Need advice on a water softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Gadetlady, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I am a total newbie, so I apologize in advance for my lack of knowledge on this issue.

    I am looking for a water softener (or non-salt solution) for my house. We currently have a LifeSource filter (came with the house, purchased about 20 years ago), and we do change the filter every few years. The house is about 3500 sq ft with 3 full bathrooms.

    I have ongoing issues with an incredibly itchy scalp. I always thought it was allergies to chemicals in my shampoo, and while I think that is a component, I noticed when I travel or am out of town for any period of time, my scalp isn't itchy. So finally I realized it must be our water.

    I don't know much about the chemical composition of water. I do know we have hard water; I have to use descaler in my dishwasher with every load, and we do get water spots on the shower door, etc.

    I was just realizing as well that when my scalp gets really bad, if I do a treatment or two with apple cider vinegar, that tends to calm it down. Does this mean anything in relation to the water softness issue?

    Anyway -- any input anyone can provide on good systems that won't break the bank and are easy to maintain would be great. Thank you!
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    You haven't said if your water source is your own private well or town municipal. If private well, have you had a lab test recently performed? We will need to review the water conditions so as to offer appropriate recommendations. Same for municipal water, but the town will have had the water tested so we will need the web link to their water quality report.

    In addition, a water hardness test will need to performed at your location. Hardness will typically be indicated in a well lab test report but the town may only indicate average hardness. Average hardness is unsuitable for choosing and programming a softener. A Hach 5B Total Hardness Test Kit is recommended which can be useful to periodically verify incoming hardness and the effectiveness of the softener.

    We will also need to know your family water usage, and the diameter of your home's incoming plumbing line. If you don't know consumption, we can estimate that if we know the number of occupants.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Sorry about that - it's a municipal system. Here's a link to the report. I tried to attach the document here but it's too big.

    I will get a hardness test done. I don't know the diameter of the incoming plumbing line, and I don't know how to figure that out. The home was built in 2000, so it's not old construction (if that helps).

    Usage:

    Water usage.JPG


    We do have an in-ground pool, so that probably has to be taken into account in terms of usage. We are currently two people living at home full time, but we have college-aged kids who come home quite often and are home for holidays and summer as well.
     
  5. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Your water quality report indicates a hardness range of 13-16 grains per gallon from the various water sources so as 16 gpg should be the maximum, I'll use that for my calculations.

    With municipal water, for efficiency, it is desirable to size a softener so regeneration will occur somewhere between 1X per week and 1X per month while using an efficient salt setting.

    I expect much of the 17,952 gallons indicated on your 1-month water bill will be related to filling the pool and irrigation. Pools will commonly utilize hard water so you can either bypass the softener when filling or, install a separate outdoor non-softened spigot for pool and irrigation use.

    Average water consumption without irrigation and a pool, generally fall between 50-75 gallons per person, per day.

    Estimating a high average of 75 gallons/person/day X 2 ppl X 16 gpg = 2,400 grains per day softening load. Don't be concerned if you actually use less water as almost all modern water softeners utilize a meter to measure water consumption, and will only regenerate when the programmed capacity has been consumed.

    A softener containing 1.5 cubic feet of resin, will regenerate 36,000 grains of capacity when using an efficient 12 lbs of salt.
    36,000 / 2,400 = approx 14-15 days before regeneration will be needed. At 16 gpg, that works out to approx 2,250 gallons available between regeneration cycles.

    Estimating 4 full-time residents during the summer, will likely result in regeneration approx every 7-8 days so it seems a 1.5 ft3 softener should be suitable for your needs.

    If your water usage is higher or if your home is equipped with multi-head showers or other high flow fixtures, that may then justify a larger softener as a larger quantity of softener resin will allow higher flow rates before hardness will leak through the softener.

    I anticipate your home is equipped with a 1" or 1.25" diameter water supply so the softener valve will need to be appropriate for whatever the home's main pipe diameter is as plumbing code does not permit reducing the diameter when connecting a softener.

    Fleck and Clack are 2 softener control valve brands which are most recommended on this forum. Their equipment is reliable, high quality, reasonably priced, and commonly available and serviced by most generic water treatment dealers. Clack offer the WS1 model in both 1" and 1.25" versions whereas Fleck offers the 5810 and 5812 models.

    Dissolved Calcium and Magnesium are the main cause of water hardness. Those minerals combine with detergent, soap, shampoo etc, to form sticky curds which are difficult to rinse away. If you think about the soap scum that remains on the bathtub and sink, that sticky residue will also remain on skin, scalp, hair, fabrics etc. A softener will remove those mineral ions and exchange them for much softer sodium ions which will not combine with soap and will freely rinse away, leaving only your natural skin with no residue.

    The Lifesource site indicates their filters contain granular activated carbon (GAC). Your municipal water quality report states Chloramine (chlorine and ammonia) is utilized as a disinfectant. Chloramine is difficult to remove compared to chlorine alone so when Chloramine is present, Catalytic Carbon will be more effective and should be considered to replace GAC. Perhaps some of your itching issues are due to a Chloramine residual remaining after the GAC filter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
    Gadetlady likes this.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Salt softeners are commonly used for the reduction of the issues you are describing. Since you have a unit already installed, replacing it with a different unit will be fairly simple. A chloramine reduction tank ahead of the softener is highly advised. Costa mesa water has been very consistent over the years.
     
    Gadetlady likes this.
  7. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Thank you both for your help. As I've been researching this, I have indeed discovered that a possible cause of my issues is a reaction to the chloramine. Apparently the city didn't always use chloramine, but rather just chlorine until about a decade ago -- which roughly coincides with when I started experiencing what I always believed to be tempermental skin and scalp issues.
     
  8. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    With ~16 gpg hardness, a softener would be of benefit regardless.

    GAC functions to remove chemicals mainly by adsorption. Catalytic Carbon uses both adsorption and enhanced catalytic action. For effective chemical removal, the water will require suficient contact time with the media for those processes to be most effective, so the usual flow range for carbon is 1-3 gpm per cubic foot of media. A flow range is specified as some contaminants such as Chloramine, are more stubborn to remove than others, thereby requiring longer contact time.

    You didn't indicate the size of your LifeSource filter. While the current filter's GAC could be replaced with Catalytic Carbon, consider if the media capacity will be adequate to support the flow rate anticipated. If the current filter does not provide sufficient media capacity, you may wish to consider replacing it with a larger backwashing filter as Ditttohead suggested, which does not necessarily need to be a LifeSource brand.

    The smallest carbon quantity recommended for a smaller home is 1.5 ft3 to support up to 4.5 gpm service flow, but a larger quantity of media will be beneficial to increase contact time as well as to reduce the amount of contaminant leakage through the carbon media at higher flow rates.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
  9. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I called LifeSource today and they told me we've had their unit for too long and it is doing nothing for us. They said it lasts 10-12 years and we've had it much longer than that. This completely explains all of my skin and hair issues :-/ I sure wish I had started researching this years ago when I started having all of these issues.

    So it looks like now I need BOTH filter and softener.
     
  10. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    You said you change the filter ever few years. I interpreted that to mean the GAC media was replaced, thereby renewing the effectiveness of the filter.
     
  11. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I believed the same thing, until I called the company to find out if there was a different filter I could purchase to filter out the chloramine. I was told we need an entirely new unit for the house, which would be $4000, wouldn't provide any water softening, and would again need to be replaced in 10-12 years.
     
  12. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I have not found a Catalytic Carbon system listed on the LS web site so I'm concluding they only wish to sell you a new system containing the same GAC media you have been using. Because you asked about chloramine filtration, perhaps by being told you need to buy a new system, you will conclude the new system was specifically developed to address your concerns.

    A 10-12 year replacement interval for carbon seems excessive. The LS website claims their systems are 'certified' with filtration capacity of 2.2 to 5.7 millions gallons, so depending on which model you own, may represent 10-12 years of average residential water consumption. Although that capacity could be true, carbon will accumulate contaminants within its pore structure, so over time, those contaminants could become a food source for bacteria and mould. Because of this, it is usually advisable to exchange the media after 6-7 years of use even as filtration may continue to be effective.

    Although Catalytic Carbon will be more expensive than plain GAC, I anticipate you could obtain a new CC filtration system to satisfy your requirements for less cost than the quote you received. Brand names are not required for water treatment systems as some good backwashing systems may be available through various generic water treatment specialists that are local to you.

    Below is a link to Ditttohead's product catalogue page that offers some basic information on the use of carbon. The catalogue contains a wealth of information throughout including additional info on carbon filtration and water softening.

    https://view.publitas.com/impact-water-products/2018-catalog-final/page/36-37
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  13. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Any thoughts on the EcoWater systems offered through Costco?
     
  14. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Proprietary units. Call a few local companies and ask if they will service them. Most will not. This can lock you into a company that may or may not take care of you in the future.
     
  15. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Thanks, dittohead. I submitted a request for info from your company over the weekend - hopefully someone can get back to me quickly because I'm looking to get this project done as soon as possible.
     
  16. Gadetlady

    Gadetlady New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2020
    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I haven't received a call back in response to my inquiry. I tried calling today and was left on hold for about 10 minutes and then transferred to voicemail. dittohead, if you do home systems and are interested in this project, please post here with your extension at work so I can speak with you directly.
     
  17. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I apologise if you interpreted my providing a link to Ditttohead's catalogue as a recommendation to obtain equipment from IWP. IWP is a supplier to water treatment dealers, not to end users. Ditttohead may recommend a dealer in your area but he often travels for business and may not be currently available to reply.
     
    Gadetlady likes this.
  18. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Thanks, I will find a local company for you, been a little crazy lately.
     
    Gadetlady likes this.
Similar Threads: Need advice
Forum Title Date
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers New water softener, need your advice Wednesday at 1:32 PM
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Replacing old system that came with the house. Need advice/opinion... Jan 19, 2020
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Searching for a high efficiency water softener - need advice/help Jan 14, 2020
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Water softener woes, need advice Dec 30, 2019
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Advice Needed for New Home Filter/Softner Install Dec 17, 2019

Share This Page