What You Love - Water Softener, Sandtrap, Iron FIlter?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by inforapeek, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Hi all~ I need advice and opinions

    I've recently received an estimate (modestly high) on installation of water softening system - I am on well water. Hardness level is 8 grains per gallon- an iron level of .6 ppm - pH 6.7 - with high sediment. I believe the flow rate is about 8 gallons per minute.

    The water treatment company has suggested using a sandtrap, installing a 1 cubic ft 5600 Fleck valve ($1280 installed), plus a reverse osmosis ($635 installed) leading to kitchen sink and refrigerator water line.

    I need help with understanding the sandtrap ($529 installed - sounds high - he said it is large). Is this something that will filter out the rust too? I have been told by a different company that I need to install a rust filter as the rust in my well water will eventually cause problems in the resin bed.

    I am also wondering, should I decide that I want to bypass (no softenend water) the kitchen sink and refrigerator water line - is a solid block activated carbon filter a good way to go? I am leery about stagnant water and constantly replacing (expensive) membranes in the R/O. My water is relatively clean, and the fridge's water/icemaker has its own filter (PUR) which I change every six months.


    Do I need the rust filter if I have a sand trap, and if I have a (whole house) rust filter, would I need additonal filtering of water in sink and fridge?

    Thanks for any help- I have a lot of questions, I know.
  2. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    You said sediment is high, Do you mean you have a sandy well or just little floaters?

    Have you had your water tested? If so, post the results beyond the Hardness, Iron and PH. If you have had a test and there is nothing deadly in your water, I see no reason for drinking practically distilled water with an RO. All a carbon filter will do in your case is breed bacteria. Does the water taste bad? Does it smell?

    bob...
  3. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Thank you, speedbump, for replying. Our property and the area in general lies over a bed of rock. We've been told we live in an area with some of the cleanest water in the area. Although we've used whole house sediment/carbon filters for years, we are tired of changing the cartridges and no longer wish to deal with the effects of the hard water. I am not familiar with a sandtrap and am trying to decipher if it is necessary for the softener to work properly and do I also need an iron filter? The water is fairly clean - no obvious smell or taste, but we have always had (22 yrs) what looks like rock (shale/slate) shavings accumulate iin the sediment filter.


    The only water test results he shared with me were the hardness, iron, and pH, but I do not think I would be happy with the water in the sink w/o flitering it beyond the sandtrap. I am looking for an alternative to the R/O which I am trying to avoid. I thought a SBAC filter was very good for taste, odor, etc. Is there a type that could be installed under the sink in the cold water line? This would be the alternative should I not have softenend water at my kitchen sink.



    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I hope to take a sample of our water to
    the pool company to get some objective results. I just want a straight shooter telling me what the water needs and doesn't need before I decide who installs what.
  4. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    I would stay away from softened water for your main drinking water.

    Softeners are good for washing machine and bathroom shower water.

    Sorry I can't suggest a solution for you. Flash (vapor phase) distillation would be cool, but way too expensive.

    I use a carbon block filter under my sink for oder/taste reasons, and simply clean the iron stains as needed.

    Edit: The life expectancy of a sediment filter increases with the square of the size.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008
  5. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I am not familiar with an SBAC filter.

    I definately don't like cartridge filters of any kind and I don't know what a pool company could tell you that the other guy already did. The other things a pool company tests for have little to do with drinking water.

    Bill is right, hard water is for drinking not soft water. People remove the calcium and magnesium from their water then eat pills to supplement the minerals they are missing. A softener is a great tool for making lots of things last longer. Clothing, fixtures, piping etc. I doubt that there is anything in your water that will harm you, but if you are concerned, take a sample (in their vials) to a certified lab and have them test for as many things as you like. It may be a bit expensive to test for all things on the EPS's hit list.

    Lastly, I like Iron filters in front of water softeners. Others say softeners will remove up to ten parts of iron. I say BS. But to each their own. Having a carbon filter in my opinion is good for removing chlorine which you don't have with well water.

    bob...
  6. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Thank you both for your replies. I never intended to drink softened water at my sink - both the sink water line and the refrigerator water line will be bypassed (water straight from the well after passing through the sandtrap), with softenend water going only to bathrooms, washer, water heater, etc.

    Because the Kitchenaid fridge uses a PUR filter for its ice and water dispenser, I was asking for advice on the best (easiest) way to filter the water that will come out of the kitchen faucet. I would be going from a wholehouse sediment and carbon filter (installed under the house) to no filter at all at the sink. Is there a best (easy) way of filtering that water for taste, odor, etc that doesn't involve going under the house changing cartridges every 90 days?

    I was advised by a reputable water treatment co. that a pool company can give me pretty accurate results for a basic water test. You stated that it was necessary to know results other than hardness, pH, and iron. Even though my water appears fairly clean does not mean that I don't want to filter it as much as possible (short of R/O for already softenend water).

    Since the iron level is fairly low, I imagine the water treatment installer feels that the softener will be able to handle that amount, but what about the sandtrap - does that sound reasonable? (Both necessary and price) Would you use a rust filter for .6 ppm?

    Sorry for any confusion and thanks for any advice.
  7. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I still don't know why you need a sandtrap.

    I guess you really don't want my advice since you sound like your sold on some kind of "Whole House Filter" Which would actually be a softener or iron filter, not one of those little in line filters that won't remove anything that could be harmful to you.

    Yes I would. Like I said, other softener sellers will tell you that a softener will remove all your iron. In my experience in two different states it is just not so. Some iron will get through and the iron will impede the effectiveness of your mineral bed unless you maintain it very well.

    bob...
  8. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Thanks - I do appreciate your advice. If I install an iron filter and then a softener, will that be sufficient for the whole house - including water at the sink? I asked if the sandtrap was necessary as I am not familiar with it and feel it is being suggested to take care of the high amount of sediment in the water. Would the iron filter also take care of sediment?

    I appreciate that, without testing my water yourself, it may be difficult to suggest what is necessary. I am definitely installing a softener - so, is the only other thing I need an iron filter? I could use sink water for cooking and drinking w/o worry with the iron filter?

    thanks again
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2008
  9. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    If you install the softener and iron filter, I would still want pure well water at the sink, not softened water for drinking. You can do this with an additional faucet for cold drinking water only. And your outside faucets can be bypassed as well so that only iron free water goes there. You don't need soft water outside.

    Anything this sand filter is going to remove, I would think the softener and iron filter could remove as well.

    bob...
  10. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The house I grew up in, with water system added in 1937, had a softener that required us to remove the top and pour in salt to regenerate it. The control never failed.

    The water system included a separate line to a 3-valve faucet in the kitchen that supplied hot-soft, cold-soft, and unsoftened water. The soft water went only to the kitchen and bathroom sinks and the tub.

    Cartridge filters and sand filters have substantially different performance. A sand filter without chemical pretreatment to coagulate the suspended solids (sediment) will remove particles down to about 40 microns, often with some removal of smaller particles down to about 20 microns.

    A cartridge filter can be selected to remove particles down to 1 micron but that is probably smaller than required from well water. If there is a carbon block filter in the system then a good sediment filter is required so the carbon block doesn't plug before the capacity is depleted. I usually install a single 20" long "Big Blue" housing for a typical home flow rate. See link below. You can get micron ratings to suit your needs. If you need carbon filtering you can put a second housing after it with activated carbon. The larger housing will result in much lower cartridge costs per 1000 gallons of water treated, because the greater area reduces the pressure drop.

    http://www.harmsco.com/pdf/IP_CalypsoBlue_FINAL_040904.pdf

    There are those who say that you don't need a sediment filter because there is nothing in the sediment in well water that is dangerous and you can't see it. That is usually true, but the user gets the final vote on what they want in their water.
  11. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Thanks for your reply - and I hope you won't get irritated that I keep asking questions. I have since received the water analysis from the pool company (I converted to grains per gallon)).


    total alkalinity = 19ppm (1.11 gpg)
    pH = 6.6
    calcium hardness = 43 ppm (2.514 gpg)
    copper = 0
    iron = 0
    total dissolved solids = 50 ppm ( 2.923 gpg)
    saturation index = -2.37 ppm ( not converted -considered corrosive)

    cyanuric acid = 11 ppm (.64 gpg)
    chlorine - 0 (nauturally it's well water)

    With these readings, would you still install the iron filter? Apparently the pool company shows a lower hardness level than the water treatment company showed (8gpg), but the water treatment co. could not get a reading from water straight from well - so he tested it on water after the filters. I think I trust the pool company to be more accurate.

    Is it not possible to hook the iron filter straight to the water lines (sink & fridge) - must I add the separate faucet for that?

    ~thanks for your patience

  12. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    I spotted a sediment filter at the store that was clear and had a drain at the bottom. I don't think it would remove very much though.

    A sand trap would remove more sediment and that would slow down the rate the rest of the filters get plugged up.

    I have a separate filtered water faucet at the kitchen sink. This extends the life of the smaller "under sink" carbon filter.
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    If softened water is the only water available at the sink, is there a practical way to "unsoften" it for drinking?
  14. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    What is the source of the cyanuric acid? I don't believe that is a naturally ocurring substance. It is sometimes used to treat pool water to maintain chlorine levels in the water supply. http://www.allclear.com/MSDS/Cyanuric Acid.pdf

    If that is really in your well water then you may have some kind of industrial pollution of the ground water.

    As far as I have been able to determine it is not particularly hazardous at the reported level, but if it is in your water I would wonder what else is in the water that was probably not detectable in the tests they ran.

    Since the test was run by a pool company of some kind it may be that they simply got the sample contaminated.
  15. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Bob, why would he need a carbon filter if he has no odor? Besides, a carbon filter is simply a place for bacteria to breed. If not needed, I would discourage it's use.

    I don't know why the pool company would test for cyanuric acid either. I would not trust the Pool Companies test results for hardness anyway, since this is not something they normally test for. I don't understand why you would want to just remove the iron from the drinking water and the icecubes. Iron is good for you.

    The questions you are asking and the assumptions you are making make me believe you would be better off with distilled water because you have some sort of phobia about well water.

    bob...
  16. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Synthesis

    Cyanuric acid (CYA) was first synthesized by Wöhler in 1829 by decomposing urea and uric acid at high temperature.[1] Today industrial manufacture of CYA for use as a precursor in the manufacture of such products as bleach, disinfectant and herbicide.....

    Applications

    FDA permits a certain amount of cyanuric acid to be present in some non-protein nitrogen (NPN) additives used in animal feed and drinking water.[4] Cyanuric acid has been used as NPN. For example, Archer Daniels Midland manufactures a NPN supplement for cattle, which contains biuret, triuret, cyanuric acid and urea...

    Thanks, Bob - all I know is I live in a rural setting, with farmers and cattle ranchers all around me. I won't worry too much about the cyanuric acid for now, but what is your opinion on the necessity of the sandtrap? Would you, based on my readings, choose the iron filter or sandtrap or both? (along with the softener)

    thanks~

  17. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I still have no idea why you would need a sandtrap. If you don't have a sand problem, no sandtrap is needed.

    Cyanuric Acid is a Stabilizer and is used in Swimming Pools. I have to add it to my pool occasionally since I quit using the three inch tablets which use a chemical that I won't attempt the spelling of here. The three inch tablets have the acid in them, I now use a Chlorine Generator to keep the pool disinfected and therefore have to add Cyanuric Acid.

    If you live in a Farming Community, I would be more worried about Fecal Bacteria and Nitrate/Nitrites in your water. There is the possibility of other chemicals that could be in your water due to the proximity to Farms that can't be tested for at a Swimming Pool Company. That's what the Labs are for.

    bob...
  18. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    I don't understand why you would want to just remove the iron from the drinking water and the icecubes. Iron is good for you.

    I believe it is sometimes hard to communicate things on an internet forum. I truly want your educated opinion. We have lived in our home 22 years. We recently replaced all the copper piping in our home due to more than a dozen pinhole leaks over the years. Now is a good time to soften the water, along with doing away with the inline filters.

    The estimate I received suggested a Fleck 5600 softener, a sandtrap and R/O - using a special faucet at sink with a connection to fridge water line. I didn't want softened water coming out of the (main) kitchen sink faucet, as I have alot of indoor plants that I don't wish to water with softenend water.

    I am just trying to determine the best way to filter the water at my sink (the main faucet, not the faucet for R/O should I go that route).

    Speedbump, (Bob) - you suggested the iron filter as pretreatment for the softener as iron is bad for the resin bed. Now, you are telling me iron is good and why would I not want it in my drinking water? I never said that. If I don't need the iron filter, fine- I just want to filter (make it better)the water at my sink and the water leading to my fridge, as I plan to bypass those two areas (no softened water) along with exterior faucets. If I ran the softened water there, I would need the R/O. I do not want R/O.

    I don't mean to sound confusing...I just want advice on how to best filter the water that is not being softened. These two lines (sink & fridge) will run straight to main pipe after the holding tank (or possibly to iron filter/sandtrap)if they are installed).

    And, I am a gal.

    thanks
  19. inforapeek

    inforapeek New Member

    Messages:
    25
    I could not locate a convenient water testing lab and I wanted quick results. Can anyone suggest a source - I live upstate SC.
  20. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Ok, your making this harder than it needs to be.

    I like softened water. And I like Iron free water. I like both for my clothes, my fixtures and other things that would otherwise stain. Iron in your water is good for YOU not your clothes or your fixtures. It will stain. Softened water is lacking in calcium and magnesium. Hard water is good for YOU not your shower walls, laundry and fixtures. Iron can foul your softeners mineral bed. This is why I recommend a hard water drinking water faucet at your kitchen sink. You can water your plants with that water and also drink this water. Now you won't need Geritol to get iron back in your system.

    Iron filters are backwashable filters as are water softeners. In line cartridge filters are not. You have to change the cartridges often depending on your water. I say again. These filters in my opinion are useless.

    Testing labs are all over the place. Your local Health Dept will do Nitrate/Nitrite and Fecal Bacteria testing for you sometimes for free. It's ten bucks here in my County. You go get the bag, read the directions, get the sample and take it back. You will have an answer in less than a week usually.

    You want to take the sample at the pump or well, not after filters.

    For Laboratories, Google water testing laboratories.

    bob...
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