Stinky water, high iron, need softener and overwhelmed

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Chatterk, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    I apologize in advance for the long story but I feel the need to give the specifics. I am completely overwhelmed after reading all these softener forums.

    Bought home in country 2 years ago and completely remodeled it. We lived there for a year and the whole time the water smelled terrible. Attempted to shock the well but it did not improve the smell. It stinks on hot and cold. Home sat for one year (did not sell) and we currently have renters dealing with the smell and terrible iron problem. You can fill a glass of water and you can see iron sediments. Toilet red, bathtub water tinted red and back of toilet looks terrible. Had a Culligan guy come out to the house and I believe the hardness was 18 (I do not know any terminology) and he sent a sample in for testing. I believe a small amount of sulfur bacteria was present but I can't remember anything else. He told me a unit through another company was going to cost me $2500 and then after getting water tested (we need to still pay $50) I was told the unit would actually cost $4800 (softener, something for the iron, and something that would chlorinate the softener). We said no way. He then suggested we buy a softener and then rent a pellet system and something for the iron. Again; too expensive. Finally he tried selling me a used unit for $1250 and then an even older and smaller unit for $750. I agreed and then called back today and left him a message saying I was uneasy with the how thing and thanks but no thanks. I never saw any of the tests, just bits and pieces over the phone. And now after reading water softener forums I feel very clueless and confused. Meantime our renters would like the hard water and smell resolved. We have a sediment filter but it's clogged shortly after replacing it. It's hard to keep up with it. Thanks for taking the time to look over this. I will try to get the results from the Culligan man and post more tomorrow. If someone could point me in the right direction I'd appreciate it. Also, I might add that we are in a smaller town with limited options (Culligan and I'm hoping Ecowater - left message tonight).
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You need actual test results for TDS (total dissolved solids), hardness, pH, iron, manganese, Coliform bacteria, nitrates and sulfates, nitrites and chlorides would be nice.

    Be careful of Ecowater. They are usually the most expensive and may not work well for long. You can not buy parts or service from anyone other than the one and only local dealer.

    If you want to be independent, you could buy from me or other online dealers and install it yourself or hire a plumber to do it and probably save up to a $1000+.
  3. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Gary and others here can offer some good suggestions, but there is no "magic bullet" anywhere. It sounds to me like your situation might be sufficiently severe as to call for a settling tank ahead of any kind of treatment equipment.
  4. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    You are getting some good advice here . Don't do ANYTHING until you have your water tested by an independent water testing company. You don't really know what the problem is or should I say you don't know how bad it really is.

    At a minimum you need to know, hardness, manganese, iron, PH, and TDS. For hydrogen sulfide Your nose is the best tester - its smells a little in the morning, it smells a lot, its so bad the neighbors are complaining....
    Expect to pay some $$$ for the right equipment, probably half as much if you DIY, but it still isn't free.

    Post your water analysis, type of pump and max GPM water output from the well with all filters bypassed (you can measure that with a 5 gal bucket at an outside spigot) and someone here will be able to tell you what you probably need.


    I just want to add one more thing. Even if you don't want to DIY, consider ordering from Gary or someplace online and hire a local plumber to do the install. Going through a water filtration company you run the risk of being stuck with proprietary equipment. It will be a problem if the company pulls up roots and moves out of town and you need service.
    -rick
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  5. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Thank you everyone for your input. We are in a bit of a sticky situation because we just found out this morning that our vehicle needs a new transmission. Money is tight right now but may free up soon. What is the downside of putting in a cheap softener for the moment to give us time to get the water tested and save money for something better. Obviously we would be out $400-$500 but it would buy us some time maybe??

    I know you all are experts and possibly shaking your head at this but we have 3 little kids, double mortgage (one of which is being rented) and tenants that want the iron water out of their tub/toilets. We are in a bit of a time/financial crunch.

    Thanks so much for all your input. My husband is going to swing by Culligan to give them $ for the water analysis they had done (through another company) and I will post the results.

    Thanks again!
    C
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    A softener of any type is not going to give your tenants satisfactory water quality. And no one should sell you anything that doesn't but, many will if given half a chance.

    Have you heard from Ecowater and what do they have to say?

    It takes patience to do something right. They've lived with the problems this long and will for awhile longer to get it done right, the first time. BTW, doing 'it' right' the first time always costs the least.
  7. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    It really depends on what the water analysis says.


    Softeners max out around 4ppm for dissolved (ferrous) iron removal. If you have ferric iron it will foul the softener in almost any amount. And to the best of my knowledge softeners won't solve your hydrogen sulfide problem.

    For the money softeners are a great solution IF --IF they are a match for your conditions. Your money may be better off spent on a centaur carbon filter which will remove hydrogen sulfide gas and ferric iron. It all depends on the water analysis.

    And I would plan on spending more than $500. Sorry.

    -rick
  8. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I have heard in some cases a softener can remove a rotten egg odor from the water. Iron in the water can sometimes be in the form of iron sulfide and a softener will grab it.

    sammy

    www.tylerwellandpump.com
  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Absolutely! Where there never seems to be enough time or money to do something right the first time around, we still almost always later find whatever we need to do the job over. Go figure, eh?!

    Anyway, and as a temporary, possibly-slow-it-down-a-bit measure, you might try using a bank of two or more 20" filters, and with the second having a lower micron rating than the first. My water troubles are not nearly as bad as yours, but that is how I keep the red out of my fixtures ... and please know I am not an expert on water treatment.
  10. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    I understand the advice on doing it right the first time. Trust me, I do. And I could go on and on for the reasons this is somewhat urgent. We live in a small town where finding a water company to test our water is not easy. We waited over a week to get the results from Culligan (which he barely covered over the phone and I never did see a hard copy). We don't have another couple weeks to solve this problem. If it were a home I was going to live in for 20 years I can understand paying 2-3k for a nice system.

    I know the Fleck 5600 is raved about but I worry about how hard installation will be and getting it set up properly. And if I pay the plumber we are talking more money (and who is to say they know what they are doing). My dad plumbed it all up and it's ready to go as far as hooking up the lines.

    It's a rental home, that will hopefully be sold in the next couple years. We remodeled it and didn't skimp on anything (thus lack of funds at this point). We need something that will do the job for now. Will a Kenmore serve it's purpose for a few years? I don't care if we have to add more salt or if it regenerates more than another. I just want something to buy us some time.

    I realize you all are experts and I appreciate that but I am making myself crazy thinking about it. Will a Kenmore work for the time being?
    Thank you,
  11. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    First of all, you haven't even posted a legit water analysis. If you want professional opinions, you will need that first. There is no cheap way out of your water problem. If you continue to think that there is, well then you are only fooling yourself. If you want people to tell you what you want to hear, then go to Home Depot, Lowes, or Sears, and then you can drive yourself even crazier after what they suggest doesn't work. Your water needs to be systematically treated (oxidized, filtered, and softened). A kenmore water softener alone, will not resolve your problem. I will say this again, because it usually has to be driven into peoples heads, your first and most important step, is a good quality water analysis, for the same reason why a doctor orders blood work. If you paid for the analysis by Culligan, why the heck don't you have the results? Check around for a company that might finance the system if money is an issue.

    sammy

    www.tylerwellandpump.com
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Looking up iron sulfide I found it is insoluble, and found as a physical matter, or particulate only. The only way a softener will remove any from water is by the resin mechanically filtering it out of the water stream. And the matter should still add H2S to the water and the other H2S in the water will go right through the resin bed. So there would be no reduction in H2S odor.

    Solubility in water negligible (insoluble) from this link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_sulfide

    Since 1988 I regularly used softeners to remove up to and including 5 ppm of ferrous soluble clear water iron and in the last few years, with a special resin etc. up to and including 13 ppm.

    Ferrous clear water soluble iron goes right through all mechanical filters, only ferric red water insoluble iron will be filtered out and if your water is clear when drawn, those type filters won't help.

    Big box store brand softeners will not last long on this water chatterk, you'll just throw money away that you don't have. Look in your phone book under the heading Water and then for Analysis, there may be an ad or two from labs in your area or nearby. The may have a place that you can take samples into where they come to pick them up a day or two a week. Or call the county extension office, they usually do water tests for very little cost.

    Culligan and some other dealers do not like giving test results to prospective customers because they don't want them (you) to take the results and go comparison shopping.

    Installing a softener or filter is simple plumbing, usually easier to install than a water heater. And you may not have to solder anything if you have 3/4" copper tubing. I've sold a couple thousand 5600s and 1180+/- Clack WS-1 valves that have an improved version of the Fleck seals, spacers and piston design. And it was invented by 3 ex Fleck engineers to be the easiest and fastest to program and repair.
  13. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Around here the local Culligan place rents their equipment out, and gives the option to have a service technician to take care of the salt for a fee or we can do it ourselves and only call them if there is a need for service.

    The rental fees are fair, but better yet, the program allows one to see that the equipment really does the job without buying it. Once the results are proven, they are of course happy to sell the equipment outright.

    I imagine Culligan is a franchise and policies probably vary greatly by location.
  14. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Thanks Gary. I do know the iron we have is red iron. I am saying that because when you fill a glass of water it has a red tint to it and several sediments floating around. Or if you run bath water and let it drain, there is red sediment in the tub.

    We called Culligan about the water analysis and the gentleman was not there at the time and the lady at the front desk could not help us. I will try to call early tomorrow morning and get the results. I know when he was helping us he was using another company to test the water (I want to say water-right). Our county does not test water. You have to send it off to Jefferson City where they will test it (7-10 days) and all they test for is EColi and one other bacteria. I looked up water analysis for our town and 1 place came up. I called them and he said he just checks for E.coli and Coloform (I'm sure I've butchered this one up). So I have had little luck in the search (not for lack of trying). Would a well specialist be able to point me in the right direction?

    The whole reason we had agreed to the water analysis with Culligan was because he predicted the unit to cost $2500 and it would take care of the high iron, sulfur, and sulfur bacteria (which we have small amounts of ). After getting the test results back (this is all over the phone - I haven't seen them) I was told the unit was actually cost $4800.

    I understand Sammy that you are around this every day and it would have occurred to you to insist on seeing the results. I'm a busy mom, in my 20's and trying very hard to educate myself on it. I have no previous experience in this field and that is why I am here. You came across as very righteous in your post and it was a little frustrating to read. There are a lot of area's of expertise that many of us are ignorant in. I was reading on the Fleck and other "2 tank systems" and it all seemed very complicated to me. I don't know what a lot of this stuff even means. Meanwhile we have renters calling and asking when it will be fixed and there is some responsibility to them to try to take care of it. Had I known how hard this was going to be I would of held off renting it out until we figured it out. Hindsight 20/20.

    The way I grew up, my dad usually could make something "cheaper" work. We have hard water back home that occasionally smells. He's made a waterboss work for 5 years. I wouldn't buy one of those but sometimes you can make the cheaper made ones work. I thought it maybe it would provide a quick and easy fix. Temporarily take away the hard, rusty water. Is it the right answer, NO, but could it possibly fix it, maybe.

    Gary, you mentioned that the softeners are easy to install. I understand that is true of the store brand (whirlpool, kenmore, waterboss, etc) but I thought some of these "order online" tanks require a bit more intense setup and work. Is that not true? Is it as simple as installing a basic store bought softener?

    Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. I will call Culligan again in the morning and see if we can get the results (we haven't officially paid any money for the results he was just going to add it in with our softener). I obviously had no idea what I was getting into and had very little direction. Live & learn.
  15. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Thanks Cacher_chick. He was going to rent us a unit for $45 a month, plus $89 install. And potentially another $45 a month for a pellet unit and something else to take out sulfur. For $90/month plue $89.00 we could get a pretty nice unit. And at this point I'm put off by the Culligan man b/c his quotes would change and he would never email me anything when I asked. He'd just quickly tell me it over the phone. I almost went with him and at the very end called and backed out b/c I was getting such a bad vibe. At this point I don't really want to call back and move forward with it. I know the $540 in rental would buy a Kenmore and if it only lasts 1 year, it will pay for itself (vs renting a Culligan). This where all my thinking came from.

    thanks,
    C
  16. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    One last thing, we have a sediment filter (before the water tank) and it doesn't take long after changing it and it's covered in junk. I have no idea how old the well is but from the looks of everything it could be mess down there. When we lived there I could believe the amount of gunk that came out of the faucets at times. Any bath water we used was discolored. It was a mess. So we continued to put it off because we knew it was going to cost a lot of money to do it the right way. Again, guess we should have tackled it before getting renters. Again hindsight 20/20.
  17. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Biermech, is a chlorinator something we can add in the future? How much space do they require? It would be the first stop the water makes, followed by the filter, than the water tank, lastly the softener? Thank you for your response. That may work well for us.
  18. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    You have a filter BEFORE the tank? That's a big no no! Now your trying to burn up your pump. This is what this filter can do being in front of the tank/pressure switch.

    bob...
  19. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I understand your situation but if you want professional advice then you need to open your ears. I told you how the water needed to be treated. A chlorinator is not something that can be added in the future, it's required to treat your water properly. Like i said the water needs to be treated systematically.

    sammy

    www.tylerwellandpump.com
  20. Chatterk

    Chatterk New Member

    Messages:
    18
    My mistake. I just confirmed it's after the tank. I've been in our basement a handful of times and I just thought it was before. My husband just explained this morning it is actually after the tank.
Similar Threads: Stinky water
Forum Title Date
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Water Softener Prep for Turning Water Off to House Today at 7:51 AM
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r PH of softened water Jul 21, 2014
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Water softener effect on pH Jul 11, 2014
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Please help: Culligan water softener Jul 10, 2014
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Need new whole-house water softener Jul 6, 2014

Share This Page