Water softening / filtration noob question

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Plumbingnoob, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    My wife and I just bought a foreclosure with well water and an existing combination filtration / water softening unit installed (see attached photos). When we closed on the house we had no information regarding anything in the house as far as what has been done over the past few years, etc. The combination unit however was unplugged and as you can see from the brine tank - empty of salt and pretty filthy. I did my homework online and cleaned out the brine tank with bleach and and added three 40 pound bags of salt along with five gallons of water. I plugged in the combination unit and started up a manual regeneration cycle although I didn't really figure out how to start it until later (the knobs and writing on the master control switch is confusing). My wife and I didn't have time to stay during the whole regerneration cycle so we unplugged mid cycle which essentially left small amounts of water flowing to the outside of the house. Came back the following day to plug in and have the unit complete the cycle.

    Now the question...to replace everything shown in the photos can I just buy the best water softening and seperate filtration system that loews or home depot has to offer? I was quoted by a plumber a cost to replace everything for 7 grand. 7 grand seems borderline ridiculous to replace this type of system in a residential 2,000 SF house where it is only my wife and myself...What does everyone think? I think the unit still runs fine although I haven't been able to test the water yet after completing an uninterupted regeneration cycle. For reference the unit is a Master - NS-10T

    photo1.jpg photo2.jpg photo3.jpg photo4.jpg
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Location:
    IL
  3. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Thanks! The post you linked actually brought me to this website! His equipment does seem to be in worse shape than mine. I've tested the well water in the beginning when the the equipment was unplugged and everything seemed close to "ideal". When the water softening guy (the guy who quoted me for 7,000 dollars) tested the water he indicated the pH and hardness were higher than normal. I need to test the water again after finally running the equipment through a full regeneration cycle without unplugging halfway. I will have to checkout masterwater.com to get the unit reconditioned or get a quote if possible at least.
  4. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    I guess the trouble I am having is if I can't solve the water hardness / filtration issues with my current system and a replacement is warranted - Can I go with the 600 dollar softening system from home depot coupled with a filtration system (500 to 1000 dollars) and perhaps have a professional install the new system or DIM (Do it myself)? Noway my wife and I are in the position to shell out over 5,000 dollars for a new system.
  5. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,311
    Location:
    Maine
    You have to do some water testing. It's old but old ain't always bad. I'd wonder about the resin but that can be replaced if it's bad. Anyhow, do a water test borane after.
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Location:
    IL
    http://www.softenerparts.com/Autotrol_Repair_Parts_s/2.htm is a source of rebuild parts, which you may not need. Softener resin is pretty common and interchangeable.

    That small bottom tank has some other media. It may be an iron catching media, or something else.

    After your water test, you should get a better idea what you would need.

    http://www.watercheck.com/products.html AKA http://www.ntllabs.com/ is often recommended, but I don't remember what specific test was suggessted. Checking for hardness, iron, manganese, pH and sulfates are what I think are important for selecting a treatment system. (you don't live in an arsenic and heavy metal area) Bacterial testing -- I think for a deep well, shocking would be sufficient, but I am not a pro. A lot of the tests include pathogen testing. In fact, if you have the county test, that plus nitrates may only be what they test for.

    If you just decided to blow off what you have and buy a 1.5 cubic foot softener, HD or Lowes would not be the place to go.

    Click on the top of the page where it says "Notifications".
  7. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Will do. I want to test the water but would prefer to test it myself. Do you know of any good water testing kits to use? I was thinking about using : http://www.homedepot.com/p/PRO-LAB-...Quality-Test-Kit-WQ105/100176532?N=5yc1vZbxnx - although the reviews seem pretty bad...

    Thanks this is helpful!
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Location:
    IL
    DYI is probably faster. I went with e-watertest.com Probably a good test, tho the great majority of things they test for came back as non detected.
    It took 39 days total to order kit, get kit in mail, fill and mail next day(Friday), arrive there Monday, and get email result "20 business days" later was long. "20 business days" is over 5 weeks. I have no clue as to the turnaround times for the other lab.



    Hach 5B for hardness. They also sell iron and other test kits. I bought the Seachem MultiTest Iron Test Kit. Manganese often correlates with iron.

    Regarding sulfur, do you have smells?
  9. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    No smells and actually the main thing I am worried about is the water eating away at the copper piping due to hardness. Our new neighbor actually claims the water is excellent where we are and doesn't even use a filter or softening equipment. I believe his plumbing is galvanized steel though or something where the hardness of water is not too much of a worry.
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Location:
    IL
    Hardness does not eat away copper. It could clog. If there is any eating away, that would be pH. If your water is pH 7 or more, that is not going to happen. However soft water is worthwhile for various reasons. pH paper is very cheap. Swimming pool sites would have that, or you could order up some test paper that covers maybe from pH 6.5 to 8.5.

    Look thru the Hach site. They charge shipping. If a friend were to want a test also, combining the buy into a single order would save you a little money.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  11. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Well yesterday I literally tested the water. I took a shower for the first time in the new house. The results of the shower left my hair and skin super dry suggesting the water is in fact pretty hard and there was a semi metallic smell to the water as well. Essentially, after full manual regeneration cycle of my equipment - the equipment is not doing its job. The water softening guy who quoted me for 7,000 dollars came up with test rests for 19 (hardness) and 5.5 pH which still seems to be the case even after manual regen cycle.

    The combo unit is 13 years old. I am looking at either doing some substantial repairs to get this thing up and running correctly or replacing the combo unit. I can re-use the existing pressure tank since there are no leaks and there are only signs of minor corrosion on the outside of the tank (pressure tank was installed in 2006). Anyways, total cost to have done by a professional seems to range from 3,500 to 7,300 dollars.
  12. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    746
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    Your major problem is the pH. At 5.5, it will eat your metal plumbing like a kid eats candy. When you say 19 hardness, I would think since the pH is so low that the hardness is 19 PPM and not GPG. To correct the pH problem, you have to add hardness. If you want to properly correct your water, spend the money for a good water test. If not, you might be in the same boat in the future as you are now.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I question a 5.5 pH with 19 gpg hardness. That is highly abnormal from my experience.

    The top tank of your combo unit is an acid neutralizing (AN) filter and the bottom tank is a very small (capacity/size) softener. You can add AN mineral to the top tank through the black plug hole. You need to know how much of the right minerals (2 for a mixed bed) and how to do it correctly or... hire any water treatment guy instead of plumbers... or, buy a new AN filter and correctly sized softener. You can buy online or locally. You can install it yourself of hire it done. And I suggest running from anyone that wants the amounts of money you have mentioned so far.

    Then you would regenerate the softener twice with like 10 lbs of salt with no water use during or between the 2 regenerations. That will totally regenerate all the resin back to its maximum capacity.
  14. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Awesome advice! I will need to try the two regeneration cycles with no water use. Regarding testing purposes I have ordered the following two tests to measure for hardness and pH:



    I like the cheap price and 50 samples for each pack which is exactly what I need!

    I am looking for another opinion from a water treatment company. Their prices seem more reasonable and for full equipment replacement (standard) - their price is 4 grand but I don't want to replace the pressure tank so it probably will be cheaper and more reasonable. They do provide a ten year warranty on tanks and valves are covered for the first five years.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2014
  15. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    652
    Location:
    NC
    Many county environmental health departments offer private well water test. Here is a link to Somerset County Maryland that offers a bacteria and chemical test for $50.00. Your county may be different but the county labs are usually cheaper than sending the water to a private lab and the results can be trusted since they are not trying to sell you something.

    http://www.somersethd.org/envHealth/fees.html
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The county is charging less but they still are selling a water test and... for many fewer 'contaminates' than most private labs test for. They have maybe $4 of chemical and time costs in their $50 charge. Plus they get free info on groundwater quality in their county plus where and who owns the well. And yes, I no longer trust the government with personal info as I once did.
  17. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Tested the water hardness today at pressure tank (before entering equipment) and at faucet and obtained the same reading for hardness roughly for both image.jpg around 84 ppm or 4.7 gpg... Sorry for sideway picture from phone
  18. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    Tested the pH today at kitchen sink with : and according to the color coding on the container my water is between a 4 and 5 pH. Tested at the pressure tank right out of the well and the pH level seemed to be slightly below 4 or at 4. So right now I am working with 4.5 pH and a hardness of 84 to 92 ppm or 4.7 grains per gallon.

    For a sanity check with the strips I tested my mom's and my dad's water (two separate houses due to divorce) and they both had a pH level of about 6 (they are both provided water from WSSC in Maryland). I know if the acid level is neutralized to a 7 in my house then the hardness would go up. 4.7 grains per gallon does not seem too bad considering WSSC (city water) provides water at around 6.3 gpg.

    After doing some research, I am thinking about just replacing the current installed system even though it could probably be repaired. It is 13 years old and the water softener portion in the combo unit is just so small. I know it might be overkill but I think I am going to go with a 3.0 cubic foot automatic acid neutralizer with a 32,000 grain "electronic demand" water softener followed by a 10" EPM-BB filter. However, I am uncertain what might be the best manufacturer / model to go with. Any suggestions? My dad can get equipment for really good prices since he has his own HVAC company. Sorry for all the spam with this topic in this forum. I'm trying to do this myself and I am definitely looking forward to posting picture when the job is finally done and hopefully the problem solved. Maybe someone will learn something from this with a similar situation!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2014
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Your well pump and plumbing (ID) will not provide the gpm at the pressure that is needed to correctly backwash a 3.0 cuft AN filter. Most residential well pumps can't provide the water needed for a 2.0 cuft AN filter. So, what is the hp and gpm of your pump? What is the static water level in the well? How deep is the well? What diameter is the casing? What type pump do you have; submersible, 1 or 2 line jet or vertical?

    You need a mixed bed (2 minerals) AN filter and possibly 2 in parallel to get the flow rate through them to slow down to provide more contact time so the minerals and bring the pH up to 7.0, or at least 6.5 which still eats metals BTW and adds them to your diet while seriously damaging plumbing, fixtures and appliances.
  20. Plumbingnoob

    Plumbingnoob Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Maryland
    The only information I can provide on the well pump is the motor information: 1/2 HP. 3.7 amps, 3,450 RPM - probably submersible. I really do not know how to figure out the rest.
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