Is Our Water Problem Bigger Than Hardness? Lots of Rust In Water

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Daniel F Murphy

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Hello,

We've been having years of water softener problems. At one point the system worked and the water was clean and drinkable. Now it's extremely metallic in taste and smell. Recently we had professionals install a new head and new media in the neutralizer tank, and they also "cleaned" the head on the softener tank. We also replaced the 15 year-old softener media. All to no avail.

A couple weeks ago I decided to install a sediment filter before the neutralizer and softener, which produced some troubling findings. After only 2-3 days the filter housing was completely clouded with rusty water. I replaced the filter and a couple days later it looked just as bad again (picture attached).

My question is this. Do we have a bigger problem than a standard softener setup can handle? Should there be this much "rust" in the water coming from the well? Do we even have the correct equipment to handle this?

My next step was going to be to either replace the piston in the softener head or replace the valve altogether. Thank you in advance for your help.
 

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Bannerman

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Appears to be a significant amount of ferric iron.

A softener is sometimes utilized to remove ferrous iron (fully dissolved, clear water iron) which is usually most common in deep wells. Since removing iron with a softener is not an efficient method (1 ppm iron is equivalent to 85 ppm hardness (5 gpg)), removal with a softener maybe recommended when iron is ~1ppm or less, to eliminate the additional expense of a dedicated iron removal system. Since ferrous iron is removed by adhesion to the surface of the resin beads, it will accumulate and will foul the resin, reducing the resin's ability to remove hardness, so ongoing additional maintenance is required to eliminate the iron accumulation.

Because softener resin is not filtration media, a softener is not an effective filter to remove ferric iron. Ferric iron in well water is usually ferrous iron that has been exposed to air, thereby causing the ferrous iron to be oxidized and converted to a ferric state. Since ferric iron is no longer dissolved, the resulting solids (rust) will precipitate out from the water or maybe removed by filtration.

A backwashing media filter, equipped with iron reduction media such as Katalox Light, is often utilized to filter out ferric iron. Since KL media has an ability to catalyze ferrous iron to convert it to a ferric state, this will allow both ferrous and ferric iron to be removed at the same time, with the resulting solid debris eliminated to drain during each periodic backwash cycle. Virtually all iron reduction media will be most effective when water pH is 7.0 or greater, so using your acid neutralizer before the iron reduction media filter is appropriate.

Since there are often other elements in well water that can effect which treatment method(s) will be most effective, always advisable to obtain a comprehensive lab test report on the raw water directly from the well, to best determine what elements are present, and the concentrations of each.

The lab test often recommended in this forum is National Labs Well Check Standard. National Labs
 
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Daniel F Murphy

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Thank you very much for the reply. Looks like a lab test is my next step to see exactly what we're dealing with.
 
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