Can Sulfur smell and iron be removed with a softner

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Texaro, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Texaro

    Texaro New Member

    Now that I've had a good experience with one plumbing project, I'm ready for another.

    We live in a small (25 home) development in south central Texas that has a strong common well. The water is hard but I haven't had it tested, sometimes light orange, most always has a slight sulfur gas smell. It gets tested about 4 times a year and has always been healthy.

    The sulfur smell is from the cold side, my wife can smell it - I don't even realize it's there. I guess it could be from the hot as well, but she never mentioned anything when the tub is used, things like tooth brushing and pill swallowing seem to be when she reacts. From time to time the water has a bleach smell. I'm assuming this is a result of the water provider taking care of whatever.

    Anyway, now that I've identified the lines that feed the hot water tank the kitchen and the bathroom, we're considering doing something about the water. There are so many styles and vendors on the internet, I don't know who to trust. So, I'm trusting y'all to be straight shooters who know that I most likely won't be buying anything from you, and that all we really have in common is a mutual feeling about helping others and the desire to share knowledge.

    Anyway, is there a product that can do all three (hard water, smell & iron)?
    What do I need to know before I call the Culligan man?

    Thanks for your insights!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    Don't call the Culligan man! Proprietary stuff, only they can get parts. Unless you want complete handholding and pay for it, look at something else.

    First thing you need is a complete water analysis. You might be able to get a copy from the people that supply yours rather than paying for one yourself. Once you know exactly what's in it, then you can figure out how to remove it.
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    A common well for 25 houses is a public water supply. You should start by getting an analysis, which the water supplier should be providing to you. And it should be matter of public record.

    Who owns the water system? Who is running the water system? There should be an operator responsible for the system and that operator should be licensed by the state.

    After you find out what is in the water, the community should deal with the supplier and/or the state regulator to get the water treated to make it a satisfactory public supply.

    It will cost less to have it treated in one place than it will for everyone to do their own treatment.
  4. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Not as far as I know, and your situation is complicated by the irregularity of the water being supplied.

    In your situation, and if you cannot get the responsible parties to solve things at the source, I would first do something about getting rid of the "bleach smell" (via one or another type of filter), then possibly add an aerator to take care of the sulfur odor, then consider a water softener.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Water softeners have a limited iron removal capacity. If it has a high iron content you need an iron remover/filter. All of the nationally advertised softener companies, who have their own stores and installers, will be much more expensive than the off the shelf units which are just as effective.
  6. Texaro

    Texaro New Member


    Really good advice!

    Its a weird story behind the water supplier. The well and water is owned by the developer, who had his nephew maintain the water in exchange for rent.

    The owner has recently passed on and I'm not sure who's in charge of the water right now.

    When I contact the operator, is a water analysis what I want?

    Any idea which office in the courthouse would have the public record on our water?
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You need to decide if you want to be a DIYer or to have to call the local dealer each time your softener hicups.

    Then you need to learn a lot more about softeners and how to correctly size one. Then If you decide to be a DIYer I suggest you buy one that uses the Clack WS-1 control valve.
  8. Backglass

    Backglass New Member

    New York
    Sound's like you have my water. My house came with a Culligan Super-S (Iron Eater) and Softner. The Super-S removes the smell and iron first, then passes off to the softner for the rest. The Super-S uses bleach to regenerate once a week.

    I have no idea if it's cheap/expensive as it was there when we bought the house, but I can say they work very well. The water is nice out of the faucet...and not very nice from the hose-bib outside!
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    You are on a public water system, whether the operator realizes it or not.

    You must get the state involved to protect your safety and to make sure that the "nephew" is doing what is necessary to provide you with a reliable and safe supply of drinking water.

    The Public Drinking Water Staff at the contacts below should have a record of the system. If they have no record of it, they will certainly take steps to find out about it.

    I would make a phone call and document the issue with an Email.

    Contact Public Drinking Water Staff
    For answers to your questions about public drinking water systems—or if you are required to contact us about an incident at your PWS—use at least one of these methods:
    • E-mail
    • Call 512/239-4691. This line is answered 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday, except for state holidays. To connect with the person you need, tell the receptionist why you are calling. (This line serves all programs in our Water Supply Division.)
    • Fax 512/239-6050. This line goes directly to our Public Drinking Water Section.
    • Regular mail. Submit records or correspondence to:
      Water Supply Division PDWS MC-155
      Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
      PO Box 13087
      Austin TX 78711-3087
    Here are some links to Texas public water systems.

    Most of the rules are derived from the requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=30&pt=1&ch=290&sch=D&rl=Y

    30 TAC Chapter 290, Subchapter H, establishes the minimum requirements for the content of the Consumer Confidence Report, the annual report of drinking water quality that community public water systems must send to their customers.
    Rule: 30 TAC 290.271–275[​IMG]
    The EPA adopts rules under the Safe Drinking Water Act.[​IMG] The State of Texas must adopt regulations at least as stringent.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    My experience with 'community' wells etc. is that they will not treat more than is required by the states regs.. IOWs if you don't like hard water, too bad. IMO, rightly so but... the regs will call for constant disinfection, not the spotty stuff you describe that is allowing odor problems usually caused by bacteria of some type of algae.
  11. Texaro

    Texaro New Member

    Thank you gentlemen,

    Sounds like its time to see if the "Good Old Boys" mindset is active.

    I'll make a few calls tomorrow, and see what I can learn. I appreciate your help! It's always nice to have an advocate, twice as nice to have two :)
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