Water softener vs whole house filtration + softener?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Graystone, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. Graystone

    Graystone New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I'm having all of the plumbing replaced in my complete gut job remodel of my house, and I would like to treat the city district water coming in so that I have less hard water spots on glass and fixtures, and prolong the life of the PEX plumbing, etc. Before the remodel, I had an RO system under my kitchen counter for my drinking/cooking water, and loved it, but all plumbing fixtures and glassware would develop water spots. I would finish my glassware with a light rinse with RO to avoid that, despite feeling guilty about the wasted water down the drain to produce that water.

    I'm debating whether to get a softener system and then a point of use RO system again, or buy a whole house water filtration system that touts that it achieves similar results as a combination of a softener and RO system, rendering the water in the house fairly spot free and tasty.

    In my research, it seems the whole house filtration systems do prevent scale build up, but might not actually prevent water spotting on shower door glass or glassware once the water is out of the pipes. Is that true? It's also unclear how the taste compares to RO systems. The city water, which although safe and clean, tastes like pool water from the chloramines in it.

    I'm hoping to get some advice from the smart TerryLove folks that are more knowledgeable than me on which path to take, and possibly some system suggestions.

    My plumber is a nice guy and good with following plumbing codes, but is less knowledgeable about water chemistry and how these systems works, and advised me to research more. He said he hears good things about the Halo systems, but is not quite sure beyond that and how it would compare with a softener system with RO. Getting the RO out from under my kitchen sink and no more air gap faucet would be nice.

    This is a 2-bed, 2-bath, 1350 sqft house with a tankless water heater and PEX A piping. Below are the district water reports. I believe our water district sources water from 5 different sources throughout the year, so these numbers might shift at various times depending on source.
    MWD_surface.JPG MWD_ground.JPG
     
  2. Graystone

    Graystone New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    If this is the wrong way to go about asking this question, please let me know and I will revise. Thanks in advance.
     
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    If this is TAC / NAC, there are people who think they have value, and are not highly skeptical of claims. I am not one of them. I am not a pro.

    I believe in whole house filtration for city water by a sediment filter. Another nice water improver is a backwashing GAC filter, which removes chlorine, and takes out organic chemicals like pesticides. Then a softener for softening. Removing chlorine makes the softener resin last longer, but GAC needs replacement after some time. 5 years?

    If you have the GAC, would it be GAC then cartridge then softener? Or GAC, softener, then sediment filter? I see merits for each.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Salt free solutions have their place but any manufacturer that claims they work like a softener and make the water like RO water is a scam company. Salt free systems can reduce problems related to hardness, but not always. In many applications they are ineffective. In some applications the results are impressive.

    Ro removes the impurities from the water (90+%) and leaves the water very similar to many matural water sources, ie: rain water, snow melt, rivers in the mountains... any place where water has not been travelling or sitting for very long or if it has, it has been sitting in a minimally soluble area where it does not have a lot of opportunities to absorb the mineral and impurities around it.

    A softener removes the majority of hardness ions, calcium/magnesium, and replaces it with sodium (bicarbonate) and since these mineral are gone, they no longer negatively affect the water quality. Since sodium bicarbonate is nearly inert in water in regards to water quality in levels below 1000 TDS, the benefits are obvious and noticeable. Systems that "mitigate, reduce, lessens" the effects of hard water often times do very little under certain water conditions. The real question is, show me the test kit that shows the media is working. A softener, RO, nitrate , Chlorine, Tannin, iron, manganese, H2Sreduction, chemical injection etc all have absolute test kits to determine the effectiveness of the equipment. Scale reduction systems do not.

    That being said, I like the anti-scale designs especially for those who do not or can not deal with the salt. Elderly who have difficulties putting salt in the salt tank, or in areas where brine restrictions are in effect are good candidates for salt free designs.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Graystone

    Graystone New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I'm trying to determine the answer to your question. I would assume a sediment filter would be the first step in the process if it is involved, and then GAC and then softener? I'm not sure what is best practice. I like the idea of drinking water that's been treated post salt exchange, but maybe that's an unsubstantiated thought.
     
  7. Graystone

    Graystone New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I did not mean to imply that a manufacturer implied the salt free systems produce water similar to RO. Rather, I hear claims that the water is scale and streak free, and tastes very clean.

    You mentioned that these systems are impressive in certain situations. Which are those?

    I'm open to advice on system design. What are your thoughts on sodium vs potassium based softening systems (other than cost of the material)? This system will be outside exposed to sun, which is another contributing factor.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    The deal is that backwashing filters have a natural sediment-catching effect, and I expect that the great majority, if not all, gets washed out during backwash. So is this water going to contain some stuff too big to backwash out? That would be the question I guess. For a well, there can be some small pebbles pumped up. Those may just add to the gravel at the bottom of the tank that you should have anyway. For city water, I think it tends to be smaller stuff. Do you ever find debris in your aerator screens?

    Cartridge filters after a backwashing filter or softener can catch what did not get filtered, plus any media particles that might come through while in service.

    So I have not reached a conclusion. For sure I would want a sediment filter on city water somewhere.
     
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    One needs to ensure the sediment filter does not limit the backwash GPM requirement for the GAC and softener. If it is a coarse filter just to catch rocks that is not likely to happen but if you go too fine, it could.
    I have a 100 mesh filter first in line to keep rocks/sand out of my iron filter. The iron filter with AG media will catch the finer particles that hopefully are not too heavy to backwash out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
    Reach4 likes this.
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Here is a picture of a tub, about 11x13 inches, I used that to catch sediment coming out as I cleaned my WH. The light stuff had been pumped away by the utility pump I put in the tub. I was thinking that I had put a penny in the debris for scale, but that must have been a different photo. I forget what the plastic bag with tape was. I should have saved the big stuff in retrospect.

    This would have been after the softener. I cannot be sure that the softener was in place the whole life of that WH. The softener had an Autotrol valve, and those can deal with some serious chunks. I guess the bigger stuff could have been softener gravel, now that I think about it. I tend to not think so.

    I had my backwashing filter and cartridge filters preceding the softener at this point.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    To clarify, softeners function by exchanging dissolved calcium and magnesium ions (main cause of hardness), with sodium ions. As the quantity of Total Dissolved Solids will not be reduced in the softened water, spotting will likely continue, but the spots that do occur should be much easier to remove.

    Your use of RO water to eliminate spotting has been effective as the TDS quantity within RO water is substantially reduced.

    Chloramines contain both Chlorine and Ammonia which is much more difficult to remove than Chlorine alone. To reduce/remove Chloramines at point of entry, the usual requirement will be a backwashing filter containing a substantial quantity of Catalytic Carbon.

    Is there an alternate location to install an RO?

    To reduce the quantity of wastewater from an RO, a permeate pump can often be added to many systems. Not only will wastewater be reduced but the system will recover more quickly, the membrane will work more efficiently, and the system pressure can be increased so the storage tank can store a greater quantity of RO water.

    An alternative to a permeate pump would be to utilize a membrane with a lower flushing requirement such as Pentair's GRO which offer an almost 1:1 ratio of waste flow vs RO water produced. While the wastewater quantity would be reduced, the recovery rate, pressure and storage capacity will remain similar to that which you experienced previously.

    Not sure what the issue is regarding an air gap faucet but another type of air gap not built into the faucet could be utilized between the RO drain line and the sewer/septic system connection.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to know when a salt free system will work or when it wont. If you read the marketing literature, you would come away thinking that they make the water better than any other treatment method. This is just silly marketing. The truth is that salt free scale reduction technologies are hit and miss.

    For your water a backwashing carbon tank and a softener would be ideal. Don't bother with potassium.

    Outdoors, I would recommend an outdoor rated tank jacket and environmental outdoor cover for the valve.

    Here are a couple of articles that may help.

    https://view.publitas.com/impact-water-products/2018-catalog-final/page/32-33
    https://view.publitas.com/impact-water-products/2018-catalog-final/page/52-53

    Here is a link to what the environmental cover looks like. https://view.publitas.com/impact-water-products/2018-catalog-final/page/38-39
     
  13. Graystone

    Graystone New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Wow, that's a lot of sediment. I presume that's not a municipal water supply? I could see how that would really gum up a filter or a tankless heat exchanger.
     
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You presume correctly.
     
Similar Threads: Water softener
Forum Title Date
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Low water pressure from water softener Yesterday at 4:03 PM
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Need water softener recommendation Wednesday at 8:58 AM
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Water Softener drain question Sep 18, 2020
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Iron removal with iron filter or water softener?? Sep 17, 2020
Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers Water softener questions/ recommendation Sep 13, 2020

Share This Page