass the water softener, and release the water pressure from the unit (very important!). To relieve water pressure, place a screw driver into the slot in the center of the knurled plastic nut on the front of the control – depress nut to release the mechanism – and rotate the nut counter-clockwise until you are in the backwash position. With the unit in by-pass, you may hear a ‘whoosh” as water exits through the drain line. Water pressure should now be removed from the water softener. Note: be careful, the nut only rotates counter-clockwise – trying to rotate it in the other direction will damage the control.

On the right hand side of your control, you will see a threaded plastic cap (called an injector cap). Using a screw driver or torx wrench, unscrew this cap. Beneath the cap you will see the end of a small plastic part (called an injector). With a pair of needle nose pliers, carefully remove the injector by pulling on it. With the injector removed, rinse and clean it with fresh water, being sure that the O-rings are in good shape, and the small hole in the center of the unit is clear of any obstructions. Replace the injector in the same orientation as removed, and thread the cap back into place.

On the other side (left side) of the control you will note another cap (called the cap & screen assembly). Remove this cap, clean the screen with fresh water, and reinstall.

If the brine (salt) tank seems to be dirty, this may also be a good time to empty it out, rinse and clean with fresh water, and refill with new salt. You can add ~4 ounces of houshold chlorine bleach to the empty brine tank, and manually regenerate the unit – this will disinfect the brine tank and resin. When the regeneration is complete, you can add salt back into the brine tank. Be cautious not to do this too frequently – high concentrations of chlorine can be damaging to water softener resin.

The only other maintenance item that may be required is replacement of the valve discs. If you see that water is consistently running to drain even when the unit is not in regeneration, the valves may need to be replaced. This is a more involved replacement procedure, and not normally required if the unit is functioning correctly. If you note that there is leakage to drain during normal operation, visit any of our sites at at www.caitechnologies.com or www.ewateronline.net and send an inquiry to one of our application engineers for a replacement valve disc kit (~$40.00 delivered) and replacement instructions.

The other tank you refer to (“yellow” tank with a dome hole) is a pH neutralizer. An automatic backwashing neutralizer uses a sacrificial media that dissolves into your water over time to neutralize your water pH. This material should be added to the tank through the dome hole plug (cap) that you mention is on the top of the tank. To determine how much media is required to refill the tank, measure the tank diameter. A 10” diameter tank will normally hold 1.5 ft3 of calcite, and a 12” diameter tank will hold 2 ft3 of calcite (let us know if you have a different sized tank). There is also about 20 pounds of gravel in the bottom of the tank that can be cleaned and reused. At this point, you should probably just take the unit out-of-service, remove the control valve (it unscrews from the tank), and clean out the media tank. If you visit either of our sites, and look under the services menu, you will see step-by-step instructions on how to install a pH neutralizer. pH neutralizer media can also be purchased ($60 per ½ ft3) on these sites on the “Chemicals, Resin, & Filter media” page – scroll down the page until you see the heading “pH neutralizer media”.

If you go on vacation (for an extended period of time), it is best to simply by-pass the units while gone. When you return, just put the units back into service, and manually regenerate/backwash each one individually.


  1. kensteinhauser says:

    Thanks, I really appreciate the thoughtful post. At this point I figure there’s only gravel in the bottom of the PH Neutralizer. Do I just add calcite to the top?

    Thanks again


  2. Ken,

    You can just add calcite, but it may be that there is some residual or solidified calcite mixed in with the gravel (this sometimes happens if the material has been in the unit for an extensive amount of time). We generally recommend that a neutralizer be taken out of service and the tank cleaned completely every five years.

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