New Water Treatment System Recommendations

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by lipinskifb, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    Long time lurker, first time poster.. (Warning - this is going to be a long post....)

    I'm looking from some recommendations and advice from the many experts here on an overall water treatment system.

    We recently moved into a house on a well, and since moving in, my wife has had problems with her hair (dyed blond) turning orangish, and her hair breaking when she combs it (says it's tough to comb through). I know nothing about hair, but I do know she did not have problems in our former house on a municipal supply.

    Currently in the house is a Waterboss 700. When she first started with the problems, I turned up the setting on it to use more salt (powerClean setting). As a last ditch effort (to be cheap), I installed a Whirlpool whole house filter w/ backwash (GAC, I believe) after the softener. That helped a little, but still not enough.

    We are in the middle of a partial remodel and have the ability and desire to replace all the treatment equipment.

    I had the raw water tested through watertestamerica.com. Here are the results (I omitted anything that was nd):
    [table="width: 300"]
    [tr]
    [td]Color[/td]
    [td]> 10 mg/L[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Conductivity[/td]
    [td]330 umho's[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Hardness (CaCO3)[/td]
    [td]250 mg/L[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Iron[/td]
    [td]3.21 mg/L[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Manganese[/td]
    [td].02 mg/L[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]pH[/td]
    [td]6.94[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Sodium[/td]
    [td]3.00 mg/L[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]TDS[/td]
    [td]220[/td]
    [/tr]
    [tr]
    [td]Turbidity[/td]
    [td]5 ntu[/td]
    [/tr]
    [/table]

    House situation:
    - 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids)
    - 1 full bath (shower, no tub), and we are currently adding a second, half-bath.

    Some of my own observations:
    - Water is clear when it comes out of the raw tap.
    - Water turns cloudy after sitting for 8hrs+
    - There is a lot of visible sediment when first turning on the tap
    - Hot water stinks (rotten egg, but not real bad)


    We did have kinetico out and his results were much worse than my test. He claimed my TDS was around 510, My Iron was 7-8 (He did not state if that was ppm or what, exactly), and he said very hard water. They recommended their top-of-the-line softener to the tune of $4000 (including a reverse osmosis).


    The last important piece of information is that we are planning on tearing down our house in 2-3 years and building new - which would include a new well becuase the current one seems ot be a old 2" well with a outside pit where the pump and tank live, and is just a mess. I have no clue how deep, etc.


    Based on my test results and observations, I was planning on the following (in order from well to house):
    - Lakos Twist2Clean sediment filter/spin-down
    - Whole house 25 micron filter (4.5x10)
    - Fleck 7000SXT-based softener with SST-60
    - Whole house 1 micron filter (4.5x10)

    - Plus a reverse osmosis for sink & ref.
    - Lastly, replace HWH with a new yet cheap 40gal Elec since we will only use for 2-3 yrs.


    At a high-level, does this sound sufficient? I was thinking about an iron filter before the softener, but with 3.21ppm Iron, it seems I do not necessarily need an iron filter.

    Secondly, what size softener?
    I know that is based on flow rates, and I'm a bit confused there. The plumbing in this house is a hot DIY mess from the former owner. There is some 3/4 PEX mixed with 1/2 copper, and even 3/8 copper. I have been replacing everything that I can with 3/4 PEX on the main run(s) and 1/2 PEX to each fixture. I can't replace everything though...
    I can do whatever necessary to determine whatever flow rates would help dictate the size. But, do note again, we will be tearing down in a few years and that will be a whole different plumbing system. I would prefer to try to buy this softener and use it in the future house (I know that's quite a guess without knowing).

    My initial thought is to go with a 64k softener, standard tank (non-vortex), using SST-60 with a 1" Stainless bypass.


    (Honestly, I was hoping to find something that stood out in the results that would be affecting the Mrs' hair so badly. I know the Waterboss is currently not ideal, but it should be softening to some extent and removing iron. I'm not too sure if a new softener alone will solve her problem, and she will be unhappy that we didn't go with Kinetico that promised to make the water better than city water. - I know, I know...)
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    I would put a backwashing filter for the whole house, after the pressure tank, to deal with the sulfur and iron. That will reduce the load on the water softener. Mine uses Centaur Carbon media. I will message you with the info on what I got.

    Your existing softener may then be able to deal with the remainder. I don't know your filter, but you might be able to treat the resin in that with Iron Out to remove some of the effects of the iron it has been dealing with.

    http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm (from Gary S sig) and the calculator link on the bottom will help with sizing.
  3. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    Reach4 - Here is what I currently have as far as a backwashing filter:
    http://www.ecodynewatertreatment.com/central-water/view/whelj1/

    It's Whirlpool branded from L*wes. The 'How it works' tab indicates that it's Quartz underbedding, plus fine filter media, plus Carbon-based media.

    The instructions were that it should be installed after the softener in well applications and before in municipal. So, I installed it after the softener. With my remodel, I can put this before the softener if that would help.

    I have not used iron out, but I have always used the Rust Remover salt - except for recently when my wife's hairdresser made claims about Cullican and Kinetico salt working better than Morton bought from Me**rds Wa*-M*rt, etc. (Yes, to keep the wife happy, I have had to take water treatment advice from a hair stylest)

    I have no problem throwing away the Whirlpool filter and would prefer to get rid of the WaterBoss. My goal is to achieve the best water I can with reasonable cost (Also, I have very limited space where I can install this equipment)
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  4. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Since you plan on replacing everything in a couple years, you may want to go with a system that is slightly more expensive but will work for the vast majority of common water conditions.

    A simple Lakos Twist to clean is a great start as a simple debris catch.
    A chlorine injector, either pumped or simple pellet style
    Contact tank
    Carbon tank
    Softener

    This may seem like a lot of equipment but considering your high iron level and since your future water supply is unknown, this is a generic fix-all design. There are much simpler solutions, but for an unknown future water supply, this is a fairly sure bet.
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    Lipinskifb, one big difference in your well water and mine is pH. Your water is very slightly acid, an mine is somewhat alkaline. I am not sure what difference that would make in media selection.

    Dittohead, the person who installed my big filter was very knowledgeable. He said that he had done the chlorine with settling tank for years to treat the iron and sulfur, but the Centaur Carbon with a slight chlorine backwash every 3 days was better.

    Lipinskifb, there are two major kinds of carbon filters that I know of: activated charcoal/carbon, and catalytic carbon. The catalytic carbon is the one that deals with iron and sulfur, and it goes up front. Activated carbon, as I understand it, adsorbs stuff. I think the Centaur Carbon is a Culligan brand name, and I am thinking it was patented. However patents run out. I am thinking that some of these media are more of an art to manufacture, and some are going to be pretty much the same whoever makes it. But I don't know which is which. I was sure impressed with the effects of my filter.

    There are many other filter media. Pyrolox and green sand are supposed to be very good at dealing with manganese and iron. I don't think they are as good with the sulfur.

    Regarding your existing filter, I would tend to not tear it out. Maybe it could benefit from fresh media, and I am sure it would benefit from not having to deal with the things that it is not as good at dealing with. Whenever you add something in, I would consider adding a boiler valve or two to allow sampling water at the intermediate points.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Centaur is a type of Catalytic carbon. There are many different types manufactured under many different names, each one claims to be better than the others. This type of carbon goes through a special manufacturing process that makes it more capable of removing different contaminants. Technically, both carbons are very similar, but even the smallest change can make a huge difference.

    H2S removal with GAC or CGAC works, but oxidizing the iron and h2S works much better than not oxidizing it. I could write a 5000 word explanation but I doubt anyone has the time to read through it. Oxidation/contact time then dechlorinization is the correct process for this type of water treatment for a multitude of reasons. KDF85, GAC, CGAC, Catalizing medias etc. all work, but chlorinating is a simple cheat to ensure the process is complete on most water supplies. In your specific water condition, the chlorine may not be needed, and local water treatment guys will know the limitations of specific water treatment processes that work in water conditions specific to your area. This is why Birm works great for iron removal, many dealers swear it is the best media ever, and other do nothing but swear at it because it is completely non functional with their water conditions in their region.

    Catalytic carbon is typically not used for iron removal, unless the iron is in a ferric form. Then the GAC is nothing more than a physical filter.

    Pyrolox, Birm, Filox, greensand use a catalyst reaction due to the Manganese Dioxide. It is a complex process but both work very well for iron and H2S (Birm should not be used for H2S). The problem with these medias is that they are very dependent on the pH, ORP, temperature, competing elements, etc. of the water. ORP can be affected by the levels of oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, etc. pH can be adjusted easily and cheaply to. In some areas, iron and H2s treatment can be done without chemicals and a Manganese dioxide based media. Another problem of Manganese Dioxide based medias is many of them have excessive backwash rate requirements. I am hoping to have a new media qualified by the end of the year that will perform similar to Pyrolox, but with the backwash rates of GAC.

    I am never opposed to ditching a whirpool or other piece of water treatment equipment that was designed and built to be $1 cheaper than the next cheapest guy. Big Box stores are starting to offer their low end junk equipment, and now many are offering reasonably priced high end units.

    Lastly, the WaterBoss is a great unit, but... it is proprietary so service, parts, etc can get very expensive.
  7. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    ditto - thanks for the info.

    Do you think that with ~3ppm iron it should be treated by an iron-removing-device before the softener rather than letting the softener handle it?

    If so, what is the smallest footprint device that you would recommend. Although I agree on the chlorine + contact tank as the best solution for iron (based on my Google research), I don't have the space for a large contact tank. I could fit another 10" tank with valve, e.g., Terminox or Prylox, etc. Essentially the space I have for all my equipment is a 23"x35" closet with an 18" door. What is your thought on the budg*tw*ter.com Terminox ISM system?
    If I go with some non-chlorine method of Iron removal, then I don't necessarily need a carbon filter, right?

    Lastly, I don't believe I have a H2S problem on the cold/supply. My guess is that is in the HWH because the former owner passed away and the house sat vacant for 6+ months. My guess is the bacteria took off in the HWH. The heater is at least 20 years old, so I was going to replace it. It won't be used in the new house, so I was just going to go with the cheapest HWH i can find, e.g., M*n*rds.
  8. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Iron removal systems are fairly simple for most applications but... it can be much more complex than what their literature claims. Any company that claims " It is the most advanced well water filter ever designed" and then says to watch out for Snake Oil sales... you can do the math. Their is nothing wrong with the system design, it works fairly well, but "the most advanced ever".. :)

    As to the H2S issue in the hot water, it has been stated many times in these forums, and it usually works, turn your hot water heater to max for a couple of hours, be sure no children are in the house at this time as accidental exposure to this hot of water can be very dangerous. Run this very hot water to each outlet mutiple time to sanitize the system and to kill the majority of the bacteria that can cause this odor. If this works, then all is well. If it continues, a new or different sacraficial anode may be you solution or a new water heater is a good idea considering the age of your equipment.

    PM sent
  9. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    ditto - Regarding the HWH. I haven't been able to figure out how to open the side of it to access the settings and where the elements are, etc. Granted, I haven't tried very hard, but they installed the heater and built a closet around it - so access is very difficult.
    Secondly, my guess is that the HWH has seen a lot of cruddy water in its day and I would guess there's probably all kinds of sediment, junk, etc. built up inside. I'd much rather just replace for ~$300 and forget about it. Plus I can rebuild the closet and add some more useful storage space.
    Additionally, I plan to pipe in a "funnel" on the cold inlet side so that if necessary, I can treat any future H2S problem with a nice overnight dose of hydrogen peroxide.
  10. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Great idea. I redid my house with a tankless water heater to get more space in my garage, and to do a application test. Tank or tankless... either is great. I dont wat to start the old debate of which is better... your idea of simply replacing the water heater, redoing the closet, making it serviceable and accessible, and adding some way of being able to sanitize it later if needed is good. A simple high quality filter housing ahead of the water heater way be an easy way to add a sanitizing agent in the future. The only problem with that is if the filter were to crack, leak, etc, you would be without hot water until it was repaired. A thermal expansion tank and a tee makes for a great sanitizing system. This is commonly done in a few areas around here where the bacterial issues are a constant problem in the hot water heaters. I have the drawings for it, it is much simpler than most other designs, and it add the benefit of the thermal expansion tank.
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I'm curious about that sanitizing system. Do you temporarily replace the expansion tank with something to introduce the sanitizing agent? Or is there a 2nd tee in there to allow both the expansion tank and sanitizer to be in place at the same time? In either case, what is the "something" to introduce the sanitizing agent?
  12. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    Mikey,

    My plan was just for handling the rotten egg smell that can be created by bacteria buildup in the hwh. I have read in multiple places about putting a pint or two of hydrogen peroxide in the hwh overnight to kill the bacteria. Between the cold inlet shutoff and the cold inlet of the hwh, I was going to install a tee (branch vertically). Above that tee I was going to increase pipe size essentially creating a bit of a funnel - e.g., from 3/4 copper to 1", to 1 1/2". Then whenever necessary, shutoff the cold supply, depressurize the hwh by opening a hot water faucet. Open the funnel tee and pour 1-2 pints of peroxide into the hwh. close the faucet, close the funnel valve, then open the cold supply valve. Let sit overnight.

    I know others mention other methods, but this seems the simplest to me, and the safest as far as what is used (peroxide purchased at cvs or whatever). Another option people can use is to use some type of inline filter housing that has a bypass built in, etc., but most of those are plastic, and I'd prefer to not use it within 36" or the hwh, and space is an issue for me.

    Just my 2 cents - I'm sure others have other opinions....
  13. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    ** Double Post deleted **
  14. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    That's exactly what I did until I replaced the anode. My WH is not conveniently accessible, and the periodic addition of the hydrogen peroxide got to be a nuisance. It did work, however. Keep in mind that if any of your HW plumbing is above the WH, it will drain back. Probably easier all around just to shut off the HW valve as well, drain a couple pints at the WH drain, replacing with the peroxide. Doesn't hurt to drain the WH periodically anyway.
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Lipinskif... I think the problem with her hair is probably due to the iron, and maybe the shampoo she uses but have no suggestions. I think a correctly sized softener using 4 gpg for each of the 3 ppm of iron is the better solution for your water. Then use Iron Out to keep the resin and control valve free of iron build up.

    I think your visible sediment is probably from rust build up in the plumbing.
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  17. lipinskifb

    lipinskifb LLaker

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Indiana
    Mikey, Gary S. -
    Thanks for the info. The Mrs., has been using the Malibu products mentioned in the one link. This has helped somewhat with the color side of the problem. She also tried many other remedies like washing with bottled/distilled water - but found that was not fun due to the fact that the water was "cold" (room temp), and was quite a PITA. Also, she has continued to have problems with stiff un-comb-able hair that is breaking a lot. She continually argues that when we lived on city water, she had no problems and now on well she has all kinds of problems.

    Some neighbors swear by their Kin*tico systems, but I'm not about to fund some sales guy's kids college fund when I can install and maintain my own system. Plus, they just seemed to try to seel an expensive one-system-fits-all.

    As Gary mentioned and your links confirm, I'm sure the hair problem is primarily due to iron. I'm guessing that there's plenty of iron getting past my current WaterBoss softener. My current problem is that my head is spinning trying to figure out a iron treatment solution. Granted, I don't have crazy high iron, but it is high enough that I'm hesitent to rely simply on the softener taking care of it - I just feel like I should have something specific to iron before the softener. There's so many solutions out there: Birm, Greensand, H2O2, Chlorine, Prylox, proprietary (Terminox, inFUSION), air pump-tank, etc.

    I think I've excluded chlorine because I don't have space for a contact tank, Birm because of multiple reasons, Greensand because of potassium permanganate, and H2O2-based systems because of cost.

    A good (local) friend has highly recommended "iron curtain" systems, however those are expensive, dual tank takes a lot of space and don't seem to be DIY-available.

    Right now I'm leaning towards an air charged filter with a Fleck 2510, maybe something like:
    http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/FE010010.html

    Or, prylox or budget water terminox.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  18. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    You might look into what I call a "swirly tank" (http://www.apwinc.com/retention_tank.html) which claims to outperform the "standard" 120 gallon retention tank in a much smaller footprint. I've got one, but haven't installed it yet. I'm planning on putting it ahead of the existing retention tank (which I'd love to get rid of) and testing it before trashing the big tank. Don't hold your breath waiting for my test results :).
  19. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I have a relative that lived in Alaska with 18 ppm iron. Were able to remove it with birm and simple air injection... not recommended but it worked great. She suddenly had to start dying her hair since it quickly turned gray without the iron in the water. It was her natural hair dye. :)
  20. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    320
    Location:
    California
    You are correct to include the iron filter. It will make your softener perform better with much less maintenance, and deliver really nice water quality.

    I have two females in my household with municipal water. No iron in my water, but removing the chlorine and hardness was enough for them to notice a big difference when washing their hair.

    Here is another Manganese type of iron filter that might be interesting. It can automatically backwash with chlorine (softener valve) to clean itself and increase the catalysis of iron without chlorinating the filtered supply. But with your moderate iron problem you could run it without chlorine and it would probably be very effective.

    Downside of MangOx is it requires a strong backwash, 10 GPM for 1.5 cu ft. More is better. Upside of this setup is it uses the 7000 valve.

    Edit: apparently MangOx is older technology, the air injection filter you linked is probably a good option. Catalytic carbon or Greensand plus are both supposed to be good media depending on the specifics of your water and presence of dissolved oxygen.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
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