Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?

November 28, 2001 - 4:25 p.m.

Mr. Fix-it Strikes again

When I bought this house in 1998, my Intended and I did a little tour, as I wanted to show her the place. When we were touring downstairs I noticed a huge tank-like thing parked next to the antique boiler. I thought it was part of the heating system but closer inspection showed it to be a water softener. A very old water softener. The current owner of the place was hovering nearby as we looked around, and she saw me looking at it.

“Does this thing work?” I asked, having never seen one so old.

“Oh yeah it does” she said, “But we never use it because we think the water’s okay.”

I didn’t think much more about it because I liked the house anyhow.

When I moved into the place I noticed a brand new Kenmore water softener in its place! Apparently my mentioning it on the tour must have caused some discussion. I wasn’t expecting a new one but I’d take one if they were giving it. They had spent a long time trying to sell this place and apparently they didn’t want anything to queer the deal.

I poured 80 pounds of salt into the thing and enjoyed soft water for a few days. Then it gradually got hard again. Manual cycles were a temporary fix, but it never seemed to run “on demand” like it was supposed to. Plus I noticed that the thing came with the wrong manual. The manual I had was for a more “deluxe” model. Hmm, a non-working water softener with the wrong manual. The former owners must have gotten a good deal!

I pretty much forgot about the whole thing for a few years. But last week I got to thinking about my water quality, and so I ran it through a manual cycle to see if it worked. Sure enough, as soon as I got the water heater filled with softened water, it was a different world! Hey, I like this!

So I took another look at the thing. The manual described a diagnostic routine to go through. The first thing was to check the flow meter. The flow meter in this thing is like a little turbine that spins inside the output pipe when water runs past it. There’s a little Hall effect sensor next to it that senses the thing spinning and sends a signal to the softeners little brain. I turned on the water and lo and behold, no counts. That explained it; the softener never recharged itself because it didn’t know the water was running!

I opened up the softener inlet/outlet pipe, and lo and behold, NO flow sensor! Never was one there.

The former owners must have gotten a really good deal!

New parts are on the way.

the last one -*- the next one

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