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We have an Ultimate II water softener that is aprox 12 yrs old. I've been told it's on it's last legs but I don't know much about them. I have a few questions. We noticed our water bill has skyrocketed from 150 gallons a day to 300 gallons a day in consumption (9000gallons a month!). We are a 3 person household. Thinking there was a leak we shutoff the water valve to the house and the meter stops (it's not an outside leak then?)...so checked each toilet (put food coloring in with no color bleeding down). Our water comes in and up (not down via slab) and thru attic therefore I'm thinking 5000+ excessive gallons in a month we'd see it in ceiling, right? So, we decided to shutoff our water softener (which BTW regenerates every single night-why I do not know but guy set it up that way) and now we are using 150 gallons each day instead. So, my thought is it's the water softener regenerating huge amounts of water. I just need some insight as I'm not familiar with water softeners at all. We had it serviced about a year ago and at that time we were told it was not going to last much longer (but maybe he just told us that-I don't know).

Anybody have any ideas on what is causing this massive loss of water via our water softener? I can't find anything when I google this either. Thanks a bunch!

  • Water Softeners waste a lot of water flushing out their bead bed. This one sounds like it's gone beyond that. – Fiasco Labs Sep 3 '13 at 22:12
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Water softeners do use water to recharge, but it shouldn't be that much. With a new filter and all electronic controls working, most systems should send no more than 25 gallons through during a recharge cycle.

The theory is that the filter media (special polymer beads, often stored in what looks like a high-pressure air tank) is "charged" with a high amount of sodium ions from the rock salt you load into the bin. Hard water containing calcium and magnesium carbonate, which are only slightly soluble and cause lime scale, comes into the filter from the house supply, and the sodium replaces the calcium, forming highly water-soluble sodium carbonate in the water supply, which won't cause scaling, leaving the calcium and magnesium ions in the filter. To "recharge", the softener fills the salt bin with supply water producing a brine, which is then flushed through the filter media. The sodium replaces the calcium and magnesium in the filter, which then hitch a ride down the drain as soluble chlorides.

The amount of water needed to produce the recharging brine varies by manufacturer and age of the filter media; this ion exchange does take its toll, as the charged ions are corrosive (a surplus of positive ions in a water solution makes the solution acidic). The softener also relies on several detectors to determine system status, that are exposed to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water over their rated life, much of it salty and highly corrosive. Over time, all these components wear out, with more or less detrimental effects on the system's overall efficiency.

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