The main component of your water softener or auto-backwashing filter system is the control valve. It initiates and controls the regeneration and/or backwashing of the water treatment media. The media requires regeneration or backwashing to remove any contaminants it was designed to filter out of the water. In the case of softener resin media, the control valve regenerates it by exchanging the hardness ions trapped by the resin with sodium ions and rinses the hardness down the drain. For filter media, the controller backwashes it to remove any trapped particles and to refresh the media bed which prevents water channels from forming. Water channeling would drastically reduce the filter media’s effectiveness.
Over time, control valve components can wear out or break down. While the professional grade controllers we offer are less likely to malfunction, standard consumer style controllers often do fail. Replacing parts on these controllers is usually quite simple, but over time can become economically impractical. This would be a good time to consider replacement of the entire control valve. But before you do, there are some points to consider.
First of all, you should have some experience with water treatment equipment before you begin a project such as this. Either you installed your water softener/filter yourself, or you are an experienced “do-it-yourselfer”. The manufacturers of the Fleck, Autotrol and Clack control valves we carry and support recommend a professionally trained service person do the job. There are other considerations as well. The water’s flow direction on the old controller you are replacing might be opposite of the new controller you are considering. If that is the case, your water pipes will need to be re-plumbed.
Another consideration is the size of the riser tube or “distributor” that runs down the length of the media tank. The majority of the control valves we have available come default with a 1.05-inch diameter opening to accept a 1.05-inch diameter distributor tube, but some older models used to be set up with 13/16-inch distributors. The newer 1.05-inch control valves will not seal properly over those. And the newer Fleck 7000 accepts a 32mm distributor tube which will not work with a standard 1.05-inch distributor without and adapter.
If you purchase a new control valve from us, you will need to know the diameter of your media tank. This information allows the manufacturer to configure the control valve for your softener or filter. Also, control valves come in basically two configurations: softener or filter. Softener control valves can be metered or “on demand” while filter control valve should not. Filter control valves are designed to schedule backwashing over a user-defined period of days rather than the amount of water that flows through the tank like a softener does. There are a few good reasons for this, but the main one is that filter media is of a different consistency than softener media. It needs to be backwashed on a regular basis to avoid water channeling. Some filter control valves also use “brine” injectors while others do not. All softener control valves require a brine injector system.
There are a few nation wide water treatment companies out there that produce tanks and control valves that do not conform to industry standards. For a standard residential water treatment application, the threads on the media tank are 2.5 inches in diameter by 8 threads per inch. All of the residential control valves we carry use these dimensions. Larger commercial controllers are designed for 4-inch tank openings. Some of the national companies will use a different style of thread to prevent industry standard control valves from being used on their equipment. For residential applications, make sure your media tank’s threads are 2.5 by 8.
Removing The Old Control Valve
Hopefully, your water treatment system will have some sort of water bypass system in place, either a bypass valve or a 3-valve shutoff. If not, you will need to shut the water off for the entire house in order to disconnect the control valve from the pipes. Pressure inside the control valve and media tank can be released after the water is shut off or bypassed by manually initiating a regeneration or backwash. See your water treatment systems instruction manual for the proper method. Once water pressure is released from the system, you can disconnect the water pipes and unscrew the control valve from the media tank. Be careful when removing the control valve that you are replacing. The distributor tube that runs up the center of the media tank is held in place with at least one o-ring inside the control valve and there is nothing holding it down inside the media tank except for the media. If this distributor tube is pulled out from the bottom of the media tank, it can prove very difficult to get it back down in there. When lifting the control valve from the top of the media tank, rock it back and forth to help the internal o-ring release the riser tube.
Attaching The New Control Valve
Check the top of the riser tube to ensure there are no cracks or damage which could lead to leaks, then make sure the top of the tank itself is clear of media debris. Even a small particle can prevent the control valve o-ring from sealing properly, resulting in a leak. Place the new control valve over the media tank with the distributor tube centered into the receptacle in the bottom of theÂ valve. It should slide right in. Then screw the control valve down tight but do not use a wrench or other tool. The control valve’s o-ring will seal very well when it is hand-tightened.
If you purchased the exact same controller you are replacing, then chances are the pipes and drain line will already be set to connect. Otherwise, you may need to use a different drain line fitting and possibly redo your water pipes.
Your control valve will now need setup. If it is an electronic control valve such as the Fleck 7000 or Fleck SE, Autotrol LOGIX or Clack WS-1, you will need to program it for your particular water situation. Softener control valves will need to know how much compensated hardness is in the water for example. You can migrate the settings from your old controller as well. In either case, you will need to refer to the service manual for your control valve for programming or setup instructions.
Because tanks have such a long lifespan, you basically now have a new water treatment system with warranty. Often times this can be achieved at nearly half the cost of a whole new softener and up to 30% less than a whole new backwashing filter system.