Help choosing a water softener...


  #1  
Old 05-06-08, 07:08 PM
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Help choosing a water softener...

Family of 6 (so I am figuring 4,800 grains?)
250 foot well


We had the water tested when we moved in because we noticed staining (black to yellow/red) and smell (like blood bllllaaakkk).
Here are the main figures we got back...

No coliform bacteria was found
Arsenic was less than testable amounts
Chloride=7.62mg/L
Hardness=120mg/L
pH Electrometric=7.52stu
Iron(total)=0.13mg/L
Manganese(total)=0.06 (a little higher than the EPA secondary MCL of 0.05) mg/L

Now we normally will do 1 or 2 loads of laundry a day plus guessing I would say 3 baths a day.


If we could afford it we would like to use a whole home softener (I have read about the use of phosphate and it doesn't sound like a good solution), if we can't then we would put one on sinks.

What type of system should I be looking for?

Thanks in advance
Mike
 
  #2  
Old 05-11-08, 09:00 AM
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Have I left out information needed?

The iron is dissolved iron.

I think all the levels are basically ok except the manganese (and maybe iron). So what would be a good way of reducing those amounts?
Could a simple carbon filter reduce manganese levels?

Thanks you,
Mike
 
  #3  
Old 05-11-08, 10:20 AM
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Hi Mike,

You are not getting the response you anticipated to your question. The reason may be that you asked the #1 question that is asked on these forums.

Those who often reply to poster's questions are probably nursing their bleeding fingers from typing the same answers over and and over and over and over again.

Seems that very few who come to these forums seeking to help themselves help themselves to the search functions to get the answers they seek. They simply ask the same questions again and again. It gets monotonous and annoying so some of the repeat questions get ignored.

Your estimate ("so I am figuring 4,800 grains") of softener size is way off.

How long ago was your water test done?

To correctly size a water softener one needs to know the current details of the water conditions, the # of people in the house, the number of bathrooms, the peak and constant SFR of the plumbing and fixtures.

Since my fingers are tired too I'll give you my standard answer and we can go from there...

Get a recent water test from an independent lab. It will cost you money BUT an independent lab won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. If you can't find a local certified lab in the phone book go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/labs/index.html to locate a certified lab near you. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES, regardless of how well they say they KNOW your water, as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated.

Ask lots of questions. Softening the entire house or just the water heater (a bad idea)? Warranty, parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with their's. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

You'll spend more with a local water treatment pro but you'll get more.
 
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Old 05-11-08, 11:51 AM
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Thank you.
I assume the same question gets asked many times because not everyone is trying to filter the same stuff from their water so it would stand to logical reasoning that an answer given for filtering iron may not be the best answer for filtering manganese.

The test was done one week ago.
I calculated the grains using the method I found on multiple filtering sites. Based on the idea that each person uses on average 80 gallons a day (I added more).

I thought I was "helping myself" since before I came here I had already done bit of research to see what options were out there for removing mangenses (which is the basic problem).

I see the normal ion water softening (which seems very exspensive when I don't really want to soften the water I just want to decrease the level of one particular element).
I also see systems for greensand (which from online searches seems to come in less expensive).

I wasn't asking people to provide me with a solution to an unknown problem I think I was clear enough that I was basically asking what would be the least expensive way to filter manganese.

Sorry if I bothered people. I can figure it out myself I just came to get opinions.

Mike
 
  #5  
Old 05-11-08, 12:29 PM
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"I assume the same question gets asked many times because not everyone is trying to filter the same stuff from their water so it would stand to logical reasoning that an answer given for filtering iron may not be the best answer for filtering manganese"

True. That's why those questions are best answered by a water treatment pro who has done a site inspection and tested the water conditions him(her)self. Then they can explain the details of what they recommend and why. They can inform you as to the maintenance requirements and operational considerations.

Consider that the cost effective method to treat your hardness, iron, and manganese is with an ion exchange softener. Softening your water will add the benefits of longer life for your plumbing, plumbing fixtures, appliances, clothes, and you'll use less detergent and soap. Routine maintenance required for an ion exchange softener in your installation should be simple and straightforward and low cost. If you buy your softener locally the warranty they provide will be worth something so unexpected repairs for 5 years (usual warranty on control valves) should be low or no cost.

You might consider an undersink RO in the kitchen for cooking and drinking water and it can also, in most cases, serve the fridge and icemaker if desired.

Using the info you supplied...

120mg/l hardness = 7 gpg
6 people (average use 75gpd)
.13 ppm iron
.06 ppm manganese
PH is ok
SFR of plumbing and fixtures is unknown

Required hardness removal per day = approx 6000g and the minimum softener size would be a 2.5 cu ft softener. That would get you the desired 7 to 8 days between regenerations.

Once the SFR is known the softener size might change. Your well may not supply enough SFR to properly regenerate a softener that size and there are other considerations.

You'd still need to deal with the chloride removal if desired.

You are welcome.
 

Last edited by justalurker; 05-11-08 at 01:47 PM.
  #6  
Old 05-12-08, 08:04 AM
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Thank you for your help.

The well provides up to 25gpm (I would have to pull the pump to get it's rating) but a tub faucet test is coming in about 5-6gmp. We have no special plumbing (hot tubs or such).

I don't think we need to remove chloride it seemed to be within normal ranges (I think the average drinking water has about 10mg/L).

Again thank you for your help and time. The information gives me a basis to work from when I call the local companies.

Mike
 
  #7  
Old 05-12-08, 05:55 PM
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(I am afraid this post is a little long)

Thanks to justalurker for those calculations, I used them to find out how to get those numbers along with other research on the subject.

For some reason I think my numbers are different.
(I do the math below in case someone else is searching for this stuff)

6 people at 80 gallons per day = 480 gallons per day
Iron=0.13mg/L
Manganese=0.06mg/L
Hardness=120mg/L (divide by 17.1 to get grains)

To find grains per day:
Iron: 0.13mg/L X 2 (I don't know why still) = 0.26mg/L
Manganese: 0.06mg/L X 2 (again don't know why) = 0.12mg/L
Add to hardness: 120 + 0.26 + 0.12 = 120.38 (or 121)
121/17.1=7 grains
7 grains X 480 gallons a day = 3,360 grains a day
To regenerate once a week we multiply it by 7 days:
7 days X 3,360 grains a day = 23,520 grains a week.

So I should look for a least a 23,520 grain system.?.


Ok, I also called the lab with a question about some of the values they have. The chemist suggested that I didn't really need a water softener but a green sand filter to remove the iron/manganese (I know she probably isn't a filter "expert" but I think she knows water and as you will see she appears to know at least as much as some of the "experts" I called).

I called just about all the local experts that the lab had supplied with the test papers. None of which wanted to do their own tests and all asked me if I had had a test done. I supplied the test information to them.

The first one I called started out by telling me how fortunate I was not to have an arsenic problem. Then he said he would want to have a "custom metal pan, with a piece of foam in the bottom, made to place everything in"... for $75 (for making it). I can get a new heavy rubber pan for about $20.
It ended up with an estimate of about $3000.00, but that included a $280 carbon filter. I asked about a green sand filter and he wasn't at all happy about that. Basically he would only say that I wouldn't want one and it was to much for a homeowner to deal with, and that the medium (potassium permanganate) would be about $200 every couple of months. Later at a website I read something about how $200 worth of it should last about 2-3 years.

The next one I called obviously didn't know much about filters. He would ask me a question and then relate it to a woman he had on another phone. In the end he said $1400.00 to $1500.00. I was surprised by the drastic difference in prices so I asked if this was a green sand system and he said yes, with a carbon filter to remove odor and taste. I asked isn't it important to know how many people will be using the system (since he hadn't asked) and he said, well this isn't for a commercial application is it? I said no but we do have 6 people, to which he said this would handle that fine. He did say 'Now the medium isn't cheap it is about $200'. I asked about how long could I expect to go between having to refill it and he didn't know, but didn't think it would be every month or two.

The others I called either did not handle anything but faucet attached filters/softeners or weren't available.

There is not a huge selection of experts up here.

I felt the first one was definitely try to just sell me something, he didn't want to talk about anything but the specific system he had in mind (which he had decided was the one for us because it was similar to one he installed for a similar situation). The second while he seemed honest about it all, didn't seem to know much about the system.

(see why I come here, and ask questions that may be a bother).

I always had planned to do the plumbing myself (I have done quite a bit).
I had hoped to find more information when calling these experts but they seemed not to want to talk about the systems specifically, other than to say it was what I needed.


I do have a few questions (if they are answerable)

1) What is the cost comparison to a green sand verses a water softening system (initial cost, running cost and usual life expected)? I'm not thinking someone will go break it all down, I figure someone may have had some experience with both.

2) How long should someone expect a green sand or softener to go before have to refill the medium for water that isn't an big problem.

3) I don't see a lot on calculating what size a green sand system would have to be, can anyone point me in the right direction?



Thanks for any help and time spent reading this over,
Mike
 

Last edited by MikeJoel2; 05-12-08 at 06:28 PM.
  #8  
Old 05-12-08, 06:19 PM
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Mike,

Oops, my math was off... got to get a calculator with dem BIG buttons.

I get... 3990gpd hardness to be removed using 80gpd/person x 6 people. That would size a 2 cu ft softener for 7 days between regenerations and would be using a very efficient salt dose.

Multiplying iron and manganese and adding those numbers to the hardness is called "compensated hardness". It's kind of a mathematical cheat (correction) cause iron and manganese are so much fun to treat.

I feel you can get where you want to be with a quality softener and a little routine maintenance. Your numbers are not really that bad.
 
  #9  
Old 05-12-08, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeJoel2 View Post
Family of 6
Hardness=120mg/L
pH Electrometric=7.52stu
Iron(total)=0.13mg/L
Manganese(total)=0.06 (a little higher than the EPA secondary MCL of 0.05) mg/L

Now we normally will do 1 or 2 loads of laundry a day plus guessing I would say 3 baths a day.

What type of system should I be looking for?

Thanks in advance
Mike

With your water results I would suggest a twin-tank system such as a Kinetico. Your results will be excellent.

Your water is very manageable and a Model 60 (2060) would work perfectly. No need to fiddle with settings and wonder if your water will turn hard today or that you have used more salt than you need by regnerating early.

Your softener (with a 2060) would regenerate every 1250 gallons (about every three days) and use 2.7 pounds of salt with each regen!

There are other Kinetico models that are even more efficient with salt and water.

You may want to check out that possibilty.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 05-12-08, 09:09 PM
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AndyC

Im guessing you work for a kenetico dealer?
 
  #11  
Old 05-12-08, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by AndyC View Post
Your softener (with a 2060) would regenerate every 1250 gallons (about every three days) and use 2.7 pounds of salt with each regen!
As is obvious I don't know a lot about softeners but I thought the goal was to get at least a week before regeneration to make it efficient?
 
  #12  
Old 05-12-08, 11:53 PM
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Mike,

Kinetico softeners are twin resin tank units (with a third tank for salt) that provide soft water 24/7 as opposed to the industry standard single resin tank softeners that (usually are set to) regenerate at 2am and provide hard water while they do. So instead of one big 2 cu ft resin tank they would have two 1 cu ft resin tanks and those two resin tanks would alternately regenerate based on water usage hence the shorter regeneration intervals. Kinetico softeners tend to be very salt and water efficient.

Kinetico softeners also make brine with soft water, as a few single resin tank softeners do, but they regenerate the resin with soft water. Single resin tank softeners regenerate the resin with hard water. When treating iron a single resin tank softener uses hard water with iron to regenerate the resin. Sort of like washing clothes with dirty water.

Regenerating resin with treated water increases the life of the resin.

Kinetico softeners are non-electric. They use water pressure and flow to run the control valve. Very ECO friendly and as green as a softener can get.

Kinetico softeners are not inexpensive but they are the least complained about softeners on these self-help forums. Most of the negative chatter you'll find are from people who have to sell against them.

If you have a Kinetico dealer around it would be worth your time to have them come out and quote you.

I am not a Kinetico dealer.
 
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Old 05-13-08, 07:45 AM
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Thanks for the info.
Sounds logical and will look into it.

Does buying a larger softener than what is needed make it more efficient? (Meaning you can set it to go longer between having to regenerate?)


Mike
 

Last edited by MikeJoel2; 05-13-08 at 09:04 AM.
  #14  
Old 05-13-08, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeJoel2 View Post
Does buying a larger softener than what is needed make it more efficient?
No, efficiency is determined by the volume of resin, hardness (and iron and manganese) removed and the salt dose to regenerate the resin.

More hardness removed per pound of salt per cu ft of resin is "efficiency" along with how often the softener regenerates (using water for that) but considering the volume of resin regenerated.

So, as an example, a 2 cu ft single resin tank softener that regenerates every 7 days with 9lbs of salt per cu ft of resin (18lbs of salt gross) is less efficient than a 2 cu ft twin resin tank softener that regenerates only ONE of its (1 cu ft) tanks every 3-4 days with a 6 lb per cu ft per cu ft of resin salt dose. Uses less water and less salt to regenerate. Both 1 cu ft tanks regenerated added together (12lbs of salt gross) get the same length of service (7 days) as a single 2 cu ft resin tank softener but uses less water and less salt. Make sense?

A correctly sized softener is the right size. Too large a softener can cause problems and with iron too long between regens the resin can foul.

Originally Posted by MikeJoel2 View Post
Meaning you can set it to go longer between having to regenerate?
In general with common water problems (hardness) regeneration every 7 or 8 days is preferred. With iron and/or manganese and depending on water usage regeneration every 3-4 days may be best. A twin resin tank softener like a Kinetico has advantages in situations like yours.
 
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Old 05-14-08, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by justalurker View Post
I get... 3990gpd hardness to be removed using 80gpd/person x 6 people. That would size a 2 cu ft softener for 7 days between regenerations and would be using a very efficient salt dose.

Sorry to be a pain....
Can you show me the calcs you are doing. No matter what I do I don't come up with those numbers. I would like to know how it is done.

Mike
 
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Old 05-14-08, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeJoel2 View Post
Sorry to be a pain....
Can you show me the calcs you are doing. No matter what I do I don't come up with those numbers. I would like to know how it is done.
There is some latitude in calculating compensated hardness when iron and manganese are involved.

I've seen calculations multiplying iron x2 and x4 also manganese x2 and x4. You already noted and questioned this in a previous post.

That can account for the difference in our numbers.

Are you also adding in gallons for reserve?
 
 

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