hardness setting and regeneration

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  #1  
Old 02-06-05, 07:41 AM
gl9500
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hardness setting and regeneration

I have a Sears water softener that lets me dial-in a hardness setting.
My water tested to 22 GPG hardness.

If I set the softener setting to 18, will the softener output be 4 GPG (22 - 18) hardness or will I get just run out of soft water sooner than expected?

I'm guessing the ion exchange process is not PROPORTIONAL, but rather all or none and eventually all the ions will be exchanged leaving me hard water since I am not regenerating to the level of the actual hardness in my water supply.

[The reason I'm asking this is because I've read zero GPG hardness (totally soft water) can be corrosive to plumbing, plus the feeling that totally soft water feels too "slippery".]
 
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  #2  
Old 02-06-05, 08:49 AM
Moli
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Some water heater companies say that artificially softened water is "extremely corrosive", and *may* reduce the life of the tank, and yet, using a softener doesn't void their heater's warranty. But using a softener will also increase the life of the heater and increase its efficiency, so if it reduces the life of the tank by a year, and increases the life of the unit by 3 years, you're still ahead 2 years. At least that's my hypothesis.

I guess you could extrapolate that to plumbing in general.

Of course, a malfunctioning softener that's sending excessive amounts of salt into your plumbing isn't doing you or your plumbing any good.
 
  #3  
Old 02-06-05, 05:28 PM
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A softener 'removes' hardness, so water is either soft or hard and the hardness can be measured. It's like having money in your wallet or not...

Removing hardness from your water does not make the water more or less aggressive or corrosive. You can prove that by testing for TDS before and after the softener. If there is any change, it will be a slight increase, and increased TDS makes the water less corrosive.Now naturally soft water is usually aggressive/corossive because it has a low TDS.

Not setting the hardness correctly will cause the regeneration schedule to be incorrect and you'll end up running out of capacity before you should or with hardness leakage through the bed. So set it correctly and use compensated hardness.

As to the slippery feeling... The sodium added by softening is not the cause. It's due to your skin being cleaner with softened water than with hard water, no soap curd film in the pores of your skin and that allows the skin's natural oils to come to the surface and that causes the slippery "I can't rinse off the soap" feeling. That's why skin dries out with hard water, no oils getting to the surface of the skin. To prove this, swim or wash in sea (salt) water and see if your skin is slippery or squeeks; squeeky clean is a misnomer - the soap/detergent curd leaves a film on all surfaces. Soft water cleans everythign washed in/with it, leaves no film and those things then stay cleaner longer.

And a softener does not add "salt" to water, only sodium, the chloride part goes to drain. And actually, most all water will already have some sodium in it. So it's very important to correctly size any softener you are thinking of buying, and so far next to no one talks about the SFR part of sizing, only the capacity and softener salt efficiency. Many that do mention SFR only talk about the control valve but the SFR is dictated by the volume and type of resin in the softener only. It has nothing to do with the control valve, that only dictates the size of the tank the control valve can be used on for either filtering or softening; not the gpm that can be treated by the specific piece of equipment. So how did you find what SFR you needed and the SFR of the softener you bought? I've mentioned all this and asked because if you run more water in gpm through the unit than its SFR gpm, you don't get all the hardness out of the water, you get hardness leakage which will prevent your slippery feeling. But then that tells you the softener isn't sized or working right.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 02:38 PM.
  #4  
Old 02-06-05, 07:25 PM
Moli
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I don't believe that softened water is "extremely corrosive", that's just lifted from a water heater manual. If they really believed that, using one would void your warranty, so they contradict themselves. (I've seen deionized water void a warranty). But there has to be some rationale for W.H. companies to include stuff like this in a manual, so I'm not entirely convinced using softened water is wholly without some negative side-effects. When I moved to a place with a water softener, it did promptly etch the shine off my vintage 1970s Daffy Duck glasses I got at the Esso station -- What more scientific evidence do you need than that?

Maybe the W.H. manual writer gets paid by the word?

If you (gl9500) want to use only "partially" softened water in your pipes, then I'd suggest putting in some kind of mixing valve after the softener so that it mixes softened with unsoftened and you can adjust the ratio. Then I'd set the softener to the proper GPG for your water. I'd suggest this as a method to achieve what you're trying to do, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a good thing for your pipes.

And I like the slippery feeling, although it takes getting used to. I feel cleaner all day, too, and don't get itchy skin. I don't like the taste of softened water, even when it's filtered, which is why I use a reverse osmosis filter for my drinking, cooking water. But people's taste in water is an odd thing, considering how many times people pay a ridiculous amount for a small bottle of "spring" water which they swear by, only to later find out it comes out of a tap somewhere.
 
  #5  
Old 02-07-05, 07:53 AM
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The water heater guys are (probably) still back in the days of everyone mis-using the LSI (Langelier Saturation Index). That index was invented to determine the probability of cement distribution water lines being dissolved by water which then released asbestos fibers into the water and causing barely used pipe to leak. In some cases the pipe wall would lose 50%+ of the wall thickness in as few as 2+ years. The fibers cause serious health problems and are listed with an MCL by the EPA; so the water company using that pipe had a seriuos problem. The LSI is still used by those not keeping up to date in corrosion studies of water lines etc. and the new indices that have been developed. For some reading about this, click on this:
http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Nat...ers/Waters.htm Then Click here to enter and Then, Scaling and see what many scientists say about the use of the LSI to determine aggressive waters. And then Click here to read what some experts have to say...

The etching of glasses etc. is due to using too much of the detergents that cause etching when used with soft water. Read the labels of various detergents, IIRC, some have the warning on the label and directions to decrease the volume used if you have soft water. Soft being naturaly soft or softened water. Most/all dishwasher manufacturers will tell you the same.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 02:38 PM.
  #6  
Old 02-07-05, 11:01 AM
Moli
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I think a link was missing from your last post? I got to the scaling of the first link and skimmed the site. They seem to be saying that LSI is only properly used to determine scaling and not corrosion, and there's not an inverse relationship between corrosion and scaling. There was also a line in there somewhere about a layer of scale protects the pipes, until the scale cracks. But it still doesn't address directly softened water vs. hard water.

No doubt most water heater manuals look like they were written in the 1950s, but it's still speculation that the water heater guys had the LSI in mind when they wrote that. It's always possible that it was written by a lawyer, since W.H. warranties spend a lot of verbage basically saying "if it breaks, you're screwed."

Cascade doesn't have a warning for soft water, and the instructions say to fill both cups fully with detergent (they don't even have different dosages for different wash loads). Interestingly, it does have some magic anti-etching chemical added to it, but they don't say what it is. I use about 1-2 tablespoons of detergent per wash now, which is probably 1/3 or less of the recommended dose. You have a dishwashing detergent you recommend?

The dishwasher was here when I moved in (I don't have the manual), and it has a heating element, which no doubt accelerates the etching with loads of detergent. It also has a top rack with a couple areas that are badly corroded, but the corrosion doesn't seem to be progressing especially quickly. A good thing, because a new upper rack assembly costs about $150. It's a (Hobart) KitchenAid, so it's relatively old. The only real maintenance so far is lubricating the timer cam assy, lubricating the latch, and cleaning the oddball dual solenoid inlet valve.
 
  #7  
Old 02-07-05, 12:51 PM
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No missing link. The info is there and explains the misuse of the LSI in matters of corrosion because it was created to determine if cement pipe would dissolve/deteriorate or scale. It should not be used for metal corrosion. The site doesn't allow the complete full URL to the articles, you have to look for it. But yes, there is a tremendous difference between scaling and corrosion and the removal of the hardness in water doesn't make the water corrosive, it will prevent the scaling or layering of so called "protective" scale to isolate metals from the water. And IMO that's where the heater guys got their "if you have a water softener..." info.

The info conecerning etching of glass in a dishwasher is correct but for more info, check with the dishwasher manufacturer and get their input on how much detergent to use in softened water.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 02:38 PM.
  #8  
Old 02-08-05, 05:21 AM
Moli
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Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
But yes, there is a tremendous difference between scaling and corrosion and the removal of the hardness in water doesn't make the water corrosive, it will prevent the scaling or layering of so called "protective" scale to isolate metals from the water.
So I guess now you're going to tell me my theory that a protective layer of sclerotic plaque in my arteries won't protect me from heart disease and stroke?
 
  #9  
Old 02-09-05, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Moli
So I guess now you're going to tell me my theory that a protective layer of sclerotic plaque in my arteries won't protect me from heart disease and stroke?
Yes now we're on the same page, assuming you're aware that even without the plaque, you can have heart disease, and that removing or preventing the plaque formation doesn't cause or prevent heart disease.

So I'll repeat; ion exchanged softened water is not aggressive or corrosive, and the LSI should only be used to identify a water that will dissolve or scale up cement water lines and it should not be applied to metal corrosion. Doubters can find and read Mr Langelier's own words as to why he invented his index and that it is meant to identify 'potential' future problems with wall thining of asbestos fiber reinforced cement pipe and the problem (liability) of exceeding the EPA's MCL for asbestos fiber in potable water.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 02:38 PM.
  #10  
Old 02-11-05, 04:57 PM
gl9500
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Thank you both for the followup discussion. Most informative.

Cheers.
GL
 
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