Did Super Iron Out ruin my softener?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by stockman20, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. stockman20

    stockman20 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Location:
    Westmont, IL
    Hi all,

    I have a private well with a GE whole-house filter and GE GXSF30H cabinet water softener that is about 13 years old. We have owned the house for four months.

    Up until this past weekend the softener was working great - using salt normally and producing nice, soft water clear of odor and bad taste. After a recharge the GH is at about 20ppm. However, once every month or so we have to do extra cleaning on our toilets because iron builds up on the bottom of the bowel. We have the same problem with the tub.

    I'm sure we have plenty of iron in our water (have not tested for it) but I figured the least I could do would be to follow GE's instructions in the softener manual for combating iron. Maybe it would help clear up the toilets and maybe not - at the least it should clean the resin; or so I thought. So, last Saturday I used Super Iron Out (as recommended by GE) to flush the resin bed (1 cup with half gallon of water down the brine well then recharge, according to the directions) and since the salt level was low added some new Diamond Crystal pellet salt with Iron fighting additives. I was previously using the Morton standard yellow bag pellet salt. I performed a recharge after adding the salt and SIO, but after it completed the cold water had an strong odor and metallic taste to it. Per the instructions on the SIO I ran the cold water to flush it out and then performed another recharge. Several recharges later, and after running the cold water for hours I still can't get the odor/taste removed. I am absolutely stumped as to what is causing it. The water being produced is just as soft as before, about 20ppm GH, but now has this odor and bad taste. Do you folks have any ideas? Did the SIO destroy my softener? I wish I could better describe the odor; I want to say it's sulfur like but am not an expert so I can't be sure.

    One thing I discovered is that if you fill up a glass and set it on the counter for a couple minutes both the odor and bad taste disappear, which leads me to believe that some sort of gas is causing the problem. I've called GE and Summit Brands, but neither had much of an answer.

    I have also tried sanitizing the water softener per GE's instructions (using bleach) but to no avail - the odor and taste remain.

    I know it's the water softener because if I bypass it and run the hard water through the pipes it has the expected "earthy" hard water smell. But as soon as I un-bypass the softener the water produces the distinctive odor again. My point being that the water from the softener smells much worse than the untreated hard water directly from the well.

    Sorry for the long post but i wanted to provide as much info as I could.

    Thanks in advance everyone!
     
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    If you have staining at the bottom of the bowel, you need to go see a doctor.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    As to your specific system problem,

    Get a real water test. The GE whole house "filters" are just simple, small carbon tanks that are usually 1/3 the size they should be. Running bleach through an iron fouled softener can really make the iron stick to the resin, making cleaning with a mild acid pointless.

    Many counties require a water test be performed on a well prior to closing escrow. It is kind of a good idea to test the water at least every couple years, annually is preferred. it is fairly inexpensive, and very important considering you are drinking, bathing, and breathing the water.
     
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  4. stockman20

    stockman20 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Location:
    Westmont, IL
    Thanks for the reply, Ditto.

    We had our well water tested during the house inspection and everything was a pass. However, I think they were only testing to determine if the well water was safe to drink. (Testing for bacteria etc)

    What I'd like to figure out is why I'm getting this odor/taste only AFTER using the Super Iron out.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Does the smell you are smelling smell like Super Iron Out?

    Or does it smell like hydrogen sulphide, or what? Maybe ask your neighbors. They probably know the characteristics of the local water. A water softer mostly removes things that don't smell and replaces them with things that don't smell.
     
  6. stockman20

    stockman20 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Location:
    Westmont, IL
    It definitely does not smell like Super Iron Out, as in a citric/chemical smell. It's similar to the way brakes smell when the get too hot. Like I said though, the odor disappears after a few minutes of sitting in a glass. This makes me think it's a gas.
     
  7. stockman20

    stockman20 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Location:
    Westmont, IL
    Hello again all,

    Just thought that I would share that my problem was solved by changing the whole-house filter to a fresh one.

    The fact that this was a solution makes no logical sense to me since the odor was not present when I bypassed the softener, but oh-well it's fixed.
     
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Information Technology
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Assuming the WHF is after the softener it makes sense to me. After I run SIO through my system, it dislodges iron from my HWT and piping and I can smell the iron in the shower. It is the smell one gets with a bloody nose.
     
  9. stockman20

    stockman20 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Location:
    Westmont, IL
    My WHF is before the softener...so still a mystery.
     
  10. JRHelgeson

    JRHelgeson New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2017
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Methinks it's the iron out salt that is causing the smell. The only difference between regular softener salt and the iron-out is the addition of citric acid to the salt tablets.

    GE recommends not using that salt if it does 'off-gas' and just using the SIO.

    From GE (link):
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Super Iron Out (earlier it was called just Iron Out) is not one of the softener salts made to also deal with significant iron. Instead it contains a smelly acid that is stronger than citric acid. It is milder than muriatic by quite a bit. Super Iron Out is pretty useful stuff where a stronger rust treatment is called for. Dumping 1/4 cup or so in a toilet tank over night can remove significant rust in there, and it can be used in the bowl too. Close the lid. Leave it overnight or maybe while you go on vacation.

    Citrus fruit has citric acid naturally.

    Morton Rust Remover Pellets are the salt plus citric acid you describe. I think they had a patent that has expired. Citric acid is milder and does not have that Iron Out smell. The regular Morton System Saver II also has some citric acid too, but in a smaller amount. Cargil Diamond has "Red-Out" and "Iron Fighter" salt with citric acid.

    Res-Up feeders go into the brine tank and dispense the ResUp cleaner into the brine solution. That contains phosphoric acid.

    It seems to me they have to be referring to the salt with iron-fighting citric acid, since no salt comes with a Super Iron Out additive. There are many who add Super Iron Out to their brine tanks. Also, it makes sense that a cabinet type softener would be more likely get stuff from the brine tank, including salt dust, into the controller, than would a system with a separate brine tank.
     
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