Water Treatment System

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Truckman, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Truckman

    Truckman New Member

    Dallastown, PA
    I posted this on another forum before I found this one, thanks for the help:

    So, I had Culligan over yesterday and we talked about setting up a whole system: a pre-filter before the softener, a water softener, and a reverse osmosis system for the kitchen/fridge. Total cost with installation, tax, etc.... $3900! OUCH! Now, I am certainly all for paying more for a quality product, and more importantly the customer service, but that is just way more than I expected to pay.

    I've spent the last day and a half searching the interwebnets for more information, and this forum seemed to be the most help. I guess what I'm looking for more help for the following:

    A little pre-information - City Water/Sewer, as per Culligan, only 5 gpg hardness, water odor, trouble with laundry odor if left too long before drying, towels only last a day or two before smelling (after showers), significant skin issues since we've moved up here (although the doctor doesn't believe it to be water related, I believe it is). Purchase about 5 cases of 1-liter bottles a month for drinking.

    1. The correct size system; according to this formula: family size (4 or 6 (two girls approaching the teens)) X 75= 300-450; X 5 gpg (per Culligan test)=1500-2250 Daily Capacity; X5=7500-11250 Softener Size. I still don't know what that gets me to.

    2. I'm fairly handy, and not afraid to tackle a job. Is installing this set up OK for the DIYer, or better left to the pros?

    3. Although I've researched the water softeners, I haven't researched filter systems and RO systems - any recommendations?

    4. I'm also going to have at least 2 other companies out, F.F. Kling & Sons, and WaterCheck. Anyone heard of these companies?

    5. Culligan was pushing their bag-filter pre-filter-system. Although they didn't have anything to show, it was explained as similar to a pool filter set-up, and more efficient than the standard charcoal cylinder set-up. Opinions?

    Thanks for the replies, I hope I've given enough information
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Your local water utility will provide you a copy of their annual compliance report, which gives detailed test results and outlines in great detail what's in the water. Hardness of 5 is on the low side. I don't know if it is high enough to recommend a softener. Around here, our wate is 14, and a lot of people have a softener, most do not. I don't have one. I would want to know what is causing the odor.

    I don't like whole-house charcoal filters, becuase they remove the chlorine and leave the inside piping vulnerable to "growth".

    I wonder if point of use charcoal filters for the WM , shower, and kitchen sink would be practical?
  3. Truckman

    Truckman New Member

    Dallastown, PA
    Thanks for the reply Jimbo..

    We've looked at our local water reports for the last two years. I've also read the several violations issued as a result of not doing the appropriate tests in the correct time frame (some were just completely left out until the next test period). I can't say I have the strongest confidence in our water company, however e-coli and bacteria tests have come back negative. A little history: we moved up here to PA from MD about 2½ years ago and have had water issues since, mainly the odor. However, as a family, we have noticed several skin irritation issues, which I attribute to the slightly harder water (on our already sensitive skin) not washing the soaps away completely from our bodies and our clothes. Although I wouldn't call the water we moved from soft, it must have been softer than our current water, and was certainly treated by the water company better than it is now.

    As far as the odor, to me it smells a little musty, especially if you get it in a spray near the face, such as in the shower. Our laundry can't be allowed to sit for any length of time before drying or else it must be re-rinsed if not completely re-washed. Our bath towels need to get changed out about every 3rd day because they start to smell bad. If you don't clean the shower/scrub the toilet every 5 days or so, there starts to be a pink buildup in the shower, and a black buildup in the toilet bowl, sometimes with pink too. Addition of water into our fish tank causes a new batch of snails just about every time. Never had that problem with the old water. Plus a more difficult time dealing with algae than before.

    We have another water treatment company coming out tomorrow, so I'll see what they have to say. It looks like they install mostly the Fleck systems.
  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If you install it yourself or hire a plumb to install it, you can buy as good or better and save as much as $2800+.

    Describe the odor. I suggest a Coliform bacteria test.

    I suggest 60 gals/person/day and you need to use the actual number of permanent residents in the house. So 240*5=1200/day *8 days = 9600 rounded to 10K.

    Installation is simple in and out plumbing and a drain line. It takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours for one person.

    I suggest a softener using the Clack WS-1 control valve correctly sized for the SFR (service flow rating) of the house based on the number and type of fixtures in the house.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  5. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Columbus, OH
    Sounds fishy to me. ;)

    The algae is a no brainer. I'm sure that it's caused by nitrates, and possibly phosphates that are in your water. I'm assuming that you have a freshwater tank. Once you get an RO(/DI) system, that will be the best water that you can use for your tank. I've got a saltwater tank it's much more sensitive, and it's what I use, as do many of the people who have SW tanks. You may need to buffer your pH if you use RO or DI water in your tank. No dechlor is need either.

    Freshwater snails can/will breed like crazy. When you increase the algae with the addition of tap water you increase their food supply. This causes an population increases. As they consume the algae, there is a decrease, so some die off.

  6. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    The place to start is with a report from your water supplier. Post the results here for more suggestions.

    You are being sold something you probably don't need.

    Hardness of 5 grains per gallon (85 mg/liter) is "moderately hard", which is sometimes beneficial and many municipal systems blend raw and softened water to achieve that range of hardness. http://www.agwt.org/info/pdfs/hardwatersolutions.pdf

    Bag filters are usually not a good choice. They have too little area for the size of housing that you must buy and therefore have very short life. They are usually proprietary and therefore the replacement bags are expensive. There is a wide selection of cartridge filters that will do everything a bag filter will do and more, and at far less cost for both equipment and cartridges.

    Odor in water can usually be removed with an activated carbon cartridge filter. That filter will also remove chlorine, radon, and organics that might be in the water.

    Reverse osmosis removes things that are dissolved in the water. The water test results from your water supplier should tell you whether you might need that. If your water has 300 to 500 mg/liter of Total Dissolved Solids you MIGHT want to consider it, depending on what is in the water.

    If you hang your towels so they can dry well you will probably eliminate the musty odor. The traces of soaps, body oils, and exfoliated skin will contribute a lot more to your towels than anything in the water.

    Almost any laundry will have odor if you don't dry it. That won't change if you treat the water.

    Culligan is trying to sell you something you don't really need at a price more than twice what you could buy it for.
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Culligan is to water softening is like what Rooter is to drain cleaning!
    Is the quality of service higher? Maybe not always!
    Is the price higher? Always!
    Do they often sell unneccessary items to improve commissions? Frequently

    Now an answer for the pink!

    It is an airbourne bacteria! Nothing to do with the water supply! It grows in areas that are frequently wet/damp. The name "Serratia Marcescens" It is difficult to get rid of!

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  8. Truckman

    Truckman New Member

    Dallastown, PA
    Thanks for all the info. We decided against Culligan, we're going with another company that's much smaller and more local. They're doing the installation, I decided I really didn't want to mess with it after all. The Fleck 5600SE and a 20" charcoal filter. Decided against the RO system for now. Thanks again.
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't agree with chlorine removal on a whole house basis or using a prefilter before a softener unless you have a control valve that requires it. Clack and Fleck valves do not.

    So what make and model control valve are they selling you?
  10. ashleywilson

    ashleywilson New Member

    Hi All,
    Water conditioning refers to water problems that effect water taste, color, odor, hardness and corrosivity rather than health and safety. The presence of high levels of magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and silt are common contaminants that require water conditioning. It is not uncommon to use both treatment and conditioning methods to improve water quality.

    Here is a list of possible treatment and conditioning methods:

    Mechanical or Sedimentation Filtration
    Activated Carbon Filtration
    Oxidation Filtration
    Neutralizing Filtration
    Reverse Osmosis or Membrane Filtration
    Ultra-violet Treatment
    Water Softener or Cation Exchange
    Chlorination Disinfection
    and more detail i saw at http://www.jnblabs.com
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    The RO unit is the cheapest part of the installation. As long as the softener has a usage meter the size is immaterial because it will regenerate whenever necessary. A larger softener will regenerate less frequently, but overall when all is said and done either one will use the same amount of resources over a given period. Culligan has to pay for their TV, radio, and full page Yellow Page ads somehow.
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    HJ, softeners must be sized for the peak demand gpm they will be treating; or installed/used on.

    When that is done right, that softener will regenerate less frequently than a smaller softener on the same system would. A smaller softener will use less water each regeneration than a larger one will yet it will use more total water because of the much more frequent regenerations, and in some cases, the smaller softener will use more salt than the correctly sized softener.

    So size does matter and it is critical to the operation of the softener. If not sized correctly for the peak demand gpm they can not remove all the hardness and iron etc. in the water. And there will be a higher pressure loss across a smaller softener than the correct sized softener, again, based on the same peak demand gpm.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    You are assuming both the large and small softeners use the same amount of salt and water during their recharges then? Otherwise several "small" regenerations would equal the equivalent "large" ones. Size was a factor when the regenerations were on a fixed cycle because you had to know the usage in order to set the clock, so a larger capacity unit would have a "cushion" in case of excessive usage or miscalculation. The metered ones do not have that requirement.
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    No assumptions. The DLFC (drain line flow control) of various sized softeners varies with the size of the softener (cuft volume of resin, and that dictates the size of the tank used) and then the volume of resin dictates the the length of minutes each cycle position of a regeneration runs for, and those minutes are programmed into the control valve. So the DLFC gpm * minutes = total water used per regeneration.

    The larger softener (based on cuft volume of resin) will use more gallons per regeneration but... the smaller softener will regenerate more frequently and more frequent regenerations can use up to twice the volume of water that a larger softener only regenerating say once every 8 days as I size for.

    A metered (demand initiated) regenerated softener without variable reserve (the norm) still requires a 24 hr reserve to be programmed in. That's the same as for a time clock model but, that type doesn't use more or less water than a softener with variable reserve because they both have the same size DLFC because they both have the same cuft volume of resin.
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