No water in water softener brine tank

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Old 12-01-17, 11:42 PM
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No water in water softener brine tank

I just bought a house with a GE brand, model PNSF35B00 water softener already installed. Previous owners said in disclosure documents that they "didn't know" if the unit worked. The salt tank is about 1/3 full of salt but there was no water in the tank (salt was bone dry). I ran the regeneration a couple times and still no water. I poured about 10 gallons of water in the tank so the water level is the same as the salt now. I ran another regeneration and the water level didn't go down at all.

Couple questions. There is a large (~3") black tube that has a float in it, and a smaller black tube (~3/8") tube running into it that comes off the side of the control unit. I'm guessing this smaller tube is what pulls the brine out to flush through the resin tank. Does the unit replenish the water to the salt tank through this same tube?

The other question: There is a diagram under the lid for disassembling the venturi/screen apparatus for cleaning. It looks like this unit has two different "flow plug" (tiny rubber grommet-type thing), one above the venturi and one below. It seems the upper flow plug is missing. Would this cause no flow in either direction? Is there anything else I should be look at?
 
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Old 12-02-17, 06:18 AM
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The system is suppose to have only about 2" of water. When it goes into a regen, the first cycle is to add water to the brine tank. The next cycle pulls it back out. The flow plug under the venture is to control the rate of flow to the brine tank. The one above the venture is waste and should be discarded. Place the system in a cycle. Pull the float assembly out of the brine well (black tube). Water should be coming out of the bottom. If you pull up on the stem, it should stop. Advance the unit to the next cycle (draw cycle). The black rubber piece under the Styrofoam should lock to the base of the float preventing air from being drawn into the system.
 
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Old 12-06-17, 10:37 PM
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Thanks, biermech. I can't find a way to pull the float assembly out of the brine well.

Having said that, I removed the small black hose at the venturi housing and tried to suck and blow through the tube and got nothing. I'm fairly sure my problem is with this hose, probably at the bottom of the brine well. The system sat dry for who-knows-how-long so I'm guessing there is dried salt in this tube somewhere.

What's the trick to remove the float assembly?
 
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Old 12-06-17, 11:56 PM
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I managed to get the float assembly out and it was packed with huge salt crystals. I took it all apart and cleaned everything up. I now have flow back and forth through the fill/drain tube. The problem now is the manual says to have the SR setting to SR35 for this model. I don't have SR35 when I scroll through the options. It's SR15-SR32 and then SH35. It was originally set to SR17 so that's where I left it. Should it be SH35 instead or does this setting really matter?
 
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Old 12-07-17, 06:16 AM
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Not positive but I believe the setting is to let the controller now how much media is in the tank. It really should be set correctly. If not, the only thing that will happen is you will use more salt and water than needed (set too low) or will not regen enough to keep you on soft water (too high). I take it that you can change the code based on what you said. I've never seen a manual state what code it should be. They are normally set at the factory. Anyway, the best thing for you to do is let the salt run down until you can see the bottom before filling with salt.
 
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Old 12-07-17, 07:39 PM
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I spoke too soon. This morning the salt tank was full of water again. I took everything apart and put the fill/drain tube into a bucket so I could get a better idea of what was going on. Per the instructions, when I hold the "Touch or Hold" button for 3 seconds the unit goes into manual recharge mode and starts with the "fill cycle". I let that go for 5 or 10 minutes and the bucket I have the hose in fills with water. The instructions say to press the button again and it will go into "brining" mode. When I do this, after a few seconds the water stops coming out of the fill/drain tube and then starts to suck the water back out of the bucket, but only for about 5 seconds. Then it stops sucking and nothing happens on the tube. I let that go for 15 or 20 minutes but still no fill, no drain. If I hit but button again, per the instructions, the unit goes into "backwash" and water again starts coming out of the tube. Press again for "fast rinse" and water still comes out of the tube and then in about 3 or 5 minutes the unit shuts down.

So the only time there is any suction on the tube is for the first 5 seconds (about) of the brining cycle. The instructions give several things to check if there is no suction and most of them are clearly for no suction at all (e.g. defective, dirty improperly installed veturi, etc) so I'm sure most of them do not apply. The one that I think may apply is a defect of the inner valve. It seems to me like when the system goes into brining mode, the timer thing that opens the valve runs too long and goes past the correct stop point, so it opens the valve but then closes it right away.

Am I on the right track or way off base? Could my symptoms have anything at all to do with the 'SR' setting? Any other ideas?
 
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Old 12-08-17, 06:19 AM
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The SR code has absolutely nothing to do with the brining. Losing brining after it starts tells me there is something obstructing the drain flow. Pull the clip holding the drain elbow and check the drain flow control for debris. If no debris, pull the drain line out from where ever it is and check again to see if you lose a suction. If the drain line goes over head, it may be going too high to allow a draw.
 
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Old 12-08-17, 12:20 PM
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I ran through a coupe more cycles and this time i had the plastic housing off so i could see what the valve was doing at the different stages. I also paid close attention the the number of button pushes. It actually takes 3 pushes to get to "brining mode", when the book says it should be 2. So then when the suction starts, the valve sprocket is turning (of course) but when the suction stops, the valve is still turning, and turns for another few seconds after the suction stops. I removed the motor and turned the valve by hand to the point where the suction starts and then stopped turning the valve. The suction continued and emptied the entire 5 gallon bucket in about 3 minutes. That's as far as I got this morning before I had to leave.

It appears to me that the program only counts the number of open/close of the micro switch and has no other way to know exactly what position the valve is in. I suspect someone had the motor off, turned the valve and then and replaced the motor at the wrong 'stop' point. My plan is to move it ahead one notch on the cam (to account for the extra button push to get to brining mode) and see if anything changes.

I'm completely open to the possibility that I'm searching for symptoms to confirm my suspicion that the timing is wrong, but I don't see how there can be a blockage given the fact that the suction works great when manually turning the valve.

I'll post back with my results after I mess with it some more this evening.
 
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Old 12-08-17, 07:14 PM
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Sounds like in the programing that it is set with the extra cleaning. It will start with a backwash then move to the brine fill.
Read the programing and make sure that the metal cam is in the correct location for things to work correctly.
 
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Old 12-08-17, 10:55 PM
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I got it working!
The problem was the lever for the micro switch was not adjusted right so the switch wasn't opening at each of the high spots on the cam (it would open on some but not all). This was confusing the program into not knowing where the cam was. I tweaked the lever so it opens at each high spot and all is well.

Thanks for the help and education on the mechanics of these things!
 
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Old 12-09-17, 06:18 AM
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If a 2nd backwash is on, the steps are: fill, BW, brine, BW rinse & home. When the 2nd BW is off the steps are: fill, brine, BW rinse & home. So if you had to push the regen 3 times means your 2nd BW is on. It doesn't matter if someone put the motor on out of timing. The unit will automatically "find" itself & get back into sync. Glad you were able to figure it out.
 
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Old 12-09-17, 11:25 AM
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How do you turn on second backwash? Is there any benefit to doing that?
 
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Old 12-10-17, 06:28 AM
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Push and hold the select button until the screen changes. Step through by pushing select again. Each time it is pushed, it will go to the next screen. When you find it, not sure which it is, press up to turn on or off. Leave the one that says 97 off. The benny of a 2nd BW is that the media is BW before the brining cycle getting rid of some iron. If you are on city water, don't run the 2nd BW.
 
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