Whole house water filters

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by WV Hillbilly, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

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    178
    Location:
    WV
    What do you pros know about the G E Homespring filter ? I think it was formally sold by maytag and made by zenon . The reading I have done on it seems to be fairly new technology using a membrane . Anyone using one and if so what problem were you trying to solve? Does it work ?
    If you are using one you don't have to be a pro to tell me what you think of it .
  2. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    I have had one installed for several years. My primary problem was < 0.5 micron clay. I have never had a problem. Looking at input vs output water is impressive.

    They do remove biologicals. It is not completely clear if they get rid of all viruses but I thought they have NSF approval for that use. The same materials are used in bigger systems (with some differences in the internal environment) to remove flocked particles used to remove other bad stuff. They do not appear to be damaged by chlorine.

    They have an internal carbon filter. I have always felt that it is on the wrong side of the filter (input). I have one of those filters in now and just got the stainless steel mesh replacement. If I need carbon I will do it outside the Zenon filter.

    This thing solves problems that other generally available home scale filters simply do not fix.

    Nothing to screw around with. It just sits there and works. It does use some water for washing the filter.
  3. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

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    178
    Location:
    WV
    I called Andrew Warnes & they only sell through dealers & insist the dealer install the unit . He said they have a handheld meter they check the membrane with after the unit is installed & this test needs to be done once a year . They also won't sell me a meter . I see meters on that auction site that check for I believe disolved solids before & after filters with membranes . Is this the same meter they won't sell me ? The nearest dealer is about two hundred miles from me .
  4. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

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    No the meter looks at pressure leaks. If there is a leak in the membrane it no longer protects from biological baddies. If biologics are not the issue, a small leak may simply not matter to you. I do not need a biologic filter. Just clay.

    This was part of the issue when Maytag owned the rights to the product in North America. Few dealers and you have to get it from them. And they have to install and test once a year for the warranty to work. Apparently GE is doing the same thing. The test box is quite expensive (it seems to me it was around $2000 a few years ago). It is a little pump and some simple electronics.

    There is absolutely nothing in the install to require a dealer. Except of course the test box they won't sell you and withholding the warranty. I am not sure I can really fault them for this approach. They have to develop a revenue stream for their dealers in order to attract/keep dealers.

    It is also not completely clear that there are not other ways to test the membrane integrity. I believe they pressurize it and watch for a pressure leak. It kind of reminds me of the issues with reading diagnostic codes from automobile computers in the early days. Only a dealer could get the equipment and code definitions to do it. Unfortunately there is probably not enough of a market to make a replacement tester. And there would still be the warranty issue.

    I do not have a warranty on mine because the nearest Maytag dealer selling them was a thousand miles away. But it ain't broke yet and it was the only thing I could find to fix my water problem. I have a dealer in my area now (he actually became a dealer because I explained the money making possibilities of these things). I can at least get parts. And I am sure he would test it for me. But still no warranty.
  5. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

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    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    It seems almost to good to be true. What's the catch? I can't find any google info on that model.
  6. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    Actually Zenon was the original manufacturer, then Maytag bought exclusive marketing rights in North America, then GE bought Zenon so now it is GE.

    Maytag did not market it worth a damn. And who would look in a Maytag store for a high tech filter?

    The not test no warranty thing is still a pain in the butt.
  7. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

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    650
    Location:
    Washington
    Yes, I have had the same thoughts. I would imaging there is a relatively simple (and inexpensive) way to monitor the membrane. Their current approach really limits the utility of the device in other parts of the world particularly. I suspect their engineers have a way but marketing will not allow them to cut out the retail sales person or the lawyers don't like it.

    Once a year testing for biologics that will kill you is plain stupid.

    For third world, if the source water tests positive for e-coli, periodic testing of the output water may give some help. But it is expensive and provides a window of exposure.

    There really needs to be a built in solution. It would improve uptake in the US and enable use elsewhere. The marketing people need to take a look at things with a view broader than the marketing types typically use. I get to say that. I have spent a lot of years fighting marketing view vs what is needed/works. Show me an engineer that thinks marketing/sales people should not be cleansed from the face of the earth and you will have found an engineer without the proper genetic disposition.
  8. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    homespring

    I just bought one . Not installed yet . I will post comments later . I am thinking of using a prefilter ahead of it . Any suggestions or thoughts ?
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  9. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    Homespring

    My well produces water faster than I can pump it out . The water has no iron , sulphur or other objectionable tastes or odors . I bought one of those test kits that lowe's sells . All numbers came out good . I plan to test for bacteria after I install the filter .
    The only problem with my water is after a heavy rain it gets cloudy or turbid . I am concerned that it is a surface water getting in the well problem . Within a couple days after the rain my water is clear again .
    The one I bought is new in the box & it has the Maytag name & I bought it off that auction site . The first ones that were listed were mwf 2100 & were for up to 7 gallons a minuet flow rate . The one I just bought is a 3100 & is rated for 9 gallons per minuet . It is supposed to be the same unit as the G E Homespring uf 209 . I haven't been able to find a membrane integrity meter yet .
    I am hoping it solves my turbidity problem . I plan to have regular bacteria tests done , at least for a while . If I don't have any bacteria problems I will probably test about every 6 months . If I do have bacteria problems I will use either U V light or chlorine after the filter . If I still have turbidity problems I'll be back to square one .
    The nearest dealer to me is 172 miles away & trying to get information out of him is like pulling teeth . He wants to come to my house & get a few thousand out of me . I decided to buy the unit off the auction site , install it myself & take my chances .
    I am thinking of treating my well & plumbing with chlorine right before installing the filter . Any thoughts or ideas are welcome .
  10. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    Why do you want a prefilter? You need to have either the SS screen or carbon filter in the unit. The Zenon filter will get rid of bacteria and the suspended solids. I also have the suspicion that the unit would work just fine with no internal filter. If you have no chunks in your water, I don't see why there has to be something in there. They tell you you must use one or the other. In old documentation they said to use the screen with surface water. I think now they do an external filter of some sort for that purpose.

    If you need charcoal for taste, you can use their internal filter or an external filter AFTER the Zenon.
  11. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    Homespring

    My unit arrived today . I am thinking there is a carbon filter in it which I don't need . Will find out for sure tomorrow . I wanted to use a prefilter to extend the life of the membrane as long as possible . I would like to have the ss mesh filter , did you buy yours seperate & how expensive is it ? I downloaded a pdf file that explains almost everything I need to know about how the integrity test works , how much air pressure is required in the bladder tank , ect. You're right about air pressure being used to test integrity . Any other water treatments needed , such as chlorination , sediment , ect. goes before the homespring . A water softener can go either before or after the homespring . U V goes after .
  12. cbc

    cbc New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Canada
    membrane integrity test (pdf)?

    Can you provide any more details on the test? (i.e. all the details ;) ) Or a link to the pdf file?
  13. awarnes

    awarnes New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Message from Andy Warnes (former Homespring Product Manager)

    I was very happy to see you guys discussing the Homespring systems and recall speaking to the gentleman from West Virginia. On that day I was at the local garden center buying mulch - while holding the phone and talking about well water in West Virginia. It's an interesting job to have!

    Many of the comments here are well taken. We designed the Homespring to be dependable even under worst case scenario conditions and had plenty of opportunities to be thankful we did after the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Sichuan Earthquake. In those cases the units were life savers in an hour of real need - we were serving entire communities with them, not just individual residences. The membrane integrity test kits were key because we knew water in those instances was microbiologically contaminated and we absolutely needed to confirm that the membranes were not damaged during transport or installation. Lives depended on it. The test kit uses an ASTM pressure decay test that is also used in municipal water treatment plants - the tester is a portable version of that. In order to make the purification claims we do, and to ensure that customers get what we claim, we made use of the testers upon installation and on an annual basis after that mandatory. It's the prudent thing to do and the testers can sense if even one membrane fiber is broken or out of spec. There is no readily available substitute for the Homespring testers and it cost a lot to develop them and make them portable - not something easily duplicated. Regardless, the testers are used to support the claims we make, provide assurances, and to verify the systems were not damaged during transport (ie: outside of the possession of a water treatment professional). It's not about recurring revenue - it's about public safety.

    What did surprise me here was the willingness to buy systems on E-Bay and take chances with the results. We did make those units years ago for Maytag and they are all past their shelf life. These expired units can make no water treatment claims and I do feel sorry for people who call me asking for information about the systems they bought on E-Bay - I have to tell them that the systems should not be used and should be destroyed. Apparently someone bought a couple of pallets of those units long ago from Maytag and sells them online occasionally. In general I try to look at these things from a personal perspective - what would I do for my own family? I'm searching for a way to describe how I personally feel about it and guess I could express it by saying I would not try to save money by going online to buy expired antibiotics for my own children, why would I take a similar risk with water that has potential microbiological contamination?

    We do require that the systems be installed and serviced by an authorized installer for similar reasons. Safe operation depends upon safe installation. I'm searching for a way to express my personal feelings about this as well and figure that maybe I can compare it to automobile airbags. I want them in my car and feel better because they are there, but not if I had to install the airbags myself or if they were installed by someone who had never seen an airbag before. Perhaps an extreme comparision - but that's the way I look at it. I'm comfortable knowing that the airbags in my car will deploy when I need them because a professional installed them.

    GE does set up a number of hoops to jump through for a water treatment professional wanting to carry these systems. That's true and it frustrates some people. But if microbiological water purifcation is what a customer seeks or needs, things can only be done one way - the safe way.

    In the end I don't want to go on and on about it. Many of you have spoken to me before and know my opinions. Comparisons of the Homespring to antibiotics and airbags may seem extreme to some, but they are all designed to protect and improve lives when called upon. It's one of the reasons I enjoy my work and feel very positive about the way we go about it.

    Note that I'm no longer the Homespring product manager. My new job involves product management for almost all residential systems (including Homespring), but I feel no less passionately about the systems now than I did then. Homespring is an excellent, excellent product. I'm not writing as a corporate hack mouthpiece - these are my honest personal opinions and my views from the "inside".

    Andy
  14. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

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    Ya Think???
  15. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    Andy, I think that a point to consider is whether or not the average user needs the biological filter function. If they need this protection, it would seem that once a year testing is not sufficient. Anything but a continuous process can fail to detect failure long enough to make someone sick. I do not know how many Zweeds there are in a filter, but you are probably right that a single failure may only be detectable by the tester.

    Some alternate approaches:

    Provide a sales contract, as an option to the buyer, that indemnifies you from the results of biological leakage for anything other than initial manufacturers defects. Clearly mark the unit (laser etch, different model/serial number) as not being tested on installation nor warranted for biologic filter effectiveness. With this contract, GE can sell to anyone who needs filtration but not biological protection. They don't need a local dealer, or yearly testing. If they need both the filtration and biological protection, and they do not have a local dealer, they can choose 1) convince a local dealer to take the line of GE filters (not so easy, but not impossible - I believe I caused a local water system dealer to pick up the Homespring line), use other methods of biologic removal such as chlorine, ozone, etc. as they would otherwise, 3) have nothing and maybe buy from ****. I suspect a lot of the potential users do not need the biological protection. They would be using the well water for drinking anyway, but it would look ugly.

    There are also alternate methods of checking for biologic integrity. A simple culture based test using a readily available test kit can check at whatever interval the owner chooses. It would seem to me that including one of these tests in the box (or a card to send in to avoid shelf life issues) would deal with the installation. After that, let it be up to the owner to repeat this at whatever interval they choose. The alarm on the control would then be a reminder for a yearly test. Dealers probably won't be happy, but users, and people who want to be users but don't have a local dealer) would.

    I am also a bit concerned about your comment of "throw them out" for the Maytag units. This sort of implies that if you have one that old it should be replaced. I have one. It has been installed for a few years; does that mean I should throw it out? Is there something about the preservative shipped in the filters that does not protect the fibers?

    I might note that I can completely identify with people who need this unit but have no local support. When I got mine (and it was the only thing that would fix my clay problem (< 0.5 micron) I had to jump through many essentially insurmountable hoops. I found a reference to the product on a engineering web forum and looked into it on the Zenon web site. When I contacted them for a purchase I was informed that only Maytag sold them in North America.

    Maytag listed about half a dozen distributors. All but one simply would not reply to email or return phone calls. Maytag was fully into the "disclose absolutely no information about the devices that may possibly be useful". You simply could not get a service manual. A guy at Maytag wanted to help, but company policies had his hands tied. There was one place on the list that was ready to sell me one (they were about 1000 miles away) but when he found out I was out of state he said state law would not allow the out of state sales of an "appliance". Zenon was very friendly, and I believe really wanted to help, but they had this really stupid marketing agreement with Maytag. I had a sense that some people there shared my view as to the suitability of a Maytag only channel. I have always been curious why Zenon would accept Maytag as the exclusive residential marketing channel. I would simply not think of a Maytag store as a place to look for high tech water filters. On the other hand, I don't think there are any GE stores. But if GE can get around the dealer only thing and get them into wider distribution, they could probably sell a bunch more.

    I finally drove to Canada and bought one. No warranty or service of course.

    I simply had to have one for my water to be usable.

    While protecting us from ourselves is a nice thought, it is also not the responsibility of a product manufacturer to deny an adult from buying a piece of equipment they have determined fits their needs. I believe the contract deleting biologic responsibility I suggested above will take care of liability (probably a significant driver of the policy). I really think GE is more exposed with the yearly check. It kind of implies that it is OK for the next year if it passes the test. An implied fitness for use.

    It is an excellent product. It fixes water that simply can not be reasonably dealt with any other way. But I do believe that the dealer only install and no warranty without yearly test is not appropriate in all (or any for that matter) circumstances. It adds cost and causes difficulties in obtaining the product in cases where it is simply not needed. It is moderately unusual for a consumer product to be sold with essentially a separately charged mandatory lifetime service contract. And make the warranty dependent on this service contract.

    And no - I did not think the comparisons you used were appropriate.
  16. awarnes

    awarnes New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Homespring again

    Fair enough guys, perhaps the comparisons were extreme.

    The expiration dates apply to the period before the systems are installed. Homesprings are shipped in a food grade preservative solution and should be installed within 9 months. After they are installed (wetted) within this period the expiration date is no longer an issue.

    GE used to manufacture these systems for Maytag and those were launched in Canada first, and then in the USA. You may have had difficulty finding a dealer before the US roll-out. When Whirlpool purchased Maytag, Maytag got out of this and other businesses. GE Water distribution took over at about the same time and has since become fairly extensive.

    Verifying microbiological disinfection can be done daily using the portable tester, but it would be very inconvenient and excessive (in my opinion). The Homespring was developed by a team that had been building municipal water treatment plants for more than two decades and had considerable data and experience upon which to set the recommended testing intervals. We underwent an extensive analysis and the reliability of the units supported the confirmation of function upon installation (to detect if transport or installation had damaged the systems in any way). The annual testing afterwards was added for the sake of prudence - not because data or analysis indicated this was necessary. The option of "turning off" the warranty for those who choose would have been difficult to implement. The markings on the Homespring refer to the claims being made and if one was purchased already installed in an existing home or business the new owner would be unlikely to know if their system had it's claims "turned off". They would just be aware of what is written in the manual or on the Homespring.

    State, local and federal regulations guide how frequently the systems need to be tested and how they should be tested. "Direct Membrane Integrity" testing is the preferred methodology and so that's what we do. The same regulations differentiate between "public" and "private" water systems - public systems (small communities, hotels, restaurants) may require more frequent testing and a secondary disinfection barrier.

    It's possible that consumers could use something like a Bac-T test, but these would need to be available, properly utilized, correctly sampled, etc. Errors are possible and regulators seem to prefer an objective test that cannot be influenced by the test taker. That's another benefit of the direct integrity testing method - it cannot be fooled or influenced by the test taker.

    Recently GE Water entered into a joint venture with Pentair Water to pool their residential water treatment businesses together. Both companies had an ultrafiltration system (the GE Homespring and the Pentair FreshPoint). The Homespring has the independently tested and certified microbiological purifier claims, the FreshPoint does not. Anyone wanting to reduce sediment, turbidity and colloidal materials without the purifier claim can opt for the FreshPoint.

    One of the things I've always been amazed by are the unique applications for point-of-entry ultrafiltration that our products are being used for - stuff that I never would have thought of or been able to predict. We receive so many requests for pilot testing and experimentation that it confirms my faith that our industry is nothing if not creative. Balancing the creativity with safety and conservative engineering was always hard, but we predictably always land on the safe and conservative side.

    Andy
  17. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    Good reply. To the best of my knowledge there are no periodic testing requirements for non-shared residential wells for bacteria at the federal level. I know there are no requirements for Washington state. Most places that I have paid attention to seem to follow this pattern. Test the water when the well is drilled and afterward it is up to the owner. There are a lot more possible unit sales with single user wells than shared systems.

    Are the Pentair devices built to the same filtration specs? I understand not certified for biologics. Are they cheaper? What sort of warranty do they have (presumably without yearly testing)? It is probably much more common for a residential well to need particle removal rather than removing bad creepy crawly things and that would help on uptake of the technology.

    It has never seemed particularly fair to eliminate warranty coverage on the device because regular testing is not done. If it fails, it should be covered. A person buying it pays no less that the full warranted price. Forcing an unneeded test as a condition is not reasonable. If you sell a device, and you could specify the warranty is not transferable, and someone sells it to someone else (for example by selling the house) I would not believe there would be liability for the manufacturer for the device performance. Any more than a carbon filter manufacturer would have liability if a user failed to replace it when needed and allow harmful material to pass through. There are a number of devices provided for residential systems that will not protect people from harm if not maintained and provided with suitable chemicals. And of course once the warranty period expires, no one not subject to controlling ordinances is bound to continue testing. Overall, I believe that GE could sell a Homespring device with warranty and no testing with suitable disclaimers to protect them if the user chooses not to test. Kind of like the label on a generator that says don't use it inside. Yes some people ignore the label and die. That is a bad thing, but not the manufacturers responsibility.

    I suppose if the Pentair filters to the same particle size and has similar flow and pressure drop rates the point is rather moot for the Homesprings. At the time this was all I could find; and that was by accident.

    Something that would be useful as a product would be a pre-processing system to precipitate several of the more annoying water contents (e.g., iron, manganese, arsenic, etc) with the ultra filter getting rid of the resultant particles or floc. I realize the washing action is not the same as the big Zenons used for this sort of thing, but it might work out OK on a residential scale. It could consolidate some other devices needed is some systems. This would be attractive to small shared well systems. For example a 6 user system I am familiar with required some rather massive softeners to remove manganese which was not actually harmful, but state laws required treating in shared systems with more than 3 users. The softener served no other necessary function and in fact the users would have preferred un-softened water. There are other ways to have done this, but the well company knew that way and the owners did not know of alternatives either. It may have been the cheapest solution. A more compact processor with perhaps lower chemical needs could be attractive.
  18. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    MWF 2100 Series help needed

    I need some install help.
    The Owner's Manual doesn't go into installation so I'm asking a few questions here, hopefully someone will give me a couple of pointers

    Yes I bought a Maytag Unit off **** and read the advice to destroy it.

    The model I am installing today at my mom's is the MWF 2100 Series

    I have identified the inlet and outlet port. Obviously the water goes in the inlet port and out the outlet port.

    My question concerns the back-flushing part of the device.

    Is the Drain port where the back-flushing water exits?

    Thanks for your positive suggestions

    Greg
  19. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    Yes , the low voltage solenoid installs on the drain outlet on the unit . The transformer that came with the unit plugs into a 120 v outlet & provides power to the controller which in turn provides power to the drain solenoid . I have mine programmed to backflush at 2 am . Mine is the 3100 but I would think they would be the same in that reguard .
  20. Greg Mueller

    Greg Mueller New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Sometimes WA, Sometimes NM
    Thanks A bunch
    Does it matter about polarity on the xfrmr and valve?

    I figured that the brass valve looking thing screws into the top on the unit..right?

    Again
    Thanks
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