Iron, H2S, and other Problems with Existing Well Water Treatment System

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Tam, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Tam

    Tam New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    This is my first post, I have been reading everything I can find on this site regarding my problems. I have some questions and would appreciate some suggestions. Background: I presently have equipment installed 10-1997 - From the well the water goes through a venturi valve and into an aerator tank, which reduces the 12 -13 gpm out of the well to about 6 gpm. The water*then leaves the aerator and goes into the pressure tanks and finally through a water softener with a filter on top which is there to filter out the iron precipitant. Drinking water at kitchen sink & ice maker goes through RO unit.

    *The softener/filter is a Kinetico system, which means it is two softeners each with a filter on top. The problem is: 1) The iron precipitant in the pipe going into the top of the softener/filter valve tends to partially plug the pipe at the entrance reducing flow. 2) Kinetico units go into regen any time the unit in operation is used up/depleted. So if water is being used (shower, washing machine,etc.) and the unit goes into regen I believe there is insufficient water flow to properly backwash the softener/filter being regenerated. *This situation keeps degrating over time. * It gets so bad that if a unit is being regenerated you can not take a shower. It was not this bad when new, but exchanging the units 4 years ago with like ones only slightly helped the problem. The flow has since gotten worse. Kinetico says they don't use this system anymore. From a treatment standpoint the systems is doing well although we are noticing some red rush tint on bath towels after use and on the jets of the whirlpool tub. Toilet tanks look pretty clean. Big problem is lack of flow with this system.
    Water analysis is: Iron (desolved) 1.4ppm, Managanese 0.181ppm, hardness 350ppm, pH 6.8, TDS 460ppm, Turbidity 16 NTU, there is hydrogen sulfide smell from the raw well water (sulfur is about .2ppm) and tannins around 8-9ppm. There was no coliform or e-coli at least at this time.

    In reading this Forum there are a number of methods to handle iron & H2S, but I'm trying to determine what makes the most sense.

    1) Oxidizing Carbon filters would likely handle the iron and H2S, but from what I read they need to be backwash every night. Not sure if all require nightly backwash? That's a lot of water. Softener would handle some iron and hardness. Thoughts/Opinions?

    2) Chlorination, contact tank, then carbon filter (other types seem to require too much backwash flow) and finally Softener. Good system and would kill any bacteria that shows up, but how often would I likely need to backwash the carbon filter, how much maintenance for the chlorinator and would the backwash water contain Cl that would kill my septic tank?

    3) Birm filter for iron, carbon filter for H2S and softener, but again lots of water used to backwash. Thoughts on this system?

    4) Do I need to treat tannins? If so what is the best method a second ion exchange unit with different media?

    5) Any general suggestions on a system? Kinetico suggests their new softener and a multi media filter for iron and sulfur, Aqua systems (local made products) recommends their oxidizing filter and a softener.

    Thanks, Terry
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Number two is the best and simplest cure for the problems other than the hardness and tannins. Maintenance is what it is.

    You would backwash the carbon about every 4-5 days an the chlorine in the water would not harm your septic system. The volume of water wouldn't harm a septic system that is working properly now. The filter and softener would rarely do their thing on the same night and you'd program them so there is an hour or more between their using water the same night.
  3. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,840
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Agree, #2 is simplest. a softner would be recommended as well.

    Tannins... usually easy to treat but not always necessary. I would highly recommend a RO drinking water system as well. Cheap, simple, and it will add a level of safety to the water you directly consume. Also, treating the tannins with a tannin selective Anion resin can lead to issues with making the water corrosive, a thorough analysis of the water after treatment to determine the LSI may also need to be considered.

    Indianapolis... the WQA trade show will be there in a few months. We will have a large Island booth there, you should sneak in and check out the show. You will see many amazing technologies and ideas for the water treatment industry.
  4. Tam

    Tam New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Gary and Dittohead, Thank you for the advice. While I am not excited about chlorination because of maintenance, it does seem to be straight forward and have benefit of killing any bacteria and I think I read it handles tannins. I'm I correct?
    Does the chlorination process create the iron sludge that is currently plugging my pipes and filter/softener or is its' advantage over aeration that it does not?

    I wrote down from another thread that a special mixing/retention tank like Automated Purewater works as well as a 120 gal large tank, do your agree with it would or am I better off with the 120 gal.

    Any opinion regarding chlorination systems - erosion pellet type or injector pumps? Any particular brands hold up better than others?

    Anything else I should look out for?

    Regarding softeners, 1) From your link the web site calculated I need 2.5 Cu ft of resin as a minimum. It's interesting that "Aqua Systems" quoted a 1 cu ft unit. I assume it was a better price point for the quote.
    2) Is there any advantage on which model Fleck valve the softener and the carbon filter should have?

    Dittohead - I will try to make the WQA trade show. I assume it is not too expensive to get in.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,840
    Location:
    Ontario California
    My preference for Chlorine injection is a simple non electric pump where it will work. The erosion type chlorinators are very simple and cheap, but it also requires ordering the chlorine pellets instead of using store bought Chlorox. The erosion pellet dispensors need to be cleaned regularly, not a big deal and very easy to do. Both work just fine. The erosion types are not accurate, but this is not a big deal either, the GAC tank will easily handle any chlorine you throw at it.

    I prefer the traditional contact tanks, it is a contact time issue, chlorine needs a specific time to do its job, the tank you mentioned works great but the actual time calculation is altered. This is more technical than most people would need to get, but in general, both tanks will work fine. If you had a known amount of bacterial issues, then a true contact time would be highly recommended. if you are just trying to oxidize iron and H2S, then the smaller tank does great every time.

    Here is a link to the Chemilizer pump. These things are ultra-simple, reliable, and require no electricity. http://www.qcsupply.com/catalogsearch/advanced/result/?brand[0]=1029&category=&dir=asc&name=&order=sku&price[from]=&price[to]=&sku=&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=chemilizer&utm_campaign=Water+Control+Products&utm_content=Chemilizer

    For the carbon tank and softener, I would recommend matching the tanks with 13x54, 2.5 cu. ft each. The 7000SXT or the 2510SXT will work perfectly. I prefer the 7000SXT, but either one will be fine.

    If you make it to the WQA, send me a PM, I will let you know where we are. We will have a large Island near the front.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If you have a sludge, you may have IRB. Chlorine is a very powerful disinfectant and oxidizer, and much better than 'air'. Plus it kills all types of bacteria.

    The mixing/retention tank can not be beaten. It does not need the minimum 20 minutes contact time of a regular non mixing retention tank.That is due to the chlorine being mixed into the water stream many times over as it enters the tank.

    I say that after having sold them for many years. Same for the erosion pellet chlorinator. It works very simply and every time in a shot gun approach instead of an Olympic target rifle at say 3000 meters. You set it at the minimum dose and forget it, no testing for free chlorine because you must know that to correctly adjust the other types of chlorination systems. As an example look at the ratio selection of the one DH proposes. I doubt he has any experience with the system I propose. With the system I propose it doesn't matter if your demand for chlorine increases because of bacteria showing up or the H2S or iron increasing.

    Chlorine injection has to be reset/adjusted according to the free chlorine content of the water coming out of the retention tank. That means you must test frequently or you won't know when there is a problem with the strength of the dose until you have loaded up carbon ad get H2S or iron through the system. The pellets contain 60% chlorine compared to bleach at 5.25 or 6% if you use concentrate, that also reduce the time required for the oxidation and/or disinfection to take place.
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    What is the desired value for free chlorine coming out of the retention tank? I've heard or read recommendations anywhere from 0.1ppm to 5ppm to "just so you can smell it".
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    For 'city' water free chlorine is supposed to be held between .2 and 1.2 or 1.5 ppm. Private well water systems would be the same.

    Another problem with injection pump type solution feeders using bleach is that the strength of the chlorine solution starts to weaken as soon as you mix it in the solution tank and after sitting a bit, the bleach settles to the bottom of the tank because it is heavier than water.

    The bottom of the tank is where the pump's solution pick up is so, that means you start using the solution at its highest concentration that is constantly decreasing while it also is weakening. Hence "as long as you can smell it" between the retention tank and the usual carbon filter that removes the chlorine etc..

    Then if you have to adjust the dose you have to increase the volume of it and/or the strength of the solution and run enough water to drain to replace the volume in the retention tank so you can get to testing the new solution strength.

    If you don't you're only guessing at the volume and strength and without either being correct, your carbon will be ruined shortly and if you have the system for bacteria control, your whole system will have to be sanitized once you get the strength and dose volume right...

    Guys that sell regular solution feeders don't tell their customer much if anything about any of that.
  9. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    The way you put it, the solution feeders should be banned. Well let me share my experiences on both the solution feeder and the dry pellet feeder. I've used solution feeder for over 20 years (dry pellet feeders 3 times based on Gary's recommention) and it is a fact that the chlorine gets weaker over time, but by the time the solution is too weak to measure free chlorine in the retention tank, the solution tank would be empty and you would have to fill it up anyway. With the dry feeder, I have not been able to control the amount of chlorine added. You get 5 ppm+ of chlorine when pellets are first added and then it gets weaker because there is less pellets (didn't mention that). In the dry feeder, the pellets turn to mush over time and needs to be cleaned out (didn't mention that either) and the same holds for the solution feeder. Sediment will form on the bottom of the solution tank and need to be cleaned over time. There are small ports in the pellet feeder that over time get pluged with calcium and needs to be cleaned (no mention of this, hum). The same holds true to the soultion feeder. The injector will get clogged up calcium and need to be cleaned. The jist of it, both system add chlorine to water and both have downfalls. I myself, will stick with a solution feeder (and tell my customers what maintenance to preform) rather than tell them only the great things about a dry pellet feeder.
  10. Bumzy

    Bumzy New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    NJ
    On the same general topic, my water test results.
    Iron 5.9 mq/L
    Hardness 4.0 GPG
    TDS 68
    PH 6.2
    Deep well of uncertain ~180' depth 4" casing.
    Rotten Egg smell at the pressure tank drain (before filters but not at faucets)

    I have an old system in the house that consists of a venturi injector, settling tank, kdf85/GAC filter, and a water softener. I'm getting Iron staining (orange/greyish black) in my shower and have been putting the chlorine tabs in the toilets to keep them from staining. I want to replace this whole system with something new that works properly. I'm guessing the installed equipment is around 10 years old, I can acertain that the softener is doing some work to remove the iron because if I let the salt tank go dry I'll get a horrible metalic taste and smell to the water as someone else mentioned like a bloody nose but worse.

    I'm getting from all the posts I've read so far that I need to do a chlorine injection up front to oxidize my Iron but then what is the best way to mechanically remove it, just a GAC back washing filter? Do I still need a green sand, Brim, or Magox type filter, or can I just use a 5 micron backwashing sediment filter to get rid of the precipitated Iron.

    edit to add: I'd like to not use a softener if possible, and maybe I'm wrong for thinking this, but the water feels too soft now because of the PH maybe? Without the Iron would the 4GPG be considered hard water?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,840
    Location:
    Ontario California
    A few minor concerns. The chlorine in the toilet will usually make the staining worse, but not always. It causes the iron to preciptate out and stick even better to the toilet. An acid wash of the toilet will usually work for cleaning it. CLR, lime-away, etc.

    Your pH is slightly lower than it should be. Lwo pH and iron removal do not go well together. Most medias want a pH above 6.5 for effective iron removal.

    A simple chlorine injector with a backwashing GAC will probably work for you, but pH control may be necessary. A backwashing calcite system is the preferred method, and... that may cause you to need a softener as it will raise the hardness.
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    And where did you see me say anything like that?

    You aren't supposed to be testing for chlorine. And of all of them I sold I've never heard of the chlorine weakening, actually the smell of chlorine was not present at the tank drain line. Meaning it was past time to have added more pellets.

    You obviously didn't read the manufacturer's instructions or you would have set it on the minimum dose and not have tested for chlorine, and you'd have done the maintenance before things got blocked up. That's unless you were using the constant feed version that is a special order. And then you probably wouldn't follow instructions anyway but... You clean it and add new pellets every 2-3 months add blow down the mixing tank every month or when you do the cleaning and add new pellets. You as the dealer must determine from the customer's water quality how frequently they should do that. I had mine check the pellet level one month after installation and come up with a scheduled tie after that. I had tremendous trouble free success with the system but then I am a very detailed type guy and I don't know that you are.

    BTW I also asked the manufacturer many questions based on the problems he heard of from other dealers. Then I did up a set of specific instructions to install and maintain them. Customers that didn't follow my instructions usually had a problem but then decided to follow my instructions. That type person wasn't my usual type customer very few had any problems.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  13. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    You obviously didn't read my post. I never said a thing about how I set the unit. Instead of trying to put someone down, tell us how the pellets will not turn to mush. Or tell us why you don't want to measure chlorine. In my opinion, too much chlorine will cause the carbon to be used up faster.
  14. Tam

    Tam New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Gary & Ditto, Thanks again for the info. I assumed the reddish/orange colored sludge I see at the entrance to the softener/filter is just the iron precipitant as I don't see anything in the toilet tanks. Although perhaps it is and is what is plugging the filter on top the softener and reducing water flow. It is not hard stuff, but rather like a thin paste. It can be easily removed with a small brush and it dissolves readily in water. I'm not sure what oxidized iron should look like after the aeration unit; perhaps I should take some raw water and mix it vigorously with my battery drill to see what I get. Is there a good way to determine iron bacteria? I always thought iron bacteria was more black in color. Terry
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Now that is just dumb.

    You said you got too much chlorine and couldn't get the volume down.

    You obviously don't know that the regular version only injects chlorine for part of the well pump run time; not continuously during the pump run time.

    You also must not know that you don't need to test for chlorine and that if you do you won't get a valid result because the volume varies during the well pump run and that no chlorine is added while the well pump is not running.

    You put yourself down by going on about how you couldn't get the system to work as you ASSUMED it should.

    Your assumption is incorrect so you're left with saying the thing doesn't work. It works every time IF you know how to install it properly and will maintain it when it needs it rather than on your schedule.

    Yes the pellets can go to mush but the mush is still 60% chlorine so IYO what is the problem?

    There isn't too much chlorine, I used Centaur carbon and most of my customers got 5 years and longer. Those very few customers that mistakenly thought they knew better than me and didn't follow my instructions got less. And they were using the system for high iron (5 ppm +) and IRB in many cases.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It sounds like normal oxidized (ferric) iron build up but...

    IRB can be any color from clear snotty/slimy to black. Wiping the palm of your hand on the sides of the toilet tank from the water line down as you flush the toilet for the slippery etc. is a good test but if you clean the tank frequently or use some type of in the toilet tank cleaner tabs etc. you won't have the build up.
  17. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    Why is it everytime someone disagrees with you, you try and belittle them. I merely pointed out the fact that both types of chlorinators have their own disadvantages and you resort to saying I didn't read the instructions or I didn't set it right or I didn't install it properly. I have sold, installed and serviced both types and I'm saying both have problems.
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    And you also said you sold 3 of the type I sold many of over 10+ years without the problems you say you had and I suggest it to people needing chlorination while you don't sell it anymore.

    You've said a number of times here that you couldn't get the 3 you sold to work the way you think the system should. Now I see that as you not understanding how the system actually works. I explained why I think you had the problems and you don't like hearing it and now you say I'm belittling you as if you are a victim...
  19. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    The way I think they should work is to add chlorine to the water. Does the units you sell add chlorine to the water? There is an adjustment knob on the unit. Does yours have an adjustment knob? In my eyes, the adjustment knob is so you can adjust the amount of chlorine being added. What does your adjustment knob do? So with this adjustment knob, one should be able to adjust the level of chlorine correct? If not, then why have an adjustment knob? With the adjustment knob set on min, I still get excess chlorine on all 3 units I have sold. You may try and convince people online that these units do not have any problems, but you will not convince me that they do not have the problems I have said they have. I'm in the field servicing them so I see what they do and don't do. When was the last time you serviced one yourself in the field?
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes there is an adjustment knob on both versions of the chlorinator.

    Every one I sold had the knob on it. The regular order version, not the special order version I have mentioned, the knob does nothing but rotate.

    On the special order version, the knob is operable and does change the volume of chlorine and you get constant chlorination.

    To prove that all you'd have to do is look inside the chlorinator where the internals of the knob are and rotate the knob and see which version's knob does what if anything. Or IIRC, READ THE`INSTRUCTIONS.

    I sold and installed a number of them before I started selling them online, I didn't have any I had to service and I taught my customer how to maintain theirs and a few times I got a call with a few questions when the person was going to do the maintenance.

    My online customers got a text file of explicit instructions and pictures of how to install and maintain theirs. I rarely got calls with questions of how to do this'er that from internet customers with the chlorinator we are talking about (the regular non special rder one with the non working adjustment knob).

    I sold a few of the special order version when it was required. One I recall had a well pumping flow controlled water into a 5,000 gal cistern that then gravity fed to two other 1500 gal cisterns downhill at two other houses on the property and to his studio by the well where there was no cistern. The well was about 500' downhill and 100' below the large cistern by his house. The chlorinator, mixing tank and large Centaur filter was in the well house, each house had a softener and the water from the large cistern to his house was pressurized with a shallow well jet pump and pressure tank.

    My equipment replaced older equipment that had replaced other equipment just 5 years before and none worked but what he bought from me. We talked about twice a year for some 4 years or so until I went out of business. He also had a regular version at a 3 family apartment house in town that he owned, he bought that a couple years before the constant version at his house.
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