water softener


  #1  
Old 03-08-04, 07:34 PM
RaymondW
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water softener

We have a 12-year old house with copper plumbing and hard well water. We've lived here for about 16 months. Calcium is evident in the dishwasher and on faucets. I have a PUR water filter on the kitchen faucet for drinking water, but everything else is straight from the well. I know of no problems (odors, stains or the like) with the water other than the calcium film and build up in the dishwasher.

I want to install a softener and possibly a whole house filter to protect against any "bugs" in the water. One problem is that where the line enters the house and goes into the holding tank, it branches immediately to feed the laundry room before going to the rest of the house, including the hot water heater. The entry and holding tank are in an area of the finished basement without a floor drain, although the plumbing stack for the laundry comes down very close. The only floor drain is in the furnace room (with the hot water heater) a good 20 feet away. If I install a softener near the holding tank, the only place to dump the back flush water is into the laundry stack. Do they make a fitting for that? If I install it in the furnace room, I'll have to run two lines between the holding tank and the furnace room to feed and return from the softener. I can't just tap into the line at the water heater, because by then, the cold water has already been delivered to the laundry room and kitchen. Is either method preferred?

I assume I should put the softener AFTER the holding tank which has probably got a lot of calcium in it already. If I put the softener before the tank, it seems I'll just pick up more calcium from the 12 year old tank. Logical?

Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be any calcium build up in the pipes where I had to replace a faucet in the basement. I'm told that calcium doesn't build up as quickly in copper. Is that true?

If I install a filter, where should it go in the line? Before or after the softener and/or holding tank?

Sorry for being so long-winded. Wanted to give you all the facts I have.

Thanks for your help.

Ray
 
  #2  
Old 03-09-04, 06:10 AM
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Firstly a softener or a whole house filter will not remove any "bugs". By bugs I assume you are referring to bacteria and these will only be removed by chlorination or uv treatment. Reverse osmosis and ceramic filters will remove bacteria but you should first have your water tested to know what you are dealing with.
A softener will remove minerals which will make your water not leave stains and make your soaps go farther. A whole house filter with a sediment cartridge will remove fine particles in the water and a carbon cartridge will improve taste and odour.
Normally a carbon filter is used on a single drinking water tap as it would be wasted on water that supplies the bath, toilet and such.

When you say holding tank are you referring to a pneumatic pressure tank?
The softener should be installed after the pneumatic tank.

It would be ok to install the softener in the furnace room and just increase the pipe size going to the softener by one size to lower pressure drop in the line.
Also, make sure you install a bypass where you tap into the water supply and also install an unsoftened line for the outside faucet.
You also might want to research using your softened water for drinking.
My softened water is connected to my drinking water filter system but you must make a conscious decision to do this as you will be consuming a very small amount of sodium.

The whole house sediment filter should be installed after the pneumatic tank.


One type of drinking water set-up.
<img src="http://www.rainfresh.ca/images/ds3_installed.jpg"
Image credit: rainfresh.ca
 
  #3  
Old 03-17-04, 10:28 PM
RaymondW
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More questions

Greg, I want to thank you for your response. Sorry I haven't gotten back to this sooner. Frankly, I was hoping for a couple more responses to give me some options. Here's an update.

That dishwasher that I was concerned about getting clogged with the hard water finally gave up the ghost last weekend. We now have a new dishwasher. Before it gets destroyed, along with the washing machine, I'm even more interested in softening our water.

Sears tested the hardness to be at 22 grains/gallon with no measureable iron content. I believe that, since I've seen no rust stains, only the white calcium film. According to a calculator I found online this evening, that means that I should be looking for a softener that regenerates at about 51,000 grains once a week. Sears couldn't tell me about parasites or bacteria in the water, but when we bought the house, the water "passed" a water inspection, indicating that it was safe to drink. Whether or not there are any parasites or bacteria in the water, I feel safer filtering at least the drinking water for things like giardia.

To answer a few of your questions, I have an outside faucet at the well head which will remain untreated and is convenient for washing cars and watering the lawn. So treating the entire house is not an issue.

Yes, the holding tank is a pneumatic tank that maintains pressure between the well and the house. It seems to be doing a fine job. No complaints about water pressure.

That PUR water filter on the kitchen faucet is supposed to remove most bacteria and it has a small pore microfilter. That may be marketing hype, but the ice cubes are clear and there's no visible sediment (even calcium) in our drinking water. Which leads me to wonder if I can filter the calcium out rather than softening the water.

One of the reservations I've had about a water softener is the introduction of salt. I'd like to avoid tasting salt in the water. Another reservation is the slimy feel of some softened water. A reverse osmosis system should reduce the salt, but will it reduce the "slick" feel of the softened water, too? Is there another way to minimize the "slick" feel of the water? I'm thinking that a RO system after the softener might make sense. I did notice some small white particles floating in the water sample I took to Sears, so a filter of some sort is probably in order.

Research has led me to finding some sort of catalytic metal water softener that doesn't introduce chemicals but somehow softens the water??? Ever heard of that?

After hours of searching online for some guidance, I have found nothing that tells me if one type of softener is better than another. My choices seem to be a Kenmore from Sears, or a GE or Water Boss from Lowes. They're all around $500-$700. I have no idea what to look for, so I'm at the mercy of two competing sales people to give me their expert opinions. What factors, other than capacity, should I look for in selecting a softener or filter?
 
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Old 03-18-04, 05:34 AM
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Raymond:

Firstly at 22 gpg and with a 51,000 grain softener you would have the capacity to soften aproximatly 2200 gallons of water, which would equate to about 328 gallons per day. The average is 75 gallons/day/person so you would service a familily of between 4 and five people.

Believe me the slick feeling is something you will get used to mighty quickly!
Reverse osmosis is only for treating drinking water as the flow rate is way too slow and the process wastes two gallons of water for every gallon produced.
The only think you might consider is a sediment filter ahead of the softener.

You really have to be carefull with "revolutionary" water treatment methods as most of them are scams.
Ion exchange softeners which are ones that regenerate with salt have been around for years and are a proven technology.

In choosing a softener I think all the major brands would be fairly competitive and would recommend you base your purchase on after sales service and parts.
One feature you must have for maximum efficiency is metered regeneration where the unit regenerates based on consumption.
I recently installed a 30,000 grain unit for myself and one feature I'm soory I didn't get is the ability to read the actual gallons consumed. This would allow me to know roughly when the unit will regenerate.


As far as the consumtion of sodium at 22 gr/gal your softened water will have about 600 mg of sodium/gal of water.
This would be 150mg sodium / qt of water.
There is a sodium content of 150 mg in a slice of white bread.
Although there will be sodium in your drinking water it will not be able to taste it.
I use softened water for drinking because the taste is improved for me, and the life of the water filter system I have, which is like the one pictured, is greatly lengthened.

Here Is a link about salt consumption.
 
  #5  
Old 03-18-04, 04:43 PM
RaymondW
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Thank you!

Good information. We're actually a family of three, but I kicked things up a notch to try and keep the regen to once a week. As it turns out, the Kenmore does 48K grains/regen (which should get us through a week) and the WaterBoss I looked at today at Lowes doesn't say, but it's smaller, so I'd expect a more frequent regeneration.

I guess that the whole house filter to remove sediment might be more important than the RO system, depending on the quality of the softened water. Odd thing: PUR's web site says NOT to use their whole house filters with well water, although I've been using a faucet mount for over a year with no problems. (I'd really like to get rid of that stupid looking thing, though.)

I will look into the softener/valve you mentioned to see what's available at what cost. I'm confident in my DIY skills (and I AM good looking, too ), but I don't know the first thing about softeners, so buying a known or recommended brand at least increases my comfort level.

I had intended to find an automatic softener but my boss today said that his automatic Kenmore still regenerates EVERY NIGHT, with his family of four. Doesn't sound like it saves him any water or salt that way.

One more question that came up today: The guy at Lowes suggested running the drain tube up to the ceiling, over the 20-odd feet to the furnace room and down to the floor drain. Is there any problem with doing that? There's a suspended ceiling over part of the run but I like the idea of putting the softener near the well tank rather than running pipes back and forth to get it into the furnace room. Other possibility is tapping into the laundry stack a few feet away but I'll probably need a one-way valve (whatever it's called) to prevent backing up laundry water into the softener if anything ever gets clogged.

Thanks for all of your help.

Ray
 
  #6  
Old 03-18-04, 05:24 PM
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Pur issues that warning due to bacteria contamination, it should be taken seriously. You can't see smell or taste bacteria and they can make you very sick, especially when they multiply in a 'filter'. Carbon filters have the same warning; and all RO systems contain carbon.

There's two parts of sizing a softener. One is the capacity and tha tis dictatde by the compensated hardness, the number of people using the water and any additional treated water in gallons per day for say a garage horse etc.. But then the other part dictates capacity also and that's the service flow rate (SFR) of the softener. That's the max gpm the unit can treat. If you exceed that gpm, you don't get all the hardness iron etc. out of the water. So you need to know more than the 48K as an example.

Not all softener control valves could take the drain line up over your wall and then so far. Some can't do it without increasing the drain line ID and DLFC (drain line flow cotrol). If you connect to the stack, you need an air gap connection, not a check valve. A check valve can create a cross connection.

You don't hear of these things in the big box stores (or from many others selling softeners), you live with the problems they create unless you return the unit. So check it out before you buy anything.

Gary Slusser
 
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Old 03-18-04, 06:16 PM
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Ray:

I would strongly urge you to get a metered softener as a timer operated one is incredibly inneficient in that it wastes salt and puts an unnecessary load on your septic field.
Some areas have banned non-metered softeners.

There is a bit more to learn in setting up a metered softener but the short learning curve will be well rewarded.

The problems your boss is having is not normal and indicates he has a serious problem.
I'm surprised he puts up with it.
His problem could be because of the unit not being set up when first installed.
They are not all the same, but generally the unit has to be programmed with the water hardness and capacity of the unit and some the amount of salt used per regen.

You can go overhead with the discharge line but must follow the mfr's sizing instructions.
You must have the waste discharge into an open trapped drain.
You cannot pipe it directly to the drain line. It is possible to contaminate your water supply or cause the unit to not drain properly if it is piped directly.
 
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Old 03-20-04, 11:47 AM
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Hi GregH. I don't know where the timer control came in but maybe it was the mention of once a week regeneration.... The 'rule of thumb' is to size a softener to regenerate about every 7 days. All manufacturers make them and they do have a place in residential water treatment. The Clack, Fleck and any other controls I mentioned are all demand regenerated but they all come in timer versions also.

A correctly setup and sized timer control doesn't use any more water than a metered unit per regeneration but usually will use more salt and water on an annual basis. They can also use less water per regeneration than a metered control because they regen more frequently. Which with heavy iron is needed for either type control; three days is a good choice to protect the resin. A week is too long with more than 1 ppm of iron. And the latest research on septic tank systems shows no measureable change in the operation due to water from a softener. Some bans on discharge to a septic have been removed because of the research.

Gary Slusser
 
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Old 03-20-04, 08:32 PM
RaymondW
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filters

Gary,

The reason I chose PUR for the faucet mount filter is that I knew the brand from my backpacking experiences where I was filtering water from streams and from horse troughs. I don't KNOW that I have anything to worry about in my well water (the previous owners had a family of four and lived here for 11 years without a filter and our pre-purchase test indicated it was safe water to drink), but I thought it was a wise investment of a few dollars to be sure we weren't drinking anything that could hurt us.

I was surprised to find that PUR does not support their whole house filters for well water. I don't recall any such warning for their faucet mounted filters. I don't want to impede the flow to the whole house, but I do want to continue to filter against the unknown "stuff" in raw well water. The only place that really comes into play is in the kitchen and possibly the bathrooms (just the sinks). I guess my best option is to continue to filter the kitchen water, probably converting to an undersink filter, maybe a PUR, maybe an RO system. I suppose I could do the same in each bathroom if I really get paranoid.

Ray
 
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Old 03-20-04, 08:49 PM
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Gary:

Thanks for the info.

Softeners are a fairly new thing for me and my ears are open.

What I have found in my HVAC/R practice is that my regular customers have been unable to get any info or service from the plumbers that were quite happy to install their softeners.

After working through quite a few problems with them they had more confidence purchasing a softener through me rather than the plumbers who would mysteriously appear when the talk turned to a new install.
I have recently installed a 450,000 grain and a 300,000 grain and a 30,000 grain for myself.

What makes metered softeners better in my mind is the fact that although I know that sodium discharge to a field is ok, you would want to minimize the amount of sodium because of vegetation issues and also the loadiing of the field from excess regeneration.

I also know that even with a metered softener there is a lot of excess capacity built in to the settings.
I did a little test on the 450,000 gr unit by unplugging the meter just before a regeneration and found that after a couple of days the softener was still delivering water at less than 1 gr/gal of hardness.
At approx. 5000 gal/day consumption, adjusting the regeneration to take this into consideration would make for significant salt savings.

Do you agree?
 
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Old 03-20-04, 10:15 PM
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So, I should buy a metered softener and filter the supply for sediment before the softener and after the bladder tank. I'll look into an under-counter filter for kitchen drinking water. They are slow flow, so I can see what you mean about not doing that for the whole house. We don't have an ice maker, but if we have one in the future, I think I can get a line from the filter to the refrigerator location pretty easily.

My bath tub flow rate is almost exactly 5 gpm. All of the Kenmore and GE softeners I've considered have flow rates of 9 to 12 gpm. I think I'm okay there.

Waterboss is pretty stingy about their information. Their web site indicates that I can use their smaller model 700 which uses only 2.5 lbs of salt, 16 gallons of water, and 18 minutes per regeneration, but nothing says how often that will occur. I like the shorter regen time and the lower backwash volume. Even if it does it three times a week, I'd be ahead of the best Kenmore. But without knowing how often that really happens, I think I'll have to pass on that brand.

3 people, 22 gpg of hardness, and 75 gallons/day/person says I need a 34,650 grain system. Everything I've looked at meets that requirement and then some.

I suppose I could build a standpipe with a trap onto the laundry stack but if I can push the backwash water up and over to the furnace room floor drain, it will simplify things considerably. I'll not try the direct connection.

I've only known a few people who actually owned water softeners and each of them has owned a Kenmore. I'm kind of leaning in that direction. At least I know where I can get replacements parts when I need them.

Ray
 
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Old 03-21-04, 05:15 AM
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Ray:

I have come in contact with many softeners that were not working and there were a variety of makes.
A common thread between all of them were owners who knew nothing about them and only knew that they had to put salt in the tanks.
If you gain the knowlege to properly maintain your unit I think that you would do well with most makes.

The up and over drain I believe can be done with all makes as long as you follow their instructions.

Instructions for my 30k Autotrol metered head:

"Elevated drain: If the unit is located where the drain line must be elevated you may elevate the line up to six feet, providing the run does not exceed 15 feet and water pressure at conditioner is not less than 40 psi. You may elevate an addditional 2 feet for each additional 10 psi."
There is more about line sizing but you get the picture.

I have the same drinking water set-up as shown above but with a couple of changes that I made.
The ceramic filter, which also will remove bacteria has a flow rate only slightly better than reverse osmosis, but does not waste water with a bypass line.
The difference between the install shown and mine is that I installed the unit in my basement and piped it up to my sink to a separate tap.
To improve the flow i installed a one gallon bladder pneumatic tank between the filter and the tap so now I can fill a large pot or jug with a very high flow of water.
Once the bladder empties it takes about five minutes for it to refill.

Again, my preference is for a metered softener to allow it to regenerate at precisely the right time to get maximum usage of the resin between cycles.
If one were available that would show the gallons consumed it would give you an extra bit of info.

I believe the resin that is used is between the different makes is all pretty much the same so the salt consumption should also be similar between makes.

Good luck with your purchase.
Keep us posted on how you make out by locating this thread and posting back.
 
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Old 03-21-04, 11:15 AM
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GregH

My experience is that sad to say, the majority of plumbers don't know water treatment or the equipment used. They also don't get into service because they don't know much about the equipment they sell and iinstall, let alone other makes. And it seems to me that they don't want to learn.

Actually the sodium and the chlorides kill vegetation but in a regular (no aeration type) septic system, neither (or water) gets to the vegetation. Both sodium and chloride can effect certain leach field soils though and that's the place where system faliure takes place. The 'extra' water is not a problem for any septic system. The research was done by the UN of MN or WI about 6-7 years ago IIRC. You can find it at www.wqa.org in their consumer area.

Any excess capacity (established by the salt dose) in a regular softener is for water quality and use fluctuations which provides flexibility but most important, it provides a more or less set reserve capacity. In your 450K unit example... the unit is not set up correctly. That will include the salt dose versus the volume of resin reserve capacity and the resultant meter setting. Your test proved that. Also, in commercial industrial... if the water use is consistant, a timer control may 'fit' the need better than metered, for just the reason you are seeing. Yes salt consumption is always the yardstick to use as to the efficiency of a softener.

Maybe I should state my exprience. I have 16 years in water treatment. Most of that time has been as an independent dealer but I've also spent a few years in exclusive territory and exclusive dealer status. I've been approved by Autotrol to build some of their exclusive dealer equipment and have built most of the other equipment I've sold over the years. I don't know everything and I know that, but I can find anything I need to know at any time, in a fairly short time. Also, I've been posting in usenet newsgroups and BBs such as this for 7+ years and have helped untold numbers of people with water quality and equipment problems. Many have the big box brands mentioned in this thread. Most don't last more than a few years until they have serious and expensive problems. They will not make the trip up a few feet and then 20' over the wall that has been mentioned.

Your Autotrol manual, is that the OEM/dealer manual or the consumer manual? I haven't looked at their manuals for some time but if there's no mention of the DLFC or increasiing the ID of thr drain line, then they may be relying on the knowledge of the pro installer. That info won't be found in the consumer manual. Note it mentions 15' horizontally. You may be able to find the OEM stuff at GE's water treament web site.

Gary Slusser
 
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Old 03-21-04, 12:24 PM
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Ray, have you searched google groups for any info on the brands you're looking at? I think you might want to do that.

Anytime a softener needs a prefilter, there's something with the softener that requires that and IMO, it's the wrong softener or choice of prefiltration. Softeners with gravel underbeds are much batter for a number of reasons than those without gravel.

As to resin quality. Import resins are not considered to be as high quality as domestic brands like Sybron and Purolite. They are international leaders. Tank quality isn't the same between Structural Fibers and those your brands use. The control valves have 1-3 years on average; the brands GregH and I have mentioned are 5 years. None of which are rotary types as those you've mentioned are. None of the brands you mentioned are used outside the residential market. Those we've mentioned are use in all three markets; residential, commercail and industrial. So there is quite a difference in quality.

Also, any independent dealer can build softeners in various physical sizes and capacities from 6" x 18" resin tanks to tanks much larger than what you've seen so far (10" x 40"). Salt dosage is varied to provide better salt efficiency. You can set any softener to do water WB is promoting; 3#and a few gallons but (acution) they do that with a packed bed tank. You can also use fine mesh resiin, or Putolite SST-60 and get higher kinetics (grains/# of salt). You can also buy a softener with a control valve that uses soft water for brine makeup.

You really should do more research on softeners before buying one.

In your calculation for the capacity you need, do you have a 24 hour reserve in the formula? Do you really use 75 gal/person/day? The national water use average is 60 gpd/person. Check it out at www.awwa.org IIRC site.

There will not be any scale in your pressure tank. I'd check the air pressure in it because of the 5 gpm at your tub.

Gary Slusser
 
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Old 03-22-04, 07:31 PM
RaymondW
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Gary,

I did as you suggested (Google newsgroups) and saw a lot of folks asking questions, but not a lot of answers (except for yours). The trouble I have with forums involving specific products is that most people who bother to post have an ax to grind. People who like what they've bought, don't usually bother seeking out the appropriate forum and posting their good experiences. I've never considered looking for a forum on Dodge vehicles, but I've been very happy with the last two I've bought. Now, if I did go looking, I bet I'd find all sorts of complaints and people relating their horror stories about wheels falling off and exploding engines. That's why I don't put a lot of stock in brand-specific forums.

Yesterday, I visited Lowes (again) and had to explain to the only guy in the department how a water softener works. And I'm obviously no expert on these things. Later at Sears, I realized that the Kenmore has an overflow port that must drain lower. That seems to negate the idea of going up and over the wall with the backwash line even though that's acceptable otherwise. What happens when the unit does overflow for some reason? I'll still flood the room without a floor drain.

Unless I build a low, p-trapped stand pipe onto the laundry stack (which I'm reluctant to do in case the laundry stack ever gets clogged and backs up), I'm left with running a copper supply line over to the furnace room so I can locate the softener there. Come to think of it, I don't have to run a second line all the way back to where I started (at the bladder tank). I can just tap into the cold side of the water heater plumbing and back into the system that way. Why didn't I think of that before?

I'm looking at this like I would an appliance. When I bought my new dishwasher, I didn't ask what brand of bearings they used in the pump motor. I wouldn't know Purolite from Structural Fibers if you showed me. I really don't care. I want a water softener. You mention that WaterBoss uses a packed bed tank. Is that a bad thing? How would I know if Culligan uses a packed bed tank or not?

The problem I have with going to a water softener exclusive dealer or ordering a custom configuration, is that I don't know the answers to most of their technical questions like type of tank, gravel bed, resin, control valve, bypass valve, whether I need a turbulator (whatever the heck that is), etc. The alternative is go to Sears, SEE what I'm buying, throw it in my truck, take it home and install it. I have no idea what a gravel bed is or does. All I know is that friends have used Kenmore softeners and they do the job. GE and WaterBoss are obviously selling enough of their products to somebody or they wouldn't stay in business. Maybe they won't last as long, but I don't have to be a water engineer to buy one. That said, I'll send you a separate email about a price quote. But who do I call for service or where do I go when your valve gets stuck in a few years?

Of course I want to do the right thing, but let's keep it in perspective. We're talking about a $400-$600 investment. If it lasts five years, it's only a couple of dollars a week. If I have to replace the whole system with another $500 softener in five years, I won't lose much sleep.

Sorry if I sound frustrated. I stopped assembling my own computers a few years ago when I could buy a Dell for less money and didn't have to worry about the hard drive manufacturer not answering questions about someone else's controller when the system wouldn't start. This whole water softener purchase project about buying one brand of media and putting it into another brand of tank and using a third brand of valve is taking me back to those not so "good old days."

Ray
 
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Old 03-22-04, 07:45 PM
RaymondW
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Forgot to answer your pressure question. The gauge on the pressure tank reads about 36 psi. Is 5 gpm at the tub low?

BTW, fact number 16 of 25 Facts About Water on the awwa web site says that the average person uses 100 gallons of water per day. That's the highest daily average I've come across.

If my 75 gallons/day average is high and your 60 gallons/day is more accurate, I've already built in 25% reserve.
 
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Old 03-24-04, 05:46 AM
RaymondW
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Greg,

Now that I've decided to put the softener in the furnace room, I need to run a supply line to it. I plan to cut the main supply just after the pressure tank, cap the end that goes to the fixtures, and connect the new softener feed line to the supply. Everything at that point is 3/4" copper. My original distance guess was pretty far off. It looks like the length of the line feeding the softener will be closer to 50' than 20', especially allowing for right angle turns rather than a straight angled line across the basement ceiling.

My hot water heater is also plumbed with 3/4" copper. My plan there is to tee into the cold side and attach to the outlet of the new softener. That should feed softened water to the heater and to the rest of the cold water taps throughout the house. One of our hose bibs is close enough to the pressure tank that I could run it off the supply line before the softener. The other is not accessible (drywalled ceiling) so it will have to get softened water.

We have no complaints about water pressure in the house. There is a gauge on the main line at the tee where the pressure tank is connected that reads 36 psi. I assume that's the water pressure.

You mentioned using a larger pipe to feed the softener. That should reduce (to something less than 36 psi) the pressure in that new run going into the softener. Then it should increase again (back to 36 psi?) as I change back to 3/4" pipe AFTER the softener, right? Is there a reason for doing that? What will happen if I keep to 3/4" pipe for everything?

I'm planning to do all of that plumbing first (maybe this weekend) and include a manual bypass valve to get ready for the softener I'll buy when I've created a place to attach it.

Ray

BTW, I originally assumed the pressure tank was full of water, but I'm thinking now that it's full of compressed air that keeps pressure on the plumbing system. Is that adjustable? Can I increase the pressure in the tank and thereby increase water pressure in the house? I don't NEED more pressure unless this new run will lower it noticeably.
 
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Old 03-24-04, 08:53 AM
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Ray, of all my posts, all were in response to questions. In the replies the OP recieved, many owners stated their problems with the brands you mention. You'll also notice that 99% of those posts were questions of what to do to fix the problem they described. That's much different than simply running down a product.

All softeners have a brine tank overflow elbow on the side. Some have safety brine systems, lower priced and lower quality softeners don't.

Cutting off that line and capping it causes a 'dead end' in your plumbing which is a bad idea becauses it allows an area of potable water line that can not be sanitized. It should be taken seriously.

If you don't want to know the componets of a softener, you shouldn't care if WB's packed bed is good or bad. And recall that I'm the only one mentioning components and their respective qualities to you while I'm doing my best to educate you and others before the purchase. The vast majority of Culligan's sales force would know what a packed bed is. And I'll be nice and not mention other things they and store clerks won't know.

I guess you can look at a softener as an appliance but no other appliance impacts your life as much as the product of the softener. That's the water you drink, cook with and immerse your body in while it also impacts all other water using appliances in the building and all surfaces it comes in contact with including all clothing that is laundered in it. Not to mention that in most cases it's installed on both your potable water and sewage plumbing. Actually it's the only "appliance" that is. And since you've never had a softener before (or so it sounds) relegating a softener to the same level as your misbehaving toaster can be a rather large mistake. Although 99% of all softeners have a power cord, there's much more that needs to be done to replace one than pull the plug and toss it. They usually don't fit your garbage can very easily but.. most people won't buy the same brand next time. They'll go look up info on others offering longer service free operation even if it costs them more, which in this case it doesn't.

Gary Slusser
 
  #19  
Old 03-24-04, 09:13 AM
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RaymondW:

The thing that affects pressure in a system while a tap is open is the systems ability to deliver it.
The pump is what determines the flow rtate and the restriction in the lines are what takes it away.
The less pressure drop there is the more pressure will be available at the tap when it is opened.
The larger size will not create less pressure at the tap, on the contrary it will increase the pressure while water is flowing due to less restriction.

You can measure pressure drop at a fixture by installing a guage in the line at the fixture. If you compare the reading when no water is flowing and then with the tap flowing at full force, that will be the pressure drop.
This is why you should increase the pipe size going to the softener.
In fact if it were mine and had a 100' added to the total run I might consider going up to 1 1/4". (I hate wimpy showers.)

This is how the bypass should be hooked up to the existing water line.
If you leave the hose bib on softened water all you have to do is open the bypass valve to feed raw water. You don't even gave to close the valves to the softener, none will flow through it.
Also if you want to jazz it up you could install a pressure guage on the main line after the softener. You can then check for pressure drop by opening the bypass while water is flowing to see how much the guage rises. That will be the systems pressure drop.
My guage is installed after my softener and 5 micron whole house filter to know when the filter has to be changed.

Existing line out (X = valve, u = whole house filter)
I
I
O(Guage)
I
I
I-----X-------From softener
I
X
I
I------X----U--To softener
I
I
Existing line in
 
  #20  
Old 03-24-04, 10:34 AM
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Greg sorry to disagree. That is a three way manual by-pass and causes dead ends in the plumbing which really can be a bad thing and especially with a well water system. A 3-way by-pass increases his costs to install and the possiblity of water leaks or valve failure in the future. Along with increasing pressure loss. All control valves used on softeners or other water treament equipment have factory by-pass valves availible for less cost than the cost of the three manual valves let along the additional fittings neded.

Also, there is no need to increase the size of the tubing to Ray's softener. That will not reduce pressure loss through the softener and he'll not be able to use the additional water in that larger line because he goes back to 3/4" after tha softener. His softener will have a drain line flow control of about 2.0 gpm which is used during regneration only, but the plumbing past the softener can not gain any more water either and unless he has a 1.25" or larger control valve, he gains nothing. He's adding 40 - 80' but the flow rate from a 100' of 3/4" pipe at 50 psi is 17.5 gpm, for 1", it is 37 gpm. At 30 psi, 3/4" is 14 gpm and 1" is 28 gpm.

Ray, your pressure tank uses compressed air to provide water pressure when your pump isn't running. The air pressure is set depending on the range of pressure the pump pressure switch is operated at. I.E. 30/50 psi water pressure, the tank's precharge air pressure has to be 29-28 psi with no water in the tank. You set the air pressure after selecting the switch settings. You adjust the switch up or down to control the water pressure and then set the air pressure accordingly. If your pressure tank/house is new, you should have a 75# pressure relief valve on the tank tee.

The AWWA site must have updated their figure on average water use or I mentioned the wrong site; it probably was the EPA or something else government related. I'll look for it if I get time. I'll still use 60 gallons/person; I use that on 1" water lines. Are your fixtures water conservation types (installed since about 1980 something)? If so all you have to do is add up each fixture's max gpm and that is your peak demand. Or use the 'fixture count' method.


Gary Slusser
 
  #21  
Old 03-24-04, 06:59 PM
RaymondW
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I want to apologize if I sounded a little harried the other night. I didn't mean to offend anyone. I was just frustrated. I do appreciate all of the help you guys have offered.

I tried to throw together a quick little drawing to better explain my installation. If this works, the existing pipes and equipment are in blue and the new items are in red. The rectangles are, from left to right, pressure tank, new softener, heater

The water enters the house from the well through the basement wall. It's 1" PVC at that point. It then goes up (PVC to 3/4" copper adapter in a 1" PVC tee) to the ceiling to a 3/4" copper run that feeds the fixtures and the water heater. The main shut off is in that vertical section. There is another set of 1" PVC pipes that come off the entry line to a second PVC tee. One side (1" PVC) goes down to the pressure tank; the other (3/8"? galvanized) goes up to a valve (36 psi) and to an electrical connection that evidently controls the well pump. There is no pressure relief valve that I can see and there are no informational labels on the pressure tank. The brand label simply says "Well Trol by Amtrol". It's about 45" tall x 15" diameter.

My plan is to cut out a section of the vertical copper pipe above the shut off valve and cap the upper end as close to the horizontal distribution run (or replace that tee with a coupler, if more appropriate). The lower end of the cut out will be extended 40-50 feet to the furnace room where I'll install the softener next to the water heater. I shouldn't have to go all the way back to the pressure tank area if I reconnect to the plumbing above the water heater. I'm liking that a lot.

I had intended to build a three-way bypass system, primarily to shut off the softener lines until the softener is installed and to do so if I ever need to disconnect the softener. If there's a better way, I'm all ears. I don't relish sweating any more joints than necessary.

I don't know that my fixtures are water conserving. They're pretty standard, primarily Moen. The house was built in 1991.

Number of fixtures? Two outside hose bibs (plus one at the well site), a washing machine, a BRAND NEW dishwasher (LOL), one kitchen sink, three full baths each with a tub/shower, a toilet and a single lavatory. One of the tubs is a two-person Jacuzzi, if that matters.

To reiterate, we have no complaints about current water pressure so I have no need to INCREASE it, but I wouldn't want to lose any, either.

Here's hoping the picture comes through.

Ray

 

Last edited by GregH; 03-25-04 at 05:04 AM.
  #22  
Old 03-25-04, 05:12 AM
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Ray,

What you have drawn will work fine except you may have to install a check valve in the line from the outlet of the softener if it is close to the hw tank. Hot water could back up into the softener which could cause problems.
This should be in the installation instructions.

If you run the outside tap you only have to open the bypass valve to run raw water to the hose bib.
 
  #23  
Old 03-26-04, 06:30 AM
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The usual required distance between water treatment equipment and a water heater is ten lineal feet. So another way to plumb your softener without increasing the pressure loss of a check valve (spring loaded is usually 5 psi cracking presure) is to install a loop in the plumbing. Although you could use a 'flapper' type check valve having less pressure loss installed in the verticle position.

Gary Slusser
 
 

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