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Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions About Water Softener Maintenance

  • What do I need to do to care for my system?

    Your primary job is to keep salt inside the tank at all times to ensure your water is soft. Your system is completely automatic. It senses the usage and only cleans itself and uses salt when necessary…when you’re off on vacation the unit just waits for your return! No unnecessary regeneration! This saves water and money.

  • What is a regeneration cycle?

    Your system must regenerate regularly in order to keep your water soft and clean. What this means is the unit will go off at a specified time, usually 2 AM, and will go though several cycles where it will flush itself out and will add water to the media tank in order to ensure the water is soft. This process creates some noise that can be startling at first. A small high pitched whining sound and the sound of flowing water are some of the sounds you will hear. You will also see a countdown timer on your unit’s circuit board display. This will stop on its own after two hours and it’s completely normal.

  • How often will it regenerate?

    The unit meters water so that it will only run when it is necessary thus insuring no wasted water. In a family household, it will usually run once a week while smaller households may only have it run every two weeks roughly. It is uncommon that our customers experience issues with the time the unit runs being that most folks are sleeping at 2 am but should this not be ideal due to early commutes or it is waking up family members, let your tech or installer know and it can be set for any time of the day.

  • Do I ever need to add salt? We recommend “extra coarse” salt bags.

    Yes! Please keep an eye on the black plastic brine tank located next to the shiny steel exchange tank. The unit uses between 8-10 pounds of salt during a regeneration cycle. Extremely hard water will require more regeneration but most families use approximately 1 to 2 bags of salt per month. Potassium also can be used but we have experienced manufacturer problems and heavy bridging can occur. We do not recommend the use of potassium until these manufacturer issues are resolved. If potassium must be used due to city requirements or sodium sensitivities, then please only add a bag at a time and keep the tank no more than a quarter full.

  • What is salt or potassium Bridging?

    Bridging is when the salt has begun to clump or harden substantially inside the brine tank making it harder for the water to dissolve it. It can also create a shelf of salt near the top giving the illusion that the tank is still full. The best way to resolve this is to take a hose and carefully run water along the edges of the inside of the brine tank. This will add freshwater allowing the salt to break down any grip it has on the sides of the tank. It’s important not to fill the tank much more than halfway full if possible. After this let your unit work through the salt over the next few months until it is almost gone. Then add fresh salt on top. While bridging is not very common it happens to most owners at some point in the 15-20 years a unit can be with you. Especially if the unit is in an area with heavy sunlight or freezing cold.

  • Why is extra coarse salt preferred but not pellet or block salt?

    Pellets and large blocks of salt are created using glue-based adhesives that are notorious for dissolving in the water and causing major bridging. This adhesive is also sucked into the valve during regeneration and it is known to clog valves.

  • Is there supposed to be water in the black plastic brine tank?

    Yes! The automatic function of the conditioner will refill the brine tank after each regeneration. The usual amount is approximately ¼ full.

  • Will it damage the unit if I use water while it is regenerating?

    No, the unit goes into a bypass mode during its regeneration. So any water you use during this period will come straight from your water supply. We recommend avoiding this if possible and that is why typically set it for 2 am to avoid as much water use as possible. It may also effect your homes water pressure during this period so it is advised to avoid showering or washing clothes for example.

  • How do I know the system is working?

    Unfortunately, as with any product, things can happen that prevent their functionality. Here is the best way to ensure that the unit is working:

    I. Check to ensure steady salt consumption. The top should slowly fall deeper in the brine tank over a month or two.

    II. Make sure you’re a little slippery in the shower. After a time, we all get used to how soft water feels so try washing your hands at a hard water hose bib in your yard or at a less fortunate neighbor’s home. You’re sure to notice a difference

  • I still see spots sometimes, Isn’t this supposed to be spot-free water?

    No! Conditioned water will prevent hard-water deposits from accumulating in your showers & sinks, but it will not dry spot-free. Dust in the air, soap & oils from your body, residual sodium, etc. are all factors in how much spotting you’ll see. Spot-free rinsing uses a process called deionizing the water. This process involves noxious chemicals to regenerate the system & is not affordable or desirable in a residential home.

  • Where can I buy salt?

    Any major grocery or hardware store usually carries salt. some possible vendors are Home Depot, Ace Hardware & Lowe’s Home Improvement. Using the extra coarse type is best.

  • Should I put a cover, bucket, tarp, or shed around my unit?

    Yes! Should your unit not be inside your garage, shed, or another roofed area of your home, it is important to protect it from the elements. This is especially beneficial to the circuit board which like all electronics does not like major heat or cold. This is not to say your unit would not survive a few seasons without one but with a unit that lasts 15-20 years, it’s beneficial in order to ensure the longest lifespan possible.

  • What problems can occur with my conditioner?

    I. The time clock on your circuit board display sometimes gets off time due to electrical outages. This can cause a problem because the unit then might think 2 A.M. is 2 P.M., right as you’re doing the laundry! When this occurs, the unit is off-line allowing hard water into your home. No big deal except the hot water heater has now refilled with hard water and your wife/husband is wondering why they feel so sticky in the shower! 🙂 In the event of this consult the first few pages of your owner’s manual or give us a call.

    II. Pets are notorious for causing damage to your water softener. It is common for a pet, such as a dog or a cat, to hear the unit running and see something move. This is most commonly the drainage line which is usually made of rubber or PVC pipe depending on the installer’s preference. Due to this many animals, even wild ones occasionally mistake the line for a snake or other animal and chew through it. So keep an eye on your pets.

    III. Leaking unit problems! If you notice a leak or water under the reverse osmosis, you’ll need to shut off the unit BEFORE damage can occur. Liquid Solutions Inc. is not responsible for damage caused by leaks. To shut off reverse osmosis, locate the valve assembly on the cold water line under your sink. You’ll see a small white plastic valve with a ¼ inch line running to your unit. Close this valve by turning the blue handle ¼ turn or as far as it will allow. Also, locate the valve on top of the reverse osmosis storage tank and close. Then call for service.

    Consult the emergency FAQ’s below for pictures and a in depth guide.

Common Questions About Reverse Osmosis Maintenance

  • My reverse osmosis unit (under the kitchen sink) makes a gurgling sound sometimes. Is this normal?

    Yes! Your reverse osmosis unit (R.O.) is refilling the tank during those times. R.O. technology takes time to make your family’s purified water. Because the process involves squeezing h2o particles through a semi-permeable membrane, the unit needs the storage tank to hold your purified water until you desire it. During this process, the R.O. is rinsing the membrane and that is the gurgling sound you hear as it runs down your drain.

  • How much water can I get at a time from the R.O.?

    The R.O. tank holds approximately 1 to 1½ gallons of purified water. The R.O. tank volume is 3.5 gallons, but the air pressure and bladder take some room, so your actual drawdown is less.

  • How long does it take to fill up the tank from empty?

    Roughly one hour to completely fill the tank.

  • What maintenance is required for the R.O.?

    Once a year, the filters on the R.O. will need to be changed. Liquid Solutions will contact you when that needs to be done. At that time the unit is sanitized and several tests are done to ensure the functionality of your membrane and storage tank.

  • What is a membrane?

    A membrane is a special filter on your unit that is not changed every year. This critical component is what makes reverse osmosis what it is. Put simply, water is squeezed through the membrane after being filtered through three other filters. Should the molecules be small enough the water will pass through the membrane where it will be stored in your storage tank. The water that is not able to do this is separated into a drain line and is disposed of.

  • I notice a little cloudiness in the water from my new Reverse Osmosis system, is that common?

    Yes! The cloudiness and bubbles are a combination of the purification process, which does add a little oxygen to the water, as well as the holding tank being a little feisty in their new home. The tank has air pressure and a bladder allowing the unit to provide your purified water. Sometimes the tank takes 2 or 3 weeks to stretch the bladder inside and this will resolve itself in time. If you’d like to check, just pour a glass of water and allow it to sit for a minute. It should clear up to a sparkling clean.

  • Can I wait two years between filter changes if I don't use the unit very much?

    This is highly advised against. The purity of the water is of course paramount and depending on where you get your water from you will normally begin tasting a difference after one year. These are contaminants getting through because your filters are unable to accept any more. Even should your water quality somehow remain constant this puts a major strain on your unit’s membrane and basic fittings due to backpressure building on the inside of the manifold. This can cause premature leaks and failures early in your unit’s life.

  • The less I use the Reverse Osmosis the longer it will last right?

    No, it is actually the complete opposite. This can also cause damage to your membrane requiring you to replace it earlier. Though it seems counterintuitive, the more you use your unit, the longer the membrane and storage tank will last. Why? Nothing is more detrimental to your filters than stagnant water sitting inside them. If it is allowed to sit for weeks, months, or years, bacteria will eat away at the carbon inside the filters. This is especially true for your membrane. It also causes damage to your tank because the bladder inside is unable to expand and will begin to lose its elasticity much more rapidly causing the need for an early tank replacement. The best thing you can do is use it as much as possible. Should you go on a week-long vacation it will in no way cause major damage but continually leaving it will weigh on it over time.

  • Can my unit leak?

    Yes, like any piece of equipment that uses water such as garbage disposals or sink P traps, leaks can happen and most people will experience one in the 15-20 years they have a unit. All new installs through Liquid Solutions come with a complimentary leak detector that alerts you to the leak and turns off the water to the unit electronically until it is reset. If desired, any existing RO installation can be upgraded with a leak detector by your service tech for $55. Whether you have this detector or not, in the event of a leak you will need to turn the water off to your unit. Thankfully on almost any install, we install separate bypass valves to allow you to easily turn the water off to your unit without turning the water off to the rest of your sink. In the rare case it’s not present you will need to turn off your cold angle stop in place of the feed valve. To shut off reverse osmosis, locate the valve assembly on the cold water line under your sink. You’ll see a small white plastic valve with a ¼ inch line running to your unit. This line will be smaller than the others and is usually orange or red in color. Close this valve by turning the blue handle ¼ turn or as far as it will allow. Also, locate the valve on top of the reverse osmosis storage tank and close it. Lastly, turn on the spigot for your reverse osmosis system to release the pressure inside the manifold. A small bit of water will come out. Then call for service. It may drip a bit more for anywhere between a few minutes to at most ten but it will stop.

    Liquid Solutions is not responsible for damage caused by leaks. For more detailed information with pictures please consult our emergency FAQ section at the bottom of this page.

  • How do I turn off my reverse osmosis leak detection system?

    If your leak detection device goes off, you will likely have some water or other moisture underneath the sink. Whether it’s from your reverse osmosis system, garbage disposal, or even cleaning your cabinets, you’ll need to turn off the detector to stop the alarm and resume having water in your reverse osmosis system. If the detector goes off, grab the blue and white box, see the picture below for reference, then dry off the bottom where the two metal bars are, with a towel or other drying device. Then hold down the blue button until you hear a long beep. This is the detector resetting. Once you do this, you will have water restored to your reverse osmosis system. At this point, you should inspect to see what caused the leak. If it’s your reverse osmosis system please call for service and shut off the water to the system manually. See emergency FAQ’s for instructions on this. If it is from your garbage disposal or other fixture of your sink, please call your plumber of choice to have them fixed. In the meantime, ensure your detector does not get wet again to prevent it from beeping again. The best way to do this is to flip it upside down so that the metal bars are facing up away from the cabinet. Once the problem has been resolved, it may be flipped right side up.

    Do not pull the battery out to shut off the detector unless absolutely necessary. This will prevent the detector from turning the water back on to your Reverse Osmosis System and therefore prevent the production of water until the battery has been reinserted and the detector reset.

osmosis leak detection system

Emergency FAQs

There is nothing worse than a leaking piece of equipment. We understand the frustration of finding an issue and then having to wait a day or more to get a technician to your home. We do close on weekends and do not have an emergency technician on call. Normal service days are Tuesday through Saturday.

Reverse Osmosis Troubleshooting

This unit is located in your kitchen, under the sink, in the cabinet. In order to stop the leak, you will need to turn off two valves, the feed valve coming out of the back of your cabinet and feeding your kitchen faucet. We access this valve to feed the reverse osmosis unit. Turn off this valve, newer ones are white with blue handles, older are chrome, brass etc. and some look a little different than these pictures.

How to turn the water off to your unit.

1. First, turn off the valve at the top of your holding tank. It is normally white with a blue handle, it turns only one direction, and will shut off with a ¼ turn. The blue handle will no longer be “inline” with the tubing, but crossways indicating it is shut off. Don’t force the handle too hard! Ensure you are turning it in the proper direction.

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2. Next, follow the “normally” orange ¼ inch line (could be different colored) from the reverse osmosis unit to the white/blue valve attached at your kitchen supply valve. Sometimes it is up high under your kitchen faucet and sometimes it’s not. Turn that valve ¼ also to shut off in the same manner as stated above.

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3. Turn on your dedicated RO spigot for three seconds and then turn it off.

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If you have spilled water under the sink, mop up and watch the unit as if there is pressure built up near the leak it may take 10-15 minutes to slowly leak out the pressure, spilling more water. Once good, put a fan on the under sink. Air movement is key to quick drying the cabinet preventing damage and bubbling of the particle board used in most cabinet making. Then call for a service appt.


Water Softener and Conditioner Troubleshooting

Water Softener and Conditioner:

This unit is either outside, in your garage, or wherever placement was needed at your installation appointment. To bypass this unit, which allows water to continue to flow into your home, until a service appointment can be scheduled, there are several different styles of bypass assemblies, depending on your valve configuration. Locate the copper pipes at the top and back of the valve on your conditioner.

1. Some bypass valves have 2 blue handles. These are able to turn in only one direction. There are small arrows imprinted on the plastic showing the direction to go. Turn these ¼ turn and now the handles are not in line with the copper pipes but crosswise. If the unit is still leaking, give it a little time to slowly resolve the built up pressure in the large tank.

Some valves have 2 black circles that are most easily turned using a small screwdriver inserted into the holes. This allows much easier turning than by hand. Again, follow the arrows to turn both knobs ¼ turn. Don’t use too much force! You certainly don’t want to break anything.

Some bypass valves have a red handle. Turn the handle in the direction indicated to bypass unit. If you cannot figure it out, call our office and we’ll respond as soon as we can. If you must, turn off the main shutoff valve to your home. Water will be off inside, but the leaking will stop until someone can help you.

It’s important to note that while bypass valve failures are rare, we recommend not using your bypass valves unless absolute necessary if your unit exceeds 20 or more years of age to ensure no chance of the bypass breakage requiring replacement of the bypass assembly.

Unfortunately, we cannot cover all the questions you might have, so please feel free to call anytime! Thank you for your business and welcome to the Liquid Solutions Family of Satisfied Customers!


The Team at Liquid Solutions


References of Most Common Bypasses

On the top you’ll find examples of bypasses in service, and on the bottom you’ll find them in bypass.

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Here you will find examples of older bypasses in service and in bypass. It’s important to note that in some newer installs, you may see examples of bypass on the left being used. This is because the industry has begun using this style again.

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