Refurbish Your Water Softener and Save Big $$$




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Update. This instructable was 8 years ago (now 2016). I had someone email me and ask a question about it. I helped the best I could but it was a long time ago. Also, 6 months after I fixed it the motor quit on me, it worked great up until then. The motor was half the cost of a new softener so I just went ahead and bought a new softener. This process does work though, it worked, but the rest of the darn thing broke down. So please consider this before you take on this DIY repair. Sometimes it is worth just replacing it.

This Instructable will cover how to refurbish your old water softener to run like new for the fraction of the cost of replacing it with a new one.

My water softener quit softening quite sometime ago and I just never had the extra money ($600+) to go out and spend on a decent one. I had a feeling there had to be a way to fix this thing without having to buy a new one. Finally after conducting throurough research. I came across a few websites that talked about how the resin beads wear out after years of use. This peaked my interest so I called one of the overpriced water softener salesman and got the low down. Sure enough it was confirmed, the resin goes bad after a certain amount of time and usage. I have a generic G.E. softener and it is typical of this brand.

I knew I needed to conduct more research. After a while I finally found a couple of places that sold just the resin beads. Not only that but it was a very reasonable price, compared to buying a new system. The stuff I bought was only $95 for a cubic foot and they had free shipping. They were supposed to provide instructions and a funnel tool, but somehow I didn't get them.

Only one place gave the actual instructions on their website Ohio Pure Water
of how to replace the resin . The instructions were not for my model but worked out well enough that I got through the process and it seems to be universal.

It is actually very easy to do, so easy in fact I will show you how to do it in this Instructable.

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Step 1: Supplies, Tools, Safety

Beaware of heavy lifting and resin beads getting into your eyes

1. I guess you could wear goggles
2. I suppose you could wear a back brace
3. Don't choke when getting a drink from your water hose.
4. Be aware that water and electricty don't mix well

1 A Cubic foot bag of Resin beads, or what ever size your tank is. Look in your manual in the parts section and it should tell you what size the resin tank is.

2. Some 90% waterproof silicone grease Ace Hardware For rubber and synthetic "O" rings

That's it for supplies!


1. A Common screwdriver (flat)

2. A Water hose connected to a spigot outside

That's all for tools!

Step 2: Shutting It Down and Removal of Unit

1. Turn off the water to the unit by placing the system in the bypass mode. This is done by shuttling the bypass valve(s) into position (not seen in this picture).

2. Unplug the unit from the electric source.

3. Disconnect the unit from your plumbing (see your units manual), and move it out to where you will have room to work. You may have a little water under pressure that will leak or squirt out when you unhook the lines.

4. You could even turn off the water to the house, it does make it easier.

Step 3: Removal and Disassymbly

You may want to take the whole resivior assymbly outside because things are going to get wet and messy.

Becareful not to hurt your back moving your equipment, it is heavy.

Once you have your unit outside remove the rim cover.

If it is to heavy to lift remove the cylider from inside the tank resevior. Do this by leaning the system over and draining the water out of the resivior and the cylinder.

You should be careful not to drain out the water and resiviour near plants because the salt will kill your plants or grass.

Step 4: Empty the Cylinder

Since you just removed the cylinder from the resivour we need to remove the resin in the cylinder.

Next you will need to remove Using a common, flat, screwdriver gently insert and pry up on the white distributer top/screen and it should pop right out pretty easily. This attached to the riser tube. it is basically just a screen to keep the resin in the cylinder. FYI There is another screen at the bottom of the riser tube.

Then just pull out the the riser tube from inside the mineral tank, then tilt the tank over to pour all of the excess water out that you can, to make it weigh less. Once you see resin media coming out of the tank with the water, try to catch or contain the resin or media in containers, for proper disposal.
You can dispose of it by putting it in your garbage. It isn't harmful to the enviorment so it is safe to go in to the landfill.

Step 5: Empty and Refill the Cylinder

Since you have removed the riser tube and screens it is time to empty the cylinder. That is if you haven't already emptied your cylinder. Just tip it over and dump out the resin. My resin was an amber color as in the picture below. I scoope the old suff into a cardboard box and put it in the garbage.

After youi have emptied your cylinder rinse it out using your hose. A quick rinse will remove all of the old resin left in it.

Next rinse out off anything else that looks dirty like your salt storage area.

Now the choice is yours you can put your cylinder back into the storage tank or stand your cylinder up on its end.

Grab your new bag of resin beads and some type of funnel or scoop. I used a scoop. Carefully start putting the new resin into the cylinder until you get your proper amount in the cylinder.

Next reinstalle the riser tube into the resin tank you may have to push down while applying light pressure to get the tube back in past the resin. It will go though, just shake the cylinder around if you have a problem, doing so will shif the resin and allow the tube to go in easier.

Now just gently tap the top screen are in to the top of the cylinder and that's it we are almost finished.

Place the cylinder back in the salt tank area,
Reinstall the Rim Cover,
move the unit back into position to reconnect it to the main system.

Step 6: Lube and Connect

Just before you connect your equipment back to the system you need to apply some water prrof silicone greese to the O-rings. I got mine from Ace Hardware for around $3-$4 (it is food greade so it is not harmful) and a little goes a long way.

After you are all lubed up go ahead and reconnect everything.

Make sure everything is properly seated, o-rings, connectors etc.

When you are sure everything is ready to go place your system back -in service- by restting the bypass valve.

You may hear a gush of water enter your unit, it is normal. Water spraying or leaking is not normal.

Step 7: Rinse the Resin

In this final step you will need to run your faucet in your house for about 5 minutes to let the water rinse the resin. You may see some discoloration in your water at this time. It is normal and that is why you need to rinse it out.

After you have done this you should be getting soft water again so go take a shower and see if you get the soft can clean feeling that soft water gives you. Or run a set of dishes though your dishwasher and check for spots you shouldn't have any.

That's it you have just saved your self about $500 + now go spend that money on something else and enjoy your softwater!

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    19 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Chlorine breaks down the resin. Can be prevented by either plumbing a carbon filter ahead of the softener, or by adding 1/4 cu ft of granular carbon on top of the resin bed.

    Two tanks in succession- 1st could be a birm filter, for removing rust. Rust fouls resin . Could be calcite- corsex, for removing sediment.

    When replacing resin, be sure to leave about 10-12" of space in the tank, don't fill the tank to 100% with resin beads.
    Resin comes new in black and gold, color is not usually an indicator of wear.
    Put some beads in your palm and use a finger to "smear" the beads, you'll see them break apart if they are worn out.
    Worn out ( broken down) resin beds will significantly reduce water pressure.

    When repcing the riser, do so before adding beads, just put tape over the top of the riser, not good to "grind" the riser tube down in.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    If you have PVC, I wouldn't recommend plumbing a carbon filter ahead of the softener. What you get then is a pipe between them of dechlorinated that's constantly full. PVC allows light to penetrate, which creates a haven for algae to grow. It happened to me.


    3 years ago

    Thanks for this instructable. This worked for me on a 10 year old water softener. I was ready to throw out my Whirlpool after several years of not working (water pressure slowed to a halt even after doing routine maintenance). Saw this right before I was going to replace it. Tried it, working so far. A few things to add. The resin media bag now has a spout on one of the top corner so it should be easier to pour (found this out AFTER I poked a hole on the bottom opposite side). Be careful about spilling the resin out, those things are hard to clean up. The beads are slippery. And on mine (WHES40, but WHES20 and WHES30 have the same part) there's a plastic impeller assembly that can easily fall out when you tip the housing. It goes into the "out" side of the PVC with the impeller toward the housing side and the holder outside toward water flow. Good luck!! Thanks again for the instructable and saving me money!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    From the site, I found the following

    tank sizes.
    9 x 48 = 1 cubic foot
    10 x 54 = 1.5 cubic foot
    12 x 48 = 2
    13 x 54 = 2.5

    ...So now you know how much to order!

    I am confused as to what I have There are 2 tanks in series. One is obviously
    calcium and Magnesium, but what it the other? Could it be for sulfur? Something
    has stopped working as the sulfides have gotten really bad. It can't be for
    the Tannins as the water has always been pretty brown. The price we pay
    for nice weather in florida is horrible well water.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    from what ive read all you have is a twin tank softener nothing more nothing less. now what is INSIDE each tank is purely a fact that the installer should have informed you of:)


    4 years ago

    big thing you forgot. when changing resin bed:
    use REGENERATE cycle to flush the resins to the waste water line. i suppose you could theoritically run a faucet or better the bathtub with no screen to plugup but backwashing the system is more effective.

    nice instructable btw:)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This worked great for refurbishing my Sears unit. On top of restoring soft water we have much better water pressure coming out of the unit(not sure if that's due to new clean media or because I cleaned everything while it was apart). I used a gutter cleaning scoop to pour in the media to the tank which worked perfectly as it's long and narrow so didn't need a funnel.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the nice instructable!  I just finished replacing the resin in my water softener.  I cannot wait for my shower tomorrow!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I am considering doing the same myself as I have an older commercial-type; tall resin tube with the timer, valves, etc. mounted at the top. The separate salt tank holds 6 40-lb bags. It is not the self-contained type sold at Sears, etc.

    As I am weighing the costs, does anyone know the average cost to refurbish one like mine if I had a company come to my home and do it?

    Thank you. - Brian


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice project. I have a 10 year old Kenmore softener which has lost much of it's softening ability.  I was thinking of replacing the entire unit but now may consider replacing just the resin. I never knew this was even possible.
    Thnks very much for the information.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, just another "Thank You" for the information. I have a 10 year old Kenmore softener that quit making soft water. I could tell it worked a little, so I took it apart to check every thing and it operated fine, just not much soft water. Then I read your article. Your step by step and pictures were perfect. I got the resin from the company you suggested. The best part was when I first turned the water back on and it turned brown, while my wife was watching. It was great!!! Now I have SOFT water. Thank you and God Bless, Jim

    1 reply
    Mr. Rig Itjmkese

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Your welcome. I am glad it helped you and glad you have soft water again. Brown water is yummy :-) They guy at the resin told me to take the old resin and put it in my garden and that it would keep the soil loose. I didn't do it, I was unsure about doing it. But I spilled some on the ground and sure enough the dirt in the area is still loose with the resin in it. Next time the old stuff will go in the garden. Enjoy the soft water! Craig


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the info I followed your steps and just saved myself $600 the only trouble I had was getting the old head off and when putting it back on was scared to tighten it up too much so I always had a leak, took a chance and went an extra turn was a bit tricky because you have limited access but now all fixed THANK YOU

    2 replies
    Mr. Rig Itcrowcam

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You are welcome. I am glad I could save someone else some big money. I had the same problem with pulling the head off, but a little extra muscle and it popped right off. Did yoiu get your resin from the place I suggested? Can you believe how simple it is to do and how much money it saves?

    crowcamMr. Rig It

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    No i did not replace the beads but probably should have the reason for pulling it apart was my salt container was leaking have tried to patch it before but can't get access to the inside of the container to patch it properly so patch did not last,in the end made one good softener out of two. With the resin beads being a tight arse that I am emptied them through a sive into a wheel barrow and then ran water into that and stired crystals around and every now and then dumping the dirty water of the top until I was getting only clear water. Thanks from Australia

    Mr. Rig Ittheburn7

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes "if" you have hard water. Do you have your well water tested? If your parts per-million are high enough it may be of intrest to you to get a softener. Arizona has very hard water, some wells back east have very soft water. So you really need to have your water tested. Hope this helps.