Help with plan for reducing corrosiveness of well water

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excellrec

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Hi all,

I've corrosive well water that I am trying to remedy. It completely ate an anode rod in a new water heater in less than a year, though all the plumbing in the house is PEX so there haven't been any other obvious problems. I've attached a certified lab report from a test earlier this week, pH was measured at 5.5. LSI is -7.52 and would pH correction be the most effective way to reduce corrosiveness of the water?

I've looked through the forum and elsewhere and it seems increasing pH through soda ash injection might be the best way to bring this low ph to a consistent neutral, but would be curious if others disagree and why. I'm put off by corosex and the like because of poor pH stability. I'd like to do the install myself and am wondering where is a decent place to get components for the system? Since these systems are known to be high maintenance I prioritize reliability and effectiveness over trying to save a few bucks. Current system is well pump -> pressure tank -> UV light -> Sediment Filter -> carbon filter -> lead filter -> rest of the house. I believe between pressure tank and UV light is the best place for the injection pump?

Thank you in advance!
 

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WesM

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Funny, we must be tapped into the same aquifer, looks like we live in the same county. My water is also 5-5.5 PH and like yours, eats through my hot water heater anode every year. The low PH actually killed my first hot water heater before I realized it had dissolved the anode so quickly.

Tricky thing with the corosex acid neutralizer with such low PH is you would also need to install a water softener to get all the hardness the calcium/corosex is adding to the water.

Like you are finding, soda ash systems are finicky and have to be adjusted, tweaked and have a fair amount of frequent maintenance parts.

So, my plan? Do... nothing. Low PH water is not a health issue, everything in my house the water touches (except the hot water heater and my well pressure tank, which I'm about to replace) is currently CPVC, PVC or stainless steel. When my hot water heater dies next time, I will replace it with a stainless steel hot water heater, or possibly a tankless heater if I can find a stainless steel version.

From a cost effectiveness point of view, figure out if putting $4-5k into installing a high maintenance neutralizer setup is worth it, vs just replacing anything corrosive in the house. Since it sounds like the hot water heater is the only issue, maybe look into a stainless steel hot water heater. Stainless steel hot water heaters are certainly more expensive then regular ones, but much cheaper then a neutralizer setup.
 
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JohnCT

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My well water is naturally in the low 6s which fluctuates seasonally, and it destroyed my home's copper. If your PEX plumbing includes polysulfone fittings and not brass, that's a big worry you don't have at least.

In my case, I contacted a guy on line who was recommended to me (Aiden at Mid Atlantic Water), and from him I purchased an acid neutralization tank which uses Calcite media (stone dust as I understand it). The calcite media based system is self regulating in that the amount of calcite that dissolves is directly related to the pH, so when my season pH drops, it uses more calcite and when the pH rises, it uses little. I have no water harness issues with the calcite acid tank.

But I don't know how well a calcite system would work with your mid 5s pH. You can try reaching out to Aiden or contact a local water treatment person in your area. My understanding about local water treatment companies is to pick a smallish company and not a company with a dozen or more trucks on the road (their main motivation is bottom line with which I have no problem, but still..).

John
 

excellrec

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Ha! Could be the same aquifer. I'm in the northeast part of Frederick. I did have a thought about just leaving it and you've a good point about overall cost potentially being less by just replacing with a corrosion resistant WH. Have you had any other problems with fixtures/fittings? I'll have to go around and check to see if there is anything else potentially in harms way. House was replumbed when I moved in a year ago so not sure whats behind walls/floors.
Funny, we must be tapped into the same aquifer, looks like we live in the same county. My water is also 5-5.5 PH and like yours, eats through my hot water heater anode every year. The low PH actually killed my first hot water heater before I realized it had dissolved the anode so quickly.

Tricky thing with the corosex acid neutralizer with such low PH is you would also need to install a water softener to get all the hardness the calcium/corosex is adding to the water.

Like you are finding, soda ash systems are finicky and have to be adjusted, tweaked and have a fair amount of frequent maintenance parts.

So, my plan? Do... nothing. Low PH water is not a health issue, everything in my house the water touches (except the hot water heater and my well pressure tank, which I'm about to replace) is currently CPVC, PVC or stainless steel. When my hot water heater dies next time, I will replace it with a stainless steel hot water heater, or possibly a tankless heater if I can find a stainless steel version.

From a cost effectiveness point of view, figure out if putting $4-5 into installing a high maintenance neutralizer setup is worth it, vs just replacing anything corrosive in the house. Since it sounds like the hot water heater is the only issue, maybe look into a stainless steel hot water heater. Stainless steel hot water heaters are certainly more expensive then regular ones, but much cheaper then a neutralizer setup.
 

Reach4

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If you use the cheaper method of injection with soda ash, the adjustable fixed-rate injection is before the pressure tank. When the pump runs, the injection pump runs. So that would seem to protect more fittings.

In the more sophisticated system, with a proportional injection pump, you have a sensor detect the flow rate, and that injection rate is controlled by the flow. The advantage is that if any sediment gets produced due to the injection, it is after the pressure tank.

Regarding stainless steel threads, using both good PTFE tape and pipe dope is less likely to have leaky joints from what I read.
 

WesM

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Ha! Could be the same aquifer. I'm in the northeast part of Frederick. I did have a thought about just leaving it and you've a good point about overall cost potentially being less by just replacing with a corrosion resistant WH. Have you had any other problems with fixtures/fittings? I'll have to go around and check to see if there is anything else potentially in harms way. House was replumbed when I moved in a year ago so not sure whats behind walls/floors.

Any brushed nickel stuff I put in did not last even a year. Anything brass that touches water will last a bit, but eventually turns green and corrodes away. Oddly, my oil rubbed bronze stuff is holding up with no issues. My Kohler and Pfister stainless fixtures are of course holding up with no issues as well.

Yeah, if they put in cpvc or pex with plastic pex fittings you are good to go. If they used brass or copper fittings, you probably want to get the water neutralized somehow. I'm in the unique position to know exactly whats in my walls (had all the plumbing in the house replaced during renovations), so the route I am taking is safe enough for me. Thats not the case for everyone.

When I first looked into neutralizing, I was leaning towards the corosex mix, but one thing that really put me off is the amount of water those backwashing systems require. The neutralizer I was looking at required 10gpm and used almost 200 gallons to backwash! Combine that with a softener that has to backwash too and with stories a couple years ago about some wells in the area drying up, that was a no go for me.

One thing to think about in the short term is getting a pan under your waterheater and plumbing it to a sump pump. I also have an auto shutoff valve on my waterheater inlet line tied to a sensor in the pan, so water is shut off if it detects a leak. This is all so when my current water heater dies in a few years, my basement is not flooded.
 
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excellrec

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Any brushed nickel stuff I put in did not last even a year. Anything brass that touches water will last a bit, but eventually turns green and corrodes away. Oddly, my oil rubbed bronze stuff is holding up with no issues. My Kohler and Pfister stainless fixtures are of course holding up with no issues as well.

Yeah, if they put in cpvc or pex with plastic pex fittings you are good to go. If they used brass or copper fittings, you probably want to get the water neutralized somehow. I'm in the unique position to know exactly whats in my walls (had all the plumbing in the house replaced during renovations), so the route I am taking is safe enough for me. Thats not the case for everyone.

When I first looked into neutralizing, I was leaning towards the corosex mix, but one thing that really put me off is the amount of water those backwashing systems require. The neutralizer I was looking at required 10gpm and used almost 200 gallons to backwash! Combine that with a softener that has to backwash too and with stories a couple years ago about some wells in the area drying up, that was a no go for me.

One thing to think about in the short term is getting a pan under your waterheater and plumbing it to a sump pump. I also have an auto shutoff valve on my waterheater inlet line tied to a sensor in the pan, so water is shut off if it detects a leak. This is all so when my current water heater dies in a few years, my basement is not flooded.

Sigh, just installed some brushed nickel fixtures - but so far no issues to note. We've also had no other signs of low pH aside from the rust colored water beginning ~9 mths after moving in, which anode rod replacement has taken care of for the time being.

All I can see is PEX from where it leaves the expansion tank to the rest of the house. I think it's PVC before that.

Good call on preparing for the inevitable water heater failure. There was previously no sump pump and we just had one installed, but the water heater will not drain to it as is.

Do you mind sharing what your sensor/valve system is for shutting off at the inlet? I'd like to install something like that.

I think the new anode rod has bought me a few months and based on this thread my plan now is to swap to a corrosion resistant/proof WH a few months down the road. Seems to be the better option vs maintaining a pH system all things considered.

Thanks!
 

WesM

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Sigh, just installed some brushed nickel fixtures - but so far no issues to note. We've also had no other signs of low pH aside from the rust colored water beginning ~9 mths after moving in, which anode rod replacement has taken care of for the time being.

All I can see is PEX from where it leaves the expansion tank to the rest of the house. I think it's PVC before that.

Good call on preparing for the inevitable water heater failure. There was previously no sump pump and we just had one installed, but the water heater will not drain to it as is.

Do you mind sharing what your sensor/valve system is for shutting off at the inlet? I'd like to install something like that.

I think the new anode rod has bought me a few months and based on this thread my plan now is to swap to a corrosion resistant/proof WH a few months down the road. Seems to be the better option vs maintaining a pH system all things considered.

Thanks!

A lot of times nicer fixtures have a decent warranty. I replaced a few delta that were under warranty and they let me get the stainless version vs the original chrome that was chipping off.

The replacement water heater I got came with this valve. This particular one is only compatible with particular AO models. There might be other options, but this is the one I have.

 
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