Installing a softener and have questions about sediment accumulation and possible spindown pre-filter

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Jim Goodman

JEG in Raleigh
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Raleigh, NC
I'm finishing up the installation of a new water heater (Rheem Marathon) and water softener for a 1 BR apartment I have over a free-standing garage. The old propane water heater had rusted out and I did away with the gas and converted to electric. The apartment is on a well and has not been used much at all for the past 6 years and was not used much before we bought the property 10 years ago. It was built in 1999 and has the original pressure tank, which is located in the garage and appears to still be in good shape and it still works properly. As far as filtration, it only had a single GE Part# GXWH20F whole house single cartridge sediment filter.

In preparation to use the apartment again, I had the water tested by the county to get current baseline numbers. The water hardness is 49 mg CaCO3/L. Iron is 0.59 mg/L pH is 7.88. All other numbers are within the EPA limits, so I'm not dealing with a lot of problems. I have a company I've dealt with in-state, but 100 miles away, that supplied my equipment for my main house, which is on its own well, and the equipment that they provided has worked very well. So I sent the water test to them and we discussed 2 options....a softener or an AIO filter. After reading up on AIO filters, I decided to go with the softener. The engineer who owns the company said my iron level was low enough that a softener with Iron Fighter salt pellets would work for my situation because of the relatively low iron levels. I will reinstall the GE cartridge filter after the water softener. I have set up a plumbing bypass of the water softener for future maintenance possibilities. When the water softener is bypassed, water flows directly from the pressure tank through the GE cartridge filter and then to the house instead of first through the softener.

So today I finished the WH install but am not quite done with the softener install. I wanted to test the water heater to make sure I had no leaks and to make sure it heated up, so I initiated my plumbing bypass of the softener and opened the main valve on the outflow of the pressure tank. Note that the system has not been used at all for about 6 months, because I pulled out the old water heater and had not replaced it until now. When I turned on the water, it flowed through the sediment filter and then out to the apartment and also to the new water heater. All worked as intended but there was a large amount of coarse sediment in the bowl of the cartridge filter (see attached photos). I know that my well-pump is 25' above the bottom of the wellbore. The amount of sediment you see in the photos accumulated in the first couple of minutes of turning the water on for the first time in 6 months. I let the water run for 15 minutes and no additional sediment accumulated in that time. When I was using the apartment in the past, that filter did accumulate coarse sediment, but it would take several months to accumulate the amount seen in the photo.

I don't know if anyone will have answers to all my questions, but here they are:

1. Why did that sediment accumulate in the first couple of minutes, but it did not increase after that, and why in the past would it take several months to accumulate as much as you see in the photos?

2. Should I install a spin-down filter (Atlas Filtri Hydra self-cleaning) for this type and quantity of sediment? Will the sediment screw up the resin bed of the water softener if I don't install a pre-filter?

3. If I installed an Atlas Filtri Hydra self-cleaning spin-down filter before the water softener, would it get plugged up with iron, given the level of iron that I have in my water (0.59 mg/L)?

4. If I install the spin-down filter, should I put it between the well and the pressure tank (inlet side of the pressure tank tee) or between the pressure tank and the softener (outlet side of the pressure tank tee)?


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