Using iron out in softener and reddish water after regeneration

Users who are viewing this thread

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
Hi. I have a well, and our water is filled with iron. For many years, a softener, two filters, and some iron fighting salt pellets did the trick, but somehow that changed over the past year or two. When I add iron out to the water softener, and when it regenerates, the water is often reddish for quite a while. Is this normal, and what does it mean? Also, when I put the iron out in the brine tank, I don't know how to manually regenerate my softener without the plumber - I know that's lame! But is it OK for the iron out to sit in the brine tank until the softener regenerates itself? Any advice on this would be welcome. I'm really getting tired and frustrated of the red water issue.
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
Hi. I have a well, and our water is filled with iron. For many years, a softener, two filters, and some iron fighting salt pellets did the trick, but somehow that changed over the past year or two. When I add iron out to the water softener, and when it regenerates, the water is often reddish for quite a while. Is this normal, and what does it mean?
I think it means you should rinse more or regenerate again, before putting the softener back into service. This orange water demonstrates success in removing iron, but get that orange down the drain instead of into your house.

=================An alternate Iron Out procedure=====================
A way to use Iron Out crystals to treat your resin periodically to deal with iron. This is not an authoritative procedure, but it should be pretty good.
A softener is not the best way to deal with significant iron, but it can be economical or cash-flow positive.
1.Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Iron Out crystals into maybe 1 or 2 gallons of warm water.(X1: option -- maybe up the dose) Pour this into the brine tank, possibly down the brine tube. Agitate if you can.
2. Let this sit for 2 hours to 2 weeks. (X2: option: move the salt aside if the salt is shallow to expose liquid, and pour the IO into the liquid.
3. Start a regeneration. Usually after backwash, the brine draw cycle starts. Get to brine draw however it happens. Let the brine get drawn until the the brine tank is almost drawn. (X2) Alternatively monitor the drain line with a TDS meter, and look for a big increase in TDS. At that point, stop the flow of water with the bypass valve. That will let the solution sit in contact with the resin.
4. Let the solution sit in the resin for a time. That time (X3) might be an hour or might be 4 hours.
5a alternative: With an electronic timer, the cycling will continue while the water is off. However since the water is blocked, the solution says in contact with the resin. Then do a full regeneration to get the solution all cleaned out.
5b alternative: If you have an electromechanical valve, you can unplug the softener, and the softener will hold in the midst of the BD cycle. After you turn the water on, brine draw will continue, and you can slowly let the brine+IO interact with the resin for maybe 30 minutes. Turn the power back on, and the regen will continue and complete. That will get more efficiency out of the solution.
Note: various old posts have tried to describe a procedure, and I have tried to assimilate those. Go ahead and criticize this procedure. Different views can be helpful in tweaking a procedure. Or better yet, point to a writeup of the procedure that you like better.
There is not just one right way.
The X1, X2, etc are reference places to assist comment on times etc.
=======================================

Also, when I put the iron out in the brine tank, I don't know how to manually regenerate my softener without the plumber - I know that's lame!
Show us a photo of your control, and we might be able to help you with that. Even if the manufacturer does not want to provide info to you to do it yourself.
But is it OK for the iron out to sit in the brine tank until the softener regenerates itself?
Yes. However I am thinking you might need some more rinsing to get the Iron Out out. My suspicion is that a longer slow rinse (brine draw) time might be called for. I also wonder if the injector should be cleaned, because maybe that is causing the flow during brine draw/slow rinse to be less than designed.
 
Last edited:

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
I think it means you should rinse more or regenerate again, before putting the softener back into service. This orange water demonstrates success in removing iron, but get that orange down the drain instead of into your house.

=================An alternate Iron Out procedure=====================
A way to use Iron Out crystals to treat your resin periodically to deal with iron. This is not an authoritative procedure, but it should be pretty good.
A softener is not the best way to deal with significant iron, but it can be economical or cash-flow positive.
1.Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Iron Out crystals into maybe 1 or 2 gallons of warm water.(X1: option -- maybe up the dose) Pour this into the brine tank, possibly down the brine tube. Agitate if you can.
2. Let this sit for 2 hours to 2 weeks. (X2: option: move the salt aside if the salt is shallow to expose liquid, and pour the IO into the liquid.
3. Start a regeneration. Usually after backwash, the brine draw cycle starts. Get to brine draw however it happens. Let the brine get drawn until the the brine tank is almost drawn. (X2) Alternatively monitor the drain line with a TDS meter, and look for a big increase in TDS. At that point, stop the flow of water with the bypass valve. That will let the solution sit in contact with the resin.
4. Let the solution sit in the resin for a time. That time (X3) might be an hour or might be 4 hours.
5a alternative: With an electronic timer, the cycling will continue while the water is off. However since the water is blocked, the solution says in contact with the resin. Then do a full regeneration to get the solution all cleaned out.
5b alternative: If you have an electromechanical valve, you can unplug the softener, and the softener will hold in the midst of the BD cycle. After you turn the water on, brine draw will continue, and you can slowly let the brine+IO interact with the resin for maybe 30 minutes. Turn the power back on, and the regen will continue and complete. That will get more efficiency out of the solution.
Note: various old posts have tried to describe a procedure, and I have tried to assimilate those. Go ahead and criticize this procedure. Different views can be helpful in tweaking a procedure. Or better yet, point to a writeup of the procedure that you like better.
There is not just one right way.
The X1, X2, etc are reference places to assist comment on times etc.
=======================================


Show us a photo of your control, and we might be able to help you with that. Even if the manufacturer does not want to provide info to you to do it yourself.

Yes. However I am thinking you might need some more rinsing to get the Iron Out out. My suspicion is that a longer slow rinse (brine draw) time might be called for. I also wonder if the injector should be cleaned, because maybe that is causing the flow during brine draw/slow rinse to be less than designed.

OK here is a pic of the control. Any advice would be very welcome.
IMG_7425.jpg
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
Can you easily remove the cover? If so, how about a top view with the cover off.

What you posted may be enough for somebody to identify, but what we know is that the brine draw time will not be independently adjustable. However you could stop the clock, by pulling the power as discussed in step 5B earlier, during the brine draw cycle if doing a batch treatment.

How much Iron Out did you put in? Some routinely layer the IO with the salt. I think you instituted a batch treatment.
 

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
Hi. I was also wondering if someone would know how I could manually regenerate my system based on that picture.
 

Bannerman

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,060
Reaction score
527
Points
113
Location
Ontario, Canada
Turn the large dial Clockwise to the Backwash position.

To obtain a longer rinse this time, unplug the power cord during Backwash. Without power, the controller cannot advance to the following cycle so to extend the rinse an additional 30-minutes rinse, restore power after 30-minutes.
 
Last edited:

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
Turn the large dial Clockwise to the Backwash position.
Is that a 5600?

Anyway, as part of a batch treatment, I would lengthen the brine cycle, which actually is a slow rinse once the brine has been sucked out. That is not turbulent.
 

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
It looks like my timer is set to regenerate every 6 days. Do you think that's often enough if my water has a lot of iron in it? Is there any benefit to regenerating more often?
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
It looks like my timer is set to regenerate every 6 days. Do you think that's often enough if my water has a lot of iron in it? Is there any benefit to regenerating more often?
There is a benefit, and there is a downside (more salt use). I am thinking that better Iron Out special batch treatments may be more beneficial without the extra salt use, but for sure shorter regen intervals help the softener deal with salt better.

https://www.starwatersystems.com/co...2-Day-Control-Valve-Instructions-Chandler.pdf has some good info that is more concise than the service manual.

A backwashing iron filter before the softener would do a better job of removing iron, and it would make the job of the softener much easier.

If you are interested in a longer term solution, you should get a water test that includes your iron level, and go from there.
 
Last edited:

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
Thank you. One other question. I use iron fighter salt pellets. Is it a concern to also use iron out powder, or a good thing?
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
Thank you. One other question. I use iron fighter salt pellets. Is it a concern to also use iron out powder, or a good thing?
I think those are compatible. The iron fighter pellets mainly add citric acid. Citric acid smells better, but the Iron Out is rather effective. There are other treatment methods, such as Res Care. That can be used with a dispenser that meters the solution into the brine tank.

Clean injector and injector screen? Ignore?
 

WorthFlorida

The wife is still training me.
Messages
4,362
Reaction score
653
Points
113
Location
Orlando, Florida
After several year the brine tank needs to be cleaned. Though salt pellets might look clean, over the years grit builds up at the bottom of the brine tank. If the brine tank is not a separate piece but the water softener tank sits in it, use a shop vac to clean the bottom. A little fresh water may be needed to loosen up any grit. After it is cleaned run a manual regeneration cycle with just iron out. After the regen, run the cold water only at the bathtub. You do not want the rusty water to travel through your water heater. If the water comes out rusty, as Reach4 mentioned, iron is being removed and it's what you want to see. Run the cold water until it is clear and doing a second iron out regen is optional, after the manual regen then do a regen with salt.

When I had my home in Illinois I used to regen with iron out at least once or twice a year. I was using salt blocks that had no iron out in it as salt pellets usually did. Over time even using salt pellets, iron remains clinging to the resin resulting in poor results. Do what Bannerman suggest by increasing cycle times.
 

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
Thank you. And if I have been using iron out occasionally and also iron fighter salt, do you suggest I try a cycle with Res Care? I just bought a bottle of that, and I've never used it.
 

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
Hi. Just wondering if anyone has a recommendation about using a regeneration with Res Care in the brine tank. I have a bottle but I have never used it, just iron out and iron fighting salts. Thanks!
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
33,118
Reaction score
3,249
Points
113
Location
IL
Hi. Just wondering if anyone has a recommendation about using a regeneration with Res Care in the brine tank. I have a bottle but I have never used it, just iron out and iron fighting salts. Thanks!
https://proproducts.com/product/res-care/ says

Manual Application (for Severely Fouled Units): Pour 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of Pro Res Care resin cleaner per cu. ft. directly into brine well (for softeners with no brine well, pour directly into salt tank when salt is low). Manually regenerate softener. Repeat regeneration if taste, odor, or discoloration is detected in discharge, then run cold soft water tap nearest the softener until the odor or taste is gone.​

I would consider amending this to stop the flow once the charge is probably in the midst of the resin, but the technique they prescribe is easier. That would use a technique similar to the steps described in post #3 above, but for the Res-care instead of IO.

Let's see...., here is a variation. Pour your treatment chemical. Start another regen. During the brine draw cycle, monitor the TDS at the drain line. When the brine plus Res-Care (or IO) makes the TDS jump big time (over 1000), immediately put the softener into bypass with the bypass valve(s). You can find a TDS meter pretty cheap.

So at that point, the brine plus Res-Care is sitting with the resin. Let it sit for an hour or so. The timer will continue to run, but the bypass has stopped water. After 2 hours, open the bypass, and start another regeneration. Watching the drain line output as the new regen starts should be interesting. Let the regen complete, and you should be back in service.

If you don't know how to find or operate your bypass valve(s), give us a picture of the back of the softener and any valves nearby on the pipes to the softener.
 
Last edited:

ditttohead

Water systems designer, R&D
Messages
5,952
Reaction score
419
Points
83
Location
Ontario California
Softeners and iron can work, but it will be problematic eventually. By acidifying the brine, you can extend the time between problems. We would really need to see a comprehensive water test to be able to give a better answer. That is an old timer softener, extremely inefficient but bulletproof.
 

MaxBlack

Member
Messages
87
Reaction score
4
Points
8
Location
Northern Wisconsin
FWIW our water softener came with an automatic Res Care dispenser (they called it "mineral reactivator") whose solenoid failed. Prior to failure it would add some amount of Res Care at every regen, by enabling it to be sucked-in to the resin tank along with brine solution.

My point in bringing it up is simply that I see every reason for you to be adding 2-4oz of such at every regen and see if it solves your problem. We had reddish water before we installed this system, but none since.
 

Zagat2

New Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Connecticut
FWIW our water softener came with an automatic Res Care dispenser (they called it "mineral reactivator") whose solenoid failed. Prior to failure it would add some amount of Res Care at every regen, by enabling it to be sucked-in to the resin tank along with brine solution.

My point in bringing it up is simply that I see every reason for you to be adding 2-4oz of such at every regen and see if it solves your problem. We had reddish water before we installed this system, but none since.
Thank you. I am trying to discern if Iron Out and Res Care basically do the same thing? And would I add the res care into the main tank or the brine tank?
 
Top