North Star Water Conditioner Help

Posted By: Yah-Tah-Hey

North Star Water Conditioner Help - 01/31/20 10:14 PM

This is the first home we have had with a water softener. Unit is a six years old North Star softener. I add salt about every four month. I know how the thing works from being in power generation where we had large softeners for making boiler condensate. I check the North Star venturi once a year and have never found one speck of anything in it. Use broom handle to check for salt bridging periodically. North Star unit stopped making soft water. Checked for error codes and found none. Checked fill valve and it was clean and operable. Unit cycled through various stages correctly. Had unit regenerate three nights. No soft water. Problem was(I spent all morning removing salt pellets and salt mush from tank)there wasn't any brine being produced Just mush.As I understand softener operation, after the initial three gallon start-up fill, the softener first adds fill water, pulls brine into resin tank, ion exchange, rinse and back flush. Any suggestions about how to keep this from reoccurring will be appreciated.Thanks
Posted By: doitmyself

Re: North Star Water Conditioner Help - 01/31/20 10:38 PM

The brine tank should always have at least 4 - 6 gallons of water in the bottom. It refills after the regeneration cycle so that the new water will dissolve the salt in time for the next regeneration. After cleaning the tank, you should have precharged it with enough water to be on hand for the first regeneration.

I would Google "brine tank does not refill" and "brine tank mushing" for diagnostic help. The Terry Love forum has excellent forum members, both pro and homeowner contribute there. There are numerous reasons, one simple one is just the fill tube clogged by salt bridge or the float valve was stuck closed. Maybe incorrect salt type? Tank should be cleaned annually?

With my softener, I like to only put about two bags of salt max (depends on brine tank size) and slope the salt to one side so you can observe the water line and keep problems at bay. My brine tank also has the tray on the bottom to assist preventing a salt bridge.

Brine tank bottom grid plates:
[Linked Image from water-softeners-filters.com] [Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

From a link in a Google search: "Mushing .....If the salt in the brine tank is packed too loosely, the salt can change into small crystals. These salt crystals eventually start to bond with one another, creating a mass of salt at the bottom of the tank. This process is referred to as mushing. The mass of salt can block off the fill line in the brine tank, preventing it from refilling. You need to clean out the brine tank completely and repack the salt properly to fix this issue. Different water softeners can use different kinds of salt and methods of packing. Make sure you use the manufacturer's suggested method when packing the fresh salt."
Posted By: Yah-Tah-Hey

Re: North Star Water Conditioner Help - 01/31/20 10:59 PM

Thank you for the reply do it. North Star recommends Morton System Saver Pellets which I use. The manufacturer just says to add several bags of softener salt to the unit after adding three gallons of water. That has worked for six years with no problems. I'm going to purchase three more bags of salt and put unit back in service following North Star's manual that came with the unit. I had Mr. Murphy show up from nowhere and bite me bad during my working career but didn't expect it with this machine since I have taken care of it and followed recommended checks. One can't tell when the wheels are going to come off.Thanks
Posted By: walterjay

Re: North Star Water Conditioner Help - 02/01/20 12:31 AM

Whenever you have a situation with salt pellets turning to mush you will want to use Solar Salt. If you have iron in the water they make a solar salt with iron out in it.
This has saved my customers many headaches. You can get it at Home Depot.
Posted By: JohnG

Re: North Star Water Conditioner Help - 02/01/20 12:44 AM

+1 for Doitmyself.

It's always a tossup with these softners. Most of the time it's either the orifice or the bottom suction valve, but sometimes things can go wacky where you least expect it. For example, the valve body seal can open between two chambers causing loss of suction. Had this happen on mine. Upon checking with the manufacturer, there was an upgraded seal kit available. The old seal was a (not so) simple "O" ring affair, the new version was a two piece, "O" ring support with a hard silicone surface piece that did the actual sealing. This firmer surface would not allow the seal to deform between the multiple chambers of the valve body. No more issues after replacing that seal. Taking apart the valve body was not fun however. Things tend to corrode in this type of damp, salty environment.

Don't forget to check your resin level too! A strong flashlight on most fiberglass tanks will let you see the level.
Posted By: Donald

Re: North Star Water Conditioner Help - 02/01/20 03:46 AM

I had a softener flood my basement with 3" of water. Glad I do not need any water treatment in my current home.
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