Monday, May 30, 2022

Why Isn't my Water Softener using Salt?

Why Isn't my Water Softener using Salt?

        Often times when the water inside the house doesn't give that soft slimy feeling, or water spots show up on dishes or shower doors, people will automatically think that their water softener has a problem. The first thing they do is to check the brine tank or salt tank for salt. The following examples could be the reason the water softener isn't using salt. Salt bridge, broken or worn part, the water softener is in bypass, no electricity. Hopefully this blog will help the reader find the answer and be able to solve the problem.

Salt bridge; a salt bridge is caused from the water filling the brine tank with water and slowly dissolving the salt in order to regenerate it. Over time as the salt dissolves it slowly falls or moves toward the bottom of the brine tank so that it can be dissolved and ready for the next regeneration cycle. Often times what happens is that the salt will not fall or move to the bottom of the brine tank and thus creates a bridge. A couple of ways to determine if there is a salt bridge;

 1.  Hit the brine tank with your hand starting at the top of the tank and moving down until you get near the bottom. Along the way down, make note how much resistance there is and if there is a soft spot about midway down then you know you have a salt bridge.                     

2. Using the end of a broom handle or other pole type of tool. Push through the salt; at first there will be resistance because of the salt up top, once through the salt the broom handle    will begin to go down more easily than before. This is an indication that the salt has bridged. Once you have determined it is a salt bridge, a hammer can be used to hit the salt  until it finally begins to fall, ensuring that the brine tank is not damaged in the process. A salt bridge can be avoided often times by only putting in enough salt to just cover the water, although this will require more checks to ensure there is enough salt in the brine tank to be dissolved and ready for the next regeneration.                                   

Broken or worn part: Depending on the make and model of the water softener will determine which part to look for. All Kenmore, Ecodyne, Whirlpool, GE and North Star water softeners use the same types of parts and the problem is usually the same. It is usually caused by a worn rotor disk or a problem with the venturi.

Kenmore water softener venturi
Kenmore water softener rotor disk

 On the ever popular Fleck water softener valve there is a gear in the back in which the piston is attached to. In the photo below it will be the gear right behind the middle piston. On occasion this gear will break off and unless there is something to compare it to, the problem will go unnoticed unless the person doing the servicing has plenty of experience. 



Water softener in bypass mode; sometimes but not too frequently the water softener will be in bypass, either from a recent service call or a frustrated homeowner who was just pushing buttons and moving levers out of sheer frustration. These two bypasses are  typically found on most water softeners. 

Water softener bypass valve in bypass position
Stainless steel bypass valve in bypass

      The below bypass belongs to either a Kenmore, Whirlpool, Northstar or GE. 

Kenmore bypass valve in bypass position


 No electricity; it may be relatively easy to tell if the water softener isn't plugged in depending on which model, on the digital models there will be nothing on the front screen and on mechanical ones the time will normally be off or the back can be taken off to examine the motor to see if it is still running. There is a little round hole that will show a red mark and white mark as the motor spins, if it is not changing color then the motor is not turning or just feel the motor with a hand and determine if it is running or not.


             Here is a video on how to check to see if the motor is running

      In case the video above does not play









Saturday, May 28, 2022

Why are water softeners so expensive

 Why are Water Softeners so Expensive?

            With the price of things today,  this is a very good question. One must think about all the dynamics that goes into owning a business. We will discuss the overhead it takes to run a water softener business, market share, what the market will bear, and the price the dealer gets them for. These are things that any business owner must consider before starting their business. Knowing these things of many will help the business owner in deciding whether or not they should really open a new business.

            Market share is the percentage of the total revenue or sales in a market that a company's business makes up. For example, if there are 50,000 units sold per year in a given industry, a company whose sales were 5,000 of those units would have a 10 percent share in that market. This part involves the competition; how do they sell their product, how much do they sell it for and how many water softeners are sold.  The answers to these questions will have another determining factor as to whether or not the business owner will open their business, and how much should they charge for the product.

            Whatever the Market will bear; If you took Economics throughout your educational years, you learned that the selling price of goods and services are determined by “what the market will bear.” Consumers and the market decide what a product is worth and will give so much money, but no more for that product. In other words; charge the customer as much as they are willing to pay. In some places like Florida, water softeners ranged around 6-8 hundred dollars. Whereas, in Texas they can go from $800.00 dollars to over $7,000.00 and the people are willing to pay these amounts because of the destructive results one gets from hard water.

             Overhead is one of the greatest things to consider when you want to open a water softener business. There are things to consider like; what kind of vehicle will be used, the gas, insurance and maintenance. Other things like tools, supplies, training and licensing are among others that will cost money upfront. One of the next and bigger things to think about is the profit margin. If I buy a water softener for X amount of dollars and sell it for Y amount of dollars and after subtracting parts of the overhead, what will my profit margin be? After finding the profit margin, the business owner must decide if they can live off that income. As can be seen, there are a lot of moving parts to consider when it comes to having a water softener business. The aforementioned examples are reasons why water softeners are expensive.

            Dealer Pricing; dealers get their equipment for far less than what they sell it for, the profit margins start at about 300% markup. How to calculate markup  Now that appears to be an awful lot of money coming in; however, one must consider that most water softener companies don't sell a water softener everyday. If they did, the prices would be much lower because they could sell more for less. It is almost impossible to beat water softener prices on Amazon unless the business buys in bulk and or does a lot of business with the wholesaler. This gives them an advantage by having buying power.

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