Salty Water Softener

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by MrsJenschke, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. MrsJenschke

    MrsJenschke New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bandera, TX
    We have extremely hard water (150ppm with 2000 TDS) and we have had a softener since we moved in to our brand new home 6 months ago. We have had someone come out and test the softened water because we have had to replace a large portion of our brand new ice machine after 6 months because of a white and redish bildup in the pipes that we could not remove. The man explained that for each particle removed from the hard water it is replaced by sodium. The sodium problem is so bad that we have salt deposits all over our shower, dishwasher, dishes, everywhere you would have a problem with hard water stains. Our ice, once melted in a glass leaves LARGE amounts of visible white solid partlicles in the bottom of a glass, to the point where I refuse to use ice. He told us our only option to completely get rid of the problem is to invest in a whole house RO. We seriously resist spending $10,000 but I can hardly stand all the pointless cleaning. I sometimes question what is the point with the softener.. I mean what is worse calcium or sodium? My question is, Is there any other option to use instead of or in conjunction with our water softener to get rid of all this salt (and some iorn too 5-6ppm)? Thanks
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2007
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,386
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    This is a good question for Gary Slusser. He is the forum's water quality guru.
  3. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Yup, Gary can help you.

    I would say that the white stains are hardness not salt. What brand and model softener do you have? Do you know how hard your water is? Do you have iron? If so, how much? Do you have a well or is this city water?

    bob...
  4. MrsJenschke

    MrsJenschke New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bandera, TX
    Well, we got two numbers straight from the well-- a 150 number and a 2,000. I assume our hardness is 150ppm. Our water was tested today inside the house and I cant recall the number he gave us but he told us the softener is working, I recall he said it wasn't at zero but thats about it. He also tested the RO we have in the kitchen and said that the 2000 was down to 140. He also said we had about 50 or 60ppm of iron. The softener itself was installed by Alpha filtronics from San Antonio TX and under the digital screen it says Watts. We had someone from Culligan come by to look at it because we were having no luck with the customer service where we got it from.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2007
  5. mattbee24

    mattbee24 In the Trades

    Messages:
    100
    Location:
    Fremont, OH
    I would assume the 150 is grains hardness. 2000 sounds like it is the TDS (total disolved solids). I would also think it is more like 5-6 ppm iron rather than 50-60. That would be off the scale.
  6. MrsJenschke

    MrsJenschke New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bandera, TX
    That sounds right, 2000 TDS. With the Iorn he showed us the vile he did the test in and it had a slight discoloration in the water, just a hint of pink/rust color.
  7. 10 grand huh???? you are being screwed.....

    Please get some other estimates.....

    they are seeing you comming.......
    and are playing on your frustration.....

    I would really like to hear which "honest company"
    is wanting to "take care of you" for that 10 grand....
  8. MrsJenschke

    MrsJenschke New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bandera, TX
    well this is our second opinion on the state of our water. That's fine that you think it's entertaining that we are being screwed but not very helpful. No one likes to hear they are "being screwed" especially when not told why you think that. Maybe you could offer a little more information with a little less sarcasm please. You are in mixed company here.

    The man who came by said that he almost always is talking people out of doing whole house RO but that we are in a situation where that would be the way to go to solve our problems. He really didn't try to push the RO on use either, really no pressure at all, just told us if we wanted more info on it that he'll fax it to us. My husband and I seriously doubt that this guy is trying to con us into buying something we don't need.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2007
  9. Livin4Real

    Livin4Real New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Uh, first it would help if you get the chip off your shoulder. Mark wasn't being sarcastic and noone here finds it entertaining to see someone get screwed over on a bill, everyone is here to help. He said PLEASE get more estimates because $10,000 for a RO system is high. YOU need to offer some more info for the pros here to help you to the best of their ability. Complete and accurate water test numbers would help alot.
  10. MrsJenschke

    MrsJenschke New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bandera, TX
    Sorry for the shortness. You're all correct, getting more than one bid is always a good idea. If it helps explain anything, this was a ball park figure off the top of his head and it was for a slightly advanced system...something about a two membrane system where for every five gallons of water purified, one gallon is wasted instead of the usual 1 for 1. The tank would be 300 gallons and I belived it would produce approx. 1 gallon a minute......The original question still stands......Is a whole house RO system the only solution to extremely hard water that is softened to the point where there is too much salt in the water?
  11. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Washington
    I am not a water guy, but I will try to provide some information. You really ought to get your water tested by a lab (not Sears or a water treatment salesman). And post the results. A water softener does not remove the material that causes hardness. It merely changes the chemical composition by replacing calcium with sodium in the carbonate. Too long since chemistry class, but if it is a 1 to 1 replacement, you will have 1 molecule of sodium carbonate for every 1 molecule of calcium carbonate you started with in the water. And you will use the salt in your softener to recharge the resin in the little tank that actually does this ion exchange. The resultant material (sodium carbonate) has the effect of making the water "soft". It will still leave a white deposit on things if the water evaporates. It does however dissolve much easier that the original calcium carbonate.

    You will never have salt in your water unless your softener is actually malfunctioning and allowing back-flush water into the output water pipe.

    You might also want to check what the RO guy really said. A gallon a minute is a fairly ambitious throughput. That could certainly contribute to pricing. No comment on the amount quoted; I suspect that you have just not provided enough hard information from you for the water guys to really make sense of it. You also need to decide what water you don't want to leave white deposits. Drinking, hot water, toilets, outside hose, etc. Serious difference in what sort of system you need if the answer is yes to all of these rather than just drinking. Then you need a whole house system.

    Note also that RO water will probably taste rather flat, and it may attack your plumbing under the right conditions. It is so pure it becomes aggressive.
  12. you are probably being taken advantage of.....

    If you have a high salt content in your
    water it could be something as simple as
    a bad water conditioner.not going through
    its cycle properly...

    I meant what I said in my original post....

    you could almost have another well dug and
    a Green sand Iron filter and or water conditioner
    and RO system put in for that price......

    so it would be very wise to look into other options....

    Gary Sussler is not around as of lately but I would guess
    that he could sell you quite a nice system for about under a third of that price....


    get your water tested by others,,,,

    if your water is really as bad as they claim it is...
    what I tell my customers is .......

    it is much wiser to rent or lease a system from someone
    and let them maintain it for you....

    this usually costs about 20 per month for a metered
    water conditioner and about 15 per month for an iron
    filter and I think about 6 per month for a RO system

    you can lease a complete system for quite a long long time for .....10k..
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You may be making an incorrect assumption thinking it is sodium without a sodium test to show how much sodium is in both the raw and softened water.

    High TDS, sodium, chlorides and sulfates can cause all the problems you've mentioned. The 2000 ppm of TDS is sufficient for all but the 'salty' taste, and it is much more likely to be the cause of the ice cube problem.

    High TDS and sodium will prevent a softener from being able to remove all the hardness in the water.

    A softener removes the calcium, magnesium, ferrous iron, lead, copper, radium, manganese etc. in the water. That can raise the TDS content because...

    Ion exchange softeners add 2 ions of sodium (or potassium if used instead of sodium chloride) for each ion removed.

    The rate for added sodium is 7.85 mg/l (or ppm, same measurement) of sodium per grain per gallon (gpg) of ion exchange. Your 150 ppm of hardness is converted to gpg by dividing 150 by 17.1. The iron is converted to gpg by multiplying the ppm by 4 or 5 and calling the result gpg but... 5-6 ppm of iron is too much for 'regular' softeners. I use different resin and a special distributor tube and then tell the customer how to use a resin cleaner periodically.

    A 1 gpm RO is a small RO when compared to some I've sold; like those with twin 200 gal/day TFC membranes and a booster pump. ROs producing .5 gpm are commonly sold everyday. Ten thousand is too high even though it was an estimate off the top of his head. AND... if he didn't tell you what I've told you, shame on him and I suggest you find someone else or install your own equipment by buying it online. Or hire a plumber to do it.

    Another possible solution is to find a well driller and have the well examined for the possibility of closing off a section that is allowing the high TDS water to enter the well or, drill it deeper after blocking off the bad section or current depth.
  14. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Washington
    Like I said; long time since chemistry.

    I may be confused about this too, but I assume the 1 gal/min figure for the RO is purified water (otherwise adjust for 1 out of 5 waste) but wouldn't that be 1,440 gal/day? Which is kinda larger than 2 X 200 gal/day. The 1440 does seem to fit with a 300 gallon tank and whole house use.
  15. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I have to say that the $10,000 is a little steep. I just quoted a 2000 gallon per day RO and a twin tank cube and a half water softener for a local customer who lives in a small area here that has salt water. The quote was $5050.00 installed.

    I'm not saying that is what you need, because you really need to have your water tested by a lab like the other guys have suggested. You might find out that your present softener isn't working and you don't need RO at all.

    bob...
  16. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    OK...this probably has nothing to do with anything but....about 35 years ago I made a pitcher of lemonade. I poured a glass and.....what the heck? I spit it out because it tasted like it had about a quater cup of salt in it.

    I was only 20 years old but I DID know that water softeners used salt and I knew this house had one. I went to went out to look at it and noticed a leaking water line leading to the house/softener.

    I repaired the leak and solved the salty water issue. I never thought it through to figure out why the reduced/compromised water flow would equal salty water but I always remembered it.
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes you are. Yes it is product water. Yes I have much larger ROs than 400 gal/day models. BTW, that 400 gal/day RO, it produces much more than 1 gpm.

    Newer ROs get much better than 1-5 gallons ratio and... all ROs shut off, they don't run 24/7. 'All' being any RO sold in the last say 15 years.

    Also, why do we say waste when we use an RO to make higher quality drinking and cooking water, or better water overall throughout the house as with a water softener?

    A softener saves a lot of chemical cleansers and detergent use and saves on energy used to heat water on and on yet... We don't consider that two showers, or a bath a day is wasting water! How about washing a car every few days when they can go months between washings? How about washing clothes that have been worn maybe a few hours at most? Aren't those things REALLY wasting water? How about watering the lawn or plants that can't survive without watering? We can't live well without good water, but we can live well without those other water uses if we would only look at things in a more realistic way.
  18. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Washington
    My reference to my chemistry was referring to whether it was one or two ions. I was just trying to explain to MrsJenschke that a properly operating softener was not creating salty tasting water.

    My comment about 1 in 5 gallons waste was referring to an earlier post in the thread by MrsJenschke, since this thread is in response to her and she had been given this number. Whatever water goes into a drain is, in my mind, waste. My 1,440 gallons was in reference to this:
    I apparently misconstrued that as an example and was trying to bring it to you attention so you could fix it. I do understand there are very large RO filters made. Recovery rate would indeed be improved if the filter capacity was greater than the daily consumption and that is a good design feature of the system you provide.

    I don't know which, if any, of the rest of the post was directed to me but I do understand the RO systems actually start and stop when necessary, the utility of using a pressure pump, that filters are specified in processed water, and the effect of temperature and pressure on the process. I have not seen RO devices whose rating is not for continuous duty (ergo I got 1 gpm is 1,440 gpd).

    I was just trying to be polite and helpful to that poster. You expertise is clear and well acknowledged on this site.
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Using a lab for standard water tests is a bad idea unless the person wants to become a victim by being sold more testing than is needed. Labs sell water tests. And us in the water treatment industry don't need to lie to someone that approaches us with a complaint about their water quality.

    I had a call today from a guy that paid $400+/- to a lab for testing and they tested for things that aren't necessary but... not for things as common as the TDS that is needed. I told him to call local dealers and have one or more do the testing needed to be able for them and I to give him a proposal of equipment.

    The exchange is 2 ions of sodium for each ion removed. Ion exchange softening removes all the positive charged ions in the water stream. That assumes the softener's SFR is equal to or greater than the peak demand flow rate gpm.

    I've not found that softened water will leave a residue unless there are sulfates and/or chlorides or the TDS level is sufficient to cause the residue.

    There are a number of causes of salty water after a regeneration but, backwash water can not get out of the resin tank into the house plumbing during a regeneration. Well... unless there is an internal leak in the control valve (which would be a malfunction of the softener...), because the vast majority of residential softeners are internally by passed during a regeneration.

    The aggressiveness of RO water is due to the CO2 content. Many people mistakenly believe it's due to the pH being acidic but it isn't.
  20. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Gary, where did it get the CO2 content, or are other things masking it? Should I use RO water in a closed loop solar system, I put up 3 panels about 10 years ago, noticed last year they were not getting as hot, ran a slightly acid solution thru them for several days, got lots of crud out, they seem to work better. I have 7 more panels to put up when I get round 2 it.

    Rancher
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