Problem with water spots on chrome fixtures

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by mrmichaeljmoore, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. mrmichaeljmoore

    mrmichaeljmoore Member

    Messages:
    128
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I am having a problem with spots on chrome fixtures.
    I am on well water.
    Location: Connecticut

    Here is my raw water analysis:
    Hardness - 21 GPG (grains per gallon)
    Iron - 0.05 mg/l (ferrous)
    Manganese - ND (not detected)
    pH - 7.3 standard units
    TDS (total dissolved solids) - 472 ppm

    My treated water analysis (done by a local lab):
    Copper - none detected
    Iron - none detected
    Manganese - none detected
    Chloride - 11.9 mg/L
    Hardness- none detected
    Sodium - 110.7 mg/L
    Nitrate as N - none detected
    Nitrite as N - none detected
    Color - 0
    Odor - 0
    PH - 7.8
    Turbidity - 0.3 NTU
    Sulfate - 40.5 mg/L
    TDS - 364 ppm

    My existing water treatment setup:
    1. Big Blue sediment cartridge filter
    2. Autotrol 255/762 48K water softener (installed in 2006)
    3. Big Blue RFC cartridge filter

    I confirmed that water is at 0 gpg hardness at all fixtures using a Hach 5B Hardness Test Kit.

    Attached are some pictures. I hope they help in diagnosing this problem.

    The pictures labeled Basement Shower (on the beige tile) show fixtures that have been in service only for a few months.
    The pictures labeled Upstairs Shower (on the white tile) show fixtures that have been in service for a few years.
    As you can see, the spotting/scaling on the Upstairs Shower fixtures is much more extensive.

    On both fixtures, I was able to scrape away some portion (not completely, some spots could not be removed by scraping) of the water spots using my fingernail. I attached a picture of the Upstairs Shower Valve after I scraped it....Does that give any indication as to the source of the spotting/scaling?

    I tried to clean the Upstairs Shower Head valve chrome handle with CLR.
    I put the handle in undiluted CLR and let it sit for about a minute,
    I wiped the handle with a sponge. Rinsed with cold water. But the spots still remained.
    I soaked it again for about a minute. This time, I scrubbed it with a green scrub pad. The spots came off, but it did leave some faint scratch marks on the handle. So, I wont be using the green pad anymore.

    Thanks for the help anyone can provide.
    If you need more info to help diagnose the problem, let me know and I will get it to you....

    mm

    Attached Files:

  2. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,493
    Location:
    Alaska
    Find some one to do a silica test.

    Some of the spots remind of a friend that has a black 4x4 chevy,, mid 70's and it would end up with white spots.. after double and triple checking the softener they he had in place and making sure that it was working and changing out the resin .. the spots continued . That is when we found silica at some thing like 70ppm....

    Hard water spots come off, silica will not or if it does it is often with some thing like a pumas stone.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,150
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Forget about using CLR. Track down a product from Wood Wyant called Zolvex. It is a commercial cleaner used in the food products industry.
  4. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    Mr. Moore, any luck resolving this issue?

    I have been doing my research and scouring the forums and this is one of the only posts I've found that seems to match my problem.

    My raw water tests similar to yours (Iron & Hardness, TDS around 500) and I've been running a ProFlo-SXT Softener (new in Sept 2011) and getting this white spotting and buildup all over my newly installed bathroom fixtures. My treated water tests soft and has a TDS around 500. The white buildup left behind tastes undoubtedly salty.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,906
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Are you on a well? If so, please let us know what your most recent water testing showed. I assume you had a full proper water test done prior to drinkingthe water or breathing in the steam of an unknown water source. If you have not had a recent test, then their is no answer. Your TDS is 500 ppm, that is not unusual but that high of a tds will always leave spots. If the spots do not wipe off easily and your water is soft, you need to check for silica and other items as well. If the spots wipe off very easily, then it is likely just sodium which is easily dissolved back into the water. Lets see your water test.
  6. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    Ditto thanks for the quick reply on this year old thread...I am hoping to find out what this turned out to be in the original poster's case so I have an idea of what to test for. I guess I'm just trying to gather as much info as I can before I start my own thread on this.

    But since you asked...I am on a shallow well (60ft) that was tested for any volatiles during the home inspection. The house was built in the 50's and I believe this is the original well (pump is probably 10 years old). We moved in a little less than a year ago and immediately renovated the only bathroom in the house. Upon turning the water back on, we were seeing iron on the new fixtures/oxidizing in the toilet bowl.
    I had a local well water company come out and perform their on-site tests which indicated the approx. 25 gpg of hardness, iron, and some acidity (this was all they told me). They installed a softener and neutralizer which took care of the iron we were seeing on the new fixtures. In the months following the install of the treatment system, the white buildup has occurred as described above. The well company has been less than helpful with troubleshooting it so I am now trying to learning the mechanics of the treatment system to fix it myself.

    I purchased an HM Digital TDS meter after the well company was out and told me that TDS was low and I knew it couldn't be. The 500 ppm TDS reading is coming from my EZ Meter (@25C). The TDS of the treated water was at 600 but I bypassed the neutralizer which dropped it to 500 from the lack of Ca & Mg being added (no sign of iron so far either).

    I have not had a full metals/inorganics/physical factors test done (I have been looking into that this week). What should I be paying for a full water test? A local lab I checked is approx $400 and I want a raw sample and a treated sample, so would that be $800??

    The water does test soft (from the well company and a test strip I used). The spots/buildup does not wipe off at all with water or clr. Thank you!! Please advise...
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I wouldn't spend $400-$800 chasing this. Since you have a shallow well in MD, I'd test for chlorides and sulfate to see what they are. That won't tell you what the material is that is causing the problem but they are suspects. Then I'd try various cleaners until I found one that easily removed the stuff and use it at least weekly.

    I'd also check that my softener was using the highest salt efficiency possible and if not I'd reprogram it so it was. You can learn how to do that at the link in my signature.
  8. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    USA
    It may be that your softener is just not set up properly or you have a trickle of water running somewhere that the softener is not metering. Most common locations are toilet tanks and outside hydrants. Check to make sure the water level is completely below the down-tubes in the toilet tank and inspect all plumbing drips. If not, adjust. Just 0.1 gallons per minute is 144 gallons per day. Shut off household water (at full pressure) for a couple of hours, go out to dinner and when you return, turn the water back on. If you you a rush of water --even briefly--you are losing pressure somewhere. The your softener runs out of capacity before it 'thinks' it should, your water heater fills up with hard water and leaves spots and any future softened water won't wash away those results. Eventually, the spots become permanent, equipment tarnished, and thems da pits, man.

    To remove those newly landed spots, try a citric acid such as orange juice, lemon juice or vinegar. Hell, even a Margarita should do it! Acids dissolve bases. Beside, you probably have those already bought and in supply!!!
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I'd also try CLR or Barkeepers helper etc..
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  10. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    Gary, thanks for the tips. That seems reasonable. I will look into chloride, sulfate, and possibly silica in the raw water. It may be worth noting that the issue is primarily in the shower (I have read that silica will seperate at higher temperatures such as in the hot water only). The hot and cold softened water both test at 500 ppm TDS (@25degC). In regards to the chloride and sulfate, I have a chemistry question: If the raw water contains excess amounts of chloride or sulfate, could that bind with the sodium ions from the softener resin and enter the supply as Sodium Chloride (NaCl) and/or Sodium Sulfate (Na2SO4)? Could either of these compounds be the buildup that I am seeing? I am still learning so please correct me if I'm wrong.

    WaterSolutions, I checked around the fixtures and in toilet bowl and I am fairly certain I don't have any slow drips. We are currently remodeling the kitchen, so the only water usage in the house one full bathroom so that narrows down the possibilites. I have replaced all the plumbing in the house since moving in and I know there are no pipe leaks either.

    I have thought of the softener losing hardness removal at high flows, such as the shower, which could explain the buildup in the shower and lack there of at the toilet and sinks. The shower is currently the only high flow draw in the house; however we are planning to install a dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge soon. I am concerned that this issue will destroy these appliances. The well company tested the hot water for hardness but I'm not sure how long they let it run before testing. I know that the hot water tank could fill with the hard water in this scenario so that hard water could come immediatley when hot water is turned on. I will try to test the hot water in the shower after about 15 minutes run-time and see if hardness is present - couldn't hurt.

    Below are photos of the shower where the buildup issues are most prevalent. The fixtures and tile are less than a year old and have been using the treatment system since they were installed. I think the tile would be ruined if I hadn't have installed white. As stated before, the buildup is not easily removed with water, bleach, or diluted CLR. I will try higher concentrated CLR, Barkeepers, and Vinegar. Thank you!!

    Any of this look familiar?? Keep in mind the treated water has always tested soft.

    DSC07646.jpg DSC07647.jpg DSC07650.jpg DSC07659.jpg DSC07662.jpg
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,150
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I don't see the value of using a TDS tester. Since the water is being softened by ion exchange, meaning it works by exchanging equal amounts of calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ones, it will read the sodium.
  12. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    I see your point. I bought the tester because my well water company told me that TDS was "low" when they were trying to identify the buildup issue.

    They said "Well I see your problem, but the treated water tests soft and the TDS is low, so I don't what the problem is." --As if I was making it up!

    So I got the tester as a quick way to prove that there was a TDS level high enough to cause concern.
  13. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    USA
    Sometimes high dollar fixes are not the solution.

    Boy, those hand-rub bronze fixtures will certainly deteriorate in no time at all. Simple test is whether soap lathers up all the time, sometimes, rarely, etc. Is the inconsistencies in this aspect of washing? Shut off the water right at the softener and run all faucets to see if any water is still flowing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2012
  14. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,493
    Location:
    Alaska
    It to me like silica...
    Silica will etch glasses in the dish washer and nothing will take it off, it will leave a white ring in the toilet.

    If it is silica, not much can be done.
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Fork, sorry, I can't answer the chemistry questions.

    What was your raw water pH? What size AN filter and is it upflow (without a control valve) or backwashed down flow? What mineral is in it?

    What size is the softener and what is the salt setting? How many days or gallons between regenerations?

    Are there only 2 of you in the house?

    When someone is in the shower, just before they shut off the water, can someone run cold water at the bathroom sink for a minute or two and then collect a sample to test for hardness? If the cold is hard then you are getting hardness into the water heater but, heating water precipitates the hardness out of the hot water in most cases, so you may not see hardness in a hot water sample.
  16. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    USA
    Precipitation of hardness in water heater tanks would be so minimal, I would count on that number being significantly lowered on normal water use. Most often the hardness in water heaters is higher than on the cold side.
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    With 25 gpg hard water and no softener until a year ago, his water heater is probably loaded with hard water scale. I've seen gas and oil water heaters with scale a few inches thick. And electric heaters with scale build up all but up to the bottom element and elements so scaled up you can't get them out of the hole without a chisel.

    The hardness in the hot water will vary and can be more or less than his 25 gpg in the raw water but probably is less at the end of a shower and that is why I said test the cold water at the sink. If that is hard, he is exceeding the SFR of the softener or past the time/gallons when the softener should be regenerated.

    Fork, why do you have an AN filter when you have 25 gpg of hardness? I ask because I don't think I've ever seen acidic water with that much hardness in it? You said the driller said the TDS was low, which is not a problem. You'd only need that filter if the pH was low; say 6.5 or less.

    If you haven't added the hardness the filter is adding to your 25 gpg in the raw water your softener isn't programmed for all the hardness and will allow hard water breakthrough before a regeneration is done. Meaning the softener will run out of capacity before the regeneration and you get hard water through it until after the next regeneration and then without the salt dose set at the max of 15 lbs/cuft of resin, you'll consistently be getting less capacity until you get hard water all the time. Then if you are using less than the 15 lbs/cuft, you must set it to 15lbs/cuft and do 2 manual regenerations with no water use during or between the two. That's the only way to fully regenerate all the resin. Then reset the salt dose for the capacity you need.

    You can learn more about setting the salt dose at the link in my signature.
  18. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    All, thank you for the suggestions. Looks like I need to outline my equipment to help clarify if the white scale/buildup is a problem with the equipment or an unknown in the raw water.

    The Softener and Acid Neutralizer were recommended, installed, and programmed by a well water treatment company that I hired. They informed me that I had very hard water, iron, and acidity. After equipment was in service, they checked hardness, iron, and pH and reported all were now at desireable levels. I think this equipment was installed back in August.

    The iron oxidation we were seeing in the toilet immediatley stopped with the new treatment system. But within weeks the white buildup and corrosion began occuring in the shower. In December I started researching the issue and got the idea about the Hot Water Heater being scaled up from years of untreated water usage. I flushed it and this seemed to confirm my suspicion.

    I installed a brand new Hot Water Heater about a month ago. I did a little experiment to determine if this solved the buildup issue: evaporated a bit of water captured at the end of a shower on a glossy black dinner plate. Result: A plate of white material (with a definative salty taste). So the hw heater wasn't the answer; however, it needed replacing anyway.

    With my black plate as evidence, I had the treatment company that installed the equipment come back out at the beginning of January to diagnose. This is when they reported that the water was testing soft and TDS was low (which it wasn't - he needed to recalibrate his meter). They informed me that the water coming out of the acid neutralizer was testing harder than before, so they increased the hardness setting on the softener. They also increased the reserve capacity and may have increased the frequency of regeneration to help remedy the white buildup issue. Their best guess was that it was hardness and the increased settings on the softener would remedy it.

    Since then I still have a white buildup if I evaporate off some water. I went through the treatment equipment yesterday and gathered all information I could so here goes:

    ******
    ACID NEUTRALIZER
    Valve: Fleck ProFloSXT Downflow (backwashes)
    Tank: Clack 1054
    Mineral: Not sure what they put in

    Programming Parameters (scrolling through master programming mode):
    Valve Type: Filter
    Control Type: Time Clock
    # Tanks: 1
    Day Overide: 5 days
    Regen Time: 1 AM
    Backwash Time: 8 Minutes
    RapidRinse Time: 2 Minutes

    ******
    SOFTENER
    Valve: Fleck ProFloSXT Upflow
    Tank: Clack 9X48

    Programming Parameters (scrolling through master programming mode):
    Valve Type: Upflow Brine First
    Control Type: Meter Delayed
    # Tanks: 1
    Unit Capacity: 28,000
    Feedwater Hardness: 36 gpg
    Reserve Selection: Safety Factor
    Safety Factor: 25%
    Day Overide: 7 days
    Regen Time: 2:30 AM
    Brine Draw Time: 60 Minutes
    Backwash Time: 10 Minutes
    RapidRinse Time: 14 Minutes
    Brine Fill Time: 8 Minutes
    Flow Meter Type: Fleck 3/4" Turbine Meter
    ******


    Raw Water pH may be as low as 6, according to a test strip I used. The well water treatment company informed me that the AN would also help filter oxidized iron.
    Looks like the softener will regenerate every 7 days? Gary I am going to study your softener sizing link to try and understand these settings better.
    I also checked the peak flow rate since last regen on the softener and it was 2.8 GPM.

    Anything not adding up or look out of the ordinary? Thank you in advance!

    DSC07681.jpg

    DSC07686.jpg

    DSC07684.jpg

    DSC07685.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2014
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    IMO the length of cycle time for backwash and rinse for the filter are not what I would use. I would use 12 minutes backwash and 6 minutes rinse. I am not up on the ProFlo but their days override must be the number of days between backwashes. I would set that to day 4 for 2-3 people as long as you get a pH of 7.0 or higher at all times. Or 3 days if you are running the well pump (assuming a submersible) at less than 30/50 psi. A jet pump probably can't do better than 30/50 psi. I would like 40/60 psi if submersible and a captive air pressure in the pressure tank with no water in it of 39 lbs.

    The softener is way too small for 36 gpg compensated hardness. And I would not have sold you an upflow/counter current type. The length of cycle times are factory defaults with the exception of the rinse, which to me is way too long. I'd set the backwash at 6 minutes and rinse at 4 but I don't know know what they should be for upflow. Default settings rarely work well for any size softener if you want any kind of salt or water efficiencies.

    Until you get the equipment set up right, there's not much sense in evaporating water but it can't hurt. Problem is if the equipment is setup right and you still have the stuff on the plate then, then what? I have never heard of evaporating water on a plate so you may have the same situation but not the stuff on the fixtures in the shower. At least we can hope huh?

    If the driller didn't backwash the filter properly when it was installed, there may be a lot of dust down in the bed and that is getting into and out of the softener and evaporating on the plate.

    Change the times and then put the filter into backwash and when the motor stops and you have a fast flow through the drain line, unplug the valve for like 15 minutes (actually time it) and then plug it back in and let it finish backwashing and rinsing on its own. If you can see the water in the drain line, see if it runs clear or not. If not backwash it until it does run clear. Don't use water while doing that.

    Then set the softener K of capacity based on 60 gals/person/day and 36 gpg and the salt dose per my sizing page and the minutes above. Use one day's total grains as a reserve.

    You have to use the number of minutes of refill instead the lbs of salt. I'd set it for 3333 grains/per lb. You probably have a .5 gpm brine flow but see if it is on the drain line fitting on a sticker/label on the control valve to make sure. Yoiu normally get 1.5 lbs per minute wit ha .5 gpm.

    How many minutes and the instructions should be in the manual for the valve. If no manual goto;
    www.fleckcontrols.com and find one for the ProFlo, there should be an example and/or formula in the manual.

    You will be regenerating quite frequently IMO. I don't see any mention of how many gallons the valve is set for but I would find them and set them and then the override for the number of gallons minus one days gallons as reserve (120 if two people). If you don't set the gallons then the circuit board is doing it.
  20. ForkWheelDrive

    ForkWheelDrive DIYer / Mech Engineer

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Fork, MD
    Gary, thanks for the great info. My issue with the treatment company has been to make sure that the equipment was operating properly. They assured me it was, proof being that the water was now testing soft. However, they made no mention of efficiency so I will explore that more. Is it possible to make too many sodium ions available in the softener?

    The deal with evaporating water off of a plate is that it is the only way I have to test the presence of the white buildup potential of the water. Since I don't know what the material is yet, I don't know what chemical to test for. I'm fairly certain that the material I see on the plate is the same material on the fixtures. Its similar to a TDS test where you actually measure the weight of the solids that are left, only in this case, I also get the visual and physical verification that it matches the buildup on the fixtures.

    I have evaporated water collected after running the shower for 15 minutes (1.2 gpm), and after about 1 min from the tap after no water usage for at least 8 hours. I got the same result both times - white buildup on the plate. If the problem was hardness breakthrough, I would think that the results would have varied between these two circumstances. Since it was the same, that tells me that whatever is in the water causing this is present at all times. Also, since the water has always tested soft, I am hoping that the softener does have the capacity to handle the hardness, or at least at my relatively low flow rates (1.2 gpm for the shower).


    I will take the info provided by Gary and try to do some calculations in order to adjust the valve settings better. I checked the Brine Draw flow rate - there was a sticker on the valve inlet that read "50 GPM, 1.5 lb/salt per minute". I don't know about the 50 gpm but I will use the 1.5 salt flow.

    If I begin adjusting the control valves, I would like to test hardness, iron, and pH after adjustments are made to see what effect there was. I would also evaporate water on the plate to judge the presence of white buildup.
    --Can anyone recommend a decent quality home water test kit? Or separate kits for hardness, iron, and acidity?

    I believe there is also the possibility that the treatment equipment is working correctly and that there is something in the raw water not being addressed by a softener and neutralizer that is causing the white buildup. I lean towards this option for the reason that the treated water has always tested soft. I think I should pull the trigger on having a lab test done of the raw water and treated water.

    I plan on having them test for pH, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, Total Hardness, Hardness as CaCO3, Hardness as MgCO3, Chlorine (free and total), and Silica.
    --Anything else worth testing for?? Sulfide? Fluoride? Potassium? Manganese? TDS? Nitrite? Nitrate? Turbidity? Remember I am trying to identify the white buildup.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
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