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This is my third water softener post - I only intended to have one but I just started getting more questions as I was typing them up.

See

What is the white crystals in my water softener? and how to clean properly

Any idea what parts were replaced on my water softener?

I had a local plumber install my water softener in exchange for some computer work instead of having a professional. This was 2-3 years ago. I finally got it running a few days ago.

1) Does it look like it's hooked up correctly? Anything special I need to know about my setup?

2) Am I ok to replace the sheetrock around the huge hole he cut?

3) The manual that my water softener came with says "This manual provides a reference for operation and maintenance of the following WaterMax water conditioning appliance models: 63MAQ, 63BEQ, 63MDQ, 62AMQ, 62APQ, 62AKQ, and 62AJQ. If you do not see your specific model listed here, your dealer has customized your WaterMax to solve additional water conditioning problems you may and and will be happy to explain an additional special features."

Mine is a Hague WaterMax 63BAQ, which is not listed and means that is has 'an additional special feature' according to the manual. Any idea what this means?

4) Are there any tools one can use to manually test the water? I read in the manual to leave it to the professionals, but I think it would be fun to learn about and have always wanted to test the water in my house, and after looking at all the settings on the digital display ( a lot of them referencing water testing) I am interesting in trying it myself.

5) Lastly, are there any tips, or general knowledge / tips you would like to share about my water softener / any water softeners in general?

Water Softener installed by plumber

Digital Display

General overview water softener

  • You should probably split your questions into separate questions. Except number 5, that one is too broad and would not fit well in the Q&A format. – Tester101 Jul 19 '13 at 11:57
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I only see one valve, incorrectly installed in the wall cavity at that, so there is no way to bypass the softener for maintenance or if a component fails. So no, its not installed correctly because a bypass is a standard part of any softener installation.

Without a bypass you are going to find that those cheap plastic components they make water softeners with are going to eventually fail and it will spring a leak. Hopefully the incorrectly installed valve you have now comes before the water reaches the unit. Then you'll at least be able to shut the water off from right there and not at the curb. However you'll then be without water in the house until you fix whatever issue your having with the softener. Below is a diagram of a standard bypass setup which your manual should also have.

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  1. I can't tell from the picture which is the inlet and outlet, so I will make the assumption it's not hooked up backwards..

    However, there are a few things I see that I don't like:

    • The hole cut in the drywall is pretty unprofessional
    • There is a shut-off valve in the wall - which means you need an access panel. If the installer added that there, he's incompetent. If it was there before, he probably should have highly suggested to you he moved it out -- if he also did the plumbing (if he cut the hole as you said, then I suspect so) then this would have not been much extra work.
    • The overflow on the brine tank doesn't go anywhere (the black barbed elbow coming out the side). I have seen at least two basements who had a couple inches of water (ruining carpet, etc) due to a failed $10 shut-off float valve in the brine tank.
  2. Yes you can fix the drywall, but don't cover the valve (or leave an access panel). The valve has the potential to leak, and doing that in the wall is bad. You may also need to shut it off at some point (eg, to disconnect the softener). The best option would be to replumb the valve so it's not in the wall.

  3. Sorry I don't know enough details about this particular model or brand to answer specific questions about your model. See if you can find the manual, especially the installer's manual. A quick google search turns up some promising results.

  4. You can get hardness test strips to check the hardness before and after. There's actually some fairly complex chemistry involved in "testing water" (which, frankly, most water treatment companies don't fully understand), and I could go on in a lot of detail about fully testing .. but I'm not even sure that's what you're asking about so I won't get into it.

    To set up your softener correctly, you basically need to know the hardness of the water. It looks like your softener probably has a flow meter in it so it automatically recharges based on usage; some of the more basic models recharge based on a schedule and so you need to have a rough idea of your average daily usage as well to know how often to recharge them.

  5. Softeners are pretty easy to maintain. Make sure there's salt in the brine tank. Every 10 years, you need to rebed the media in the filter. Make sure nothing is leaking, and that it's recharging (usually it does this during the night, anywhere from every day to once a week, though could be less if you use very little water).

  • (Not to mention, covering the valve without having an access panel is a building code violation, in addition to being a bad idea) – Jacob S Jul 19 '13 at 17:27

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