Saturday, August 27, 2011

Five Thirty-seconds of an Inch

The angle makes it look even worse
This past Thursday, that was the difference between having my new water softener installed and having to wait till sometime early next week.

To understand the problem, you have to be able to visualize how the Fleck 2510 valve is put together.  Starting with the basement wall, there is
  1. The copper plumbing (by owner).  Two stubs stick out perpendicularly from the wall and make a permanent connection by way of male connectors with . . .
  2. The Fleck stainless steel bypass valve.  This has female connectors on both the wall and room sides, and it connects with . . .
  3. The meter.  It's a dome-shaped part made of heavy black plastic and equipped fore and aft with male connectors.  On each side there are stainless steel clips with hex-headed screws, four in all, that secure the connections.  On the room side, the meter fits into . . .
  4. The valve body.  This is what actually screws into the top of the resin tank, and it's attached somehow to . . .
  5. The capacity and timing mechanism/display.  This is a large retangular thing with a door that swings open and allows you to make your settings.
Well.  On Thursday afternoon the new plumbing finally was tight, I'd loaded the brine tank with salt and the softener tank with resin, and put the prescribed amount of water in both.  Following the instructions, I screwed the valve body (with timing mechanism and meter attached) onto the resin tank.  Then I scootched the assembly so the male connectors out the back of the meter were lined up with the female connectors of the bypass valve.

They should have aligned perfectly and allowed me to shove the valve assembly right in.  But somehow, maybe it was when Steve* spliced the riser pipe when he redid the plumbing into the bypass valve, the connectors out the back of the meter were just about 5/32" too high.  I could not make them go into the openings of the bypass valve.

So I got an idea.  Maybe if I detached the meter from the valve body and slid it free into the bypass valve, that'd give me more leverage to make the critical connection between the meter and the valve body.  So I started taking off the clips between the two.  But before I got the second one off, I had misgivings.  What if I tried to slope the bypass and the meter up to force the connection, and broke something?  Besides, look at those risers against the wall.  They go into horizontal runs up in the space between two joists.  No reason why I can't get some give there, correct?

I quickly screwed the clips between the meter and the valve body back in, and went outside to see if I could find me some muscle.

Hmm.  Next door neighbors are sometimes at home during the afternoon, but not today.  Try the people on the corner.  Good.  Their big door is open.

The only one at home was the mother of the man of the house, helping them clean after their floors were refinished.  But she was willing to come over and push up the inlet and outflow pipes for me while I manhandled the tank and valve, and it was enough.  I gave it a push and the connectors went in.  Quickly, I screwed in the other two clips,  thanked her sincerely for her help, and let her get back to her own project.

All right, all I needed to do now was retighten the wall clips I'd unscrewed to allow the risers to move . . . okay, done . . . and make sure the unit was sitting solidly and wasn't wobbly . . . and finish connecting the line to the brine tank . . .  and thread the drain hoses through the hold-down on the edge of the laundry sink.  Done and done and done.  Then finally, finally, at 1:55 last Thursday afternoon, I was ready to pull the handle on the bypass valve and have soft water for the first time since last April and maybe before.

Wait a minute.  Directions say I have to open the cold side of the laundry sink faucet first.  Okay.  All right, pull the handle, gently, gently, slowly, slowly, from Bypass the Service, and et voila! the water began to run in the inlet and out the outflow and my new Fleck 2510 40,000-grain water softener at last was in service!

A few minutes later, I went to admire it.  What's this?  A little drip of moisture between the bypass valve and the meter on the inlet side?  I took another look at the directions.  Oh!  I was supposed to open all the faucets in the house and make sure the air pressure was equalized or something.  I'd thought that wouldn't be necessary, since I'd been using all the faucets on the bypass since Wednesday morning.  Guess I was wrong.

Went up and down and ran all the faucets and flushed both johns.  Yeah, there was still air in the system.  Back down the basement and eased the handle back to Service and waited a few minutes.  Phooey, there was still a drip between the bypass and the meter.  And it actually seemed worse.

Huh.  Then I remembered that the screw hadn't gone in sweetly when I was putting the clip back on the inlet side.  I pushed the handle back to Bypass, and began to ease the screw out.  But even with it gone, the clip had to be pried off with the tip of a screwdriver.

Fffllllppppzzzztt!  Water on the wall, on the floor, on the tank, on me.  Quite a force, water pressure.  And yeah, I guess that clip was on crooked.  I got out a bucket, and a towel, wiped everything dry, and pushed the bypass valve and the meter together better.  Good.  This time the clip went on nicely, the screw screwed in straight, and I redid the one on the outflow side as well.

Handle back to Service, water flowing through again, all should be well.

A few minutes passed.  Oh, crumb!  The drip was still there between the bypass and the meter, and now I had a regular little jet squirting out between the meter and the valve body on the inlet side!  Didn't I get those clips back on straight?  Or was this because I still had air in the tank?

Put in a call to the Ohio Pure Water people.  I guess they were at lunch, because I got the answering machine.

Back down the basement.  Went through the drill again.  Unscrew the clip.  Clip is stuck.  Pry off the clip, trying to do it carefully.


Wiped everything up again, firmed up the connection, and reattached the clip.  Turned the flow back on.  No more leak on the inlet side between the meter and the valve body.  But it was still dripping between the bypass and the meter on the inlet side.  If the clip was on right, it should wiggle, just a bit.  It wouldn't wiggle.  Okay, loosen it up again . . . Fffllllppppzzzztt!     Wet, wet, wet! 

A little before 3:00, Jean at Ohio Pure Water called me back. She said there's a chance the o-rings on the wall side of the meter got damaged when I pushed the connectors into the bypass valve.  No problem, she'd put a couple of new ones to go out in the mail tomorrow morning.

They'll get here by Monday at the earliest, since their office isn't in Ohio, as I'd thought, but down in Texas (the billing office and warehouse are in Ohio).

Of course I had to keep poking at it . . . I mean, was that an ooze I felt between the meter and the valve body on the outflow side?  Didn't I have that clip on straight, either?

Water's on bypass already . . .  Unscrew the clip . . . Easy, easy . . .  Fffllllppppppppzzzzzzzzzztt!

Wow!  I got that one right in the face!  The force of the blowout pushed the whole unit, valve body, timing mechanism, tank, resin, water, and all, a good inch or more away from the meter into the room!  I again removed the clip from the inlet side and tried pushing everything back together.  But I was afraid of harming this strange ring-like piece of black plastic hanging out of the outflow orifice of the valve body and pretty soon I stopped.

That should have been the end of playing with the water softener for Thursday.  But I went upstairs and when I came down again, that ring-like piece was nowhere to be found.  I looked everywhere and couldn't lay eyes on it!  I'd taken a photo when the connection first blew, and it was definitely there then, but now, forget it.

I called Jean back.  I ended up sending her a copy of the photo, labelled to show the piece I was referring to.  She said she'd show it to Charlie, tech guy and co-owner, who'd be able to tell me what it was.

Charlie didn't get back to me Thursday afternoon-- out of the office-- but I spoke to him yesterday morning.  The strange circular piece was the rim of a device that focusses the outflow or something, and I guess I'd managed to push it back into the orifice of the valve body.  Just as well that I spoke to him, because whoever put my 2510 valve together at the factory put that device in the wrong way.  It should sit with the point of the conical strainer thingy pointing out, in the direction of flow.

Well, hallelujah.  I hadn't broken anything after all!

I suppose while I'm waiting I could go ahead and redo the connection between the meter and the valve body.  And it's just possible that there's nothing wrong with the o-rings and once I get the clips all in straight I'll have a functioning water softener with no leaks.  But I'm not messing with it.  I'll wait till the new rings get here next week, and deal with it all then.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the job the new whole-house water filter is doing.  No more yellow water!  No more chlorine stink!  No more orangey flakes floating in the bottom of my tea kettle!  When it comes down to it, adding the filter in was the reason for all this bother and hassle and wait, and I'd say it was worth it.


Karen Anne said...

Opening all the faucets? Ever since a genuine :-) plumber did some work on my house a few weeks ago, when things like the toilet or washer stop drawing water the pipes bang.

I had called him and he said just let a faucet run for awhile, which did zippo to fix that. Would opening all the faucets and letting them run for awhile do it?

Kate H. said...

No, looks like I just damaged the o-rings, getting in a hurry. That's fixed now, even if I still have one solder joint with a slow leak.