Iron treatment in Water Softener?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by drraz, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. drraz

    drraz New Member

    We are looking to replace a non-working 20-yr-old kinetico water softener, and are wondering whether or not we need to treat for Iron. Our city's water analysis said the highest detected rate was .3 and lowest was 0. This is the first house I've ever lived in, however, where we've noticed slime in the toilets (mostly just one toilet, oddly enough). So I think we may be in a high-iron area (wierd bc we only moved 3 miles away & I'd never seen the toilet residue before). Should we look into treating for iron?

    We are in Phoenix, and water hardness is around 13, if that matters at all.

    BTW we had a plumber and later a kinetico sales rep look at our existing system, and each time someone comes out, the system gets worse. When we moved in, it was quiet. Then the plumber played with it and it started running... ALL the time. Today the kinetico guy played with a phillips screw on the valve, and now our bypass valve is flooding our basement. NICE. We put buckets underneath it and are going to look into a fleck system, I think (though we are wondering what the difference is between that and the GE system for $400 at DIY stores, KWIM?).
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't like replacing equipment than can be rebuilt affordably, Kinetico is usually not affordable, and in most cases they'll tell you that you need a new $800 control valve and $400 resin etc..

    A softener will remove your iron but, the slime says IRB (iron reducing bacteria) and if you have enough to cause a problem, you must kill it with a disinfectant. It usually shows up in the most frequently used toilet. Use bleach to clean the toilet tank and see if it comes back to any extent; IRB is harmless but can cause an odor in the water.

    With your own well, water quality can vary from one side of the road to the other or next door just 100 yards away. City water usually doesn't but 3 miles away, there may be two separate distribution systems or sources of water being used.

    If you replace it, you should also look at a softener with a Clack WS-1 control valve. It is much better than any Fleck because it was invented by 3 ex Fleck engineers; and that includes the 7000 which I quit selling because of problems and excessive water use.

    Stay away from the big box store brands. They last like 2-5 years and are expensive to repair. And you can't get more than a 1.2 cuft size in a cabinet model. For sizing info, check out the sizing page on my web site.
  3. drraz

    drraz New Member

    Thanks for the info, all.

    What started out as a slow drip is now a steady stream, and it's coming from the bypass spigots that go into the wall. (I'll have to check on the brand.) But we suspected something else too bc there was salt on the floor of our laundry room. So we were up half the night scooping solidified salt out of the softener tank with a shovel. Softener obviously hasn't worked in a while, and it was VERY full - almost to the top - with water, and 3/4 full of broken down, rock-hard salt.

    We didn't need galoshes but it was enough to soak the floor and rust the bottom of our water heater. The kinetico guy who played with it told me the valve is shot & that he couldn't get it to stop running. But it didn't start leaking until after he left.

    Water softener guy said it would be $1600 for an overhaul of existing unit, or $3200 for a new kinetico unit, or $1800 for a Fleck unit with optional carbon filter. I figured we'd be better off with the $1800 solution rather than having kinetico repair the old one, esp since they only warranty it for 90 days after the rebuild.

    Yes we are on city water.
    Thanks for the tip on the bleach, I am going to try that now.

    We have 3 adults & 2 young kids in the home, tho our 3rd adult uses a LOT of water, she literally takes 40 min showers every day. The kinetico guy said we'd need a 30K grain system but we don't have low flow shower heads and we have an excessive water user, so I'm not sure that's enough.

    Hopefully my DH will chime in from work and explain better than I can about the leakage...
  4. drraz

    drraz New Member

    Found out the bypass valve is made by Related Products Inc of Dayton Ohio. Kinetico said they didn't start making their own bypass valves until last year so isn't one of theirs. They said we have 3 gate valves and that it needs tightening or replacing.

    I called Kinetico and they told me to call a plumber. They said they don't have emergency plumbers available, but IF we buy a kinetico system then they will reduce the cost by whatever we spent on the plumber. NICE.

    I just filled a 5 gall paint bucket with salt, and there's still more in the tank. We're not even sure how to dispose of all this!?

    Oh, and the original plumber that came out was sent by our home warranty company, and he said it wasn't a covered item bc the tank was too full and therefore had not been maintained properly. Well, if the injector was clogged or something else mechanical failed, wouldn't that cause the tank to overfill and have nothing to do with homeowner error? We don't know, it was like this when we moved in.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2008
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    They aren't gate valves, they are washer type stop valve and, IIRC, they have a stem packing nut just under the handle. The nut may be leaking or... the Kinetico guy that knew it was running constantly ion a regeneration undoubtedly tried to use the by pass and overtightened or cracked/broke something, or the city water pressure increased or your pressure relief valve went bad (if you have one). If this happened during the night, the city water may be the cause but... the unit being stuck in a regeneration, and going into brine refill could have overflowed the salt tank or... Kinetico allows full main line water pressure on the brine line and float at all times except during brine draw; a terrible and cheap design on a highly overrated and expensive softener.

    Yes a blocked injector etc. allows a build up of water in the salt tank and just the right type leak of the brine line will prevent the float from shutting that water flow off and the tank will over flow.

    If you replace the softener, you will do much better buying online than from a local dealer. Then do the installation your self or hire a plumber to do it for you. To compare, I sell a 1.0 ft3 (32k, very probably too small for your peak demand flow rate gpm) with a Clack WS-1 and by pass valve and other standard parts others charge for as 'options', for $622.00 including UPS shipping to your door with everything you need to install it but your pipe and some fittings. A plumber might charge $250-450 to install it.

    Yes you need to shut off the water to the softener, whether that means calling a plumber or not.

    Salt is regular household waste in most places. But you can also use it in the next softener if you didn't get it all dirty.

    I'm not a fan of whole house chlorine removal of disposable cartridge filter ahead of softeners that don't require a filter like Kinetico does. Removing the chlorine can cause bacterial growth and odor problems.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2008
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    About an hour ago I got off the phone with a customer that bought from me 7/8/04. He has a Fleck 7000. We were on the phone for 26:22. I don't have many people calling me for help but usually it doesn't take me anymore time to come up with the cause of problems than if I was there on site at their house. I'm very good at it and my customers love the fact they can work on their softener without service charges AND at their convenience.

    Chlorine does not destroy softeners, it may deteriorate resin. Which as we see in another thread, it is very easy to replace resin for a DIYer but... Disposable cartridge filters that aren't replaced as needed also destroys resin because of inadequate backwashing. Also, resin is much cheaper than a backwashed carbon filter and, it takes many years for chlorine to damage resin.

    I can come up with a number of reasons why it would take someone 6 hours but none of them have anything to do with the Clack valve or its programming. It is the simplest to program of any control valve.

    I have been to many training sessions and can say that none ever spent more than an hour on programming. They covered many other things like tearing a valve down and troubleshooting etc. etc.. And why you would program this way or that way. And I think it is disingenuous of you to claim 6 hours just on programming.

    As to longevity of the Clack WS-1, I have 4.8 years experience in selling just at 1100 of them and I've had only 21 warranty problems. Many many fewer than when I sold Fleck all but exclusively for 18 years and those I've sold in the last 4.8 years. But tell us why you think a new line of valves invented by 3 ex Fleck engineers would be less quality or design and/or have less longevity when you should now know from your schooling the other day that it has a much improved and less expensive seal, spacer and piston design than any Fleck valve.

    LOL I give every one of my customers detailed instructions and their specific data to program their Clack (both OEM and consumer programming) and they do it in less than a minute. Some do it sitting in their favorite recliner with the valve in their lap (I tell all of them to do that, and to practice how to put it in the backwash position). It takes longer to read the 3 sentences of what button to push in what order and what data to use the Up or Down button to enter. It's as simple as heating a cup of copy in a microwave so... what problems did you have, I can teach you all about it in about 15 minutes?
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The Clack WS-1 etc. has been on the market for all but 8 years now and there has never been any changes or revisions.

    There is no way that it takes someone 6 hours to teach anyone or a group how to program a Clack. You must mean they were teaching you WHY to program it this way or that way; it has tremendous flexibility. It is much easier to program than a 5600 or 2510 in either mechanical metered or SE version. It was designed to be that easy, I've been told that was done by the guy that invented the 5600.

    Then you are using the wrong type of materials, order chlorine/chloramine tolerant parts. And I've never heard of chlorine damaging distributor tubes or baskets, and I've been selling softeners on city water for 21 years. And many on well water that I've sold chlorination systems on.

    I don't know if you've bought any carbon lately but I have and the price is equal to regular mesh resin. People don't like chlorine but they need it in their water so I suggest a drinking water filter and shower head filters. Much less expensive and they have bacteria protection in their plumbing.

    BTW, how do you protect the seals and distributor tube etc. from chlorine damage in your backwashed filters?
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