New Water softener, but still have white residue in water

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by DiHydrogenMonoxide, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. DiHydrogenMonoxide

    DiHydrogenMonoxide New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    USA

    I'm writing this to see if I can get an answer for the water problem at my parent's house. They live in an area that has a lot of limestone, so they get hard water and have always used a water softener. It is municipal water. They had been having problems with low water pressure in the house for years, but the water was always clear. It had gotten so bad that the you could not flush the toilet and run the sink at the same time.

    The water softener was closed off by my father and the water bypassed the water softener in order to improve water pressure so water could be utilized in the house for about half a month until he could afford another water softener. During that time, of course, we had water with what I would presume to be a considerable amount of calcium deposit, hence white water.

    He successfully installed a new water softener, opened the water flow into the softener and filled it with softener salt. He is pretty good about keeping it full of the salt. He has it on auto-recharge a lot of the time, also. I believe it is a whirlpool. It has been in use for about a month now. The water pressure is back to a normal pressure. The problem is, the water is still white in coloration. My father supposedly did a water test for hardness on the water and he told me it showed it was at normal pH. I'm certain it must still be hard, since it leaves the white residue of calcium on everything it touches and the dishes are never clean out of the dishwasher, even after multiple washes.

    Does anyone have any idea how this can be helped? Is there something that can be done to get the water back to normal? Any advice is very much appreciated. Thank you!
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Hardness does not change the clarity of water, so the white color is caused by something else. I have no idea what because I've never heard of well or 'city' water having a white color.
  3. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

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    Pennsylvania
    Could the white color be entrained air?

    If you run a glass of water does the white color disappear if the water is allowed to sit? If it disappears is there a white film on the bottom of the glass?
  4. AAnderson

    AAnderson In the Trades

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Aptos, CA
    The problem with box store softeners is they may be undersized or not set up properly also the resin now out of china really chaps my hide as it is inferior to what was available only a few years ago from US manufactures.
    The white cloudiness may indeed be dissolved air. Fill a glass and from the bottom does it clear up after a few minutes? I would check the air check valve in the brine tank to ensure it's not drawing air in only to be purged during use.
    Your loss of pressure from the old softener may have been a result of never having a properly set regen cycle including backwash flow rates resulting in a compressed media bed. A huge problem again with them fancy store bought softeners.
    I had for years built my own using Autotrol but since GE bought them and sold them down the river to Pentair, Pentair has less than zero concern for professionals using the autotrol controls. I had switched to clack...
    as the industry moved to chinese manufacturing, I had last year, several pressure vessels fail in under 75 psi conditions.
    I would have a good professional look at your parents system and start with a water analysis from a state lab, before and after treatment.
  5. DiHydrogenMonoxide

    DiHydrogenMonoxide New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    USA
    Thanks for the quick response!

    It isn't air trapped. This residue tends to float in the water. My parents have a clear tea kettle(pyrex) and, even after filling it with fresh water and waiting, there is this strange, floating layer of residue that seems to condense into a layer toward the bottom of the kettle. It does this in any water glass. As I said in my post, we can't get our dishes clean or our laundry clean, as it leaves this nasty white residue on everything.

    Above, in my reply to Bob, I explain about the coloration in answer to that question.

    So, you think this whirlpool softener might be poorly set up? It's clearly larger than the one we had previously.

    I know the previous softener was 6-8 years old, so its life cycle was probably done. It had an autocycle that recharged every night. I can't say I know a lot about it, though. Your experience is far greater than mine.

    Sad thing is, my dad had a plumber come in and look at the old softener, flush it, and still not know what the problem was with the pressure. They told him he should think about getting the pipes coming onto the property from the street ripped out and replaced. It was only trial and error on the part of my dad to take the initiative to replace the softener. I really need to find a good plumber in this area.

    I totally agree on the state lab idea. Do you have any idea on how I could go about getting a state analysis?
  6. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You indicated that it is a municipal water supply--they are required by law to regularly test the water. The water supplier should be able to provide you with a water analysis if you contact them. Many municipalities with a web site post their data online. Generally the analysis provided by municipal suppliers will cover all items of interest.
  7. AAnderson

    AAnderson In the Trades

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Aptos, CA
    but not the analytical after the water has been treated.
  8. AAnderson

    AAnderson In the Trades

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    36
    Location:
    Aptos, CA
    As Bob Mentioned, the analytical will most likely be on your water companies website.
    Have you checked to see if this is happening in water from a non softened line like a hose bib? Since this started after the new softener was installed has the problem been consistant coming from every fixture? do you have a tankless water heater by chance? Can you collect some of this floating material, filter it out in something like a paper coffee filter, does it remain a hard particle to the touch or melt way in your hand? Any possibility this could be flux?
    If it floats and then sinks it almost sounds like sodium hydroxide (lye) that can form if a DC current (anode and cathode) is present in the water.
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Anyone servicing a softener for a customer should be doing their own tests on site unless it is a test like Coliform bacteria etc. that can not be done on site. And if they don't find a better service guy.
  10. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Run a hardness test again and see what you get. I wonder if there is something screwy with the installation or the softener itself. Perhaps a problem with the valve assembly. Make sure it's piped correctly though if it's in backwards you will usually get resin beads in the piping.
  11. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It's not air and there won't be any resin in the plumbing if it's plumbed backwards with his big box brand because they have a top basket.
  12. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Probably, I'm just wondering if there may be an issue with the equipment. He was pretty adamant that there isn't air in the system and since he's still getting residue on stuff I'm inclined to believe him.
  13. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

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    This color in the water, is it in both Hot and Cold ? or is it just one? If it is in just one, which one?
  14. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

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    It could be, if it is not getting the rinse time and water that it is needed in that time frame.
  15. DiHydrogenMonoxide

    DiHydrogenMonoxide New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    USA
    Let me post the municipal analysis here.

    I'm not certain if that helps much.

    Water analysis posted above.

    I am pretty certain most places in the house are connected to the softener. Even the outdoor hose is, because I remember the pressure being lower when the rest of the how was experiencing lower pressure.

    When the house was on a period of bypass of the old water softener prior to installing the new one, the water had similar issues, except it actually not as bad as it is with this softener. I suppose my parents figured having the higher water pressure back was better than having good water, but it doesn't do a good job washing.

    Yes, it comes out of every fixture the same. Kitchen, bathrooms, hoses, washer, dishwasher, even the chilled water from the fridge leaves white streaks everywhere. It does not matter whether it is hot or cold.

    We have a tank water heater. It, itself, needs to be replaced in the near future, as it is about 6 years old.

    It remains a hard, grainy particle. I looked at the pyrex tea kettle today and saw that the water was basically evaporated off. On the sides, the white residue seemed to form small dried granules. On the bottom of the kettle, it was still slightly wet, but it looked almost oily, with a sort of white granule precipitate. It stays solid to the touch.

    It may be flux, but it does not seem to fully dissolve, so I'm not certain. It's possible it could be supersaturated, but it looks like the white is separate.

    Lye is a possibility. I might look into that...thanks.

    Yeah. The last guy just ripped them off a few hundred dollars and left them with no answers. I'll have to ask around.

    I'll go take a look at it, although, I'm pretty sure my dad did it correctly. It was just two basic valves in the back attached with clips, if I'm not mistaken. He had to solder a couple small pieces of pipe onto the pipes that went into the previous assembly to extend the length of the water pipes. Other than that, not much was changed and the softeners were essentially very close to the same assembly-wise.


    Both hot and cold are the same.

    I'll have to go take a look at it. I know the salt inside is being used. I have no idea whether the rinse time is off. Is there a way this can be changed or could it just be an equipment defect?
  16. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    IT probably can be changed but you will have to check the installation manual to be sure.
  17. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

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    1,490
    Location:
    Alaska
    What kind of control are we working with again?

    If it was just in the Hot, then I would say water heater.. but with it in both Hot and Cold after the treatment unit and not before the treatment unit...

    Some thing is a miss with it.

    Does the water say on the morning after a cleaning cycle more colored and lighten up as the usage and days go by?
  18. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You should contact the water authority and ask for the most recent report of test results. In particular I think that hardness--average and range, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) may be of particular interest. From your description of the water I am wondering if the TDS, along with hardness, is very high and that is causing the conditions being observed.
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