Ionics IQ-0820 Softener -- Replace Resin without Hygene?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by rnsmithtldiy, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. rnsmithtldiy

    rnsmithtldiy Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Texas
    I have a 5-year old Ionics IQ-0820B Water Softener -- and have some questions about the resin and this Hygene stuff that is in my tank. The maintenance on this thing is killing me. The last service call was over $300 -- and all (maybe "all" isn't a good word) they did was do some sort of back-flush and added 2 lbs of the Hygene stuff.

    So what is this Bacteriostatic Hygene stuff. Do I really need it. Other highly rated water sofeners don't have anything like it as far as I can tell. I am being cynical here, but as near as I can tell, it is just some sort of sales gimmic and I am feeling that I am paying for something that I don't really need.

    I understand that I can probably get the S-759 resin or equivalent on the internet, but cannot get the Hygene stuff (must be licensed or something to handle it). Anyway, my question is, can I just empty out the whole tank and replace it with resin. Is there any reason that I couldn't/shouldn't do that.

    I have few other questions in general about water softening/softeners (in particular how they interface with RO systems), but want to get the resin question out of the way first. Hope you can help me out.

    Ron in Round Rock
  2. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Alaska
    Did you get a look at the bacteriostatic hygene stuff? did it look like brass shavings?

    Some systems will have what is called KDF 55 or 85 depending on chlorine or smell...
  3. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Ontario California
    Quick comment about the RO system with a softener, a softener will greatly increase the filter life of the membranes. It is not necessary, but it is highly recommended to pre-treat an RO with a softener.
  4. rnsmithtldiy

    rnsmithtldiy Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Texas
    No, I haven't looked at it (still trying to figure how to correctly remove the top -- i.e. bypass the tank, somehow disconnect the tank and then, I guess, just unscrew the control valve assembly). But I am sure it is the silver impregnated Hygene stuff because the last time the Ionics service guy came out, he added 2 lbs of the stuff (I think after 2 years of usage). And I wouldn't know what to do with the stuff even if I could identify it.

    Anyway, my real question is if I can just replace whatever is in the tank with some new resin.
  5. rnsmithtldiy

    rnsmithtldiy Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Texas
    Regarding the RO system, yes, the same guys that installed the Ionics IQ-0820B water softener also installed an Ionics Micromax RO System -- and I am getting tired of paying for filters and service on that guy also. I can get a new Watts RO System (with new membrane) at Costco for less than it costs me to have the other filters replaced.

    My question about the Softener and RO System combined was about the TDS readings. I just purchased a TDS meter (yes, getting ready to all of this myself) and I find that the TDS reading of the water coming from outside the house (hose bib) has the same readings as the water coming out of my kitchen sink faucet (around 290 ppm). My house had a bypass connection in our garage that makes it much easier to hook up a water softner and it was also supposed to bypass the water going to the outside hose bibs (so that I am not irrigating my lawn with salt water). Now, I thought, or would think, that the softener action of removing magnesium and calcium would affect the TDS readings (aren't magnesium and calcium solids -- or maybe they don't disolve and that is the catch).

    Anyway, I was trying to figure out if, or how well, the water softener was working. As I said, the TDS reading for the water outside and at the kitchen sink is about 290 ppm and the water coming out of the RO system is 20 ppm (about a 97% reduction of solids, I guess) -- so I guess that is working. My thinking is that when the TDS reduction reaches some magical figure (like 80%, 85%, 90%, ?), it will be time to replace the membrane (hate to think what my service people would charge me for that one). From research on the internet, I have deduced that the carbon and other pre-filters should just be changed on a regular basis (like once or twice a year) and the membrane replaced after several years (hopefully a TDS reading will tell me when).

    Anyway, I intend to do the next filter change myself. I think I can get those rascals over the internet. And, thanks to you-tube, I see what I need to do to sanitize/steralize/etc. my bladder. So I feel pretty confident I can do that myself.

    But I still have the question of knowing how well the water softner is working -- like the fact that the TDS reading between the softened and un-softened water are the same -- so is that not a valid test for determining whether the water softner is doing its job. I do know that you can get these kits and check the color of the water to determine its hardness (according to out water distribution people, the hardness of our water coming in is around 13 grains -- I think that is per gallon, maybe), so is that what I should be using.

    So my questions are how do I know how well the water softener is working and when should I be replacing my membrane in the RO system and of course, the confusion I have about the TDS readings. I have not been able to get answers to these question on the internet, so hoping someone here can help.

    Sorry about the long post.
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    There should be no salt in the softened water but none the less, it is a waste to use soft water on the lawn.

    As for TDS, the softener uses something called ion exchange, exchanging one grain of hardness for two grains of sodium so the TDS readings will measure the sodium.
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It sounds to me that they are using silver impregnated carbon as the hygiene stuff, which it isn't. At best it is supposed to prevent bacteria growth in the carbon. And over time the carbon will be chewed/ground up and backwashed out of the tank during regenerations.
  8. ByteMe

    ByteMe New Member

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Midland Texas

    WTH? The process of softening the water replaces the calcium and magnesium WITH SALT. So how can you say that?
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Salt is sodium chloride. During the regen, the chloride goes down the drain, leaving only the sodium. Sodium without chloride is not salt.
  10. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Thanks, so many people dont understand that basic principle. The chloride levels of the water do not change with soft water. The same way oxygen or hydrogen alone are not water, sodium is not table salt.

    As to testing your softener, please buy a Hach 5B test kit, this is the main kit almost every water softener service company uses. It is fast, simple, relatively inexpensive, and highly accurate. A test strip will not tell you anything more than yes or no as to the softener, it will not help you program the system for better efficiency. The Hach 5B should last you several years.

    A properly working RO system should reject 90% or better. To properly test your membrane, turn off the tank, open your faucet and allow it to run for 30 minutes. Test the water that is dribbling out of the faucet. If it is reducing less than 90%, it is time for a new membrane. If you have high flow to the faucet, greater than 2 GPH, then you may either have a a bad membrane, or a torn seal in your ASOV. PM me if you want a recommendation on where to get an RO to replace your exisint unit.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
  12. rnsmithtldiy

    rnsmithtldiy Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Texas
    Thanks guys for all the comments and help -- and yes, it is helping.

    I am still having a little problem with the TDS readings. I understand that they are some sort of electrical conductivity measurement and that somehow relates to the amount of solids in the water. I guess I do not totally understand why (leaving the RO system out of the equation for this question) the TDS readings for the softened and non/un-softened water are the same. Is the key word here "disolved", as in Total Disolved Solids. I know that sofened water has magnesium and calcium removed from the water and I know (I think) that these are solids in the water, but I don't think they are disolved. So is that why the readings are the same for both my softened and un-softened water.

    And bringing the RO system back into play, it was mentioned that the RO system will not have to work as hard in processing softened water. I am guessing this is because the membrane in the RO system would normally filter out the magnesium and calcium, and since these elements have been pretty much removed by the water softener, the RO system will not have this additional burden. And since these materials are sort of large in nature compared to the other things filtered out by the RO membrane, I suspect the membrane will be able to a much better job of filtering since it will not easily be clogged up by the magnesium and calcium, and hence will last much loonger before having to be replaced. Am I getting close on understanding what is going on here.
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Do you need me to word this different or did you just overlook it?
  14. ByteMe

    ByteMe New Member

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Midland Texas
    In the words of the famous Homer Simpson, DOH!
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Just H2O is not a good conductor of electricity, it's the stuff that is dissolved in the water that makes water conduct electricity. The more TDS the better for electrical conduction.

    The TDS meter tests for TDS (total dissolved solids) and that includes hardness which is made up of calcium and magnesium, which the softener removes (along with ferrous iron, manganese ,copper etc.) by adding dissolved sodium to the water stream to the RO. And sodium is easier to remove by the membrane than hardness minerals which cause scale on the membrane and that allows the membrane to last longer than if it had to remove the hardness minerals. Usually, although it depends on the amount of hardness, ion exchange softening will slightly increase the TDS.

    Any undissolved stuff in the water is called sediment (or officially turbidity) and is removed by the RO's sediment prefilter. That includes the invisible and visible stuff in the water.

    The formula for added sodium is 7.85 ppm (or mg/l) per gpg of compensated hardness. Compensated hardness is the hardness plus any iron and manganese etc..
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  16. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Solubility of elements is what affects the life of the membrane and how it can scale. Take a piece of marble and try to dissolve it in water. Do the same with salt. You will notice that the salt is highly soluble. It is this solubility that prevents it from scaling a membrane. It is much more complex than I described, but you get the point. http://www.lenntech.com/antiscalants.htm Here is an interesting sales pitch for anti scalants. Softening is not an economical method for treating larger RO systems. Smaller units are fine. For residential units, the membranes are considered diposable because the cost of treatment can greatly exceed the cost of the membranes.

    As to the TDS of softenerd water, since it is an Ion Exchenge process, Softened water will usually have a higher TDS than unsoftened water and the handheald TDS meters are not designed for serious analytical testing, they are for information, comparisons, etc. It is what makes up the TDS that is the important factor. The sodium is much easier to deal with than the calcium and magnesium in the water since has nearly no scaling potential.
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